I do love Christmas, but I would be lying if I said that throughout my history of holiday seasons I have never had a less than stellar one. As weird as it may sound I tend to think that's a perk of having multiple trips around the sun. We easily and sometimes flippantly chalk it up to "that's just part of life" but once we've lived through some of those "just part of life" events that happens to everyone else, I think [and hope] we become more sensitive and compassionate to those around us who have more scrooge and less spunk in their steps this time of year.
Because none of you have the time, patience or desire to read about how I've spent every single riveting second of the last 2 weeks, this year's post will hit a few of the highlights as well as some of my favorite things in general about Christmas.
By the time January 2 rolls around I will have had 18 days straight of PTO. Sure, I love my job but I love it more when we've had some time apart. Now that I think about it, I don't think I've worked a full week since the week before Thanksgiving. [Not because I'm lazy, dear state taxpayers, but because I have tons of leave time accumulated.] Anywho. I love, love, love staying up late and sleeping later. Am I the only one whose definition of sleeping late has gotten much earlier over the years? I've always been a nightowl but against my will I've turned into a morning person too.
Friends & Family
First there was Nashville with the family to see Justin and Sarah play the Opry at the Ryman. No, I will never get tired of telling that story because I will always be so proud of them.
And then the week before Christmas I spent time with a few of my very favorites. One-on-one time catching up on life was so good for my soul. Of course there's never enough time to see everyone I want to see, and we're always so busy talking that we never stop to take pictures but that's alright. We'll take pictures when we're 75 and look at them while wondering how we've managed to maintain such a youthful glow throughout the years. And then we'll inquire about a group discount for cataract removal.
Oh, and of course Christmas Eve at Mu and Pop's house with mom's side of the family. Selfishly I wish we could slow the years down and particularly those nights because until I have my very own little family one day, this is my chance to witness the excited chatter and the sound of a thunderous herd of kiddos running through the house because they have so much energy and excitement about Santa's imminent arrival that if they had to sit still they would probably just pop. And spending time with the rest of the crew is pretty ok too.
Starbucks Red Cups
Yes, I know it's a major marketing plot by the evil Starbucks elves, but I don't care. They aid in my Christmas cheer.
Christmas Vacation is my most favorite. I also love Elf and naturally the classics. I must confess I even enjoy those ridiculous Hallmark Christmas movies. Stop rolling your eyes. Of course they are hokey and cheesy. I generally roll my eyes are similar movies unless I've been drinking out of the red cups. I blame the evil Starbucks elves.
Love them. I love sending them. I love receiving them. I love blogging about them.
Absolutely it's better to give than to receive. There really is something so fantastic about seeing the people I love light up over receiving a gift that I picked out especially for them. Yes, I wait until the last minute to go out and do my shopping but I'm continously thinking about what I'm going to get beginning around October. Yes, as a matter of fact I do love to coordinate gift wrap and spend time making the packages look pretty. I don't care that the paper is going to be ripped to shreds. No, I don't know how to tie real bows but I sure have fun trying.
It would be silly to say that I don't like receiving gifts at all. Of course I do. See that green box? Inside was a charm bead for my bracelet that has "sister" engraved on it. All those years of asking Santa and Jesus and whomever else would listen to me beg for a little brother or sister has paid off in countless ways. And to think I finally got that role when I had given up and resigned myself to the fact that I was destined to be an only.
Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe's
If loving them is wrong then I don't want to be right. I've been on a strict sugar diet and these little gems are a staple. Yes, they do pair nicely with hot chocolate or coffee as evidenced by the pantry positioning.
I have a "rule" about only listening to Christmas music between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My own rule was broken when I started listening the week before Thanksgiving this year. The Starbucks red cups made me do it. One exception to the rule: Dolly Parton's "Hard Candy Christmas". I have been known to spontaneously belt that one out in the middle of August. Don't judge me.
For those of you out there who have forsaken your first love of bound books in exchange for an eReader, here is a reminder of what actual books look like. [I'm a laggard but I suspect my near future includes a Kindle or Nook or something fancy and new-fangled because moving reminded me of just how heavy and space hogging books can be.]
I'm a super nerd when it comes to reading over the holidays. This is the 2012 Christmas Collection. I started with Night Circus but have peeked at the Stephen Colbert book because it's not a cover-to-cover read. It's hilarious and comes complete with 3-D glasses.
Meaning & Magic
This figurine has been in my mom's house since I was a little girl.
I think mom and dad got it as visual aid to help me remember the order of importance between Jesus and Santa. I'm so very thankful that they allowed me to get caught up in the excitement and experience of Santa and all that goes along with him. [Even though I was completely weirded out over the fact that we so willingly allowed some strange man in our house while we slept, I sure did appreciate the loot he left behind.] Kids at Christmas remind us to be carefree and full of excitement over the possibility of what's in store for us in the morning. Santa will always be welcomed in my home.
All of the hustle and bustle we get caught up in this season is made possible because of the greatest gift any of us has ever been given. Yes, even greater than those years I got the Swatch watch or two Cabbage Patch Kids or that silly leather bomber jacket that everyone in the 6th grade just had to have. In the Gospels, the Christmas story is told in both Matthew and Luke. A couple of years ago Andy Stanley did a series called "An Unexpected Christmas" using Matthew's account and I love it. I love it because it's real and a reminder that Jesus came for all of us, not just a select group of holy rollers. His lineage is pretty interesting. This talk by Stanley is pretty timeless and maybe I'll watch it again. If not now, maybe in August or something. It's appropriate for more important and better reasons than Hard Candy Christmas during August karaoke. It is accessible right here, or through a simple search using "Andy Stanley An Unexpected Christmas".
Sure Christmas Day is one single solitary day on the calendar. It's a day that leaves us exhausted and full and left with the chores of cleaning up and putting away. But it leaves us with so much more if we let it. Full hearts. An eternal perspective. The promise of a highly anticipated tomorrow.
"This is love: not that we loved God but that he loves us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." -1 John 4:10-11