Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Holidaze!

There is truly nothing like the holiday season to remind you of what you have to be grateful for. The holiday season often comes with a touch of sadness for those you miss, someone or something you've lost recently or long ago, and of any regrets from the past year. However, the holiday season also comes with a boost of renewed focus for me. I am very fortunate that I am able to take off as much time as I have, and I always save up for the week before and after Christmas. This year, I took off the Thursday/Friday before Christmas and the entire week after Christmas (which fell on a Sunday this year). Several of my friends and family either had to work on Christmas Eve/Day or return to work the day after Christmas. The thought of having to do this reminds me of how grateful I am for the ability to take off the time that I can during Christmas.

People often ask me what I'm doing or where I'm going to warrant taking 7 days off of work. I'm not doing anything out of the ordinary (even for me) this year. Just taking the time off to be at my Mom's house, hang out with my Mom, Dad, sister, niece, and brother in law. No schedule, no hurry, no traffic, no problems! In fact, I spent all day yesterday in my pajamas and felt great about it.

I am very lucky that my mom sees Christmas through the eyes of a child. She has always been in elementary education, so a lot of it comes naturally to her - however, she has a gift for Christmas that is unrivaled. My mom has always done everything to the extreme, but Christmas - well, there are just no words to describe. 4 Christmas trees, presents stacked for miles throughout the house, more casseroles and cookies and candies that you can even imagine. She even remembers (every year) what dishes are whose favorite and makes sure to cover everyone. She works her butt off at Christmas, but I know she loves it. Though I don't have the extreme creativity gene that she does, I did inherit from her a huge appreciation for the season and what it means to our family. I may not have 4 trees at my house, but you better believe that on Christmas morning, I am more excited about seeing people open my gifts than I am for receiving gifts from others. I absolutely love it. My family's Christmas is super awesome because we always take it slow and watch each other open gifts, so sometimes it will be hours before the last gift is opened.

This year, we spent Christmas Eve at my sister's house so Mary Ashtyn could wake up Christmas morning to find what Santa left from her. This slight change in routine was great because 1) my sister's family only lives about 10 minutes from my mom's house and 2) Santa 'redecorated' and transformed Mary Ashtyn's toddler room into a 'big girl' room, complete with full size bed, TV, and bookshelf. The discovery of her 'new room' was after she dug through the massive pile of toys left by Santa in the living room. Seeing her process all of 'that' and being a part of her excitement was more gift than I could ever ask for. It's something I wish I could bottle up and have a slight whiff of every now and then when I'm feeling blue because her excitement was so real and so magical.

I know that many people celebrate many different things during this time of year, but I think that there is a common thread that all people acknowledge, love, and celebrate: FAMILY. Without my family, this season would be meaningless to me. Gifts and details will come and go, but family (or the memories of) lasts forever. Hopefully we all (myself included) can learn to put familial differences aside and be glad that we have the time together. Because every moment together counts.

And so, to everyone, everywhere - no matter who you are or what you believe and celebrate - I hope that your heart is filled with joy as mine has been so far.

Me, I'm looking forward to having the rest of the week off with no plans and no place to be (except with my family) is excitement enough for me.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Assorted observations of late

Wow, it's been a long time (almost 2 months since my last posting, and I'd slipped to approximately 1 post per month), so I'm going to make some general observations about what's up in my life or going through my mind lately:

  1. I love this time of year.  My birthday marks the official start of my favorite season.  November 17 usually is very close to the week I always take off for Thanksgiving to be with my family.
  2. Thanksgiving this year was great because I was with family.  It could've been better by us not all (yes, all) having the stomach virus at some point during Thanksgiving week.
  3. I am especially excited this year that I have an extra 'thing' to look forward to.  Approximately 1 month after the new year arrives, me and a friend are going to Atlanta for 2 nights of Widespread Panic's Wood Tour (acoustic).   Widespread Panic Wood Tour  
  4. This backs directly up to the week long trip in Cancun that I'll also be spending with Widespread Panic {sigh}.  So it looks a little something like this:  Friday/Saturday:  Acoustic Panic in Atlanta; Sunday:  fly back to LR; Monday:  fly out for Mexico; Tuesday, Wednesday, Thurday, Friday:  4 nights of electric Panic ON THE BEACH; Saturday:  recovery day; Sunday: fly home [Monday return to work :(  ]  To say that I'm excited would be a small understatement.  This will definitely eliminate the overall sense of depression and letdown that naturally comes with the completion of the holidays.  
  5. I don't know yet what I'll be doing for New Year's, but given #3 & 4, I will be perfectly content having a tame evening with my family, if that's what I end up doing.
  6.  I am very grateful to have several days off of work to spend with my family for the Christmas holiday.  There is absolutely nothing like being 'at home' during the holidays.
  7. I have been reminded lately of how much I really love both of my dogs.   In different ways, but I love them both equally.  
  8. Sydney (my 'younger,' 9 year old German Shorthair Pointer rescue baby) was very recently diagnosed with liver disease.  Other than her liver problems, my vet confirmed that she is the picture of perfect health so I am optimistic that she will respond quickly and fully to the medications that she is now taking daily.  I took her in because I thought she was having a UTI or bladder infection or something and ended up finding this.  I feel very lucky that we found it this early, and my dr. said he expects her to live her full life expectancy.  But, of course, I'm still worrying and concerned for the worst.  She'll go through another round of testing in about 25 days, so send us your healing energy.  
  9. I'm not putting up a tree this year.  
  10. I am as excited as I am every year about the holidays (maybe even more excited due to the age of my niece and how much fun she is going to have), but for some reason, I have absolutely no desire to drag out all the holiday decorations and 'deal' with that.  There is always at least a week (usually more) during December that I'm not even at my house, so I'm just not doing it this year.
  11. I have been called Scrooge at least 5 times due to #10.  Not putting up decorations does not make me a Scrooge.  I have more Christmas spirit than at least 2 of the average persons combined.  Trust me.
  12. I love Christmas shopping.  Probably too much.  I always overspend (to my recipients' advantage) but I absolutely love giving gifts.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy receiving too.  But I would almost venture to say that I enjoy giving gifts more than receiving. 
  13. I went to my first and LAST Wal-Mart Black Friday sale.  I was in Forrest City for Thanksgiving and my sister talked me into joining her to attempt to get a couple of great deals on some stuff for Mary Ashtyn.  I won't even bother with the details - I'll just say that I saw many grown people acting like pure idiots.  It is a shame and so not worth the money saved to have to witness the insanity that comes with 'Black Friday' shopping.  From now on, I'll be at home in my pajamas doing my shopping.
  14. I'm sick of politics.  Never a huge fan but already getting sick of the campaign trash talk that spoils my nightly news.
  15. Saturday Night Live can still make me laugh.  I've been a huge fan since I was around 12-13, and though they've been through a few rough periods, they have consistently made me laugh all these years, and it feels damn good to laugh as hard as they make me.  I watched several episodes this weekend - new and old - that both made me laugh out loud.  
  16. I wish that bad things didn't happen to good people.  I guess bad things happen to both bad and to good people, but it hurts me to see bad things happening to good people.  I know of several instances lately where assorted 'bad' things have happened to some of the most undeserving people I know.  This is on my mind a lot.
  17. It is my 'grown up Christmas wish' that everyone I know (and those I don't) have a wonderful holiday season.  Whatever it is that you celebrate - I think we all celebrate our family - the ones that we love and that love us, and the happiness that comes with adorning your loved ones with gifts, large and small, to express the love you have.  Spending quality time in fellowship with your friends and family is truly the best part of the holiday.
  18. I have a magazine/newsletter addiction.  It drives my sister crazy when I show up to my mom's with my obligatory stack of magazines, but I absolutely love sitting down with a magazine or a local newspaper (Arkansas Times, Sync Weekly, etc) for a good read.  I think I'll do that now.