DECODING OUR 2021 CHRISTMAS TIME CAPSULE wreath

It’s that time of year again and we are back with the latest addition to our fantastic family tradition!  Our Christmas Time Capsule Wreath.  Here we go!  

After one of the most unusual years in our lives in 2020, the Santa Family found our footing and decided we were going to live our lives to the fullest in 2021.  2021 was a year of travel for us.  We did what we needed to do to keep everyone safe and got out there and mixed it up.

In December of 2020 I created the Santa Dad and 2021 was the year I, Santa Mom, and the Santa Sisters fully introduced ourselves and began sharing our adventures with the world.  Santa Dad is everywhere … Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook … and we took all of you wonderful people with us every time we got into some new Christmas-colored fun.  And there was a lot of it!  Beach trips, Christmas in July, all the holidays throughout the year, and as December rolled around we really cranked things up a notch with our first annual Christmas Across Georgia tour, plus Twinkle Reels!  So, when it was time to think about what this year’s family time capsule wreath might look like, we had plenty of options and selected the very best memories that we wanted it to whisper to us during future Christmas seasons. 

To begin the build, I asked the girls to think back on the year and tell me what stood out to them the most . . . things they enjoyed, what they were most proud of accomplishing . . . whatever it was that really defined their daily lives.  It didn’t take long and we knew what had to be on this year’s wreath so all that was left was to get to building.

Innocence.  Energy.  Passion.  Creativity.  Excitement.  Together.  Love.  Home.  Safety.  The Santa Dad , of course.  These were the key words we felt best captured our lives over the past year.

The girls were were still thrilled with how much we had been able to be together.  As a parent and a dad, I was so thankful that they felt safe, and loved.  We were still living with the threat of the virus every day, but the girls had a clear understanding of what was happening and what we were doing to keep all of us safe.  The Santa Sisters (at ages 6 and 4 at Christmas) continued to amaze us at how resilient they are and how they often are the seemingly infinite source of strength and motivation for Santa Mom and myself.  These powerful examples, coupled with a heaping helping of emotion, certainly had a heavy hand in the final look of the wreath.

watch:  creating our 2021 christmas time capsule wreath

We had a lot of fun building out this year’s Christmas Time Capsule Wreath. 

The bones

This year we went with a snow white wreath to capture the innocence of our girls, while simultaneously conveying the cold clarity that 2021 provided us in so many ways. 

 

THE COLORS

Given each year’s wreath has a specific theme we want to express, the colors we chose to use in this project are always of vital importance.

RED

The color red was back in our family wreath design for 2021. A traditional color of the season, red stars once again as it symbolizes the energy of our year.

Spurred on by the ideals of the Santa Dad, red represents the positivity, confidence, motivation, passion, and desire that was evident in everything we did in the past year.  Every adventure, every challenge, every opportunity 2021 afforded us, all of it could be described by these words.

With all of this in mind as we looked back on the year, the power of red was once again the perfect accent to our family wreath. 

 

WHITE

Representing purity and innocence, as a color white also promotes self-reflection.  A true balance of all colors, white was the perfect starting point for our 2021 wreath. 

The simplicity of white represented our refreshed notions of who we are, what matters, and why we do the things we do.  The clarity it brings simplified and balanced our view of the world.  It also provided a clean slate.  One upon which we could create and document our story.  

Without a doubt, white was the only option for our 2021 Christmas Time Capsule Wreath.

SILVER

Silver is a color that inspires and illuminates, while simultaneously acting a calming and restorative force.  Along with its dynamic properties, silver encompassed the spectrum of our family’s collective emotions over the past year. 

Whether centering our family’s emotional health and learning, illuminating our path forward, or shining brilliantly around our Santa Dad adventures, silver was a dynamic representation of our journey. 

A SHINING STAR

Our 2021 Time Capsule Wreath is crowned with a shimmering pair of Mickey Mouse ears to commemorate the girl’s first visit to Disney World, but they truly represent much more.  This wreath will shine Christmas season after Christmas season to remind us of the year we “opted in” as a family and continued to write our amazing story. 

2020 was so very difficult for all of us, and though the challenges of the world are still very much present, 2021 marked a change in trajectory for our family and this beautiful keepsake captures the journey wonderfully.  

We believe in living for what matters and being truly grateful for those who choose to travel by your side.   We believe in seeing the world for what it is, but also actively seeking all that it could be.  We believe in living a life worth sharing and spreading beauty, truth, and light in the world. 

We are thankful for the blessing of time which allowed us to recognize the things in this life that are truly important, and gain an understanding of why along the way. Why we need each other. Why we work and play so hard. Why we must take time to appreciate the daily gifts we all are guilty of occasionally taking for granted.

We choose to celebrate a year that while still challenging us, encouraged us to grow. Our 2021 family wreath shines as a testament to our shared story and is already beloved.  I am most proud of the fact that in a year that offered relief in fits and starts and left so many feeling calloused and raw, my daughters inspired us and led us to remain open, vulnerable, and positive.  As we slingshot into 2022, we are energized, feeling powerful, and thrilled to continue writing the next chapter in our beautiful story. 

 

Keep ChristmasChristmas treewell all year ‘round, friends!

Santa Dad

 

 

Santa dad visits The Christmas Shoppe 

During our celebration of Christmas in July this year we visited Helen, Georgia for a little family fun.  This little Bavarian village nestled in the north Georgia mountains is renowned for their Oktoberfest celebrations in the fall, but they do a fantastic job when it comes to celebrating Christmas as well.  While we were there we visited a wonderful little place located right on Main street that offers a just a little Christmas all year ’round, The Christmas Shoppe. 

hi, santa …. dad!

With this giant Santa welcoming visitors, of course the Santa Dad had to stop for a quick picture.

Once inside, there was a lot to take in:  gorgeous ornaments for the tree, Christmas home decor, and much, much more.

santa cam

Here’s just a sneak peek at some of what The Christmas Shoppe has to offer visitors.

The collection of Christmas goodies on offer was wonderful, but the conversation was even better.  Helen is one of the communities in Georgia that really does Christmas right and if you love Christmas and Christmas decorations like we do, this quaint mountain village is a must-visit destination.  While you’re there make sure to visit The Christmas Shoppe and see what treasures of the season you can find.  Check out the wonderful ornaments we found while we were there including a hand painted miniature clay pot ornament crafted by a local artisan, and a Santa that just may remind you of someone.

Keep ChristmasChristmas treewell all year ‘round, friends!

Santa Dad

Christmas Time Capsule wreath

Last year we started a brand new tradition that has been a phenomenal hit here at home and with everyone that hears about it.  It is certain to be the crown jewel of our holiday season for generations to come. 

In the midst of Christmas 2019 and with two very young children showing me the magic of the season with every move, I had the idea to wrap those ideas together by combining the classic Christmas icon, the Christmas wreath, and the vision of what the world looks like through the eyes of a child.  The key is capturing what matters most to my children in some physical way that accurately represents ‘a few of our favorite things’ from the past year.

Much like the song says “These Are A Few of Our Favorite Things…”, the Christmas Time Capsule wreath is our hyper-jolly way of documenting the various stages of our children’s lives as they grow.  It is a handmade Christmas wreath that captures how they feel about the year that was, what matters most to them at the time, and touches on the main themes of their lives over the past 12 months. 

Once the wreath is complete, we hang it alongside our other wreaths and it becomes a permanent part of our Christmas decorations.  As the years pass, we are building a visual display that documents our children’s lives that reads like chapters in a book that is filled with joy, hope, and love.  Quite possible the greatest story book ever written.

DECODING OUR 2020 wreath

Needless to say, 2020 was a year like no other for most of us.  Never before have we been forced to separate ourselves from the rest of the world for so long.  This period of time was difficult for all of us.  For all of us, it was because of the shared reasons beyond our control.  For others it was because of additional and varying factors.  One thing is for certain, we were all affected, the only difference being the degree to which we felt the impacts of 2020.  Our family was no different.  

Well the Santa Family are an optimistic and tightly knit bunch, and despite all the year had to throw at us, we stayed safe, grew even closer together as a family, and made memories that will last a lifetime.  So, when it was time to think about what our family time capsule wreath might look like for the year that shall not be named, we had some clear ideas and themes for what we wanted it to whisper to us in Christmases future. 

To begin the process, I asked the girls to think back on the year that was and tell me what stood out to them the most . . . things they enjoyed, were most proud of accomplishing . . . whatever it was that really seemed to be a part of our everyday lives.  After a few minutes of thinking they came back with answers that were beautifully simple, yet powerfully complex, as only the view of the world through the eyes of a child could.

Together.  Love.  Home.  Safety.  Bravery.  Hope.  Compassion.  Excitement.

They were happy about the fact that we had been able to be together every day.  They felt safe, and loved, and wanted to show that there was no place they’d rather be than at home and together with us.  They were thankful that we were all together and safe, but they understood clearly that not everyone could say the same, and they worried and wanted the best for those that were fighting and living with the threat of the virus every day.  And though things had been different, they were proud and excited about all the new things they had experienced in the year like virtual school, and lots and lots and lots of video calls with family and friends.  The Santa girls (at ages 5 and 3 at Christmas) are now basically engineering experts and have flourished in their role as tech support for the Santa family!  All of the very real emotion of the year, and the powerful example of resilience and innocence the girls displayed over the year stood out to Santa Mom and I and absolutely had to be conveyed in the final look of the wreath.

The bones

This year we chose dried grapevines to represent the faith required to grow and prosper, as well as the brutal harshness of the year. Simultaneously, the grapevines show the joy that comes as a result of that growth as evidenced by the grapes and wine they once produced. It is no mistake that this plant and its fruit are used for pleasure and during celebrations. For us, in this year, the grapevine truly symbolizes the fruit of the human spirit – and of life.

 

THE COLORS

Given the theme of this year’s wreath and the ideas we wanted to express, the colors we chose to use in this project were of vital importance.

RED

The color red was the vital lynchpin in our family wreath design for 2020. Not only because it is a traditional color of the season, but also because of the inherent meaning and associations of the tone.

Red has a range of symbolic meanings as numerous as its shades, including life, health, vigor, war, courage, anger, love, religious fervor, energy, willpower, leadership, and longing. The common thread is that all these require passion. A striking, bold, and captivating hue, red also lets us know when caution is warranted. Though seeing the color red may give us pause, it also provides tremendous warmth. When this scarlet shade rears its cherry head, we can’t help but feel protected. In essence, the color red serves to safeguard us against harm.

On a happier note, red also corresponds with positivity. In fact, seeing the color red can inspire us to take action, lift our spirits, and energize us. This healthy dose of optimism is one reason the color red is so beloved.

With all of this in mind as we looked back on “the year we stayed home”, the brilliance of red was a no-doubt choice for our family wreath. 

 

WHITE

Representing purity or innocence, light, goodness, safety, illumination, understanding, the possibility of new beginnings, and even a sense of sterility, white often seems like a blank slate, symbolizing a new beginning or a fresh start.

Simplicity reigns with white, and with that comes possibility, humility, sincerity, protection, softness, and perfection. In a year the world was virtually brought to a standstill during a global pandemic, these notions position the color white very well on our wreath.

Each of us in the Santa family felt white conveyed so many of the feelings we shared over the course of the unusual year and was a powerful stroke of color on what was a very dark year for so many.

SILVER

Symbolizing affluence and modernism, silver is sleek and stylish, making it the perfect representation of present-day advancements. If any color captured the essence of the widespread use of cutting-edge technology by the masses that 2020 ushered in, it would be silver.

Our family was no different. From distance learning to working from home to birthday and holiday celebrations via video chat, new technologies made the version of 2020 we all lived possible. 

As a color wheel powerhouse, silver is calming and excels at delivering clarity, resolving conflict, and offers peace of mind, which bodes well for optimal well-being. With its calming presence and healing powers, the color silver can even diminish both emotional and physical pain.

By any measure, 2020 was a challenging and trying year for us all in a myriad of ways, so there’s no doubt each of us can use all the help we can get. Without a doubt, silver is a powerful presence as a representation of our journey through the year.

A CROWN OF LAUREL

The laurel wreath is a symbol of victory, honor, and peace. Used by the Ancient Greeks as an honorary reward for victors, the leaf itself was believed to have spiritual and physical cleansing abilities. 

Given the trials of the year and the aforementioned power of red, we chose to crown our 2020 family wreath with red laurel. 

We think it’s fully appropriate to claim victory in a year we managed to safely and successfully navigate a a global pandemic, as well as a thousand other challenges, and come to the end finding ourselves better for it.

We are thankful for the blessing of time which allowed us to recognize the things in this life that are truly important, and gain an understanding of why along the way. Why we need each other. Why we work and play so hard. Why we must take time to appreciate the daily gifts we all are guilty of occasionally taking for granted.

We choose to celebrate a year that challenged us, but also allowed us to grow. Our 2020 family wreath shines as a testament to our shared story and is already beloved.  I am most proud of the fact that in designing and building this year’s wreath, just like everything else in a year that was like no other, we did it together and truly enjoyed the journey.

 

Keep ChristmasChristmas treewell all year ‘round, friends!

Santa Dad

 

CHRISTMAS 

is all about making memories with loved ones, friends and family, and the fun activities that fill our holiday seasons year after year morph into the traditions that become the foundation of our lives.  These joyful moments spent with the people we care about the most become the images that flash across out minds when we think back fondly on Christmases past.

 

Each person and each family builds their own traditions over the years simply by enjoying the holiday season as they choose, but who isn’t on the lookout for new and fun ways to spend those precious moments with family and friends?  That’s why I’ve pulled together 25 traditions that our family has formed over the years that are fun, simple, and perfect for a young family with little ones . . . and anyone that loves Christmas!

01

COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS 

Choose an advent calendar to enjoy as you mark each day in the count down to the big day!  Ours consists of 25 ornaments that hang on a small tree that is designated as our advent tree.  We fill each numbered ornament with Christmas candy treats for our daughters to enjoy when they open the ornament each day.  They absolutely love this one!

 

02

WRITE A LETTER TO SANTA

This classic Christmas tradition is a classic for a reason.  It’s timeless.  Honestly, are you ever really too old to share a Christmas wish with the big guy?

03

visit a tree farm

Whether you like to search until you find that perfect tree to cut down yourself, or you prefer to have someone else do the cutting by selecting a pre-cut tree, a tree farm is a wonderful way to spend a few hours and is guaranteed to help you get into the holiday spirit.  There’s usually plenty to do beyond picking the perfect tree too, like hay rides, the occasional petting zoo, and a pretty good chance you’ll find a nice selection of homemade confections and other goodies to choose from and enjoy.

04

trim the tree

We love to spend a day decorating the trees in our house each Christmas, but especially the live family tree after getting it home from the tree farm.  We’re having a wonderful Christmas time while we’re rocking around the Christmas tree, sipping egg nog and hot cocoa, and nibbling on popcorn as we deck the halls . . . together. 

05

SET UP A CHRISTMAS EVE COCOA BAR

Another hit on our family Christmas tradition checklist is the Christmas Eve cocoa bar.  We don’t stress about it too much and keep things simple.  Our favorite instant hot chocolate mix, mini marshmallows, whip cream, and colorful sprinkles make for a merry time for all.  The girls have a blast  dressing up their drinks with all the goodies that growing children really need.

 

06

BAKE COOKIES WITH THE LITTLES

Another timeless Christmas tradition that’s fun for the whole family.  The key here is to let go and have fun.  Let your children help as much as possible throughout the process and see their creativity and personalities shine. 

07

WEAR MATCHING PAJAMAS

I’ll admit, when we first considered this idea I was a little hesitant.  I was afraid the whole thing would turn into a bigger deal than necessary and add stress to a day we refuse to be stressed out, but I was totally wrong.  I forgot to trust our family to do what we do best, simply be who we are.  To show up and show out.  We have a great time with it every year and I look forward to seeing everyone in their Christmas morning best.  Huge bonus?  The girls think it’s really cool that we are wearing their PJs! 

08

BUILD A CANDY HOUSE

As we searched for ways to add fun to this dislocated year, we discovered this prize.  This is an idea that we attempted for the first time this year and it was such a hit there is no doubt that it will be a staple of our celebrations for years to come.  Everyone had so much fun, and we think it turned out pretty awesome too. 

09

TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES

Wow!  How things have changed since I was a child at Christmas.  Gone are the days of one or two (usually a little blurry) Christmas morning pictures.  Virtually everyone has a high quality camera in their pocket right on their phone, so there’s no excuse not to capture all those special moments the holiday season brings.  Our children are the stars of each of our Christmas stories, so whip out those phones and capture those special moments.  You and your children will be so grateful you did.

 

10

    

“The joy of brightening other lives becomes for us the magic of the holidays.”

W.C. Jones

GIVE BACK

It has been said that “The joy of brightening other lives becomes for us the magic of the holidays.”  One of the lessons of Christmas that I learned at a very young age is that everyone, even the smallest child, can do something to help someone else.  An act of kindness does not have to be large to be meaningful.  Whether it is “adopting” a family and helping them have a brighter holiday, volunteering, or simply helping a neighbor, we can all help to make the season bright.  The simple truth is, to know who needs help, you need only just ask. 

11

CREATE A HOLIDAY PLAYLIST

A quick and easy way to inject some holly jolly vibes into your holiday season is to build a soundtrack for your celebrations on your streaming platform of choice.  This is a joy multiplier because you get to enjoy it again and again.  First you have the fun of creating the playlist with your friends and family, and you get to revisit that happy place every time you listen and think back on all the fun and good times.

12

BUILD A CHRISTMAS LIBRARY

One of our favorite things to do any time of the year is read and tell stories and this is especially true at Christmas.  We have collected some of our favorites Christmas stories that we read with our girls every year that are age appropriate as they grow and learn, as well as a few of the classics for any reader to enjoy.  This is another HO-HO-HO winner because it creates a joy for reading and learning, all while we’re enjoying family time and making memories that will last a lifetime. 

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”

Norman Vincent Peale

“Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.”

Edna Ferber

13

READ “THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS” ON CHRISTMAS EVE

Of course, we have a couple of copies of Clement Clarke Moore’s Christmas classic in our Christmas library and each year, I snuggle in with my girls and read “The Night Before Christmas” to them before tucking them in bed as we get ready for that jolly old elf to visit. 

 

14

PLAY “I SPY” WITH CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS

This is a really fun way to focus attention on the centerpiece of most Christmas celebrations and teach children about the stories behind each of the ornaments that adorn your tree and make it extra beautiful and so very special. 

15

SING CHRISTMAS CAROLS

Lift your voices and sing!  It’s virtually impossible to be singing Christmas carols and be sad at the same time.  Whether you just like to sing to yourself to keep a bounce in your step, sing with your family while your enjoying other traditions, or sing in a choir at church or go caroling in your neighborhood, belting out your favorite carols is a sure way to brighten your holiday.

16

GIFT YOUR CHILDREN AN ORNAMENT

A very special way to build your holiday history is by gifting a unique ornament to them each Christmas.  We give our girls a new ornament each year as we decorate our tree.  Whether you want the gift to mark some point in their lives or simply go with something you find striking that season, you can’t go wrong with this idea. 

17

WATCH YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIES

Several of the films we traditionally watch during the Christmas season tend to spark vigorous debate over whether they are actually Christmas movies at all, but has the perfect solution.  You don’t have to choose!  It doesn’t matter what films fill your screens this holiday season, I say watch whatever makes you happy!  So grab those snacks, make sure you’re comfy on the couch with someone you love, and enjoy. 

 

18

GATHER IN THE KITCHEN

Many of my best memories in life were made in the kitchen and that’s especially true at Christmas time.  There are so many wonderful treats the folks enjoy during the holiday season that the menu is huge.  Whatever it is that you enjoy and signals Christmas is on the way, gather with your family and friends in the kitchen and have some fun.  Honestly, I’m not sure what the best part of this tradition is . . . the fun of making the goodies or the pleasure of eating them.   Nom Nom Nom! 

19

MAKE REINDEER FOOD

Hands down one of the most precious Christmas traditions our family looks forward to every year is making reindeer food for Santa’s reindeer so that they will have the energy to get through Christmas eve and help Santa deliver gifts to all of the children around the world.  Our girls absolutely love helping Santa and his reindeer do their work and they take this job seriously . . . but not too seriously.   We keep the recipe super simple:  whatever oats we have on hand (oatmeal and Cheerios work great), add in a little sparkle with some sprinkles or crushed peppermint candy canes and you are good to go.  Have fun with it and add in whatever you think will boost the level of “magic” in your recipe.  Head outside before it gets too late (too dark for pictures!) and let the children spread it all around for the reindeer to enjoy.  I guarantee this one’s a blast for everyone! 

 

 

 

20

…THESE ARE A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS

Last year we started a brand new tradition that has been a phenomenal hit here at home and with everyone that hears about it.  It is certain to be the crown jewel of our holiday season for generations to come.

In the midst of Christmas 2019 and with two very young children showing me the magic of the season with every move, I had the idea to wrap those ideas together by combining the classic Christmas icon, the Christmas wreath, and the vision of what the world looks like through the eyes of a child.  The key is capturing what matters most to my children in some physical way that accurately represents ‘a few of our favorite things’ from the past year.

“. . . These Are A Few of Our Favorite Things”: the Christmas Time Capsule wreath is our hyper-jolly way of documenting the various stages of our children’s lives as they grow.  It is a handmade Christmas wreath that captures how they feel about the year that was, what matters most to them at the time, and touches on the main themes of their lives over the past 12 months. 

Once the wreath is complete, we hang it alongside our other wreaths and it becomes a permanent part of our Christmas decorations.  As the years pass, we are building a visual display that documents our children’s lives that reads like chapters in a book that is filled with joy, hope, and love.  Quite possible the greatest story book ever written.

 

21

get crafty

‘Tis the season to have fun and be creative.  Thankfully Christmas is the idea starter that never stops giving, so take advantage.  Everything from original ideas to store bought foam Santas, pick what suits your fancy and create!  Another fun way to express your creative side is to make meal time fun.  Pancake snowmen are a big hit in our home.  Encourage your children to fully engage their imaginations and behold the wonder that follows.  Kids love to be imagine what the world could be and working alongside them as they show you the magic of the season is one of the greatest choices you could ever make.  Crafting is a wonderful way to spend the time together once everyone is out of school and home from work too. 

 

22

START A COLLECTION

This is another area where the Christmas season presents endless opportunities to express exactly who you are and enjoy precisely what makes the holidays so special to you. Ornaments, snow globes, mugs, books . . . almost anything can be the theme for a seasonal collection.  All you have to do is choose.  So, give it some thought, then get out there and start hunting for your next holiday treasures.

23

ENJOY YOUR community

A little nip in the air is invigorating and the perfect time to get out into your community and take in all the area hs to offer like the local light displays, the community holiday parade, lots of botanical gardens have wonderful holiday light features, and local artisans and shops is where you can usually find a bounty of seasonal treats.  Don’t miss out!  Get out there and sample as much of the local flavor as possible and support your community while you’re at it. 

24

HOST A PARTY

If the Christmas season is about anything it is about gathering together with those you love, so consider hosting a holiday party, a cookie exchange, or a present wrapping party to have some fun as you count down the days until Santa comes to town.  Keep it casual and focus on having a good time.  The rest will take care of itself. 

25

send christmas greetings

One of the most wonderful things I look forward to each year is sending and receiving Christmas cards through the mail.  Like everything else on this list, it’s a lot of fun and is a family affair around here.  Traditional greeting cards are always fantastic, but digital cards and video messages are fantastic too and offer worlds of options so let your inner elf shine and spread some good cheer! 

 

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

Charles Dickens