An Advent Angel just for you (free download)

Yesterday we celebrated St. Nicholas’ day. Do you celebrate that day?

(If you don’t know about that day at all, you can read a very short description of it in this blogpost.)

I love that day and the story about St. Nicholas alot. And eversince we added the tradition of putting cookies and milk out for St. Nicholas and his horse – I love it even more. ;-) I’d actually prefer tea to milk, but oh well …

And you know what – St. Nicholas left a little present FOR YOU with me. Look! A little angel! Just for you!

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To download right-click HERE and choose “save as”.

The little angel wants to remind you that during Advent- and Christmas time you should take good care of yourself. If even angels need to meditate in order to stay sane during Christmas season – why should we think that we can do it without “help”?

No, you don’t have to meditate, if that isn’t your thing. Even though I would highly recommend to anyone to try it. ;-) But you should definitely take time for yourself.

Time to figure out what is really important to you during Christmas.

Time to listen to yourself. How are you doing?

Time to decide what you wanna say “Yes” to and what you would rather say “No” to.

Time for selfcare.

Time to just enjoy the moment. Read a few lines in a good book, take a hot bath, have a good cup of tea …

A few minutes a day can make such a difference and can help to break free from all the rush that Advent time often brings. And that’s what this angel wants to remind you of.

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To download right-click HERE and choose “save as”

You can print out your angel and put it in your wallet, calendar or on your mirror. So every time you see it you are reminded to take a bit time for yourself.

Or you can also send it via email or on your social networks to your friends to wish them a wonderful Advent- or Christmastime. Just as you like.

And if you’d rather send “real” angel postcards or cards – there are still a few in the SHOP. ;-)

So, do you have a St. Nicholas tradition?

 
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NEW Folded Christmas cards 2016

Finally the new folded Christmas cards have arrived as well and I quickly put them in the shop. (If you happen to be looking for Christmas postcards, you can find that post HERE.) As the mother-of-pearl cardstock unfortunately wasn’t available anymore I had to choose a new one. The new cards are printed on linen textured white cardstock.

(If you fell love with the mother of perl cardstock that I used last year – there are still a few of those folded cards left, too. You can find the designs when you scroll further down.)

Folded Christmas cards

– printed on 280g linen textured cardboard –

 – gorgeous silver envelope is included –

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Calm Christmas Angel – folded card available HERE

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Snowglobe Angel – folded card available HERE

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Weihnachtswünsche – folded card available HERE

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Calm Christmas – folded card available HERE

The cards printed on mother of pearl cardstock still available in the shop are the following:

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Angel hug – folded card available HERE

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Christmas hug – folded card available HERE

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Calm Christmas – folded card available HERE

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ChristmasTREE – folded card available HERE

And there is also the mix and match 5-pack of folded Christmas cards – you pick any 5 folded cards for 9.90€!

Just go HERE – and don’t forget to tell me which cards you want during the ordering process. ;-)

Now, do you have any suggestions or ideas for new Christmas card designs for next year?

Can’t wait to read your comment! :-)

 

NEW Christmascard postcards for 2016

It’s November already. Time seems to fly. It doesn’t feel at all like Christmas to me, but I know that it’ll come quickly – so here are finally the new Christmas postcards for this year.

If you’re more interested in folded cards – you can find some folded cards from last year in the shop. The new ones will be out next week. If you don’t wanna miss it just sign up to my newsletter.

If you have ordered Christmas postcards – or any postcards – from me before – these are different. :-) After having tried different printers I finally gave in and did try out moo.com. I had to let go of the rounded corners that I was rather fond of. But they are printed on thicker cardstock and have an easy-to-write-on back. I figured that’s more important than the rounded corners. Even though they would have been nice. :-)

Christmas postcards

– printed on 330g thick  cardstock –
– matte finish –
– 14,8cm x 10,5cm –
– easy to write on back –

I added two new designs:

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“Calm Christmas Angel” – postcard available HERE

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“Calm Snow Angel” – English version – postcard available HERE

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There is also a German version of this card :-) – just in case you have some German relatives – postcard available HERE

And of course my designs from the last years are also available:

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“Calm Christmas” – postcard available HERE

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“ChristmasTREE” – postcard available HERE

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“Christmas Wishes” – postcard available HERE

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“Weihnachtswünsche” – again a German card – postcard available HERE

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“Christmas Hug” – postcard available HERE

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“Angel Hug” – postcard available HERE

If you can’t decide which postcard to buy – you can buy a pack of 8 and pick your favorites. (And save some money while doing so as well.) You can find the Christmas postcard set, where you can pick 8 cards of your choice HERE.

Just a little warning: I ordered 50 postcards of each design and I won’t be able to reorder this year. So if you really like a card, please order as soon as you can. Once they’re gone – they’re gone.

And again, if you wanna be informed when the new folded cards are in the shop, sign up to my newsletter HERE.

Now I’m curious – which of the postcard designs is your favorite?

You’re a star – mixed-media star ornament tutorial

A little while ago I made a bunch of origami stars out of old book pages.

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Even though I really liked those stars I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if I add a bit of paint, a few stitches with my sewing machine and some words. ;-) So I finally tried it ….

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… and loved it so much, that I made some more.

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I’m planning to use some of them as tags on Christmas gifts, some will go on a little Christmas tree and the rest will probably looks sweet in a window.

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If you wanna create your own mixed-media stars, you can. Just for you I filmed how I made them.

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But first, here’s a list of what I used. Of course, please feel free to swap out stuff or simply use what you have on hand. This is meant just as an inspiration.

List of materials:

-origami star made out of old book pages, instructions on how to fold the star can be found HERE
-gesso (alternatively white acrylic paint)
-sewing machine
-silver acrylic marker or acrylic paint
-white acrylic paint
-materials for mark making like old credit card, little tube cap, piece of drinking straw or similar
-decoupage glue or matte medium (if you don’t have either you can use any clear drying glue)
-printed out words or similar, scraps of fabric
-little silver stars or similar decoration
-button
-wire
-little glass bead(s)

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And this is how I made the stars:

I’m wishing you lots of fun making stars! If you make some, I’d love to see them! :-)

And if you have any questions, just ask in the comments!

 
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Christmas card writing as calming ritual – with 5 tips and my Christmas card collection

I love Christmas. And I love writing Christmas cards. The first one has always been that way. The latter … not.

Eversince I was a child I loved to write. Letters, cards, diary, everything. Still, there have been a few years when I did not write any Christmas cards at all. Why? Cause it was additional stress in an already stressful time of year.

A few years ago I started to say NO alot more often during Christmas time. No, I won’t bake 20 different kinds of cookies. No, I won’t attend every Christmas party. No, I won’t go to every Christmas market or fun sounding activity with my kids.

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Christmas card “Calm Christmas” – available HERE

Interestingly at about the same time I started saying YES to writing Christmas cards again. :-) Why?

Cause it turned into a little ritual that helped me to be more calm during Christmas time. Slowing down. Enjoying the moment. Fountain pen in my hand, steaming tea in front of me, cuddled up in a blanket, candle burning … A few minutes just for me and the recipient of a card in a busy time. :-)

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Christmas card “Angel hug” – available HERE

Even though I don’t write a huge number of cards, I still never write all cards in one sitting. I take my time. And each time I sit down to write a few cards, I get more into the Christmas spirit.

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Christmas card “Christmas hug” – available HERE

If you wanna create a little calming ritual with your Christmas card writing for yourself – here are a few suggestions:

1.Start early to get everything to gether that you’ll need – cards, stamps, address labels, favourite pens, stickers or other embellishments, tea, cookies, chocolate … ;-)

2.Only use things that you truly deeply enjoy. Use your favourite mug for your tea. And have a cup of that special tea, you’re saving for special days. Light a candle. Use cards that you enjoy – the picture and the feel of them. Write with a pen you love.

3.Have everything you need for your little Christmas card writing break in one place. Nothing disturbes the mood like having to search for that one pen, the stamps or the ink … while your tea is getting cold.

4.If you like involve your family and create a little family tradition. I personally like to have the writing time just for myself. But my kids love to help sticking stamps and address labels onto the envelopes.

5.Take your time. There are probably only few people that enjoy the prospect of writing 30 cards at once. No matter how much tea is involved. ;-) So, only do as many cards as you truly enjoy. I for example tend to write around three cards in one sitting. If you’re rushing it, it’s no fun – and definitely not calming – anymore.

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Christmas card “ChristmasTREE” – available HERE

Addtional idea:

You can try to find something that will make your Christmas card writing time extra-special for YOU. Maybe you’ve been meaning to learn handlettering or calligraphy? Wouldn’t that be the perfect time to do so? You’d definitely have lots of opportunity to practise. Do you enjoy being creative with others? Check if you can join a workshop in your town on making your own Christmas cards. Do you like to paint, draw, take photos … all those things you can bring into your Christmas card writing. They will not only add a wonderful extra-personal touch to your cards, but will also make the time even more enjoyable for you.

And if you try all these things and you still can’t stand writing Christmas cards?

Then I hereby give you permission to not write any. The world won’t stop turning – I promise. ;-) It’s your life and your time. You are the only one who decides how you wanna spend it.

But if you are in the mood for some Christmas card writing and could use some special cards, I have a special offer for you in my shop this week:

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If you buy FOUR sets of Christmas cards (each contains 5 folded cards that you can pick) – then I will gift you a fifth set. All you gotta do to take me up on that offer is order 4 sets until the 22nd of November, 2015 and pick the cards you want. (While ordering you just tell me how many of which cards in the comment field.)

Now I’m curious, do you write Christmas cards? Do you enjoy it – or is it a dreaded must?

Do you have any additional ideas for me and my readers how one can make Christmas card writing a calming ritual?

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Favourite Christmas cookies – Ginger cinnamon cookies

I love Christmas and I love Advent and of course I also love … Christmas cookies. :-)
During the last couple days I was baking with my kids and these ginger cinnamon cookies are one of our favorites. And since I was asked for the recipe a couple times already I will be sharing it here and now. Lucky you. ;-)

Ginger Cinnamon Cookies

*gluten-free *refined-sugar free
(If you would love to save and print the pdf of this recipe, please keep scrolling.)

ginger-cinnamon-cookies-ursula-markgrafIngredients:

3/4 cup butter softened
1/2 cup coconut sugar (granulated)
1/2 cup palm sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour mix
1/2 cup chocolate chips – or more ;-)

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1. Stir together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt.

2. In another bowl beat butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy. (If your sugar is in pressed form – “cakes of sugar” – chop or grind finely before adding to the butter.)

3. Add egg and vanilla to butter mixture.

4. Add flour mix to butter mix and stir together.

5. Add chocolate chips and stir until well incorporated.

6. Chill about 1 hour.

7. Preheat oven to 350F. Roll dough to 1/4inch thickness. Cut out cookies.

8. Bake 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned.

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Tips and alternative suggestions:

-sugar:
In this recipe I use a mixture out of granulated coconut sugar and pressed palm sugar (sugar cakes). As the palm sugar is pressed I simply use a knife to cut it into small pieces – kinda like cutting up chocolate – and measure it then. Once I mix it together with the butter I mix it really long – so it starts “blending” a little. It does not dissolve completely though. But my kids totally love the tiny caramelized sugar blobs in the cookies, so it does not really matter. :-)
You can also make the cookies just using granulated palm sugar or brown sugar.

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-vanilla extract:
We make our own vanilla extract out of used vanilla pods. Kinda like recycling. ;-) You can also simply scratch out a vanilla pod or use vanilla sugar.

-gluten-free flour mix:
We mix our own blend: 600g rice flour, 250g potato flour, 150g tapioca starch, 2 tsp carob gum, 4 tsp psyllium husk

-chocolate-chips:
I try to use chocolate that has no refined sugar added to it (and no milk for that matter). Here in Germany that is not easy. I do order online or buy raw chocolate. But for baking I sometimes also buy really dark chocolate that has only very little sugar added to it and I prefer the ones that use raw cane sugar. I do not usually like eating really dark chocolate but in the already sweet cookies it does blend in nicely. As those chocolates come in bars I just chop them up in small pieces. Done.

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I hope you will have alot of fun baking. And in order to make it even easier – here is the recipe in pdf-form (letter-size), so you can just download and print. If you prefer A4-size, download HERE.

Ginger cinnamon cookie recipe by Ursula Markgraf

Just right-click, choose save-as, save – print – done. :-)

Happy baking! And what are your favourite Christmas cookies?

 
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Some gifts from St. Nicolas – for you

"Calm Christmas" - mixed media art by Ursula Markgraf

Today on the 6th of December we celebrate St. Nicolas day here in Germany. It’s a sweet tradition – I think – that goes back to the story of a good man called Nicolas (who became bishop) who gave the poor money. The story says that he would sneak up on the roof at night and throw little pouches with money down the chimney … and the money would end up in socks and shoes that were put on/near the chimney to dry.

So to celebrate that day kids have to clean their shoes and put them near the door in the evening of the 5th of December. Then the Nicolas will come at night and put small treats, candy, nuts and oranges or little toys in there. Of course my kids totally love that day and are totally excited about it.

But I also wanted to give YOU something, so I created these little pictures with my art-work on them that you are free to download and share in your newsletter, on your blog, on facebook, on twitter … or wherever you might hang out in the virtual world. :-) If you wanna link to my site that would of course totally thrill me, but it is not required.

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To download just right-click on the file you want to save – choose save as – and pick the location where you wanna save it. Then share and spread a bit of joy and calm around. :-)

Have a wonderful St. Nicolas day! xxx

P.S. And if you need some special Christmas cards, you can find some right HERE. I ship worldwide. ;-)

UrsulaMarkgraf-ChristmasCards

 
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Christmas wishes – instructions for the perfect gift

Somehow over the years finding the perfect gift for loved ones has become harder and harder. Or is that just me?

I don’t know whether this is because so many things are readily available at all times. Or whether we simply like other things than 10 years ago.

When I created this Christmas card – I named it “Christmas wishes” – I was thinking about what we REALLY wish for. Probably not just at Christmas, but maybe especially at Christmas. We all would like more time, love, health, satisfaction, and joy in our lifes, wouldn’t we? So I was thinking about … how could we GIVE those things to the people we love?

Postcard "Christmas wishes" by Ursula Markgraf

Christmas card “Christmas wishes” – can be bought HERE
 

I came up with some ideas, but feel free to add your own ones in the comments! Would love to hear them!!!

LOVE

Give something that tells the person every single day how much you value him or her. This could be a piece of jewellery – maybe even custom-made or made by yourself. Or it could be an art print that expresses how important that person is. Or you could simply write an old-fashioned loveletter. Yes, with an actual pen. Or even fountain pen? Not on the computer! :-)

HEALTH

Health is such a huge thing. And as health is not just the absence of illness, there are many things that you can give someone to help them feel more healthy, more well, more whole.
You could give a gift certificate for a massage, for a sauna visit or a meditation cd or course. I am still loving the meditations by Deepak Choprah and putting those on my Christmas wishlist.
Or simply a handmade bar of soap that does not contain unhealthy ingredients – what a wonderful and luxurious way to support someones health. You can also make things like sugar scrubs yourself. It’s quick, easy and the recipient can pamper his or her skin.

TIME

Of course you can not really gift someone time. We all have the same amount of time – so that is that. BUT, you can gift someone special time. Time he or she can spend with herself or himself. (For moms probably THE best gift ever.)
Often we get the perception that we do not have enough time when we’re simply too busy. So helping someone stop the crazy-race for a bit will give them more – consciously spent – time. You could also gift him or her a wonderful looking planner or calendar that can be used to organize time in a better way.

SATISFACTION

This one is really tricky cause in the end there is nothing you can give to someone that will make him or her feel satisfied if they do not have a certain mindset.  In my opinion – and experience – feeling satisfied is less about what you actually own or have accomplished, but more about how you feel and how much you are in tune with your own needs and desires. So in the end it really is up to each one of us to make sure we do feel satisfied, but you can still give something that will make it easier for the recipient to find a way to feel satisfied. One of my favourite things to give – and to get – is of course books. And my all-time-favourite in regard to how I feel about my life is “Steering by starlight” by Martha Beck. If it was available in German, I would literally give it to everyone I know!
(And no, this is not an affiliate link. I just simply totally love and adore that book.)
You could also gift a wonderful precious journal with the intention for it to be used as a gratitude journal. Most of us actually have pretty amazing lifes, but with the business and the distraction we simply forget to focus on all the wonderful and beautiful things that happen each and every day. This is also a totally wonderful gift for kids!

JOY

I think this one is the easiest to give. At least if you know the gift-recipient a bit. Whatever this person enjoys will bring her joy. Right?
She likes to draw? Get her colored pencils or a fresh sketch book! (ME!)
She likes to read? Get her a book! (Again – ME!)
She likes to cook? Some wonderful spices or a cooking course. (Not me. Send that to my husband. ;-) )
And if worse comes to worse and you really can not think of ANYthing that this person would enjoy … how about a fresh notebook? I somehow feel that with a notebook you can never go wrong. You can buy them big or small, beautiful or funny, simple or super-fancy.
I recently fell in love with the look of the Paperblank ones – OMG. They look just so wonderful. And the ones by Ecojot – different style – also look wonderful. And love their cause.
Awesome thing is, you can use notebooks for everything you can think of: jotting down ideas, planning your to dos, writing down your dreams, journaling, collecting your fav recipes, glueing photos or little bits and bobs from your every day life in there, sketch, …. The list is endless!
Or is that just me that has a tad of a notebook-obsession? ;-)

I hope I could give you some starters for Christmas present ideas. Let me know what your thougths are in the comments! And if you have a favourite gift to give – share it!

 
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Sunday whispers – Advent

Sunday whispers is a little series. My goal is to post something shortish but inspiring for you each Sunday – hopefully together with some art – so that you have a little incentive to slow down, reflect and think. I know how crazy weeks can be, but after all, it is Sunday. :-) Enjoy and let me know what you think. You can find the other Sunday whisper posts HERE.
 
 

Today is the 1st of Advent. I LOVE Advent. Yes, I wrote it deliberately like this. Not “I love Christmas”. I love Advent. I love this time of waiting, hoping, looking forward to …

During the last years however, for our family Advent has turned more and more into a race. Somehow the more kids you have the more demands are placed upon you during Advent time. It is incredible how many appointments or dates even kids suddenly have!
After all, Advent lasts about 4 weeks. :-) And if you try to stuff as much as possible into those 4 weeks – at some point it is just TOO much. Even if baking cookies, crafting, reading, decorating, puppet theatre, going to the Christmas market, Christmas parties and all such things are fun, when you are only running from one event to the next, then the whole point of Advent is lost. 

Therefore I try each year to say “no” more often, but also to celebrate Advent with little things. Cause if you really enjoy and savor the little things, then they are actually not less than the big things.

Weihnachten/ Christmas - mixed media - by Ursula Markgraf

The art pieces shown above are Christmas mini-canvases and read “God became human” in German.

So today I would like to inspire you to think about how you want to celebrate Advent this year. What is important to you?

For me the most important things are:
-baking cookies with my kids
-reading Christmas stories and Christmas books
-putting up the manger
having an Advent wreath – or at least 4 candles ;-)

What I want to “let go”:
-decorating the whole house
-handmaking gifts for everyone
-taking part in all Christmas activities or events
-having a wide selection of homemade cookies available, at all times
-crafting all the fun things that I find on Pinterest ;-)

And now it’s your turn:

What are things that are important to you in Advent? What are things you want to let go off or want to do less? 

 
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Where does a cat or dog button live?

When I put the dog buttons and cat buttons from the last post in my shop I had to think about two little houses I sewed for my kids last Christmas. They are like tiny fabric doll houses/ stables to carry along. Super cute! :-)

Maybe you are already looking for Christmas presents for some special kids in your life. After all, now is still enough time to actually make them. ;-)
(I usually have a LONG list of stuff I want to make … which never gets done in the end.*laugh*)

Sewn fabric doll house / stable by Ursula Markgraf

My kids got these fabric houses together with some dog and cat buttons. They then could choose which ones of the buttons they wanted on the houses – and where (in front of the door, on the roof, on the window sill). And I sewed the buttons on as they wished.

Sewn fabric doll house / stable by Ursula Markgraf

(The photos of the houses were taken before I had sewn on the cat and dog buttons.)

You can find the instructions for the fabric house on U.K. lass U.S.

Little disclaimer: As always all my buttons are handmade and one-of-a-kind. When they are gone, they are gone. Right now I only have 4 cat buttons available, 2 in the shop right now. Once all of those are sold there will not be new cat buttons until somtime next year. Just so noone ends up being sad. :-) 

And if you knit there is a supercute knitted take-along house on Fusselideen.

So, what will you be making for kids for Christmas?

 

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