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Learning to capture Christmas bokeh

Christmas bokeh

As I’ve done some research to help improve my photos this Christmas season with my new DSLR camera, the buzzword I keep seeing is bokeh.  I’ve always liked those photos with the blurred lights in the background, but I never knew that was called bokeh until this year.  It’s a neat effect and definitely something I wanted to try with our Christmas tree.

I was glad to find a few tutorials in the blogosphere to help me figure out how to create these pics.  Today I finally decided to try it out.  I consulted the tutorial I found through Pinterest from the House of Hawthornes blog and pulled out my camera.

I set my camera to Aperture Priority mode and tried taking some photos just holding my camera, but they were all blurred.  I then realized the importance of the advice to use a stable surface.  Since I don’t have a tripod yet, I tried using my coffee table and a dining room chair.  It took several tries, but I got a couple of nice shots.Christmas poinsettia

These photos are so festive!  I love how they capture the beauty of the Christmas season!

Embracing the joy of a good-enough Christmas

When it comes to Christmas, every year I feel like I’m chasing perfection – and losing at it.

I want to have the perfect gifts for everyone on my Christmas cheerlist.

I want the decorations to be impeccable and the house to be immaculate.

I want the ideal picture of the kids for the Christmas cards.

I want to overcome the limitations of my current cooking and baking abilities and whip up amazing meals and desserts.

Each year I find that I can’t live up to the expectations I set for myself.  Then I think, “This year is good enough, and I’ll get an earlier start to make things perfect next year.”  It’s a silly cycle I’ve created.

It’s time for me to stop the madness!  This year is not perfect, and next year won’t be either.  And that’s OK.  I don’t want to spend the Christmas season feeling stressed and worn out because my goals are unrealistic.  I want to enjoy this special time of year, so today I’m taking a moment to reset my expectations and refocus on what’s important.

A “good enough” Christmas is good enough!  In fact, it’s probably better than perfect since it comes with less pressure and more time for family fun.  Time to appreciate the joy in everyday moments this Christmas season – not look for ways to improve them!

Meaningful Christmas giving

Since we were out of town over the Thanksgiving weekend, our family is a little behind on our usual Christmas traditions.

One of my favorites is sending some Christmas goodwill from the World Vision gift catalog.  We usually cap off our Thanksgiving celebration and kick off the Christmas season by allowing our children to pick a selection from the catalog.  We all love this tradition, which brings out the true spirit of the season for our family.World Vision Catalog

Are you familiar with World Vision and its gift catalog?  World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization that makes a difference around the world.  Selections in the catalog are gift options for people around the world – what World Vision calls “gifts of hope.”

Gift options include chickens, goats, pigs, fishing kits, fruit trees, and drought-resistant seeds to provide an ongoing source of food to help hungry families.  Other choices are life-saving medicines, vaccinations, and mosquito nets that help prevent malaria.  Educational gifts are also available, such as school supplies, a bicycle for a girl’s safe transportation to school, or a sewing machine or career training to help women in poverty-stricken countries.

Browsing through the catalog together with our kids is a wonderful teachable moment to talk about the needs in other parts of the world and our calling as Christians to show compassion, as Jesus modeled for us.  We can focus on the privilege of giving something truly meaningful.

This year my children chose to give a goat, which will provide milk, cheese, and yogurt.  It’s great to see them joyfully find a gift they want to provide to help meet the need of someone across the globe!

The World Vision catalog is available online at