Warm at Heart


Hi Friends!

Brrrrr! December has been so cold and snowy here in the Midwest. We have already shoveled 15.6 inches (39.6 cm) of snow at our house the past three weekends, with more snow on the way tonight. Arctic temperatures have kept us in the deep freeze.

Through it all, I have felt warm at heart,

while celebrating my December birthday with family and friends!

(Perhaps it is all those birthday candles! πŸ™‚ )

Braving the cold or snow has always been part of my birthday fun!

Bundle up and come along…


A new annual birthday tradition began this year

with a wonderful day at the German Christmas Market.

A dear friend and I spent the afternoon visiting the Christkindlmarket at Naper Settlement.

We layered on warm sweaters, long underwear, thick socks, boots,

scarves, hats, and our warmest gloves for our adventure.


As we explored the outdoor market,

precious memories of my visits to the Karlsruher Christkindlesmarkt,

in southwest Germany, warmed my heart.

The sounds of Christmas music and the smells of Bratwurst,

Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes),

and Cinnamon Roasted Almonds filled the air.


Handblown German glass ornaments are one of my favorite memories of

Christmas in Germany.

Every Christmas, I hang a beautiful German glass ornament in our dining room window

as a reminder of that special Christmas visit.


We stood admiring these Santas, hand-carved and painted in Russia,

until our fingers and toes felt numb.

We were just fascinated as the shopkeeper explained their intricate designs.


Traditional German Nutcrackers and Incense Smokers

brought a touch of Germany to the Midwest.

We saw German sweets of all kinds, handmade pottery from Poland,

nativity scenes hand-carved in Bethlehem,

German steins, hats, teas, and Lebkuchen (gingerbread).


What a delight to visit the same Christmas store that I first visited in medieval Rothenburg!

After admiring the intricate, wooden Christmas Pyramids,

Advent calendars, and glass ornaments,

I knew exactly what I wanted to bring home as a memory of our day together.


I chose candle clips and candles for our Christmas tree,

just like the ones I brought home from my Christmas in Germany so long ago.

Those special memories always warm my heart!


It is the Christkind (Christ child) who brings the Christmas gifts

to children in many parts of Germany.

She is a young girl, with long blond curls, a white and gold gown,

a golden crown, and the wings of an angel.

During Advent, the children write letters to the Christkind,

sprinkle them with sugar,

and leave them on the windowsill.

On December 24th, German parents bring in the Christmas tree,

Β decorate it with colorful ornaments, and clip candles onto the branches.

They leave the window open just a bit for the Christkind angel…

and close the living room door.

It warms my heart to remember my German family gathered around the table

enjoying a wonderful Raclette dinner on Heilige Nacht (Christmas Eve).

As we laughed and talked, we suddenly heard the sound of a little bell ringing.

The children jumped for joy,

knowing that the Christkind had flown in through the window,

put all the gifts under the tree, lit the candles,

rang her bell, and flown away!

(I was just as excited as the children! πŸ™‚ )

We all went into the living room, and held hands in a circle around the Christmas tree.

The warm memories still bring tears to my eyes…

Together we sang Stille Nacht in German (I had packed a little paper with the lyrics.)

and everyone surprised me by singing Jingle Bells in English.

The candles on the tree were quickly blown out, so that we could open our gifts.

It was a night I will treasure forever!


At the Naper Settlement Christkindlmarket, we toasted my birthday

with hot Gluhwein and warm, Bavarian pretzels!

It was an extra treat to meet a friendly woman at our table,

who is an artist from our town and a kindred spirit.

Warmed by the Gluhwein, we hurried through the Christkindlmarket one more time

in late afternoon cold, and headed for home.

What a heartwarming way to celebrate with a dear friend!


My husband and I have a wonderful tradition of celebrating my birthday together

by making memories in a small town,

all decked out for Christmas.

For this birthday, I chose the pretty, little town of Geneva, along the Fox River.


It was another frigid morning as we drove west,

singing along with the Christmas songs on the radio.

As we quickly walked hand-in-hand along the main street,

we stopped to visit the all of the festive shops in the beautiful, old houses.


The Arctic temperatures kept most of the holiday shoppers away on that Saturday.

So, we soaked in all of the quiet, friendly, holiday charm…

warm at heart.


December is such a wonderful time of year to explore Geneva.


Families braved the cold, waiting in line to visit with Santa Claus

and snuggling under blankets for carriage rides through town.


We lingered in the Geneva Antique Market,

where vintage Christmas decorations filled every booth.



After visiting all of my favorite places in Geneva, we loaded our packages into our ‘sleigh’

and headed home, as snowflakes began to fall…

warm at heart!


Heartfelt thanks dear family, friends, and blog friends for all of the

cards, songs, visits, calls, kindness, gifts, and birthday hugs.

My heart is truly warmed

and overflowing with blessings!

I hope you are warm and cozy wherever you are this weekend! β™₯β™₯

Bring on the twinkle!

β™‘ Dawn

19. December ~ Edited to add…Β Β Β Β  My heart is breaking as the news reaches us of today’sΒ  attack at the Christmas Market in Berlin. Our prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives in the attack, all of those who suffered injuries, and the first responders who rushed in to help. I add my voice to prayers for peace in our wounded world. β™‘









35 thoughts on “Warm at Heart

  1. What an amazing winter market and beautiful little town to celebrate your birthday. Happy Birthday and may you have many more happy ones. πŸ™‚ I love the story of the German family Christmas celebration. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and healthy 2017.

    • Many thanks for the warm wishes, Judy! It’s fun to find special places to celebrate… and it always snows! My German family have been dear friends for over 38 years now. We take turns visiting back and forth often. They are one of the most special gifts in my life!! It was such a blessing to be part of their family life over the Christmas holidays one year. Just too wonderful for words! Wishing you a Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year, Judy! β™‘

  2. That sounds like a perfect birthday to me! I had similar plans. I took the day off from work and planned to spend it with my BFF, shopping and eating out….alas a nasty respiratory bug got me and I spent the day in bed! The best laid plans!! Still getting over the bug.
    But I am ready for Christmas! So I can just coast from here. And you are not the only one in the deep freeze! We went from the upper 70’s down to below freezing in just a few hours and we should get down into the teens tonight! Burrrr.
    Christmas in Germany sounds like a dream. What wonderful memories! Would love to hear more.
    Merry Christmas Dawn. I hope your holidays are a delight. Jim has promised me a fire today, so I am off to help him bring in the wood.

    • Snowy birthday hugs, Chris! πŸ™‚ Give yourself the gift of rest and time to b.r.e.a.t.h.e so you will feel better soon. I’m so impressed that you are ready for Christmas! I’m not quite ready… but I’m really looking forward to an old-fashioned family celebration here on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

      I didn’t realize that you ever had such cold temperatures in West Texas! A fireplace will add such warm, toasty Hygge on this cold December day. πŸ™‚ It’s almost time for your ‘One Little Word’ for 2017. Listen to your heart… and you might hear your new word! My OLW found me about three weeks ago. πŸ™‚

      Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas, dear Chris! Warm hugs! β™‘

  3. A very Happy Birthday to you, Dawn. We share a birthday month! Yay!
    I love Geneva any time of year, but, most especially at Christmastime. A group of friends and I often take the train into Geneva to spend the day, eat lunch, and, well, enjoy friendship. Did you bring that holly tea set home?
    I have been wanting to go to the Naperville Christkindle Market since I first heard they had one at the Naper Settlement. Between my foot, the weather, and some family concerns, it hasn’t happened 😦 so, I’m most grateful that you posted all of these wonderful photos and words to take them there vicariously. Thank you.
    Enjoy this Sunday, and stay warm. I wish we didn’t have to go out in the cold, but, alas, we do, so off I go to layer up and push forth.

    • A heartfelt Happy Birthday to you, dear Penny! πŸ™‚ Isn’t it fun to discover other December kindreds? What a great idea to take the train to Geneva! I’ve never done that. The holly tea set is still there waiting at the antique market in the Berry House shops.

      I’m hoping the Christkindlmarket will return every year! Naper Settlement is one of my very favorite places to visit! πŸ™‚ I loved taking my classes there every Autumn… and I learned something new every time. It is so pretty in the snow! I just noticed that they are closed today due to our extreme cold.

      Keep resting your foot as much as possible, Penny! I’m keeping you close at heart as the holidays draw near. Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday and good health in the New Year! Stay warm, my friend! β™‘

    • Oh, Anne! I just love that we share some of the same special places! πŸ™‚ Such wunderbar memories they are! Sending gentle hugs. Feel better soon, dear Anne! β™‘

  4. Happy Birthday, Dawn!!! That was a lovely way to celebrate your birthday. Any day spent looking at beautiful things in the company of someone you love is always a good day. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year!!!

    • Heartfelt thanks, Aquila! You are so right! Making memories together will always be my favorite way to celebrate. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and the blessings of Good Health and Happiness in the New Year! Thanks so much for visiting today, Aquila! β™‘

    • Happiest Birthday, Marcia! πŸ™‚ It’s lovely to know so many December girls! Your birthday celebration sounded just lovely. Hope you are enjoying this holiday season in your new home. Warm hugs! β™‘

  5. What a magical birthday you have enjoyed, Dawn! I love the Christkindlesmarkt–so authentic with beautiful gifts from Germany and around the world. Your memories of your German Christmas are so special. I love the candles on the tree ( even if it does scare me). Will you be lighting yours for a few moments on Christmas Eve? My grandson’s enjoy this tradition in their home. It’s really so lovely. The town of Geneva sounds enchanting. I love the antique Christmas ornaments! Thank you for sharing your joyous birthday celebration. Enjoy this beautiful week leading up to Christmas! β™₯

    • It was such a delight, Martha Ellen! Both days were so unbelievably cold, thoughts of outdoor activities seemed a bit crazy… but I’m so glad that we followed through with our plans. πŸ™‚ December birthdays are always cold here, but are filled with such warm memories! In fact, just today we braved the -20 wind chill to dash out for some special Christmas gifts. We drove ‘over the river and through the woods’ at the Arboretum, enjoying the peaceful, new-fallen snow, with Christmas music playing. It was a spur-of-the-moment change of plans, and we both agreed that it was a perfect day! πŸ™‚

      Do you have a Christkindlesmarkt in your area, too? The people working there come from Europe. So, it is very interesting to chat with them, find out where they are from, and to learn the stories about the traditional Christmas decorations and products. I know you would really enjoy it! Long ago, I bought the same candle clips and candles at the Christkindlesmarkt in Germany. For many years, I put them on my Christmas tree. One year, I packed them away in our Christmas closet, and never found them. Perhaps they will turn up again, now that I have replaced them! Hope so! πŸ™‚ I’ve never lit the candles on our tree, but I warmly remember the candles aglow on that special Christmas Eve in Germany! I love that your grandsons carry on this beautiful tradition in their home every year. β™₯ I thought of you when we saw antique German ornaments that day, Martha Ellen!

      You must be so excited about the arrival of all of your special Christmas guests! Very soon your home will be filled with family, food, and fun Christmas traditions. I’m looking forward to hearing all about your Christmas celebrations, dear Martha Ellen. Sending warm thoughts your way! β™‘

  6. So funny! I’m a December “baby”, too! My daughter and I took the Geneva Christmas Housewalk earlier this month…something you may want to add to your list of birthday month “must do’s”!

    • Happiest Birthday, Louise! Another December kindred!:) Your birthday celebration sounded just perfect! I’ve often been in Geneva that weekend, but have never done the Housewalk. I’ll have to add it to a future wish list. Hope you are enjoying nice December days, Louise. This weekend we noticed so many big snowmen on our block. I’ll have to take a Winter walk with my camera this week. πŸ™‚ Stay warm and enjoy lots of holiday Hygge! Sending birthday hugs, Louise! β™‘

    • So beautifully planned, dearest Kim! I’m so happy that you thought of celebrating at the Christkindlmarket! I will always treasure the warm memories of that Arctic day with my Bestie! I have more photos to share. I thought of you today when we took a spur-of-the-moment trip to the Arboretum for bit of Christmas shopping, our favorite lunch overlooking the frozen lake, and a peaceful drive ‘over the river and through the woods’ with Christmas music playing. πŸ™‚ The pristine snow sparkled like glitter in the bright sunshine. Truly lovely! Warm memories of a frigid day! Love you! β™‘

  7. Wow…your place is so magical..just like a fairy tale. Wish I could visit it. I love all the pictures. It’s a treat to see them. And I love your Christmas decors. It’s heart warming to see them. I already feel like it’s Christmas. β™₯

    • It looks very Christmasy… especially in the snow, Ricky! The little town we visited is filled with beautiful, Victorian homes from the 1800s. The quaint shops are in the old homes. So, it’s always a treat for me to go inside these beautiful homes. πŸ™‚ I just love seeing them all decorated for Christmas! It takes us back in time for a wonderful, old-fashioned Christmas feeling. It feels magical to me, as well.

      We have had a very snowy December. This is our coldest morning of the year. It is -10 F (-23 C) and with the wind, it feels like -20 F (-29 C). Brrrrrr! So, I am thinking warm thoughts and staying cozy inside! Wishing you joy, Ricky, as you celebrate Christmas with your family and friends. Sending warm hugs all the way to India! Thanks so much for visiting today! β™‘

  8. Dawn, Happy belated birthday to you! What a wonderful way to celebrate. I especially enjoyed reading about the Christkindlemarket. I am a German (by descent) as well and have always wanted to visit the market in Germany this time of year.
    I love December and the cold weather and warm memories that each year brings.

    • Warmest hugs, Karen! You would truly love visiting a Christkindlmarkt in Germany! All of the traditional, handmade decorations are just beautiful. There are so many wonderful things to taste and sip! I will always remember the Met, a hot, fermented drink made with honey and mulled spices. It is so warming on a cold December day! Enjoy a little peek at the famous Kathe Wohlfahrt shops in Germany ~ Kathe Wohlfahrt shops
      Thanks so much for stopping to visit during this very busy week, Karen! Frohe Weihnachten! β™‘

  9. Dawn, happy belated birthday. You’ve had a remarkably good time I see. What a fun way to celebrate with your sweetie.

    I’m a few days behind on my post-reading, but happy to be catching up today. What a strange and sad coincidence that you wrote this just a day before the Berlin tragedy. Like you, I continue to hope for peace in our world. It’s not feeling like a hopeful time right now. It’s hard to lift our hearts when these things happen over and over again.

    Onto brighter things, your market pictures are stunning. I wanted to pop into the scene with a bit of magic fairy dust, but instead I traveled with my mind’s eye. Thank you for the journey.

    I hope to spend time on the east coast again one year. We visited Boston, Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut when we were first married, but we’ve not been back since having the boys. I’m long overdue.

    Wishing you a Merry Christmas. I’m looking forward to hearing about your “one little word”. xo

    • Heartfelt thanks, Alys! Making special memories is always my favorite way to celebrate my birthday. It’s always cold and usually snows, but that just adds to the festive Christmas-y feeling of the charming, old-fashioned towns that I love to visit!

      The news has been so heartbreaking and frightening this week. My heart is with the all of the German people, my German family, and so many friends there. I remember being in that area of Berlin one summer long ago, before the Reunification. My friends always gather at their local Christkindlesmarkt in the days before Christmas. My heart will be right there with them.

      On a much happier note, I think you would love visiting a Christkindlmarket one day! It’s truly a magical feeling! It brought back so many warm memories of my Christmas visit to Germany many years ago. It was a perfect way to spend my birthday. It was really, really, really cold that day, but we were warm at heart!

      Have you chosen your ‘One Little Word’ for 2017 yet? My OLW found me a few weeks ago. πŸ™‚ It’s perfect… and I’m so excited for a whole new year to learn and grow in new, creative ways! I promise to share my new word early in the new year! Thank you for always being here, dear Alys! Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas! β™‘

  10. I am going to come back to this post later today when I can relax in it. There is so much to love here. I have been to that same market in Rothenburg! Being raised in Germany, (mom was German) I have always loved the old traditions but could not wait now to put up my tree till Dec 24th. We used to put our shoes by the front door on Dec 6 (St. Nicholas Day) to have either an orange or coal put in our shoe. Your German markets and towns are what I love to find here as well but they are fewer and more far between. Thank you for sharing this. See you later. Hugs from the German-American. I was made in Germany with American parts. πŸ™‚

    • I love knowing that you were born in Germany, Marlene! πŸ™‚ It’s wonderful to hear about your childhood memories! I’d love to hear more…

      I have been so blessed to have visited Germany many, many, many times over the past 37 years. My dear German friends have become a part of our family. I have a German sister and brother and I am their American sister! They have also come to visit us many, many, many times! I have many dear German friends, as well. πŸ™‚ So, I am German-American, by heart, rather than by birth. A part of my heart will always remain in Deutschland and all of the other wonderful countries we have visited together! πŸ™‚ Frohe Weihnachten und Alles Gute im Neuen Jahr, liebe Marlene! β™‘

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