‘Tis the season!

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It’s such a blessing to live near family.

How do I know? Well, sometimes the importance of something is taught through scarcity.

I grew up with no extended family in the state – or even in neighboring states, for that matter! It was just the 5 of us in my immediate family and it was what I was used to…until Bjorn came into my life. 🙂 When I first learned that my husband had so many of his relatives in the area, I was blown away. Both sides of his family were nearby! Bjorn grew up in an almost-sibling-like group of cousins and was familiar with Christmas celebrations involving “everyone,” heading over to an aunt’s house without having to call first, farming on weekends with his father or uncle, and having coffee with grandparents after church every Sunday.

I hadn’t grown up in a family culture like this, but it was something I was delighted to embrace when I got married. When first I moved down to southern Minnesota, I was instantly immersed in this relative-rich culture, something I am very grateful for!

My own family is and always will be special to me, but it’s wonderful that those in Bjorn’s family now feel like my family members, too; one of the many blessings of marriage is expanding your family circle, in a way. 🙂

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Expanding the circle: Exhibit A – the Paschke side!
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And another picture: the Olson side!

It’s such a blessing to live near family. Being in and out of each other’s lives like this is just plain good for the soul. – But what if you don’t live nearby?

My mom and her four siblings have participated in a circle letter for years, since they live far apart. This letter idea was initially started by my grandpa. As the large envelope travels around the country, each family adds a new letter to the pile. Growing up, it was so fun to read “The Boomer,” as they call it (short for “boomerang”) and hear about the goings-on in our relatives’ lives through the shared letters.

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My mother’s side 🙂
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My dad’s side of the family

Because we don’t see our relatives often, I always looked forward to the annual Christmas cards and the letters that arrived with them. Christmas letters are such a sweet way to hear updates about the people in our lives – not only relatives, but old friends, new friends, co-workers, and people we haven’t seen in years!

So, obviously, I’m very excited about Christmas this year – because it is Bjorn and my first Christmas together!! There’s something uniquely special about a first Christmas together as a married couple. This year, Christmas morning will be our own treasured, quiet time to enjoy together. To usher in Jesus’ birth as a husband and wife team is such a sacred, beautiful privilege. I’ve been daydreaming for a while now about sending out our very first Christmas cards to friends and relatives, and…the time has come to get them ready!!

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^^ We WERE considering using this picture from last Christmas with his family…just because we borrowed my sis-in-law’s dog Elsa for a minute and realized we can all make the same face 😉 ^^

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If you know me well, you know that I love stationery. I’m always on the lookout for a good quality card and this year, I ordered our first Christmas cards from Treat! This site allows you to first choose a card template, and then you can upload and insert one (or more) photos into the template.

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They have a lot of pre-made greetings inside the folded cards but you can also edit the phrases yourself to personalize the card or to make the card more “you.” Our cards arrived recently and I am absolutely in love with them! I kind of want to send them out early just because I’m so excited!

We will be including a letter along with each Christmas card – an aspect of card-exchanging that is especially important to me. I’m thrilled that 2014 is the year we get to start our Christmas card and letter tradition and I’m excited to continue this tradition in upcoming years! Letter-writing to stay in touch with loved ones comes highly recommended from the Martel clan. 😉

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What are your holiday card or letter-writing traditions? Where are you ordering your holiday cards from this year?? 🙂


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  1. I love your Christmas card, Hannah, and your words on family! It’s so beautiful when two families can come together around a couple and celebrate the new journey they’re embarking on! You looked gorgeous in your dress too!

    1. Thank you, Daisy! It’s always fun to sift back through our wedding pictures 🙂 And part of the beauty of marriage is not only 2 people becoming one, but 2 families joining and celebrating together! 🙂

  2. I absolutely love your wedding pictures. What awesoem big families. I grew up in a situation like Bjourn. My cousins are more like siblings and I saw my family multiple times a week. I can’t imagine being far from them but thankfully we have social media, skype, and always letters to keep in touch.
    Also, love those Christmas cards! How cute to incorporate our first in there!

    1. Thank you, Kendra! Big families sure are fun! It is so special that you got to grow up with cousins nearby – I’m a little jealous. 😉 Social media really helps us all stay in touch now days, too, which is a blessing. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!

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