- Movies - the latest releases in the theater; the latest releases on DVD; favorite Christmas movies
- Popcorn - theater popcorn with butter part way through the bag and then again on top; my own bag because others add extra salt and that's WAY too much for me
- Munching - leftovers from Christmas dinner; snacks from neighbors; favorites like caramel chocolate dipped pretzels, corn pop candy, and fudge; crackers and cheese ball; chips and dip
- Eating out - it is the last week before the NEW year, which means undoing the damage done in the last month and more; plus there are restaurant gift cards that must be used
- Hanging out in jammies - mornings are slow; jammies acceptable attire
- Real breakfasts - hash browns; scrambled eggs with bacon and cheese; fried eggs and pancakes; scones (the deep fried kind)
- No schedules - I am the master of my own time!
Some how Christmas Eve snuck up on me this year. It isn't that I'm not ready - the gifts are bought and wrapped, the decorations are up, the grocery shopping is done. It just seems too early for Christmas Eve.
Somehow the weeks slipped away this year. Between meetings, parties, puppy classes, wedding receptions, and regular life, the days passed way to quickly.
And yet, tonight was just as planned. Dinner with J's family - homemade pizza, deviled eggs, crackers and cheese ball, orange frappe, and candies from J's niece. The white elephant gift exchange was memorable with people vying for the few gifts worth taking home and hoping you didn't end up with something that would resurface next year or the year after as a gift. And J's sister-in-law shared a cute activity with the kids that talked about the meaning behind the symbols of Christmas - the perfect reminder of the reason for the season.
So here I sit, with the holiday lights on, hoping I get one last gift put together for K and J tonight. But mostly grateful for the gift my Savior has given me - the chance to live with him again. I love this season. Love the feelings it brings out. Love the decorations. Love the reminder of my purpose here on earth.
I am grateful for Christmas and the love it surrounds me with. Merry Christmas!
For years we had a real tree - we'd spend hours out in the cold going from tree lot to tree lot until we found the perfect tree. And then we made the move to a "fake" tree. We got it on sale after the holidays. This was back in the days when trees didn't come with lights, so I spent the first year putting on about 800 lights. It was beautiful!
For years I've pulled that tree out of storage, fluffed it, and plugged in the lights. The first few years I had no doubts the lights would come on. The last five or so years I have held my breath each year, saying a silent prayer that the lights would come on. And each year the lights have come on. It is beautiful!
For years this was my "prissy" tree; the one that was color coordinated. It started out as red and white. Then one year it was green and white with silver. Then my favorite color was approved and we had a purple and gold tree. My decorating skills were just budding at that time and while everything matched, it wasn't a well decorated tree. But it was beautiful!
For years the hodge podge trees were the preferred trees and my "prissy" tree was tolerated. And then a few years ago we were out Christmas shopping and found the most beautiful tree decorated in earthy tones like orange, red, green, brown, and gold. It had such a random mix of ornaments and yet it all came together to create a stunning tree. That was the year everyone at our house wanted a "prissy" tree, although it was never called a prissy tree. And the new tree was beautiful!
For years now I have improved my decorating skills and now that sweet tree we bought over 20 years ago is displayed in full glory, covered in a stunning array of red and white decorations that are a random mix with a few themes mixed in (if you look close enough). And the lights came on again this year. The tree is beautiful!
Saturdays are our main shopping days, which makes Sunday a big wrapping day. We bring out the gifts, spread out the wrapping supplies, and dive in. We usually watch a holiday movie, unless there's a really good football game on and then it takes precedence.
Today was no exception - lots of shopping. Plus, I have gifts that I've bought over the past few months. So tomorrow will be a fun day of wrapping.
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without foods and treats. Some are from years past, others came with time, and some happen some years and not others.
- Fudge - a staple as a child and still a part of Christmas present, but it must be the Fantasy Fudge recipe
- Popcorn balls - J makes the best ones in town and their red/pink color just for the season
- Corn pop candy - this recipe came from some friends years ago and we've adapted it a bit; it uses the Corn Pops you find on the chip aisle and is coated in a buttery sugar syrup and you can't stop eating it once you start
- Prime Rib - the food of choice for Christmas dinner and melt in your mouth perfection with a little horseradish sauce on the side
- Brussel Sprouts with special sauce - I for one do NOT partake of the Brussel Sprouts but no Christmas dinner is complete without them (why we can't make the sauce for something worthier like broccoli or cauliflower is beyond me)
- Caramel & Chocolate covered pretzel rods - this is a new addition and one that doesn't always get made each year, but oh so worth it
- Homemade caramels - another thing that doesn't always get done but when I do get them made they are really, really good
- Scalloped potatoes - J makes a good batch of scalloped potatoes and Brianna could eat every last drop
I love taking pictures of our decorations and this year is no exception. I have pictures of every tree in the house plus closeups. There are photos of the lights on the railing, the beautiful rugs on the walls, the festive mantel, a dozen or more of the village and the nativities. Everything is picture perfect.
Here's the reality. We have two rambunctious puppies that love to chase each other, especially around things like the ottoman, the kitchen island, and especially the Christmas tree, plus an established hound (Mabel prefers not to be called old) that loves to sleep under the tree and scruff the tree skirt. And while overall they are very good to leave the ornaments and decorations alone, every now and then a casualty happens and it is hard to keep an eye on them constantly. Plus it freaks me out to see the tree sway back and forth or spin ever so slightly.
And so we've implemented a few additions to the normal decor.
|Kitchen bar stool on family room side|
|Kitchen bar stool AND chair on kitchen side|
|Gate into front room; often it is between the family room and entry so they don't head downstairs or into the front room|
|Unable to protect the Disney village, Pluto's dog house seems to have had a close encounter today|
That is the question that most people ask when it comes to Black Friday. And typically, we go shopping on Black Friday, but we don't get up at the crack of dawn with the crazies, but sleep in and then hit the sales that end at 11:00 or so.
This year the plan was no different, until K got an idea in her head. She had purchased part of what she needed for her managers but needed to go to several stores in the Salt Lake City area. The plan was to do that on Black Friday. But she got to thinking. Instead of fighting the crowds that morning, why not go when the store opens at midnight? We aren't going for all the sale items so we can go in, get what we need, and get out. Great plan!
So off we headed to Salt Lake at 11:30 Thursday evening. We got to the first Kohls and there was still a line outside, which meant we had officially joined the ranks of the crazies, but it moved rather quickly. We went to the back, found what we wanted, paid, and headed to the car. Unfortunately, we still needed a few more. So we headed to the next Kohls. Here we hit the jackpot and found the exact number we needed so we jumped in line. Now mind you, the line was at the back of the store and starting down the middle aisle. AND there were two lines - one for each side of the store that took this lovely path. We got in line with hopes that it would move quickly (and the store person monitoring the lines was SURE it would only take about 20 minutes). One hour and 30 minutes later, we reached the check out. By then we had acquired a couple other items that would make great gifts for family, we had watched the people in front of us take turns standing in line while the others shopped, and bonded with the people behind us about the lack of carts and how our arms were about to fall off.
We arrived home a little after 3:30 am and passed a few people that looked like they were heading out for the stores opening at 4:00 and 5:00.
Even though we didn't get a lot of sleep, it was a fun adventure. We chatted, looked at things that were on sale and wondered who bought them, commiserated with other shoppers, discussed what we wanted to do that weekend, and basically just enjoyed hanging out. I'm not sure I'm ready to do it again anytime soon, but it makes for a good story and an even better memory.
Christmas Trees have always played a big part in my Christmas celebration.
As a child, we had a live tree that we covered with strings of popcorn and cranberries, paper chains, miniature candy canes, ornaments made at school throughout the years, and clumps of tinsel (because what kid has enough patience to put tinsel on one strand at a time).
My first year at college we didn't have much money, but we bought a cute little tree, or what we thought was cute. We didn't have a tree stand and the slats that were hammered into the bottom of the 4" trunk didn't do much to support it, so we tied a string to the top and thumb tacked the string into the ceiling to keep the tree upright. I have no idea what we decorated it with, but that string was a life saver.
A few years later I had a job and a bigger tree was in the budget. We spent an evening decorating it with lights, glass balls, and a few ornaments we had collected. We also had a kitten that year that was very curious. So we made sure that each day when we left for work the sliding door from the hall to the front room was closed and the kitten was in the back. One day we came home to the tree lying in the middle of the front room. The kitten had managed to open the sliding door enough to squeeze through it and then proceeded to climb the tree, which caused it to topple. We gathered up the frightened kitten, picked up the broken balls, and put the tree back together.
Now we have five trees - four of which are undecorated and redecorated each year. I LOVE decorating the trees. It's a creative experience as I strategically place all sizes and shapes of decorations as well as a trip down memory lane as I think back on where the ornaments came from (some we've had for 20 plus years). I am amazed at the process my tree decorating has taken over the years, even over the past 10 years or so. What used to be a fun tree has turned into a creative project. Where before ornaments were carefully placed to find "balance" and had to be hung just so now are randomly placed to create balance and are hung to fill space rather than to hang perfectly.
I also have many memories tied to the trees we decorated for the Thomas family and the joy that experience brought each of us. What started as a simple favor grew to a multi-hour time of decorating that combined singing to carols that played in the background, laughing over stories from the past, words of approval when the decorating was finished, and pizza to wrap up the time together. And while this tradition has ended, the memories live on forever.
I'd have to say that Christmas trees play an integral part in my Christmas experience. Does that mean it wouldn't be Christmas without a tree? No, because Christmas is about what is inside me. But Christmas trees will always be a part of my memories - the good, the bad, and the unforgettable.
I remember being in college when I got my first advent calendar, the kind with chocolate for each day. I thought it was the coolest thing ever!!! I mean, who doesn't love an excuse to eat chocolate each day. The funny thing is, I have a vague recollection of putting cotton balls on Santa's beard each day when I was very little but it's kind of a fuzzy memory so I still think of the college memory as my first.
Now...well my countdown really starts in November - the first day of November. That's the day I put my Christmas music on my iPod and start listening just to Christmas music on the drive to and from work and while at work. Then there's the countdown to when the decorating starts. First we have to clean carpets and furniture and deep clean the house. So depending on the anticipated decorating start date, we back up to the weekend before for the cleaning process. Once the decorating is done, well then, I don't really count anything anymore. Well, I should take that back. I count how many pay periods there are left and compare that to the amount of shopping to do - the goal is to have those two match or have more pay periods than shopping items.
This year I bought supplies to make an advent calendar. I found these adorable canvas shapes that I plan to add numbers to and decorate in some fun way. I wonder where I put those?? Maybe they'll be ready for next year.
But I think the most memorable Advent calendar is the one we made for the Wheatley's kids. It was a box that had 25 drawers that were each numbered. We bought itty bitty ornaments and a cute little tree and a few candy treats. We filled each drawer with an ornament and added a candy to a few as well. The kids opened a drawer each day and put the ornament on the tree and when the tree was decorated, it was Christmas. It was so fun to see their excitement when they opened it the first time. And even more fun to see it in their kitchen each year thereafter.
Christmas is definitely worth counting down to and I really need to find those canvas shapes so I can make an advent calendar. Have I mentioned that I love Christmas! Happy counting.
The perfect Christmas. 'Cause every girl has got to dream, right? The thing is, I love our Christmases. I love our decorations, the time we spend together, the food we have, the things we do to get ready, the warm and happy feeling, the songs I sing almost constantly, the sitting with only the Christmas lights on at night enjoying the quiet and beauty...
But there are a few things that I would add to the list and they are usually things I can't control, but some I definitely can.
I want snow on Christmas. Well really, I want snow for the entire time the Christmas decorations are up - it is so beautiful and enhances the lights and decorations. But I also think it would be amazing to wake up to snow like the scene at the end of A Christmas Story - everything is covered in about a foot of snow and looks like a big, fluffy blanket (I think the twinkly music helps it seem magical too).
I would also make AND send Christmas cards. I hate to confess that there have been a few times I've made the cards and then not sent them, but more often I don't even get them made. This year, I happen to have four or five made (leftover from a card swap). I really like them and I've vowed to myself to use them. But just in case, here's what they look like. Can I count this as sending one? Just kidding!
Next I would have more time. Time to do things with others like make and decorate cookies, go sledding, make gingerbread houses, make neighborhood gifts, take walks in the snow, watch Christmas movies, and so much more. I would also make sure the time was BEFORE Christmas - I usually save my vacation days for the time between Christmas and New Years so I don't have to go to work, which I love, but it would be fun to have days before as well. And if I'm dreaming, let's just make it the whole month of December or at least a couple weeks.
I would also love if the news only shared happy and uplifting stories. That wars ceased, everyone had food, crime stopped, and people spent their time showing their love to each other. But wouldn't that be nice if that were the case all year long and not just during the holidays. I think that's why I love the song "The Secret of Christmas" so much - it says it's not the things you do at Christmastime, but the little things you do, all year long.
And so this dream comes to an end, but it leaves me inspired to see what I can take from the dream state to reality. To make the time for the things I want to do. To send the cards I've made. To lift those around me and then carry the Christmas spirit with me the whole year through. I love Christmas and all it comes with - music, lights, special movies, extra time with loved ones, giving to others, decorations, snow, and of course, food. So here's to making my dreams come true this holiday season!
December is here, which means the Christmas season is underway. The house is decorated to the gills as usual, with a few new things thrown into the mix. The puppies are pretty good about not bothering the decor, although Eeyore in the Disney village is missing a portion of his mane and the family room tree has bar stools on two sides so they can't wrestle under or race around the tree (it is amazing that it hasn't toppled yet).
Last year at this time we were coated in a lovely winter white and while we have had several snow storms, not enough has accumulated to last more than a day. And I'm torn this year - I love the beauty that snow provides and the final touch it puts on the holidays, but the puppies need time outside to play and aren't as eager to go out when it is cold and snowy. So I'm not praying for snow yet, but have to admit I was excited when I came home to snow falling yesterday (it appears the weather man doesn't know which part of the state we live in since the forecast was for snow in the central part and I'm pretty sure we are considered Northern Utah).
I'm highly tempted to cut a few snowflakes and hang them up as encouragement for the snow to make it's official appearance. I did this as a child and it always seemed to work its magic, plus it was a fun activity and a great decoration for the windows. If I do take up the cutting challenge, it will be for a garland. Seems more grown up, but then again, my bedroom windows need a little sprucing up!
Until the real snow comes, I'll enjoy the snowflake decorations on the trees. This is one of my favorites - well of the pictures I've taken so far this year. I think every tree in the house has at least one snowflake ornament or garland or other type of snowflake as a decor item.
Can you tell I LOVE snow?? Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow......