The 12 Days to Christmas: Merry, Merry!

25 Dec

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I come bearing good tidings of great joy which shall be for all the people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ The Lord.”

Merry Christmas!

The 12 Days of Christmas: last-minute running around

22 Dec

Somehow, no matter how well you plan everything out, there are last-minute errands to run, stocking stuffers to pick up, and grocery shopping to do for the upcoming festivities. Here’s what our day looked like:

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Technically, I got my nails and toes done last night, but it’s all good. My Christmas bonus treat for myself– putting the rest to pay off my credit card!

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And because the world didn’t end and the zombie apocalypse didn’t begin yesterday like the Mayans never said but everyone else interpreted, we’re going to a party to watch zombie movies. I made a veggie tray to fit the theme:

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Off to watch “Shaun of the Dead” and “Zombieland!”

The 12 Days to Christmas: Movie time!

21 Dec

I love Christmas movies and the debates that come with them. Which one is the best? How many times can you watch it before it gets to be too much? Which ones just drive you bananas? Are the ones you loved as a kid the same ones you love an adult?

So many questions to consider.

Favorites

I’ll get right down to it: my favorite Christmas move is “The Muppet Christmas Carol.” Sadly, I have not been able to watch it this year because our faithful VCR finally sold the farm gave up the crapped out. That’s right– until last year, I watched Muppet Christmas Carol on VHS. I had to rescue it from the yard sale pile when my parents sold their house! Totally averted a major disaster.

My second-favorite is “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” because it’s a classic and infinitely quotable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “I’m cuuuuuuuute!” or smacked my lips and said “Nuthin’” or “Eat, Papa! Eat!” or making references to the Island of Misfit Toys. There’s just something comforting about watching a movie your parents watched growing up.

As far as the new movies are concerned, my guilty pleasure is “Bad Santa” with Billy Bob Thornton. It’s one of the most vulgar films about Christmas out there (IMDb says the unrated version sets the record with no fewer than 170 instances of the f-bomb), but it cracks me up every time. We’ll watch it during the summer sometime just for giggles.

Confessions

I hadn’t seen “Miracle on 34th Street” until last year, I still haven’t seen “It’s a Wonderful Life” even though it’s Mum’s favorite, it took 3 or 4 tries for me to like “Elf” but I love Will Ferrell, and I can only watch 15 minutes of “A Christmas Story” before getting sick of it.

The Great Debate

Every year, Dan and I get into a big debate about one particular Christmas move franchise: Home Alone. Any kid from the early ’90s knows the only ones worth watching are with Macaulay Culkin (I mean, can you really forget/lose your kid more than twice and not be thrown in jail?) so the debate falls to which one is better: “Home Alone” or “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.” Dan stands by the first being the better of the two, whereas I’m a fan of the second. It’s probably because we had a copy of the second movie and not the first, so I learned all those lines (correctly or otherwise… I thought the line in the movie-within-a-movie went “I could smell you getting off the elephant,” which is a constant source of teasing) and knew the pace of the movie so much better than the first. I think Dan had the first, so there’s that.

What do you think? Is the first Home Alone or the second one better? What’s your favorite Christmas movie of all?

I’ll leave you with a few parting words of wisdom: “She’s a beaut, Clark.” from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “I’ll give you to the count of three to get your lousy, lyin’, low-down, four-flushin’ carcass out my door!” Actually, I’ll give you til the count of three to leave a comment and let me know what you think! :)

The 12 Days to Christmas: Sing a little song

20 Dec

A little later in the day today, but better late than never, right? I’m taking a little mental break from end-of-the-year craziness at work before I start packing up my office for our upcoming refurbishing. Moving right along…

I’ll start with a question: What’s your favorite Christmas song?

If you’ve been fortunate enough to work in retail or the food & beverage industries near the holidays, you’ve probably hit the point of Christmas song saturation before. I’ve worked both, so for a while, I hit saturation years in a row. The good news is that I know a LOT of Christmas song lyrics.

I’ll tell you what is NOT my favorite Christmas song… “Dominick the Donkey.” And “Christmas Shoes.” And the millionth time I’ve heard “All I Want for Christmas Is You. ” Am I right?

Somehow, I never get sick of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” or the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Eve in Sarajevo.”

My favorite favorites, though, are the ones we get to sing in church, especially on Christmas Eve.

  • “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”
  • “”O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
  • “Silent Night” (probably my favorite of all)
  • “O, Little Town of Bethlehem”
  • “Angels We Have Heard on High”
  • “O Come, All Ye Faithful”
  • “Joy to the World”

There are a whole lot of songs starting with “O…” huh? I know I’m looking forward to the choir concert and “midnight” Mass (it starts at 10pm, but the concert is at 9:30 and ensures we get good seats for Mass) to sing my little heart out.

And just in case you missed me asking the first time, I’ll go ahead and ask again: what’s your favorite Christmas song? Do you have trouble picking just one?

The 12 Days to Christmas: Bah Humbug

19 Dec

Of course, the lead-in to the holidays isn’t always gingerbread and snowflakes. A lot of people struggle this time of year, whether it’s because they’re lonely, depressed, stressed, or anything else.

The past few years, I’ve found myself struggling to hold it together during the holidays. I’ve mentioned it before, but with both our sets of parents split up, we wind up trying to figure out how to see everyone on Christmas without disappointing anyone and still have time for just the two of us to celebrate. Financially, Christmastime has been scary– we’re very fortunate this year to feel a bit more comfortable, but there have been years when I’ve been stressed that I couldn’t fully show my family how much I loved them with meaningful gifts. I always came down to the wire finding and buying all of those presents and it still never seemed like enough. I’d bake, decorate, send cards, and drive myself half insane trying to present my own perfect version of Christmas.

This year, I decided enough was enough. I resolved not to cry. I put an app on my phone that helped me track gift ideas and set a strict budget for every person on our list. I started seeking out those gifts in September. I delegated some. I set them all aside in the office, out of the way, and checked the person off my list. Because I started early, I was able to think of gifts I think people will really enjoy, not just some random junk because it’s that time of year to buy, buy, buy without much thought. In a way, that feels a lot better and I’m happier about it.

We started decorating early, setting aside a couple of days to put the storm windows on, the wreaths, the fans, the tree, the garland… all of it. We turn the lights on the tree and in the windows every night, and we’ve really been able to enjoy all the decorations a bit more.

We thought about last year’s Christmas rotation, considered who we saw when for Thanksgiving and Easter, and came up with our visiting game plan for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There may have been a Venn diagram involved. By some miracle, all of our parents seem to be happy with our plans: seeing Dad for dinner Christmas Eve, Mum first thing Christmas morning, Dan’s mom right after that, then his dad, then heading over to see my extended family. It’ll be a busy day, but we’ll manage. And we’ll do our best to have some time for just the two of us– mainly Mass on Christmas Eve and super early on Christmas Day.

Through it all, I’ve been careful to reflect on how fortunate we are, and that’s helped stave off my formerly-inevitable sobbing breakdown. We have each other. We have a beautiful home where we’re blessed to live in for free. We have all of our parents and siblings with us in a 10-mile radius. We have money to spend on gifts and still be able to pay our bills. There are so many people on this Earth that are happier with less… who are we to complain? I’m not saying I’m above it all– far from it, I’ve had a few angry outbursts in the last few months– but when I take a step back and really reflect, I’m amazed at how happy I am.

Merry Christmas.

The 12 Days of Christmas: Christmas Cards

18 Dec

Thankfully, we got married in the digital age and have our address list still saved from sending invitations. In the last couple of years, we decided to send out Christmas cards to family and friends with photos from our travels over the year.

We started displaying our cards from friends and family clothespinned to a short-ish piece of garland. Right now, it’s tied to the curtain rod with the gold ribbon in the middle. Every day, we add more and more cards to the display, and it makes me smile every time I walk by. We’ve saved all the Christmas cards we’ve ever received, and thumbing through them each year is a touching review of our friends’ and families’ memories over the years.

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I’ll update here with this year’s card from us once everyone’s had a chance to get it in the mail– if you want one, leave your address in the comments or send me a direct message on Twitter (@missleah26)!

The 12 Days to Christmas: Stockings Hung (Somewhere) With Care

17 Dec

What do you do if you have no chimney? Where does Santa come down to delivery presents? Well, you get crafty. Mum made a fireplace out of cardboard and construction paper in the wall under our stairs in the living room in our first house so my brother and I were able to hang our stockings by the chimney. Then, she explained that Santa could come in our front door since we didn’t have a real chimney and fireplace. Once we moved to our second house, we got the fireplace, but I’ll always remember the cutout version.

My Dad’s mom, Grandma Barbara, made my stocking just after I was born. It’s satin and lace and ribbon and buttons and rickrack and eyelet cotton… all the girliest, prettiest materials all rolled into one. She passed away when I was in kindergarten, so I love that I still have my stocking to remember her by.

Dan’s Dad’s mom, Mimi, made his stocking, too. She’s a blue-ribbon cross-stitcher, and she covered his stocking in all sorts of Christmas themes– a nutcracker, reindeer, Santa, holly, and more. She’s moved to Washington state now, so we love having a little piece of her in our place.

We both have our stockings from growing up, and I can’t wait to show our kids what their great-grandmothers made with their own hands. We use the stocking hangers I had growing up, and for the time being they’re in front of our TV on the console.

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Where did you get your stocking? Do you have it at your place?

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