December Daily : Day 3 (part one)


Today I pulled out the Playmobil Nativity Set
we picked up last year and set it out on a tray in the living room. I thought it would be a good way to welcome Simon home from school.

As I was sitting on the couch placing each of the wise men on the tray, I was remembering how much I loved coming home from school during December to see what my Mom had pulled out from the Christmas boxes. My favorites were always a nativity set and a brass candle set where the flames from the small candles enabled a top piece to spin around and around.

It was always so cool to walk through the door and see the house transformed into a twinkling celebration of the season.

I am hoping for those sorts of memories for Simon and this new little one. Tomorrow I will be bringing out all the holiday books that have been safely stored for the last year. I think there is some magic in only having them come out for a certain amount of time.

I am really going for simple and meaningful this year. As I was going through the boxes I pulled out only about half the decorations that I normally do; I am choosing the things that are most important and that I/we love the most. Twinkle lights, greenery, red berries, my childhood ornaments (last year I did a "matching" tree - all the ornaments were color-coordinated - and this year it is all my ornaments from when I was a kid), the nativity, and a couple other things I plan to photograph next week.

It's a good pace for me right now.

And of course, Simon played with that nativity set all afternoon.


Part two of Day Three, including images of my project, will be posted around noon today.


Celebrate the season. Read more about the concept of a December Daily Album and links to all related posts here. See many more examples from participants in the Flickr December Daily Group.

42 thoughts

  1. Sharon F, Oakland, CA

    2008-12-04 01:43:52 -0500

    Fantastic idea and tradition. Oh my goodness, I too remember that brass piece where the flame created movement ... had not thought of that until you mentioned it.
    Amazing how those feelings come flooding back with those memories.
    thanks for sharing...

  2. Holly S

    2008-12-04 01:46:12 -0500

    I need's just me and my husband-dd is away at school. We are moving on Jan 2 so everything is packed away and my life is such a bore-I have nothing to put in my album-I mean nothing at all-no tree this year, no children at home to take pics of, no decorations...I really need some advise! I love my album so maybe I should hold it for next December and hope I have more to say?
    I know you say to keep it simple and not think too much about it but I have no thinking at all! I can't imagine 25 pages of the same thing...boringness! I was really excited putting it together but never stopped to think of what little I had to put into it!

  3. Ali

    2008-12-04 02:06:16 -0500

    Christine - the "matching tree" meant that all the ornaments were color-coordinated (gold and red) and I left my childhood ones in their case.

  4. Aby

    2008-12-04 02:10:03 -0500

    We had one of those spinning candle sets, too! I went home over Thanksgiving and we watched slides of childhood photos. I saw a picture of that wonderful candle set. I wish somehow that had made its way into my home...would love to have it out on display.
    Thanks for the reminder that it's the simplest of things that make the holidays special.

  5. Ali

    2008-12-04 02:11:10 -0500

    Holly - what if you planned something simple each day to celebrate the season? It could be as simple as a stop at a coffee shop for a seasonal drink, a drive around the neighborhood to look at lights, making/buying gifts for your family, reading a holiday book, sitting by the fire listening to holiday music on the radio, donating time to a shelter or other agency that needs help, much of this season of the year is what you make of it. It does not have to be all decorations and such - it is the spirit and everyday life that I most want to document.

  6. tara pollard pakosta

    2008-12-04 02:23:07 -0500

    i LOVe playmobile. too bad my husband threw to the curb two massive huge bins of it. i about died! he did that when we moved, not knowing what it was, along with all our legos.
    simple = peacefuL.
    we only put up a tree, the nutrackers and stockings on the mantle and that's about it.
    can't wait to see what you do for your next pages!tara

  7. Kirsten

    2008-12-04 02:27:20 -0500

    I remember that little brass candle chime! And we have that nativity set - my daughter always called it "Jesus Love" :)

  8. claudia

    2008-12-04 02:29:19 -0500

    I does seem to be the year of less and getting back to the things that really matter. The real reason for the season - Jesus - instead of consumerism. I wish I still had some ornaments from when I was young, but this year I'm looking forward to hanging some of my boys' first ornaments and even making some clay or cinnamon ones with them.
    Thanks Ali for sharing your thoughts and ideas. I've been so blessed by your December Daily album idea too.

  9. Laura

    2008-12-04 02:31:38 -0500

    We too are simplifying this year. Only the special decorations & focussing more on the traditions & family.
    Happy Holidays!

  10. Olivia

    2008-12-04 03:01:14 -0500

    I'm trying to keep up with the December Daily posts, even though I am not participating right now. On November 3, our home burned, and we are living with my parents until we can replace it. I read today about your feelings about the rituals of Christmas, the ornaments, and decorations. This year, my Christmas will be just a little different. We salvaged some of our decorations, including my Nativity set. I will find a place in Mama's house to display it. We will begin rebuilding soon, and that will also include new December and holiday rituals.

  11. sharna

    2008-12-04 03:23:41 -0500

    We too have a collection of Christmas books. I wrap them in leftover gift wrap after Christmas (thanks to a tip from a friend) and store them this away for the next year. On Thanksgiving we brought out all the gift wrapped books and we read one or two a night (yes-we have that many!) until CHristmas. Sometimes I read to them, sometimes they read to me, but it is always special and has become a favorite part of CHristmas for my two children. This year as we read the books we are selecting ones that are a little too young that we can pass on to some little ones in our circle of friends to enjoy.

  12. Lynn

    2008-12-04 03:37:22 -0500

    My little girl (she is 4) just learned the Christmas Story on Dec 1 in school. She immediately came home and played the story out with my nativity that I have had for years. We also have the little people version but she needed to use the grown up one for the story. I wish I thought of taking a picture of it :(
    Marion OH

  13. patti

    2008-12-04 03:49:46 -0500

    I have been adding little "things" to our home daily. In addition to the advent calendar (I made one like yours and Martha's), my kids love to see what is new in the house. I used half of my decor items also this year. Clean and simple.

  14. gitz

    2008-12-04 04:00:32 -0500

    I loved this post. I have a small condo so it could get "overdone" very easily. Every piece I put out has meaning to me... a memory attached to it... and it really does make it cozier in my home because I feel cozier inside.
    I love how you pull from your childhood to give to your children.

  15. Susan W

    2008-12-04 04:06:27 -0500

    Thank you so much Ali. For the reminder to keep things simple. As I was wrapping some presents yesterday it was interesting to see that I had managed to keep things small this year. Less things but more of what will bring joy all year long.
    I am doing my own December daily and I am kind of stressing because I haven't taken enough photos or feeling like I haven't done enough yet. I am not lucky enough to have a photo printer at home so I am just journaling everyday on any Christmas activities or pictures I may happen to take. I might just upload photos once a week and work on my album a week at a time.
    I kind of rambled but thanks for the reminder to keep things simple/small and enjoy the holiday. I have a few books that need to come out and be enjoyed now that the time is right.

  16. Beth

    2008-12-04 04:25:36 -0500

    It was cool to see the Playmobil set in your photo. My Mom give my daughter a playmobil Nativity Set and Manger when she was about 4 years old. She is 9 now and still was very excited this year about getting it out and setting it up next to the "grown-up" Natvity/Creche set we have. I hope Simon and your new little one enjoy yours for as long as we have.

  17. Debbie McIntyre

    2008-12-04 05:03:15 -0500

    Less is more. This is one of those years when it makes sense to keep it simple and not over-do, over-think, and over-spend during the holidays. It makes for better memories when there's less commotion.

  18. Kirsty Neale

    2008-12-04 05:53:35 -0500

    Such happy memories! We had one of the brass candle/angel chimes, too - I think my dad bought it when he was working out in Germany one year. It was always my favourite part of the Christmas decorations, and I still love seeing it when I go back to my parents' house now. We also had a much-loved nativity set which came with a book, and when my sister had her first baby a couple of years ago, I was thrilled to find it was still available (although not the easiest title in the world to track down). It's The Christmas Book by Dick Bruna, just in case you're looking for additions to your holiday library. Thanks for such a lovely, nostalgic post.

  19. Jennifer

    2008-12-04 06:09:28 -0500

    Growing up, our Christmas books only came out for the holidays, too. And now I completely associate them with good Christmas memories. Thinking about it now, I can actually visualize the tree in the dining room, something we only did when I was really young (it later moved to the addition on the house). Glad to hear you're doing the same.

  20. Nicole

    2008-12-04 07:43:08 -0500

    We had one of those brass candle sets too when I was a kid!
    I got my Mum to send it to us last year when my DD was 2 - I'll have to get it out. Thanks for the reminder!

  21. sunny

    2008-12-04 09:30:27 -0500

    I would love it if someone would post the name of the spinning candle chime. I've been looking for one for years!

  22. Emma

    2008-12-04 10:18:04 -0500

    I have journal lifted your December Daily and have turned it into a Silly Season Journal.
    You can see it at
    Happy Holidays....

  23. Clover

    2008-12-04 23:34:56 -0500

    We had that brass decoration with the candles too! I loved that! Great memories.

  24. mouse

    2008-12-15 09:40:23 -0500

    I would love it if someone would post the name of the spinning candle chime. I've been looking for one for years!
    Yule chimes. I came through here trying to hunt them down too. Looks like a few places online carry them.

  25. Bill

    2010-02-22 08:36:32 -0500

    We have a nativity tradition we borrowed from one of our friends...
    Starting in early December (whenever we get the nativity out) we move the wisemen on a daily basis. The kids love (or loved anyway - they are older now!) looking for the wise men who were on their journey to find the baby Jesus!
    It's always fun to hear about the traditions other families had, too...

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