It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

It truly is for me.  I love Christmas for several many reasons.

I begin decorating the inside of our home the weekend of Thanksgiving, while my husband is decorating the outside. We have a very festive home in and out, and I love waking every morning and turning on the tree.  My Santa collection always gives me a happy, holiday feeling. The Poinsettias are on the tables and the holiday stuffed animals are scattered throughout.  It is fun!

I make lists and lots of them.  There are several lists of menus I will cook while the family is together.  Then there is the grocery lists – I have several, shopping lists, cleanings list.  Checking things off my lists shows me I am accomplishing goals as we move closer to the  main event.

My shopping is finished and all the packages that need to be mailed have arrived at their destinations.  Yea! That is a big relief.

This year, right now, our daughter and her family, which includes a granddaughter, are on their way here for the holidays.  It will be a long, eleven hour drive for them, but hey, they are young.  Last year we made the drive and we are not nearly as young as we used to be.

Our son and his family live here, and that includes a granddaughter, so the whole family will be together and that is my most favorite time ever.  I absolutely love it when we have the whole family together.

The Christmas meal will include my mom who is 91, my older sister (no need to mention her age) my nephew and his family which includes a great-niece and our whole family.  Does it get any better than that?  Well, yes, we are missing my other two siblings, including Tricia and Devin and my brother and his two girls.

I like listening to the Christmas carols.  They play in the house and in the car. Some make me feel happy – like Burl Ives and “Holly, Jolly Christmas”.  Some make me feel nostalgic, like “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”, and some give me a feeling of thankfulness and can bring a tear to my eyes, like “O Holy Night”.

I am a spiritual person.  Realizing that the Christ was not really born this time of year, and He would not be impressed with the way we have totally forgotten the real reason for his birth, I still try to keep the remembrance of Him separate from the Christmas hype. “O Holy Night” brings me back and makes me think again about how awesome the occasion was and how awestruck I should be when thinking about that sweet baby, born in a manger, just for me.

So, I guess you could say I love the pagan part of the holiday and the religious part of the holiday. As I said at first, I love Christmas for several reasons.

The holiday began last night with family coming over for some white chili and the best cornbread ever (a recipe from the Baldpate Inn near Estes Park, CO) and the holiday overeating will continue through next Saturday.  There is enough food and goodies to last us for weeks.  So, it will be leftovers for Dale and I after everyone has gone home.

It is the most wonderful time of the year – enjoy!



Now I can relax

OK, shopping is done, shipping is done, let the real holiday begin.  I was late getting into the holiday this year. Between Thanksgiving being so late in the month and then immediately getting ill, I was way behind in getting everything having to do with the holiday done.  The house was not decorated, the shopping was not done and I was behind at work as well.

But now that I have everything but one item in the mail or being delivered by my niece, I can finally relax and really enjoy the several days off that I am taking this week.  There are so many reasons why I love being self-employed, but one of the best ones is definitely being able to design my own schedule and take time off without having to ask for permission from anyone.  I am really looking forward to a week off, seeing movies with my daughter and friends, reading a couple of books and basically just chilling.

Laura and I start another year of photography in January and I have time this week to give some thought to how and what we are going to do.  I want to really give some thought to the projects this year, be serious about learning more and take some great photos.  We are all taking a big trip this year and by the time we leave for it, I want to know more about my camera in a way that will facilitate me taking some great shots of this trip.

I am going to eat less meat in 2015 and this week I want to find some recipes that I can have available to make the transition to pescetarian smoother.

I want to take some time this week to remember what I am grateful for and to write down my mantras for 2015.  What thoughts am I going to allow to pass through my brain, what energy am I going to release out into the universe, what do I want to  see happen in my life in 2015 and let’s start thinking it and expecting it.  I find that having a plan and writing it down really helps ground me and make me feel more in control of what is happening in my life.  I have been floundering too long without a plan and it has been too unsettling. This week I change that.

So, come to find out, I have a lot to do with this week, but, still, I am looking forward to it.


Christmas Traditions

I read a book years ago when my daughter was very young about building family traditions. I really liked the idea of many of them because it was a way of building memories.  The book had 60 different traditions, most of them just about every day life.  A few examples are:

1) Dad makes pancakes every Sunday morning,

2) the red plate tradition where a family member gets dinner on a special (red) plate because they have accomplished something important, gotten a good grade on something they worked hard on, had a really tough day, anything that deserves attention at the dinner table,

3) Wednesday night game night, Friday night pizza.

What a great way of building family memories through creative, easy to manage traditions.  I wish I had incorporated more of them into our lives, but it is never too late, right?  I mean my daughter is only just about to turn 18…  We still have many years left to design traditions that work for our family and I can get a jump start on some traditions I can introduce my grandchildren to; once and if I ever get any.  We travelled a lot for holidays, so that made some traditions difficult to manage.  However, this year I think I will start a tradition of a special Christmas Eve meal; Chestnut soup has always intrigued me..  But even as I write that, I remember that we usually go to early evening services and then to a good friend’s house who’s birthday is Christmas Eve… I may have to come up with something else.

When there are only 2 of you, it is harder to develop some traditions.  I am the only one coming up with them and my daughter is the only one experiencing them.  Game night can be very interesting with only 2.  You have to adjust some games to accommodate only 2 players. So far, she is not that into anything Christmas.  I usually have to force her to decorate the tree with me even as we pull out all of the ornaments I worked so hard on collecting to commemorate our travels, her annual ornament, etc.  I don’t know if this is something that will become important to her later or not….I trudge on anyway.

I am curious about peoples’ favorite Holiday traditions.  If you have any, please share.


The Day After

So the big meal is over.  We had a great time with our friends and one of the best meals I can remember having in a few years.  Someone brought sweet potato casserole very much like the one my family makes, so I was very happy.  My second batch of dinner rolls turned out beautifully.  I think I am done trying Parker House Rolls; they just never turn out as awesome as they look like they should. The classic dinner rolls came out much better.  I came home with a little turkey and sweet potatoes, so today I think I will make a turkey/sweet potato dumpling.  Egg roll wrappers make this so easy.  A little cranberry sauce mixed with some soy sauce and we have the Thanksgiving version of a Chinese dumpling.  Now the work begins…


Decorating for Christmas.  I have pulled out the storage bins and am looking through the decorations to see what I want to use this year.  I’m trying to get away from the traditionally kitschy decorating and move to more stylish, low key decorations. I am not creative in this area, but I can steal ideas from HGTV. I should take this opportunity to purge my bins of decorations I will probably never use again.  December trips to a Goodwill donation center are doubly good; you get rid of stuff, de-clutter your house and get a tax donation just in time to make the most of it.


I have decided to show the Dicken’s Village this year.  I love the Dicken’s VIllage, but with so many built-ins and the rooms being small to begin with, there is never an optimal spot to display the village.   The cats also love the village.  Alice in particular loves to knock down the trees and village folk and spends a lot of time just sitting in the middle looking like a cat giant.

The Devin/Santa photos from all the various years are on the mantle.  Devin says she will allow one last photo with Santa on her 18th birthday.  (There have been no Santa photos since she was about 7, so don’t think we are one of those odd families…) The Christmas playlist is loaded on the Ipod and the Christmas books are out.  Tomorrow we head up Berthoud Pass to cut a tree down in the Winter Park area.  All the most important ornaments will go on the tree and then we will use others to decorate a garland or maybe place in a glass vase of some sort.  With a little greenery here and there, I think I will be done.

I will then look through every thing else in the Christmas boxes and start filling the donation box so we can make a trip to Goodwill in the next week or so.  I am behind on gift shopping….I am usually done by Thanksgiving, so I will be out and about which I do not look forward to, but at least I can shop in the middle of the day in the middle of the week, which makes it a little easier.  We have a few more food items to make as gifts and I really enjoy that part.  So the season is here.  One good month and then 2015 is making an entrance.  I am hoping for smooth entrance of the new year and just 3 and 1/2 months of no major issues.  Just no repeat of early 2014.  Thanks in advance universe for allowing me that.


The Favorite Santa

In 1981 my sister-in-law gave me my first Santa.


The following year my daughter, who was seven years old at the time, wanted to add to my collection – if you can call one Santa a collection.  In November, 1982, we went to her elementary school holiday craft sale.  She found the perfect Santa, that was in her budget and proudly purchased it.


At Christmas that year I opened my gift from her which was a very special Santa for a couple of reasons.  I found out after I opened the gift that she had indeed purchased the Santa that day, but promptly dropped and broke it.  She was heartbroken and headed back to the artist to tell her sad story.  The creator of the Santa was in the holiday spirit and sold her the second Santa for half price. Now, however, she is over her budget because of the extra expense of the second Santa. The above photo is my Santa.

My collection has grown over the years with some very nice and sometimes expensive Santas, but the Santa bought at the elementary school holiday craft sale by my seven-year-old daughter is my favorite and always will be. Seeing the excitement on her face when I opened that special Santa, that she had to sacrifice extra money for, is forever in my memory.

I am still adding to my collection, but nothing will replace this Santa given from the heart from my precious daughter.


And then there is my son.  He decided to begin a collection of holiday treasures that poop candy. Now, he has given me many nice Santas over the years, but he is especially proud of the plastic ones that make obnoxious noises and then poop candy. Isn’t that special?!