Holidays

My OTHER To-Do List

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Pretty much every day, I'm working from a long and detailed To-Do list.  Work stuff.  Errands.  Grocery lists. Calls I need to make. Emails I need to send. Stuff I need to pick up.  You know.  (Because you have one, too.)

When December hits, my To-Do list just becomes that much more crazy.  Gifts I need to buy.  Extra chores I need to do.  Even MORE errands.  Cards. Letters. Gift wrap.  Bows. A dessert for the office potluck. You know.  (Because you have one, too.)

The week before Thanksgiving, I met my friend, Sandie, for coffee.  I launched into my growing dread of the season ahead.  Too many parties.  Too much shopping.  How would I decorate?  What would I wear?  And, oh!  The work deadlines looming.  

Basically, I could have been a contender . . . for the World's Biggest Whiner.

Then, Sandie interrupted me with a smile . . . "but I thought you liked the holidays?"

I stopped mid-whine.

Because I do.  

I DO like the holidays!

So I did a little reflecting. . . about what had happened.  Where had my "liking the holidays" gone?  And how had I gotten so "bah!humbug!" about the whole thing.  Ultimately, I decided this . . . 

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THIS year, I'm going to change my attitude about the holidays.  I'm going to be intentional about having fun and enjoying the unique, busy-ness of this particular season.  I'm going to roll with it and not let the extra activity and higher expectations stress me.  I'm not going to play along when others start whining about the holidays.  

You know why?

Because we don't HAVE to do this.  

We really don't.  We can choose how we celebrate the holidays -- and how we deal with the holidays.  (And even IF we celebrate the holidays.)

For me . . . I choose . . . a renewed focus on enjoying the holidays this year.

So, yeah.  My every day, working To-Do list is STILL a mile long.  But that's not the list I'm going to share with you today.  Today, I'm going to share my OTHER To-Do list: The Things I Need To Do . . . to enjoy the holidays this year:

  1. Smile at people.  Everyone is stressed; everyone is hassled.  It's that time of year.  I'm trying to remember to smile and be pleasant.  It helps.
  2. Socialize.  Between work-related parties and friend-related parties, I have lots of social events to attend this month.  Rather than wish I were at home with a book and a glass of wine, I'm going to enjoy spending time with friends and colleagues.  (And I can still have a glass of wine!)
  3. Turn on ALL the twinkly lights.  I love to decorate for Christmas -- and I especially like twinkly lights.  This year, I'm going to take my time decorating . . . and I'm going to make sure to use ALL of my twinkly lights!  (And I'm going to turn them on every night - and in the dark mornings, too.)
  4. Dress up.  It's fun to wear holiday clothes -- a little sparkle, a little pizzazz!  The best thing about attending events and parties . . . is deciding what to wear.  And this year, I'm going to have fun with it.
  5. Plan fabulous feasts.  While I love Thanksgiving, there just isn't a lot of . . . creativity . . . in the meal-planning.  In our family, at least, we tend to like the same menu for Thanksgiving, year after year after year.  What is great about Christmas, by contrast, is the openness to trying new things at meals.  This year, I'm going to have fun planning - and cooking - fabulous meals for my family.
  6. Just send the cards.  I love to get cards and letters in the mail during the holidays -- especially from friends and family that I just don't stay in touch with on a day-to-day basis.  I love it when they send family photos and update-letters.  So, even though I say (every year) "I'm not going to send cards this year" . . . I'm going to send cards this year!
  7. Relish every crazy moment of having BOTH kids (and a significant other) home for the holidays.  It doesn't happen very often anymore, so I want to enjoy having BOTH of my grown-up kids back around my tree this year.
  8. Surround myself with music.  I'm lucky.  My job . . . is all about music.  This year, I want to stop thinking about the holiday concerts and performances as my WORK . . . and, instead, let the music set the tone for the soundtrack of my holiday.
  9. Give.  This year, I want to give generously -- of my time, of my resources, and of my heart!  Not just gifts -- but year-end charitable donations, too.
  10. Work out.  Frequently -- and hard!  If I keep moving; if I keep sweating . . . I know I'll be able to handle the stress and the hassle of the holiday season.  (I'll also be able to eat a couple more cookies . . .)

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How about YOU?  What's on your To-Do list this holiday season?

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This and That

There is just so much going on this time of year!  A little of this. . . 

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And a lot of this . . .

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And some of that . . .

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For a change of pace, though, let's try this . . .

 

(Brian on drums.)

Happy Monday!


Shoddy Building Materials

Often, right after Thanksgiving, I share the results of a beloved family tradition:  The Gingerbread House.  

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For 20 years, we have gathered early in the holiday season to create gingerbread houses.

This year, I carefully baked the house-pieces in preparation for another house-decorating session.  I packed and mailed a set of pieces to Erin, who wouldn't be joining us for Thanksgiving this year, and I got things ready for my Mom and I to "build."

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Things started out well!  The houses stayed together right away, and we were optimistic and full of creative ideas.  I had found some pink, peppermint Andes mints that I thought would be Just Perfect for roof tiles this year, and I was inspired to try an all-peppermint themed house!

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And, really, those Andes mint roof tiles were MORE than perfect!  They fit across and down the roof perfectly -- creating a solid roof of peppermint-y pink, beautifully highlighted with red licorice.

I was so pleased.

Until this.

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Without warning, my entire house collapsed!

SURPRISE!  (But not the good kind.)

(If you look very closely, you can just glimpse the roof-tiles in the top of the disaster-scene, above.  Sadly, it is the only photo of my Grand Inspiration.)

Turns out those roof tiles -- coupled with all the frosting snow I had so painstakingly dripped from the roof -- were far too heavy for the gingerbread structure.

Drat.

Although I tried to salvage the damage, it was too extensive.  The entire thing ended up in the trash.

Now, we've had plenty of gingerbread disasters over the years (and I'm not even talking about the time my Mom ended up with a broken leg. . .) -- but never have we had to toss an entire gingerbread house!

It was so disappointing.

My Mom bravely soldiered on.

Alone.

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I've got all the leftover candy (although I did throw out those tempting Andes mint roof tiles), and I'm thinking about starting fresh and making another gingerbread house on my own.

If I do re-build . . . I'll make sure my building materials are up to code!

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Jenny Update:  Thank you for all your kind words and thoughts yesterday.  Jenny's surgery went very well.  She spent the night - heavily drugged - at the vet's office.  We'll be bringing her home later today.  


Words in the Mail

I'm getting lots and lots of words in my mail.

'tis the season. . .

Holiday Gift Guide. . .

Something for everyone on your list. . .

It's not too late for Christmas delivery. . .

I try to ignore these words and their power to create a sense of urgency and panic.

But it's hard.

Then, these words in the mail caught my eye:

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I'm keeping these words close by for reference this holiday season, so I can feel inspired and powerful.  

We all need to take on a giant once in a while!

 


Giving Thanks

(Oops.  This post was scheduled to post automatically yesterday - Nov 28 - in the morning.  Only I screwed up and chose the wrong month.  So I'm still counting this toward nablopomo . . . even though it's late . . . because it was teed up and ready to go.  Only user error.)

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As this card from my sister says . . . 

It's Thanksgiving, pilgrim.

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Buckle up!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!


Throwback Thursday: Thanksgiving - The Early Years

This year, Erin won't be coming home for Thanksgiving.  Although she's missed a couple of Christmases with us, this will be her first Thanksgiving on her own.  I think she and her boyfriend will enjoy cooking up a turkey and creating their own Thanksgiving traditions this year.  (And, besides, they both have full-time jobs now -- without much vacation time.  This is something to be very thankful for, indeed.)

Talking to Erin about her plans got me remembering . . .

Let's take a little trip in the way-back machine.  Back to 1979. . .

Tom and I were in college (he a senior; me a junior) . . . although not at the same place.  I travelled up to Boise to spend the holiday with him.  It was our first Thanksgiving together; my first Thanksgiving without my family.

We cooked a small turkey and made some mashed potatoes.  We opened a can of cranberry sauce and baked up some Pillsbury crescent rolls.  We even had a bakery-store pumpkin pie and a bottle of Mateus Rose* to drink!

Tom at TG 1979

(We strategically placed the bottle of wine in front of the pie, so you couldn't see that we'd actually already eaten half of it. . .)

(We also made some Really Bad gravy.  It solidified.  We fed it to the neighborhood cats.)

Kym at TG 1979

Such a fun Thanksgiving -- all on our own and just starting out!  (We never imagined THEN . . . how many Thanksgivings we'd celebrate together.  Or how much bigger our turkeys would become!)

How about you?  What memories do you have of some of your early Thanksgiving celebrations?

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* And since we're in the way-back machine anyway, check out this old commercial for Mateus Rose (which, at the time, I thought was the epitome of sophistication):

 


On the Side

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Of all holidays, I like Thanksgiving best!  The emphasis of the holiday is on . . . being thankful, gathering together, and FOOD!  Simple as that!

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I love planning the Thanksgiving feast each year.  I like adding new recipes from time to time -- but there are some deeply held Thanksgiving traditions in my family . . . especially when it comes to food!

While the turkey is always the star of the show (and Tom is always the Turkey Master at our house) . . .

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(here he is, prepping last year's bird)

there are many family favorites when it comes to the side dishes.  Our top ten wouldn't-be-Thanksgiving-without-'em favorites:

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  1. Stuffing (maybe the best part of the feast; I tried a new stuffing recipe three years ago and really shook things up; people are adjusting)
  2. Sweet potatoes (with pecans and coconut; Erin's favorite)
  3. Cranberries (I especially like this cranberry-cherry-walnut-chutney recipe I've been making for years)
  4. Mashed potatoes (my mom has them down to a science; these are Brian's favorite)
  5. with Gravy (Tom is also the Gravy Master; chemists are so handy in the kitchen!)
  6. My mom's Lemon Cheese Salad (a Thanksgiving tradition for nearly 50 years; I can't remember a Thanksgiving without it)
  7. Roasted green beans (plain; with salt and plenty of pepper)
  8. Flaky dinner rolls (although I'm usually too full to eat one)
  9. Pumpkin pie (with a dollop of real whipping cream)
  10. And a perfect glass of wine (Oh, c'mon. . . it's a side. . .)

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Oh, how I love Thanksgiving!

How about YOU?  What are your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes?

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