Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Littlest Ketchum

Mindy & Eric sent us some professional pictures of baby Jason. His personality is really starting to come out! He really enjoyed his first Christmas and was fascinated with the lights on the tree and loved tearing the paper off of his presents. It's hard to be so far away and not get the opportunity to see him growing, but thanks to digital photography and unlimited long distance calling, at least we can keep in touch. We sure miss him and can't wait to see him again soon!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Two Down!

Jay and I celebrated our two-year anniversary on Monday night. Last year, we went to Alex Madonna's Steak House and then spent the night at the Madonna Inn and we enjoyed the restaurant so much that we decided to go back again this year. Kendall is already back in Kansas for Christmas and since funds are tight this year, we decided to just spend the night at home but still wanted to enjoy a nice, romantic dinner out together.

Jay got off work a little early and I was wondering if something was up because he took about 45 minutes to get home after he called and said he was on his way (his usual commute is about 20 minutes). He came home with a beautiful flower arrangement that made me feel incredibly special.

After we got dressed and I made myself beautiful, we headed out to the steakhouse in San Luis Obispo. If you've never been to Alex Madonna's Steak House, I highly recommend going during Christmastime. The restaurant has 100 Christmas trees and the most elaborate decorations throughout from deer and bears to angels and lights to mechanical elves and dolls swinging in the air. When you get to the restaurant, they ask you if your are celebrating anything special. We told them it was our anniversary and they brought us a huge red balloon and as you look throughout the restaurant, you can see balloons everywhere that say, "Happy Birthday" or "Happy Anniversary" or "Congratulations." They really make you feel very special. Jay ordered the bacon-wrapped filet, the same thing he had last year. The steak was about 2 inches thick and was cooked to perfection. I had the grilled halibut that I had last year and it was even better than I remembered! The fish was so fresh and had so much flavor, I absolutely savored every bit. After dinner they brought us a complimentary piece of spice cake to make our celebration even more special. Oh yes, and I must not forget that while we were sitting in the bar waiting for our table, I saw the bartender make a pink drink that had whipped cream and pink sprinkles on the top so I asked the waitress if the drink was a Madonna Inn special and she said yes, it's basically just a strawberry daqueri with whipped cream on top. I decided to order one since it is their house specialty and after I had a few sips, I looked at the drink and it looked like it had a snowflake in it. I took a picture to share....I know, I am such a dork but I delight in the little things, what can I say?

After dinner we came home and Jay was a nervous wreck because he was so worried his gift to me wouldn't be here. He had originally ordered it about a month ago and received a confirmation email and didn't read it, just filed it away in one of his email folders. When the gift hadn't arrived he went back to the email to check the shipping information and discovered that the email said the item was discontinued, so he had to find a similar item and order it with express delivery, to arrive on Monday. When we left for dinner at around 6:00, the gift wasn't here, but when we got home from dinner, there it was on the porch. I asked him if he needed to wrap it and he said he ordered it gift-wrapped, so he took it out of the box and brought it into the living room. When he took the box out, he was concerned because the shape did not look like what he had, he was just as curious as I was to see what was in the box! I must mention that he likes to stick with the traditional anniversary gifts and for the 2nd anniversary the traditional gift is either cotton or china. I had a heck of a time figuring out what to get for him with these limited options, what do I get him that is special that is made of cotton or china? For a guy???? Anyway, back to my story.....first I read the card and it brought tears to my eyes. He is so romantic and thoughtful that I could care less what was in the box. I finally opened the gift and it was a Christmas ornament that said, "Our First Home 2007." I asked him, "Is this what you ordered honey?" I could tell by his expression that was NOT what he ordered! First of all, he bought this house long before we were married and second of all, I've been living here since 2005, so it wasn't exactly the thoughtful gift I know he tried to get me. He told me he ordered a bone china ring holder since I take my rings off every night and put them on my nightstand. I told him it's the thought that counts and we'll get the right gift here and not to worry about it. I also told him someday he'll laugh about this and although he wasn't ready quite yet, the next day he was already laughing about it.
I got him a customized throw with a photo of his Dad on the beach. I had some drama with my gift also. First off all, I originally tried to get it with Footprints printed on the throw but was pretty sure it would be illegible and sure enough, I got an email from the vendor that the text would not work so I resent the photo without the text and asked if she could just print the last line, along with the date and she sent me a confirmation that that would work. The gift was to arrive on Friday via Fedex and I checked Fedex online that evening to find out when the gift was to be delivered and the tracking information said the package was delivered at 7:58. Well, it was already 8:20 so I called Fedex and they said it was delivered and to call back the next day so that they could speak with the driver. I was in a complete panic! I spent so much time trying to find a meaningful gift and there was absolutely no way I could get another one in any reasonable amount of time. I cried and felt sorry for myself for a while and at 9:15, the gift was delivered! I had no idea Fedex would deliver that late, but I was relieved the package was here. When I opened the box, however I was disappointed. First of all the throw was smaller than I anticipated and second of all, the photo wasn't nearly as clear as I had hoped. But, at that point I realized it was the thought that counts and decided to just put the worry aside and appreciate our love and remember it's not about the gifts.

Jay ended up loving the throw. He was very touched at the thought and he was really pleased with the way the photo turned out. Although neither of our gifts were exactly was we imagined, we still had a wonderful anniversary together and spent the evening appreciating each other and looking back on our journey together and continuing to look forward to all of the memories that are yet to come.

Early Christmas with The Willett's

Every year we celebrate Christmas with the Willett's on Christmas Eve. It's been a tradition ever since I was a young girl and had to share Christmas between my mother and father. Unfortunately, Christmas Eve is also the day that Valerie's mom loves to celebrate with her family and she has graciously sacraficed year after year so that we could carry on the Willett tradition. This year, Valerie decided she really wanted to celebrate with her mother on Christmas Eve, so the Willett's got together on Saturday at Dad & Valerie's to have an early celebration. Uncle Ken and Aunt Xenia and Jason and Grandma were able to join us (unfortunately, Liana had to work at Macy's due to the Christmas rush and Jenessa had to stay home and work on her final) and Uncle Steve was able to join us as well (Aunt Kelli was in the hospital and Jon just wasn't feeling up to the trip and Kate couldn't drive down from Oakland). Jay and I arrived around 2:00 after dropping Kendall off at LAX for her trip back to Kansas for Christmas and the rest of the family arrived a little later in the afternoon. It was so nice to see everyone! After the disappointment on Thanksgiving we were really hoping that everyone could make it for Christmas. We missed everyone that wasn't there, but were grateful to be together with the ones that made it. Grandma looked amazing! She looked about 15 years younger than the last time I saw her. She had her coloring back and her voice was stronger and she was filled with joy.
Valerie put on an amazing spread as usual. She made chile verde and this incredible chile & cheese casserole that was from a recipe from Isabel (her departed step mother) that was soooooo fattening and soooooooo delicious! Jay and I and Dad & Valerie sat at the "kids" table and allowed the rest of the family to enjoy the comfort of the dining room table. After dinner we had A Christmas Story on in the background and continued to enjoy our visit and then opened presents.

The evening went by much too rapidly, but we were so grateful to share such special memories together and to be surrounded by so much love. We got to catch up on what's new in each other's lives and I continue to be so proud of my family. My cousins have all turned into such amazing young adults and watching Grandma with her boys just fills my heart with so much joy I think it's going to burst! Every time we're with my family, I get all warm and fuzzy inside when I see how well Jay fits in with the rest of the family. It's as if he has been in our lives all along and I cherish him so very much. He truly is a gift from God.

New Tradition

A couple of years ago, as a joke I bought Jay a Dale Earnhart car hood ornament for Christmas. We had so many laughs over the way that people were still imortalizing the driver after his passing (I'm sure he was a wonderful man) that when I saw the ornament, I just had to get it for Jay. We still laugh every time we put the ornament on the tree that we decided to start a new tradition this year of getting each other the tackiest or funniest ornament we can find. Eventually we'll have to get a second tree for all of our crazy ornaments, but for now, the ornaments are resting on our otherwise lovely and touching tree.

Jay was so excited over the ornament he got me this year. He actually bought me a collector's edition and was so anxious for me to open it that on Sunday we were watching A Christmas Story and enjoying a warm fire and he wanted to open the ornaments early. I laughed so hard when I opened the ornament, it was just perfect! He got me a Hallmark Collector's Edition of Mr. Spock that he bought on Ebay from a collector. He definitely beat me this year, I got him a tacky cow ornament and although it's not as creative, it still fits the bill! I am going to have to start early next year on finding just the right thing.

We're both glad we started the tradition. It gives us something really fun to look forward to each year and one of the most beautiful parts of our relationship is our ability to laugh together. Ok, sometimes at each other also, but marriage is supposed to be fun!

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Lied

Remember when I said it's better to give than to receive? That was HOURS ago and I've changed my mind. Kendall gave me her Christmas present to me this evening, since she's leaving for Kansas tomorrow morning and I absolutly LOVE her gift and I had to share. One thing I did not lie about, is that the best gift comes from the heart and hers definitely did. I immediately started crying when I read the words in the poem she framed for me.

Cheerful, brainy, fair and loving
You are my beautiful step-mom
Lover of Jay, Nicole, and me
Who feels sad, happy and angry
Who finds happiness in my grades, my chores and doing what I am told
Who needs love, support, and being a mom
Who gives answers, help, and excellent ideas
Who fears snakes, lizards, and spiders
Who would like to see Wicked, 12 Stones, and Nicole
Who enjoys the Bee movie, Cars, and Bill Cosby
Who likes to wear sandals, shirts, and pants
Who makes me feel special, happy, and thoughtful
Shannon, you have been the best mother because God said that you are a loveable child
Your loving daughter,
I am blessed....enough said.

Always Bring a Friend

I had the great pleasure of spending two glorious days in Santa Barbara with my dear friend Carrie. I don't know exactly how long Carrie and I have been friends. It seems like we've known each other our entire lives and she's like a sister in my heart. Our meeting was less than traditional. She was currently dating a guy that I had dated in the past and he introduced us at a party and had no idea that we'd hit it off so well and that such a strong friendship would develop. Eventually, she and the guy broke up and we shared stories and laughed and giggled and she started dating a new guy that I had a crush on at the time and she felt terribly guilty after they had gotten together. My friendship with Carrie was much stronger than my schoolgirl crush on Chris and I gave her my blessing and was so touched that she was concerned and was so honest with me that it just made me love her more. Fast forward to today and she and Chris have been married for 9+ years and have been together through thick and thin and I have been lucky enough to share this journey of life with such a special woman. We don't get to see each other nearly as often as we'd like due to distance (we're now about 100 miles apart) and my family commitments and Carrie's body that absolutely refuses to cooperate with her. Carrie's parents know this and have gotten to know me over the years at gatherings at Carrie's house and numerous visits to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital while Carrie was undergoing procedures and surgeries and they know how much we treasure our friendship and graciously offered to put us up in a beautiful suite in Santa Barbara so we could have some quality time together. We arrived on Tuesday at about 11:30 and could not believe how incredible this hotel was. We checked in at the Inn of the Spanish Garden and the staff was so incredible. They offered us freshly baked cookies, iced tea, water with lemon, offered to walk us to our room and offered to help us plan our stay. We got to our room and were awe-struck! We had a fireplace, imported bath products from London, two queen sized beds with soft, luxurious sheets, a private patio, a soaking but, a flat screen television and a beautiful seating area.

After we got settled into our room, we headed out on foot to have lunch at this great Organic restaurant that Carrie had read about. That's the great thing about downtown Santa Barbara, you can go everywhere on foot! Ok, that is one great thing about downtown SB, they also have great shopping, amazing restaurants, and it's absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. I was a little unsure of what kind of food we'd find at this place, but I was willing to take the adventure! We started off with an appetizer of raw foods, which wasn't exactly my cup of tea. The crackers and the macadamia cheese spread and grape tomatoes and fresh cucumbers and guacamole were all really tasty, but I discovered I am not a fan of raw bread. It was very soggy and had little flavor. I was still glad I tried it though and Carrie really enjoyed it, so it was worth it. For lunch I had mango iced tea and a chicken & pesto foccacia sandwich and it was fabulous! It came with a side salad with chick peas (garbanzo beans we call them in my family) with this amazing balsamic dressing on it. Carrie had a falafal salad and this wonderful iced tea with fresh apples and she loved her meal as well. The best part of the meal was the company. We were both just so excited to be together I don't think it mattered what we were eating.

After lunch we headed out to start shopping. One of the first stops was Old Navy. They recently opened one in SB and both Carrie and I are die-hard Old navy fans so we were very pleased to find the store on the corner. I got two skirts for work (I just know I'm going to find a job soon!) and Carrie got a really cute striped skirt with a coordinating black top that are going to look very hot with her black boots. After Old Navy we strolled up and down State Street, coming across several stores that were beyond out of our price range, but still had fun looking. I didn't have much success finding gifts or a "sparkly" top to wear on my anniversary, but Carrie found lots of treasures and it was so nice to be out walking on a clear, crisp day. We walked until our feet were about to fall off and then went back to our room and freshened up and then went to the wine bar in the hotel and had a glass of vino. We were greeted by Brittney, who spoke to Carrie on the phone when she was confirming the reservations and Brittney brought us a complimentary egg nog Creme Brule (I had never even heard of such a thing!) that was so rich that I could only eat about half of it. She also made reservations for us for dinner at Opal and told us we had made a great choice as Opal was one of her favorite restaurants. We loved Brittney, she told us about moving to CA from back East and how much she loved SB and we wanted to sit her down with us and share a glass of wine with her.
When it was time for our seating, we headed down to the Opal Restaurant and looked over the overwhelming menu of delicous entrees. Carrie ended up having a salad with crab cakes over toast points and a lemon grass salmon dish with a sauce that absolutely melted in your mouth. I had a side salad with toasted pine nuts and a smoked chicken with smoked ghouda pizza. For desert, Carrie ordered the "Death by Chocolate" that was laying in a thick, raspberry sauce. I despise raspberry so I only had one bite, but that was ok by me. By the time I finished my salad and most of my pizza, I had no room for desert. The wait staff was extremely accomodating, and once again, we enjoyed our visit tremendously. After dinner we headed back to the room and were planning on getting a movie, but us old folks were too tired by the end of the day and ended up crashing close to 10:00pm after we reminisced over some old photos that I brought. So much for staying all night talking!

Tuesday morning we slept until 9:00 and I had some coffee, Carrie had some tea and we packed up and completely missed the free continental breakfast. We checked out of our room and the gentleman at the counter showed us what one of the executive suites looked like (wow!) and took our picture out by the fountain and we headed out to do some more shopping. Carrie had some buyer's remorse over some items she bought at Tienda Ho so we went there first so she could get her credit and enjoy the rest of our day. After we walked a bit we went to Palazzio's for a scrumptious Italian lunch. I had the capellini pamadoro and a side salad and Carrie had a veggie rigatoni and we each had 3 of the complimentary garlic rolls. Each bite was like a little slice of heaven! We parted ways at about 3:30 with a promise to see each other more often and some sweet memories to get us through until the next time. Friendships really are one of the most precious gifts in life. I love you Carrie!

Great Scripture for This Time of Year

Well, this is a great scripture for the whole year through, but I got this on my Air 1 daily scripture and I think it's such a great reminder about the power of giving.

Give and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
Luke 6:38 NLT

I have always believed it is better to give than to receive. Ok, maybe not always....I doubt that I felt that way when I was six years old, laying in bed, anxiously waiting for Santa to come and fill my stockings and put that bike under the tree that I so desperately wanted. But, as I've grown and matured, giving has meant so much more to me. I still love to receive gifts, but not expensive gifts, I love getting gifts from the heart. Like when Carrie makes me a gourd or some beautiful jewelry or my mom writes me a poem or Chrissi or Nicole or Kendall draw me a picture or when my husband finds just the right card that says what he feels in his those moments I love to receive! But giving can be even more fulfilling. I love it when I find just the right gift that totally suits the recipient. One of the best giving moments for me is last father's day when Jay's dad was pretty ill and I was trying to figure out what to give him that would mean something to him. He's always loved Footprints, although I didn't really know just how much at the time, but I wanted to find a picture of some footprints in the sand and type up the copy in Photoshop and print it out and frame it and give it to him. I thought that every time he looked at it, he would be comforted in knowing that God was carrying him through. I talked to Jay about it and he liked the idea and he suggested going through the photos we took of Lonnie when he and Sharon were here for the wedding and we took them to the beach and it was the first time they had seen the ocean. If you could have seen Lonnie that day, it was a moment that is forever frozen in our hearts. His eyes were so wide and he just stood there and stared at those big waves and you could see the wonder in his expression. So, we found just the right photo and I put it all together in Photoshop and found a frame and sent it to him for Father's day and he hung it up and Sharon told us how much it meant to him. She even brought the framed picture to the funeral and had it up for everyone that walked by as a reminder that even when he was so ill and struggling so much, he was never alone. Well, that gift keeps on giving. The other night, Jay asked if I would print out that photo and frame it and give it to him to hang up in his office. It meant so much to me that he wanted to have that image in his office to look at every day. It was such a simple gift that cost so little, but meant so much and I think of all of the gifts that I've ever given in my life, that one is the most precious to me. I think it's partially because that was Lonnie's last Father's day on this earth.

Whatever gifts you give this year, give them with your heart and I guarantee, the return will be so much more than the investment. I know it's not always easy to come up with just the right gift. I'm struggling right now, trying to figure out what to get my Grandmother. She's 96 and can hardly move and is living with my Aunt and Uncle and has little space for her things and I just cannot figure out what to give her. But, I refuse to get stressed or frustrated about it, because I know that whatever I give her, as long as I give it with my heart, she will love it. Gifts of the heart have a great ROI!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Tea at FCC

I've only been to one formal tea in my life and every time I think of it I have fond memories. I went with my dear friend Sandy Sturgill who passed away in December of 2004. She was so precious to me and she took me and several other women to Santa Monica to attend a tea for her daughter-in-law's birthday and we had a wonderful time. On Monday night, I had the pleasure of attending a Christmas Tea at First Christian Church. Apparently it's an annual event (for women only - as if the men would even care to attend if they were invited!) and each table has a hostess that provides all of the linens, dishware, cutlery, centerpieces, cream & sugar dishes, side table, coffee urn, water glasses, water pitcher, hot water urn, and optional gifts for all of the guests at her table. Each table had seating for 8 and the hostesses did an outstanding job! I was originally asked if I wanted to be a table hostess and after I saw the list of everything that I needed to bring and finished breathing into a brown paper bag, I respectfully declined. Carolyn (the women's ministry leader) invited me to attend as a guest and suggested that perhaps next year after I had seen what it was all about then maybe I can be a table hostess. I'm so glad I declined this year because I would not have been prepared to have such elaborate table decorations and my table would have paled in comparison! Now that I know what to expect, I can do some planning if I elect to be a hostess next year.
After we were seated, Carolyn got up and welcomed everyone and our male servers (they were so cute in their Christmas ties, most of them 60+ years old served us tea and little finger sandwiches, mini quiches, lemon tartlets, chocolate cream filled candies and raspberry cookies, and fruit kabobs. All of the food was very tiny and delicate and absolutely delicious! While we were finishing our tea several door prizes were handed out. I didn't win anything, but last year around Christmas I won several prizes so I figured it was someone else's turn! Plus, I came as a guest so I didn't pay for my ticket and I would have felt guilty walking away with a bunch of loot. So, I was happy to see all of the excited women go up for their prizes. The woman sitting next to me was about 7 months pregnant and she won a bunch of hair products and she lit up like a Christmas tree when her name was called!

After the door prizes were handed out, Deanna Ramsey came up and sang and shared her story. She was a true inspiration and had an amazing voice. She and her husband spent 3 months overseas hopping from base to base singing to the troops. Not only was she hilarious and mega talented and inspirational, but she is a spitting image of my sister-in-law Lisa and I felt like I was watching Lisa on stage all night! All in all the evening was wonderful and I'm really glad I went. Next year maybe, just maybe I will be a table hostess. We'll see....

Look at the resemblance!

Deanna Ramsey -------------------------------------Lisa Ludington

Sunday, December 9, 2007

First Christmas Parties of the Season

Well, the Christmas season is officially in full swing! Yesterday between the 3 of us, we had 3 parties to attend. Jay had to work in the morning and got home around 11:30am. Everyone was released early this UTA for the squadron's annual Christmas party. We left the house around noon and drove to Buellton to AJ Spur's. Our group was upstairs and we had around 80 people in attendance. It was crowded, but we managed to all squeeze in and keep each other very warm! The group that organized the party this year did a fabulous job. We had limited menus that included a cheeseburger, chicken Caesar salad, top sirloin, ground sirloin with smothered mushrooms, flat iron steak, or breaded calamari steaks. Each meal comes with beef vegetable soup that you top with black beans and salsa, green salad, skillet potatoes with onions, Texas toast, rice pilaf, and a root beer float. Quite a spread they put on at the Spur's! We all placed our orders (I had the top sirloin, Jay had the flat iron steak and Kendall had the chicken Caesar salad) and we had a Christmas tree decorating contest. Each table had a small Christmas tree on the tabletop and we were instructed to decorate the tree (we had one tree for each group of 8 people) using items on the table, items on each person, or items in purses or bags. Our tree was rather pathetic, but we made our best attempt. The winning tree had REAL decorative ribbon on it and a blinking star on the top. Who carries a blinking star in their purse? Anyway, they did deserve to win and even though we lost, we had a lot of laughs decorating our little tree.

They also had a slide show with photos of the squadron over the last year, a drawing for prizes (they gave away a bunch of gift cards, a Blue Tooth headset, a digital photo frame, and an Ipod Nano (Kendall won her Ipod at last year's Christmas party.) They also had their annual fund raiser. Every year members of the squadron vote on who will have the honor of wearing the elf suit. Each vote costs $1 and the person with the most votes traditionally has to change into the elf suit (including read stockings) and hand out the white elephant Christmas gifts. This year, instead of doing a white elephant gift, they decided to have everyone bring a $25 Toys for Tots gift instead. So, the "winner" of the elf suit voting had to put on the suit right after lunch and walk around the room and suffer the humiliation. It was neck and neck toward the voting cut-off and Jay was in first place for a while. Fortunately, Steve Blank pulled in some extra votes at the end, so he did the honors and Jay was able to maintain his dignity. Poor Steve didn't know that his wife wanted him to win so that she could put his photo in the elf suit on their Christmas cards. I hope this isn't their last Christmas together.........

After the 9 Sops Christmas party, we came home and relaxed for a little while and then Jay and I dropped Kendall off at her friend Ken's Hollywood themed 14th birthday party. Ken gave Kendall a Hannah Montana wig for her birthday and she decided to wear the wig and dress up as Avril Levigne for the party. She designed her costume on her own and we encouraged her to do so. She was having so much fun putting her costume together that we didn't want to discourage her, so she came out all put together and was ready to go!

I don't know why Jay insisted on getting me in the background in this photo!

After we dropped Kendall off at Ken's house, Jay and I drove out to Nipomo for the Genesis volunteer Christmas party. As many of you know, I have been helping out with the children's ministry with our church since July. I serve on Wild West Wednesdays and have really been enjoying it. Every year the Genesis leaders Christie & Erik host a volunteer Christmas party at their home and everyone brings homemade soups. I made Rachael Ray's Black Bean Stoup and it was very tasty! There were probably over a dozen different soups at the party and no two were alike. We started off with appetizers (potstickers, chilled shrimp and mozerella sticks) and hot apple cider. First I had the chicken tortilla soup and a piece of bread, followed by the black bean stoup, which incidentally we are having for dinner tonight as well. Jay started off with the minestrone soup and had split pea with ham for seconds. They had all the fixins (cheese, shredded lettuce, sour cream, tortilla chips, salsa) and about 3 different kinds of rolls. After dinner we each had a small piece of Snickers cake. After dinner we all sat around and had some fellowship and then it was time for games. The majority of the ladies (except for 3 of us) played a game at the large picnic table and the guys (and the 3 brave ladies) played Texas Hold 'Em at the dining room table. We played with chips, but there was no buy in and there were 10 of us total. Only 3 people at the table had ever played before, so it was a very relaxed game. Jay and I were only able to play for about 40 minutes before we had to leave to pick up Kendall from Ken's birthday party but we really enjoyed ourselves and I think I had the most chips when we left (I won two consecutive jackpots.) The best part was just being able to spend time with friends and meet some new friends and just enjoy the company. Tomorrow night is the women's tea. By the way, Kendall's team won the scavenger hunt at the birthday party and she came home with a DVD of all of the Pixar short movies. Yea!!!!

Friday, December 7, 2007

It Really is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I just love this time of year. I actually start getting excited about 2 weeks after Halloween. The weather starts to cool down, it's almost time for Thanksgiving (and leftover turkey sandwiches), and the Christmas season is right around the corner. I have always loved Christmas. I loved it as a child, I loved it as a single adult with no little ones to celebrate with, I loved it as an Aunt and being able to share it with my niece and nephews and I love it as a stepmom. It's not the gifts that I love so much, it's everything. I love it when the lights and decorations are up in the outdoor malls and hearing Christmas music in all the stores and seeing the Salvation Army outside of Albertson's and Walmart, ringing their little bells. I love putting up decorations and making the house look magical. I love that people are nicer to each other and all of the excuses to get together for mini parties. I love celebrating the birth of Jesus and reading Luke 2. I love classic holiday movies like It's a Wonderful Life and the Bells of Saint Mary's and A Christmas Story and White Christmas and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Grinch on TV. I love Eggnog Latte's at Starbuck's and Nestle Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer and baking goodies to share with friends. I love getting Christmas cards in the mail and shopping for creative stocking stuffers for my family. I love just for a moment in time, still believing that maybe it is possible that Santa is real.

Whatever your schedule this year, please don't forget the real reason we celebrate and take the time to enjoy the lights and smell the pine and call your Grandmother just to say I love you. I know it's easy to get caught up in the shopping and cramming as much into our schedules as possible, but before you know it, Christmas will be gone and you'll be trying to keep your New Year's resolutions and wondering where the time went. So, have a piece of fudge, watch Miracle on 34th Street for the 150th time, stay up until midnight wrapping gifts, but don't forget to take delight in celebrating the birth of our Savior and appreciating all the gifts in your life.


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