Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas day starts with breakfast. After everyone slips on their robe and creates a grand cup of java, we migrate to the refrigerator to pull out the staples of the meal.

The table is set with special care with garlands twinkling around the window making the room magical. A run to the grocery store for the indulgence of cute donuts has created a stir. Mr. Grinch, Frosty and the Christmas wreath are displayed on a tray. The creative effort of the pastry chef leaves us laughing. Christmas music belts out “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” while a gentle rain runs by the coast only lingering long enough to wet the surface of the sidewalks.

Christmas morning is a time to unwrap presents and share special surprises that we have thoughtfully purchased. Later in the afternoon we will gather for party with my California cousins and the evening we will attend dinner at our friends home.

Have a very Merry Christmas to you, your family and friends. May your day be filled with the joy this season has to offer and may you have a very blessed 2015 New Year.

Christmas Eve

In celebration of Christmas, my added bonus is that I was born on Christmas Eve and I have a twin sister. Because we often times celebrate the holidays with family, the day has become what traditionally we felt as “left forgotten” but now an excellent day to have a birthday as we now spend it together. Our family is large and we live in various places around the country, I am usually the furthest away so this is a plus to be able to see them.

So what is this day’s significance? Christmas Eve around the world has traditionally included the gathering of family and friends, the singing of Christmas carols, the illumination and enjoyment of Christmas lights, trees, and other decorations, the wrapping and/or opening of gifts, and general preparation for Christmas Day. Legendary Christmas gift-bearing figures including Santa Claus, Father Christmas, and Saint Nicholas are also often said to depart for their annual journey to deliver presents to children around the world on Christmas Eve. My bonus is I get to open the first present!!!

This year my birthday celebration was spent with very special friends, such a beautiful treat to be here in lovely Southern California!

May the special pleasures and surprises of the season adorn you this holiday and in the New Year.

2 Days until Christmas: Getting Ready for Guests, Remembering Friends

Anticipation for company and getting the last details together definitely has me scrambling. A note has been left on the guest bed and a little present to let my friend know that I appreciate her effort to fly in for the holidays. The guest bed has a large garland draped behind and I have Christmas bulbs dangling from the ceiling.

There are a few more little presents to wrap, a grocery store run and cleaning up from my messes to put my house back in order. I have been up early in the flurry of everything that needs to be done today.

My mind races as I prepare other small gifts to neighbors and friends. I am making a conscience decision to let a few people know I appreciate so much that they have done for me throughout the year.

Christmas is a time for us to stop and consider how fortune we are and to let those special people in our lives know that we appreciate them. The giving of a Christmas card or a phone call to wish them a very Merry Christmas, perhaps a bottle of bubbly or homemade jam are the ways I hope to bring joy to others this season.

3 Days until Christmas: The Gift of Ourselves, being “Present”

Often times “present” is a gift, but what if the gift was ourselves being “present” in the moment. Rather than shop on Christmas day or spend hours cooking and cleaning or watching endless TV, consider spending time with each other. Linger over a simple breakfast in night robes.

When opening packages, enjoy each person as they unwrap a gift. Take turns sharing funny stories of Christmas’s past. To extend the enjoyment of gift giving, we do scavenger hunts to find presents . This involves a lot of hilarity and fun to see everyone trying to figure out a clue. We race from place to place in anticipation of finding the gift. Many times these gifts are super simple and silly.

One of my favorite traditions on Christmas Day is to play games or cards. Such a fun activity for everyone to participate. Pull out the classics like Life, Uno, Jenga, Dominos, Clue and Monopoly. Trivial Pursuit can really be a fun way to engage the crowd, even if that crowd is small.

Today take the time to make an effort to be present in the moment with family and friends. Savor the time together. Linger longer than planned and share a story. Phone a friend and wish them a Merry Christmas. 

4 Days until Christmas: Music

Pandora has become my go-to music app for the Christmas season, I enjoy the Perry Como Holiday station as it continues to play all the songs from my childhood. Music is certainly mood setting, I play Pandora almost everyday.

For our holidays as a kids, the one album that is our family classic was “Ski Trails” by Joan Stafford. For those of you that are too young to remember, we use to play records on a phonograph, often scratching the album if the needle that delivered sound was bounced on the album to find and replay our favorite songs. The best part of this album is that because of its age you can hear the phonograph needle background and we had one song that “skipped”. Funny because we never went skiing as kids. Maybe it was reminiscent of the romance of winter to my parents that loved it so dearly. For me it also sings to many a White Christmas or the time of year for freezing cold weather and the blizzard conditions that Iowa often delivered.

If you get a chance go to YouTube and punch in Jo Stafford Ski Trails, click on several of her songs from the album.

Today, share a special holiday song or album from your childhood with a friend or take the time to light a fire and listen away to bring back special memories of past Christmas’s.

5 Days until Christmas: Neighbors at Christmas

I love this time of year. I have to confess, in an effort to meet my new neighbors after a move in December back in 2007, I bought several poinsettia’s and marched up to the doors to announce the Morrison’s had arrived. Apparently the neighbors did not really socialize with each other at the time, so they were most surprised to see me with my potted plant. It was fun because many reciprocated and also invited us to their holiday parties.  What a great way to “invest” in those people that surround us!!! Ironically this year I have several people moving into the condo complex across the street that was just completed. So I will do my neighborly duty and welcome them to the neighborhood and wish them a Merry Christmas. A Christmas card in hand and some Christmas cheer is this years plan.

Not to forget my other neighbors (construction crew), I have put together a pot luck lunch tomorrow.  Being in the business of construction and a project manager, I am probably the only soul around that takes a personal interest in this great group of guys. I see pictures of their families and hear their life stories. They are my friends. We have know each other for a year and it looks like we will have another year together. I think that qualifies for neighbor. I post a message of good will in a silly way with a chalk board that I write a quote on each and every day for them.  I place it in front of my window. These kind gentlemen will often help me unload my car of groceries or help me with some crisis project at the cottage.

So this year, grab a card and a thoughtful gift of food, drink or whatever strikes you as the perfect idea and bang on a door or two in your hood. The act of giving and sharing will surely bring you great joy!

6 Days until Christmas: Meet a friend for shopping

One of the greatest joys is sharing the holidays! Today, Cathy and I will have a special lunch, put on our Santa hats and filter through the stores at the mall. Crazy, I know, but I treasure these days the most. Kinship and building special memories and creating even a new tradition is a part of the Christmas fun.

Cathy and I have a special history. We met because of her dog. Funny, right? I was at my infamous bench at the beach pondering life and her dog, Cloe, would not leave my side. Besides Cloe being the cutest dog on the planet, I was struck by the serendipity of the moment. I reached over the bench and stuck out my hand for introduction. I said, “Well, it looks like your dog would like for us to meet, I’m Kerri”. And what a blessing that day was. I enjoy the randomness of our meeting and I consider her one of my best friends today. We are two birds of a feather and I am blessed with our meeting.

If you find the opportunity, take today to call a friend for lunch or invite them to a fun Christmas shopping outing. Giggles are necessary and dressing up to add to the pleasure of the day will add to special memories. Reach out and introduce yourself when by chance you are lucky enough to have intervention allow you to meet a new and special friend.

7 Days until Christmas: The Christmas Present Wrapping

The package wrapping has always been a challenge for me. We’ve taken the time to shop and buy something thoughtful, but then we need to put our creative charm to the actual package.

My twin sister, Terri, is the queen of the complete elegant Christmas. Perfect care in making sure the package is as important as the present inside is her forte. I often sit with her package, unwilling to open. Her packages coordinate with her tree and the statement is resonates is nothing short of elegant. But if you know me well, I can’t stand not knowing the secret that resides inside. As a child, I must confess, I would sneak under the tree, carefully unwrap the package to see my surprise. Family took great care in later years to secure the present in hiding places. My bad!!! It was the family joke.

So if you are up for some creativity and fun, take care this year in the wrapping of the package. I am reserving a day and seeking out something unusual. Pinterest will be my guide as well as a trip to Michaels and probably nature.

Today, consider giving a gift to one of the many causes in your community that distribute good will this Christmas. There is something exhilarating about “anonymous”. Spend some time on the wrapping!

8 Days until Christmas: The Christmas Tree Skirt

My tree skirt is awesome. It was a special gift from my friend Catherine. It is made of fabulous green velvet with embroider embellishments. The thing that I like the most is the attention to detail that includes covered buttons that complete the circle under the tree. Grabbing the skirt out of the storage box, the jingle bells clan and remind me of sleigh rides in Colorado. Crisp cold weather, horses with sleigh bells and trees glistening in the snow. Blanket wrapped, we journey through the forest and chat with the horseman.

Of course there is a history of the Christmas Tree skirt. The first Christmas trees were actually lit with candles as opposed to bulbs. This meant that while lit, the candles would drip wax onto the floor. Christmas tree skirts were created to gather the wax as well as the fallen needles from the live trees to make clean up easier.
Traditional tree skirts were not very decorative and were simple pieces of circular fabric that could be placed beneath the tree and taken out for cleaning without hassle. As technology advanced, tree skirts became more decorative. Since wax was not going to drip on the tree skirt and ruin it, the skirt became more ornate with new fabrics and designs.

Today, wrap others in the joy of the season with warmth of a pleasant smile.

 

9 Days Until Christmas: Family

Happy Crazy Holiday, right? What a chore things can be at this time of year. Obligations and time tables evaporating before our eyes. Christmas parties, family trips and too many sweets. Kids in school and out of school, kids coming home or not. Airport deliveries and anxiously awaiting long distance plans.

It was fun to see the excitement in my daughters eyes for her trip abroad plans last night. We did “google hangouts” while she packed for the colder climate and discussed the activities and what she would need for her visit to Germany. The purple sweater or burnt orange cashmere? Good walking shoes; which boots? A formal dress if they go out for an elegant evening?  But wait, need to add a wrap and dressy shoes for that.

I will not get to spend this holiday with her, it is an international trip  she has planned to visit her best friend, Theresa, stationed in Germany. Perhaps it will also be a trip in history if she has the time to tour areas where her ancestors came from. We emailed cousin Bill for that information last night. The German culture is so much a part of Christmas holiday traditions here in the United States.  I am anxious for her to see her friend and enjoy a different culture during this holiday season!

For me? I have my friend, Renee, that will make the journey from Denver. We plan to catch up on the year and take in the holidays. Perhaps a bike ride on the coast. Old friends are the best. I have carefully planned surprises for her to unwrap under the tree. I have also invited some new friends for Christmas eve that have no place to go or plans for the holiday, blending the old and the new. We all feel blessed to have each other.

So I will have my new extended family here in the lovely city of San Diego and this will be the very first Christmas without my only child. Thoughts of past Christmas’s will fill my heart and I will miss her. I have great anticipation of her joy to grow and learn and be on that special journey and wonderment that life has to offer for her holiday this year. And to spend it with her special friend.

Cheers to our families, our travels and memories both past, present and future. In the honor of tradition, I am dusting off the old DVD I watch every year, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. A quick pause, I draw it close to my heart. Memories. I have mixed emotions this Christmas, but overall I know that, yes, it truly is a wonderful life.

Todays action is to consider inviting someone to join you in celebration at Christmas that may not have family or plans. It is in the giving that we truly receive.