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

 

 

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

 

MARY’S FRUITCAKE COOKIES


One of the best things about celebrating Christmas is spending time with family and friends.  And, of course, one of the added benefits of spending time with family and friends … especially family … is sharing stories, traditions, and yes, recipes! 

 

Every family has dishes and special treats that only get made during the holiday season that everyone cannot wait to enjoy as they embrace the jolly and make merry at their gatherings. We certainly have several, but one of the most anticipated treats year after year in our family are my mother-in-law Mary’s Fruitcake Cookies.  I grew up enjoying the traditional fruitcake (Claxton is my favorite), but once I married Santa Mom I was introduced to a fabulous take on the Christmas standard. These fruitcake cookies are lighter than a traditional fruitcake slice and are bursting with flavor.  Without a doubt, these bite sized treats are approved and a no-doubter to be included among my favorite Christmas recipes.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup margarine (2 sticks)
  • 3 cups flour (plain)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 ts vanilla extract
  • 1 lb candied pineapple
  • 1 lb candied cherries
  • 1 lb dates
  • 3/4 lb seedless raisins
  • 5 cups broken nuts (walnuts or pecans)

SUPPLIES

  • Hand or Countertop mixer
  • Measuring cup
  • Silicone spatula 
  • Cookie sheet
  • Large mixing bowl

Instructions

  1. Mix together softened butter and sugar in mixer
  2. Mix dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) 
  3. Add eggs, milk, and flour mixture, alternating wet and dry ingredients
  4. Add vanilla extract to mixture
  5. Combine above batter with chopped nuts and fruit in a large container
  6. Drop by spoonful directly on to your cookie sheet
  7. Place in a 275 degree oven for 25 minutes or until slight browning on bottom
  8. Remove from cookie sheet while hot
  9. Recipe makes about 90 crunchy and delicious cookies that will keep in a covered container for several weeks

 

Boxed and tied up with a string, in gift bags bound up with a bow, and perfect to enjoy over a hot cup of cocoa or your favorite coffee with your family and friends, Mary’s Fruitcake Cookies are a wonderful way for everyone to make merry during your next holiday gathering.

 

From Bethlehem to wherever you are in this old, wide world and from our home to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Santa Dad!

 

letters from santa


 

Just before sunset on the winter solstice, Riley, Kinsley, and went spreading Christmas cheer, caroling and gifting through our neighborhood. The girls would knock on the doors and greet everyone with a big “Merry Christmas!” Kinsley would hand each neighbor a holiday greeting card and then Riley would hand them a small box of treats, most of which we made together here at home. 

 

Finally, we would all sing “Deck The Halls” before the girls were waving and offering another round of hearty wishes of “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy Holidays!” as we moved on to the next home.  We saw lots of smiles and happy faces, holiday wishes, and even got one “Keep spreading the cheer, girls!”

 

What a wonderful outing making special Christmas memories.  Seeing our neighbors faces lit up with smiles warmed the cockles of our hearts.  Knowing they were responsible for all those smiles and warm feelings brought the girls SO much joy.

 

If that’s not what Christmas is about, well I don’t know what is.

 

Keep ChristmasChristmas treewell all year ‘round, friends!

Santa Dad

CHRISTMAS COAL


One of my favorite holiday treats to make that ais always a hit is Christmas coal.  Not only is it always a hit, but it’s super simple and quick to make.  Honestly, the most time consuming part is deciding how you want to package and present your coal.  This easy peasy Christmas treat is super cute and just perfect to give away to friends and neighbors or share at the office or a holiday party!

 

There are lots of variations on this popular holiday treat, but you can take it from . . . this one’s a winner.

 

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. of Oreo Cookies
  • 4 Cups of Miniature Marshmallows
  • 1/4 Cup of Butter

SUPPLIES

  • One gallon Zip-loc bag
  • Rolling pin or measuring cup
  • Silicone spatula 
  • Cookie sheet
  • Wax paper
  • Pam butter spray

Instructions

  1. Line your cookie sheet(s) with wax paper.
  2. Place Oreo cookies in a gallon size Ziploc Bag.
  3. Using a rolling pin or measuring cup crush the Oreo cookies into small pieces.
  4. Place butter and marshmallows in a bowl and heat in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Stir marshmallows and butter until smooth with silicone spatula. (I lightly spray my spatula with butter spray to help prevent the mixture from sticking.)
  6. Add in crushed Oreos and stir well using your silicone spatula.
  7. Use your hands to grab a few fingers worth of your sticky mixture to create a “coal” shape, as large or small as you like.  I occasionally spray a little butter spray onto my hands to prevent the marshmallow mixture from “caking” up as I transfer the coal bites.  I like to place the mixture on the wax paper lined cookie sheet(s) with as little “shaping” as possible to let it retain a more natural “broken” look.
  8. Repeat until mixture is gone. 
  9. Allow your coal bites to cool completely before storing.
  10. Transfer into an airtight container. I line my containers with wax paper and separate the layers of coal with additional rounds of wax paper to prevent everything from sticking together.

 

Boxed and tied up with a string, in gift bags bound up with a bow, or in a tin in your fridge to enjoy with your family, your Christmas coal will be ready to fuel all of your holiday merriment.

 

From Bethlehem to wherever you are in this old, wide world and from our home to yours, Merry Christmas from the Santa Dad!

 

Christmas has come to bethlehem


I’ve written those words and shared a new version of Christmas in our home each holiday season for the past two decades.  I do that because I love Christmas.  Everything about it.  The traditions.  The history.  The memories.  The way it makes you feel inside.  The smells.  The tastes.  The opportunity to not need a reason to help someone else.  The joy.  The innocence of the season, especially now that I get to see it reflected back at me in the faces of my two young daughters.  The magic.  The fun! 

 

This Christmas season is different for all of us for so many reasons.  Many things are uncertain as 2020 comes to a close and that can lead to unease, anxiety, and even fear for any of us, but especially our children. Even so, there is still much for us to celebrate and be grateful for this holiday season.

 

In our home, that has meant that we will continue to do what we’ve done all year and lean into the one thing that 2020 has offered us in spades.  Time.  We’ve fully embraced this opportunity to spend more time together, just ejoying one another’s company, truly seeing and appreciating everyone and everything in our little world with genuinely grateful and open hearts.

 

And that brings me to why we’re all here.  I created because I love Christmas so much and I see the wonder it brings to our lives every day, I decided to share as much of the experience with you as possible.  It is my goal to give the gift of sharing our Christmas lives with you here, along with lots of other surprises like traditions, recipes, crafting ideas, and much more, even the occasional product review to keep your stockings full all year ’round.  I hope you’ll visit often! 

 

In keeping with my annual Christmas tradition, I’ll leave you with a look at some of our Christmas decorations this year.  I hope seeing them brings you as much as joy as putting them up brought us.  

 

From Bethlehem to wherever you are in this old, wide world and from our home to yours, Merry Christmas from the Santa Dad!

  KEEP CHRISTMAS WELL MY FRIENDS