Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Christmas Card Album - 2010

Yesterday (or maybe a day or so ago) someone (forgive me for not remembering who!) tweeted the question, "What will you do with your Christmas cards?" Now I am a big fan of sending Christmas cards and send out close to 150 each year to family and friends. I am an even bigger fan of receiving them. And as far as I'm concerned, you have to give to receive. Now I know that with Facebook, Twitter, etc., I can see every breath your family breathes, every vacation, and special (or not so special) occasion with the hundreds of pictures people post. I can see how little Sally and Stan have grown. However, I love having that picture. You see, I save every card. I mean EVERY one.

Ever since 1999, I have kept a photo album of every year's collection of cards. I began this when S had his first Christmas. Every family is noted, and I try to put them in as approximately the same order every year. Of course, the cards we have received ebb and flow as we lose touch with some and gain other friends. However, I have pictures of many, many children and families without a gap for the past eleven years. I'm afraid I may run out of room in our second album this year!

S and J love looking through these two albums. We keep them in the living room. Sometimes they randomly grab them and flip back and forth to see how their friends and my friends' children have changed over the years. Some of these families they have never met in person as they live all over the country, but S and J feel a connectedness with them none the less.

One dear college friend lost her son last year. When I received the news, the boys immediately ran to the albums to see who it was. They were heartbroken (especially S, who was the same age) as they felt they knew him, his history, and his family.

I love that these cards are snapshots (no pun intended) of my husband's and my life. These friends represent so many aspects. These are friends from childhood, college, Columbia, SC (where I lived the first 36 years of my life), church, A**** (where we live now) - and now Blog friends. I treasure these albums and have included them in my mental "what to grab if the house catches on fire" list. I'm not kidding!

So I'm off to organize and catalog for Christmas, 2010. I'm so glad that some of you will be included as we shared cards this year! The rest of the undecorating can wait...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Christmas that Almost Wasn't

It's now a few days after Christmas and things are beginning to slow down. We had a wonderful Christmas with both Mike's and my families. Big fun for all... But this year almost was the Christmas morning that never was. Grab a glass of wine and get ready for quite a story.

For years, S has wanted a drum set. He really is my musical child, able to play guitar (and some basic piano) by ear. When he was three, he would take all the pillows in the living room and make his own drum set. At age six, we took him to see The Eagles as he was obsessed with Don Henley. And it's continued throughout the years. These days he stays late at Youth Group so he can play the drums after the youth band is finished.

And every Christmas he has asked for a drum set. And every year I have said, "Maybe next year." This year I relented as he researched electric drum sets on the internet. And he finally found something. This is what we Santa ordered from Amazon.

Or at least that's what Santa thought he ordered. As soon as it arrived a few weeks before Christmas, my in-laws picked it up (still in the box) to assemble at their house and drop by our house on Christmas Eve while we were at my family's church and dinner. (We have to leave our house at 2:30 in the afternoon. Keep this in mind as you continue reading.)

On Christmas Eve morning, I got a call from my mother-in-law letting me know that the drum set was ready to go. However, it didn't look like there were any drums. It was just the rack!!! Was that what S was getting for Christmas? (Oh, and did I mention it was around 10:30 am CHRISTMAS EVE?) I literally thought I was going to get sick. OMW! How could that be it? Because this drum set was really all S was getting for Christmas this year.

I immediately called the company who used Amazon as a way to sell their wares. They were adamant that the product description on their website said it was the drum rack only. After being on the phone for almost an hour (now it's around 12:00 on Christmas Eve), they finally relented that Amazon's description was vague and misleading. I could return it (they would pay for return shipping).

In the midst of this, I am also on my cell phone on the other ear talking with my mother-in-law and numerous music stores in our town. Does anyone sell drum sets on Christmas Eve (at 12:30 in the afternoon)? Oh thank goodness there is one and they have one left in the store!

After this, I am completely stressed and not even out of my pajamas. (Keep in mind the 2:30 departure time...) I talk to S to explain the situation (not the possible solution as I really don't know what the solution is at this point). Maybe this was not the best thing to do, but please remember my state of mind at this point. He tears up and tells me that his Christmas is "going to s**k". Normally, I would have really gotten on him for that, but I must say that at that point, I agreed! I told him that I promised Santa would work it out and that everything would be better. But I also needed him to promise that he wouldn't let this ruin Christmas Eve for the family.

I then call Amazon (at around 12:45 or so) to give them an earful. I get some woman from India and "politely" let her know how Amazon has more than likely ruined Christmas Day for an eleven-year-old boy. I now have to find a replacement drum set! Dingbat tries to offer me a $15.00 credit for my troubles. I should have tried harder, but I stopped my tirade for $30.00. (Remember my time crunch!)

Shower, hair, etc. for me follows, and at 1:30 I race over to my in-laws to give them my credit card so they can pick up the drums and deliver them later. I now have a headache.

We did make it to Mama's and church.
Thank goodness the rest of the day/evening was wonderful. 
I had a glass or two of red wine with my sister.

I loved being with my family.

Santa called and eased S's fears.

...And as for Christmas morning?
I think S was right when he said it was the best Christmas ever!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Gift

It's the one gift you'll never want to return... it's the one you'll want to share...

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Yes... This is Our Christmas Tradition

Over the past two Christmases, I have loved reading about all of your family's traditions. I can smell the aroma of fresh baked treats made by the hands of you and your children. The sounds of you caroling around the neighborhood and then finishing at a neighbor's home for hot chocolate and toddies are sweet music to my ears. Some of you go as a family to a tree farm in the country to pick out the perfect Frazier fir or spruce pine. Others fly across country to visit relatives where the snow falls magically from the sky.

A few have ended their posts with the question, "What is your family's Christmas tradition?"

You really want to know?


OK, this is what we do.

Every year, we pile in the car... go to Sonic and get the biggest Sonic Blasts possible (Yes, I know this isn't very Christmas-y.)... turn the Christmas music loud... and drive around town for the "Annual W***** Tacky Christmas Light Tour". Most of these lights are in this fabulous trailer park about ten minutes out of town. It takes about fifteen minutes to go through the whole thing, and it's just not Christmas until we take the tour. And we all yell, "Tacky Christmas lights! Tacky Christmas lights!" with glee when we arrive...

Of course I stopped in the middle of the road for this picture... 
And totally embarrassed J.

There are about four of these donation mailboxes. 
This is the fanciest... The others are written on with Sharpies.

Lots and lots o' tacky lights...

And more and more...

Never knew the Seven Dwarfs were part of Christmas...

J made the very astute comment as we drove through the trailer park o' lights
"It's obvious that some of these people spend more money and attention on their lights 
than they do on their houses." 
(Before you judge, remember that this was from the mouth of a nine-year-old!)

By this time, Handel's Messiah was blaring out of the Frosty snow globe 
in the picture above this one...

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!
, Mike, and the boys

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

With these gifts, what more do I need?

My sweet friend Jessica just wrote a post on the ultimate gift: good friends. Oh how she is so correct! I have been blogging for about fifteen months now, and have met so many amazing women both online and in person. What gifts they are to me! (Some of them know me better than friends I have had for years!)

I am also blessed with new friends whom I have gotten to know since my move three years ago to A****. Some are from school, some from church, and some from the Bunco group I was invited to join a few short months after arriving.

And how many times have I had people look at me in amazement when I tell them that I have around 18 best friends from college? Yes, we have gotten together EVERY year since we graduated twenty years ago. This Connie weekend (what Converse College girls call themselves) is a "must have" for all of us every fall of the year.

My ultimate best friend - whose name is also Beverly!!! - came from this group of college friends. She was there during the darkest time in my life and was my rock. A second sister if you will. I don't know how I would have made it without her! We are now eight hours away... Thank goodness for phones and social media!

Finally, there is my sister. She is the one I go to for advice and just want to be with when on vacation or any other time. Yes, we've had ebbs and flows, but she's the one.

As I look at these Christmas cards I have displayed, I am reminded of how blessed I am with these gifts of friendship. I always have them surrounding this Nativity plate to remember that our Savior is the center of all of our relationships. I am amazed at how He has provided.

I'd love to include you in our Christmas friendship montage! I have a few extra cards ready to send out myself and I'd love to share...

Sunday, December 19, 2010


It's dark outside and Mike and I are alone AGAIN for the next few days. But I'm not wallowing. I'm not. I'm not. I'm not. The two of us went to a fun surprise party last night for a friend's 40th birthday. Today, we went out to lunch and window shopped around town. We don't often get a chance to do this... Kind of like when we were dating!

The afternoon was lazy and we spent most of it watching Christmas movies on Lifetime. But now I am in the throws of my most favorite Christmas movie of all: Prancer.

Have you seen it? In a nutshell, it's about a little girl that literally carries the Christmas spirit inside her and spreads it to her entire town. Here is a synopsis, taken from Wikipedia.

Jessica Riggs (Rebecca Harrell) is an 8-year-old girl whose mother died of unknown causes and who is in the not very adequate care of her rough, quiet, protective father John Riggs (Sam Elliott). In the Christmas season, Jessica finds a hurt reindeer who she believes to be Santa's reindeer Prancer and sets herself on nursing Prancer back to health. A deep bond grows between the two. She is helped by a friendly old veterinarian (Abe Vigoda), befriends the old town recluse (Cloris Leachman), and comes to forge a closer relationship with her older brother Steve (John Duda).

Jessica and her father often clash after he discovers Prancer living in the barn and, despite her widowed father revealing brief moments of deep love for his daughter, he does not understand Jessica's special love for helping the reindeer. After a misunderstanding, he sells Prancer to a business owner temporarily. His walls of hard feelings begin break down and he and Jessica finally forge a deep, loving bond. Jessica, after several emotional and physical struggles between her best friend, her family, and the town, manages to cure her beloved Prancer and set him free, where he is seen flying to the sky to rejoin the other seven deers of Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve.

Every time I watch this movie I am overcome as the movie embodies the idea of hopes, dreams, faith, and belief in the midst of hard times. I love the innocence of the sweet little girl and her eight-year-old view of the world around her, what is true and right and good. Give yourself and your family a true gift this year. Watch this movie...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Homage to Band Aid

Over the past week, I have read two friends' blogs that have celebrated and panned some of the Christmas songs playing on Pandora and our local radio stations. If you haven't been introduced to these two cute girls, you need to read them What's Bakin' and Eat, Drink, and Be Mary Douglass.

My friend at What's Bakin' was lamenting on the songs One Last Christmas and Christmas Shoes. OMW! I am so with her! Call me insensitive and callous, but those songs make me want to gouge my eyes out and just give up. Feeling just a bit depressed this Christmas season, but just not enough? Just play one of these babies and you are good to go! (By the way, "Butterfly Kisses" also makes me want to vomit... just in case you were wondering.)

Cute Mary Douglass, however, I must disagree with on her only panned song: Do They Know It's Christmas?. Now I know you are probably calling me a big hypocrite as this song is pretty sad too. BUT how can you not love it? I have to say I was shocked at Mary Douglass... but then I remembered she is ten to fifteen years younger than I and has absolutely no understanding of the power and presence this song had on our Reagan era lives back in 1984! There are so many reasons it would be way up there on my Christmas song list... if I took the energy to create one.

My Top Ten Reasons to "Let Them Know It's Christmastime"

1. I was fifteen when the song came out and could not wait to race out and buy the 45 from Peaches Records and Tapes in Five Points. My friends and I played it over and over and watched the video on MTV (back in the day when it really was MUSIC television).

2. Also, at fifteen, one feels she actually can save - or at least feed - the world by buying a 45 record. And there's just something warm and fuzzy about remembering that when one is now in her forties.

3. Band Aid was the original "do good" pop group. Live Aid and Quincey Jones didn't come out until much later the following year. American copycats...

4. It was filled with British pop stars of the 80s.

5. It IS happy, what with all the cheerful Brits playing air guitar at the end of the song... "Feed the wor-orld... Let them know it's Christmas time!"

6. Specifically... Bono

7. Specifically... Paul Young (OK, so he's not British, but he WAS the only yank who crossed the pond for this.)

8. Specifically... Sting

9. Specifically... Bananarama (remember them?!?!?!)

10. And last, but definitely not least, Duran Duran. How Merry Christmas-ilicious were they?

This is my list... I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

Decorating, decorating, decorating... I absolutely love this part of the preparations for Christmas. Mike laughs at me as I place each gold pinecone, each tiny present, and each gilded fruit so precisely on the mantle. I am ever so chastised as I move the gold wired ribbon a centimeter to the right or left. He shakes his head my exact placement of Santa and his sleigh. Those silly husbands just don't get it...

But I don't care. I love every second of my masterpiece. And afterwards, I curl up on my sofa with a glass of red wine. The Christmas music playing in the background. And with the roar of the fireplace and the Christmas tree a few yards away, I am happy with my preparations for Christmas.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Advent Wreaths are not for...

This past week, a friend of mine posted as her Facebook status how, and I quote, "Eli****** is so proud to see her sons readying their hearts for the upcoming celebration of the birth of Christ by 'barbecuing' their dinner nightly over the Advent candle!" At first I got quite a giggle, with visions of skewers and hotdogs over the royal purple and white candles. I even commented on her post about how boys will be boys.

BUT... I had to eat my words last night when, as S was reading how the angel Gabriel visited Zachariah foretelling the birth of John the Baptist, J held his piece of pizza over the lit wreath " warm it up, Mom." Duh!

Never thought in a million years that I would have to formulate the sentence, "Boys, Advent Wreaths are not for reheating pizza".

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Can I Hear a Hallelujah?

I just saw this on a few friends' Facebook pages, and I'm guess that if I have - you probably have too! What I would have given to be one of these unsuspecting shoppers...

Didn't that make you feel all warm and cozy inside? Certainly got me in the Christmas spirit!