Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Day 23 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

Day 23 means to me the Shepherds tending their flock. They come called by an Angel to see the infant Savior. It is the fact that we the humble are called to attend to Jesus. That he came for us and me in my weakness am loved so by God that he sent a baby to savr us.  And that the shepherds were the first ones called to him as he is the Good Shepherd.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Days 18-22 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

Days 18-22 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"
Ok, so with the horrible events of Newtown, I've gotten a little distracted.  I've gotten a little behind here on the blog.  I've been doing some of the same posts or thoughts at least, on Facebook and have done a little better job of staying up to date.  So, today's post will be a little more succinct. 

Day 18: Queen Anne's milk chocolate cherry cordials.  Love these!  They are my favorite and only available in the stores at Christmas time!  Love them and already had a box or two or ..three!  Don't Judge!  It's Christmas!!  Calories don't count at Christmas! 

Day 19: White Christmas, the movie and the song.  (usually together!)  I love Bing, and Rosemary and Danny and "That other chick".   We always watch it, and of course I sing along, and the kids cringe!  Whatever!  Anyway, I love the Sister! song and all of them really except the "Choreography" number which we always fast forward through.  I get choked up everytime General Waverly puts on that uniform and walks into the dining room and there is his platoon, (or some of them anyway).  I'm a sucker for a strong, stoic type! 

Day 20: Salvation Army Bell ringers!  It's a tradition and the sight of them there, at the entrance to the mall and the grocery store is a reminder of those in the community who may be less fortunate.  I never have any cash walking into the store, but will usually try to keep track of my change so I can let the kiddos put it in the bucket on the way out.  However, I have not seen 1 Salvation Army bucket  or Bell Ringer!  Pitiful! 

Day 21:Christmas Carols!  Love them!  Loved singing Rudolph and Frosty and Jingle Bells as a kid!  As an adult, I'm finding myself liking the more traditional hymns and sentimental ones.  My Mother's favorite was always, "O Holy Night". 

Day 22: Santa Claus!  Yep, he has finally made his appearance in the countdown. Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, Jolly Old St. Nick, Pere Noel, Papa Noel, Santa Klaus. He's the magical man to sneaks into your house (chimney or not) with gifts for all the good little girls and boys. He's got lists too. One that's naughty, and one that's nice. He double checks them. He's an animal rescuer. Keeps pets, of an animal that is often neglected and hunted by others.

 He helps Mommies and Daddies everywhere keep their little ones on the right path. Although, he does kinda act like uncle everyone has. He shows up, uninvited and eats your cookies and drinks your milk, or in our case tea. He leaves stuff laying around and leaves without picking up after himself. tsk tsk!

Merry Christmas, Everyone and do what you need to do, to stay on the Nice List


Monday, December 17, 2012

Day 17 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

Day 17 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

 Today has me thinking of Lists! The Christmas list we send to Santa, and the Christmas list I carry around to make sure no one gets missed. It's the grocery list, for the Christmas breakfast or dinner. It's the reminder list for the ribbons and bows, and tape because I always run out of tape. It's also the list of teachers, bus drivers, favorite hairdresser, neighbors etc who we want to make sure to remember this time of year. It's the list known as the recipe for that favorite dessert.
We make those lists and keep them and maybe even obsess over them a little because the people on those lists matter to us. That recipe matters, because of who we will share it with. My Christmas lists, and shopping lists matter because I want to make Christmas special to those people who matter to me. 

So don't forget to make your list and check it twice.
Merry Christmas Everyone!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Day 16 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

Day 16  has me looking at my Christmas tree, that I love and already mentioned on day 2, and looking for Christmas shows etc on the tv.  I'm not seeing much that I want to watch.  I love the classics, Rudolph, Frosty etc.  My all time favorite is Charlie Brown.  I love his Christmas special best of all.  I'll watch it everytime it comes on tv, and on the dvd I bought a couple of years ago.  I love it so much that last year when I was working at the school in the lunch room I bought 2 Charlie Brown Christmas trees for the serving lines.  They have 1 little red ornament, and a little blue blanket for the base.  You press the button and it plays the Charlie Brown song. 

I love those little trees and I love how Charlie Brown tried so hard.  I love how Schroeder wants to play the pretty version of Jingle Bells and Lucy wants the kindergarten version.  I love how Snoopy does the happy dance, and all the characters do their dances.  Love that!  I just love when Linus says "I know what the true meaning of Christmas is" and asks for lights. 

It's altogether the perfect Christmas special! 

Merry Christmas Everyone! 

Day 15 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

Day 15 of 25 of "What Christmas means to Me"

 Feeling puny all day, so I spent a lot of time curled up in front of the tv watching Food Network. Saw Tricha Yearwood's show, which I love btw, and they were making goodies to give out for Christmas. And it got me thinking that I haven't done my yearly/Christmas pumpkin bread baking. I usually bakes dozens of loaves to give to neighbors and coworkers, and at church.
Yes, we keep some to eat as well, and Santa always gets pumpkin bread instead of cookies. I figure by the time he gets to my house, he's getting a little cookied-out so pumpkin bread that he is free to nuke in the microwave and add butter. Cause, that's how we do it.

So, to me Christmas means pumpkin bread. I use my Mom's recipe, so that's another tradition we like. (passing down recipes).
Merry Christmas Everyone


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Day 14 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

Day 14 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

 It was impossible for me to think about Christmas yesterday, when there were 20+ families who's Christmases now a time of tragedy and mourning. I was home with Carpool princess 1 who was ill, and when Carpool King  and Carpool Princess 2 came home, I only wanted to snuggle down with them. The events in Connecticut bring to my mind the things that are most important in this life.

Ultimately it's Family. Whether it's the family you were born into, or married into. Or the family you make, or are given, it's all just family. These relationsips aren't perfect, because we are all imperfect. If your family is near or far, please make sure you are doing what is necessary to cherish it. In my case, knowing I had family in Connecticut made me realize how close this tragedy had come to forever changing our dynamic. Please, nurture your family relationships. If one of those relationsips needs work, then do the work...
. If forgiveness needs to be given, then give it. If forgiveness needs to be sought, then seek it.

This life is too short to let a day go by with barriers in the relationships that God has put into your life. So, today, at Christmas time, please take a moment to give and receive love from your family.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Day 13 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

Day 13 and I had some extra time today, to do one of my favorite Christmas traditions.  I trolled You tube for Straight No Chaser Christmas song videos.  I love them, and I want to spend hours just listening to them especially at Christmas time.  I love those guys and find them to be so witty. 

It brings out my inner Gleek, and I get to sing along in the privacy of my living room with my fuzzy socks, and my kids and dogs rolling their eyes at me.  So, in the spirit of Christmas, I offer you, Straight No Chaser! 

Oh, and Also this one!  Cuz Straight No Chaser is like potato chips, you can never have just one!

Merry Christmas everyone! 



Day 12 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

Day 12 was a very fun day for me.  We had a friend from church who is trying to jumpstart her photography business.  She's done several jobs so far and had some good results.  Mild mannered office worker by day, artistic photographer by night. 

So anyway, she came over and we had our Christmas card pictures taken.  I talked about those on a previous post.  Let the record show, that this carpooling family is not one to take pretty and average staged smiley portraits.  So we did some really silly stuff.  We let the dogs out with us, and there was some tail waggin, and whimsy going on.  We were doing some fun poses and laughing.  We were caught in between shots and laughing. 

I got to thinking that all the laughing and merriment was really what I love about the holidays.  At Christmas people are so much more open to seeing others.  In our daily lives, we can so easily get wrapped up in the mundane and the minutae of our lives.  Taking kids here, stopping by there, homework, chores, all the everyday things.  Often times, when I'm in the store, or restaurant, or anywhere, I see what I need to do, and not necessarily those around me.  I can find myself, getting impatient with my kiddos, and the checker, or server or whomever.  But I find at this time of year, I am more willing to share a laugh.  Some of the people I happen to meet, are often more willing as well. 

Case in point, this lovely older gentleman was in the laundry aisle in the grocery store.  He's looking a little overwhelmed.  Up and down he paces several times.  So, I take a minute and ask if he is looking for something in particular.  He's staying with his daughter and her husband from Thanksgiving to Christmas, since he's retired and from out of town.  I wanna say, from the pacific northwest, visiting Texas.  As his contribution to the household, he is getting the laundry supplies today, and not sure what works well in their High Efficiency machine.  L-ovely O-lder G-entleman and I have the older top load granny machines, (and love them).  So, I help LOG, find something for the HE and a smell he likes.  Halfway down the aisle we run into, Lovely Older Lady, in a motorized cart who is looking for fabric softener that fits into her fixed budget.  So, LOG and I help LOLinC find her bouquet scented fabric softener.  We all part ways after spending a good 5-10 minutes bonding and laughing in the laundry aisle.  It wasn't a Christmas errand, it was laundry.  But we all were having fun, talking about the smelly stuff, and different washers and visiting grandkids (them) going to see grandma (me). 

I think, the Christmas spirit is about seeing those around us.  Whether it's a chance meeting over laundry, or volunteering at a food bank, or adopting an angel tree or stopping to see the awesomeness that is your family.  Yes, my husband and kids have days, that make me wanna sell them to the circus, but sometimes when I look, I see funny, bright, loving people.  So, let's everyone be quick to laugh, slow to grumble, quick to share, and slow to seclude. 

Remember that Christmas is a time for Merriment.  So, Merry it up!  That is what Christmas means to me.

Merry Christmas everyone!  "May your days be Merry and Bright!  And may all your Christmases be White!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus

All, my life I've heard the phrase, "Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Clause", and knew where it came from.  However, I'd never actually read the editorial, the original text.  so I endeavored to find it and read it.  I'll say, that Francis Church may have been referred to as sardonic, and given mostly controverial topics, but he handled this letter with all the steadfast and straightforward, heart and whimsy of the most fantastical of writers.  I for one so appreciate the sentiments in his reply. 

So, below I have posted the actual letter and reply as written in the Sun. 

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Day 11 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

Day 11 Has me thinking about the things I like to collect and surround myself with.  I like, gingerbread, and santa, and candy canes, but I really like snowmen.  I especially like the ornaments that look hand carved.  They are just so sweet.  I like the idea of them, all snowy and cold and made by happy kids who are so jazzed to be home from school.  Looking for one of Dad's hats and a carrot for their creation.  Of course, we don't get enough snow here to really get any practice at making a snowman.  So, I liked the fake ones. 

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 10 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

Day 10 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me" finds us cold here in Texas.  We had snow flurries last night.  Mmm Hmm and it's supposed to be colder tonight.  Lows in the 20's.  I know!  Texas! 

So, my youngest Carpoolprincess came home from school today, and wanted a cup of Hot Chocolate, so today's installment is Hot Chocolate! 

Being a born and raised Texan, I'm not much of a hot beverage drinker, not even coffee!  I know, somehow, I made it through college mainlining my caffeine in it's carbonated form only.  Anyway, I digress.  I don't often drink hot drinks, some hot tea every once in a while, when I'm feeling sick, but usually a hot chocolate every now and again.  Usually, I drink my hot chocolate around Christmas-time. 

I do love to snuggle down on a cool December evening watching a heartwarming Christmas-y show or movie.  I cover up with my puppy-dog snuggie, with a mug of hot chocolate while the lights are dim and the tree is lit.  It's a good way to pass an evening.  One of my three dogs will usually try to snuggle with me, or mooch a marshmallow.  I have a small collection of Christmas mugs.  It's very small as I only have about 8 coffe cups or mugs in total, and 6 of those are Christmas themed.  (I do have a tinkerbell one and one with my initial on it from the wonderful lunch ladies I worked with..) 

So, you might not think Hot chocolate is a Christmas type thing, but for me, it Screams Christmas!  It's one of the few times a year, when I really just stop and sip and snuggle.  It feels like a hug, in a mug.  So everyone raise your warm, chocolatey cup of good cheer.  Add some extra marshmallows or whipped cream if you like, and snuggle down with the ones you love.  Marvel at the tree, you so artistically decorated, and cheer for Good ole George Bailey.  Because, Christmas comes but once a year, so settle back and enjoy! 


Day 9 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

Day 9 comes on Sunday, and we had our annual Church Christmas banquet last night and I received several Christmas Card/Pictures.  So, today's installment of "What Christmas means to Me" is Christmas Pictures. 

Every year, I receive dozens of Christmas cards with Family photos in them.  I place the photos on my fridge replacing the one I got last year. And it is usually at that time, that I am made aware of the changes in that family over the last year.  When you see someone weekly or daily, the changes are often subtle.  So, seeing the pictures side by side puts into sharp contrast how big the kids have gotten.  How much more greay hair Dad has, and how Mom's hair is getting slightly blonder.  (Since gray is easier to hide in lighter hair, so blond means less frequent touch ups.) 

I love seeing how familys grow.  Sometimes they grow in number, and sometimes they just grow in beauty.  I got one this year, with a new Daughter-in-law.  So beautiful to see the journey and glimpses of the wonderful changes.  I especially love to get the pictures from friends and family who live away.  Since the distance is great, I don't get to see you daily or weekly.  The long distance ones, are almost more sentimental to me.  It leaves me feeling that even though I might be out of sight, I'm not out of your thoughts.  And it is a lovely reminer that those we love may live near or far, but they always reside in our heart. 

So go ahead and take that Christmas picture.  People who love you want to see you.  They want to feel that connection to you.  It doesn't matter to them if you still carry some extra pounds or extra silver hair.  We want to see the kids, but we also want to see you too.  So get out from behind the camera, and get in front.  Put the lipstick on, and lets do this thing.  Put on the Christmas sweater, if you're in the mood for a chuckle, because I'd love to get that card too.  Ultimately, and especially at Christmas, we need to connect with those we love both near and far, and one really great way to do this is to send the  Family Christmas picture. 

Merry Christmas Everyone!  And, I'll be waiting for my picture in the mail.... 


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Day 8 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

Day 8 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"
Day 8 has me carpooling around the neighborhood.  It's getting dark so early so I get to see all the outside Christmas decorations. 

I don't remember if we had lights outside as a kid.  I think we did have a string of lights or two but it was never a big deal for us.  We'd put the lights up, and that would be it. 

A few years back CarpoolKing and I decided to put some decorations outside.  We got all excited and went to the store and came home with a light up deer (CPK's pick) and about a dozen light up candy canes.  We got a couple of strings of rope lights.  We came home and put them up, and were so proud.  Then the neighbors 2 doors down, put their decorations up.  Uh!  What?!  They had lights on their shrubs, and lit garland around their door, and the trunk of their tree lit up.  Looked good, REALLY good. 

So, Oh, No, You, Didn't!  The next day after work I went back to the store, and bought another deer, because Donner needs a Mrs. and more candy canes.  We ended up lining the whole front sidewalk, driveway, and front walk with lit candy canes.  We wrapped the tree with lights and added 2 swirl trees that light up.  So, yea, I was feeling pretty good about our yard.  Then the next day, the neighbors brought out the rest of their decorations.  They had tubs and buckets from the garage.  Ok, so now, "It's on like Donkey Kong".  Can you say, Competitive much? 

So we had to go back, well we didn't have to go, but we did.  Then we added a few more details here and there.  I went a little berzerk, but it was sooo pretty.  That year, when we drove the kids around to look at Christmas lights, I kept thinking, "I could do that". 

So, maybe I am very distantly related to a Griswald, but part of Christmas is a healthy, silly competition with the neighbors.  I'm not sure, my neighbors even know we are competing...Is that sad? 

Merry Christmas Everyone!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Day 7 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

 Day 7 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me" is a very special day.  It falls on Dec. 7th which is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day and is a historically important day.  However for me, this day is the anniversary of something much more meaningful. 

I won't typically get political or religious here on my blog.  Both of those topics are very personal and most people will not be able to appreciate my views as much as I will.  I will make an exception today, because it really ties in to this topic for me.  I should probably give you a brief history. 

I grew up in Texas, born and raised and proud of it.  I grew up going to church with my family and having sunday dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  I was raised on good solid christian values taught to me by my parents.  I said the right prayers and sang the right songs.  Somewhere deep inside in a place I'd never have admitted to anyone, I knew something was missing for me. 

Fast forward a few years and I'm in college.  I don't go to church anymore, and saying the right prayers is sooo not cool.  Then a friend of mine invited me to church with her, so I say why not and I go.  In the coming weeks, I started reading my Bible again.  I spent several weeks really focusing some serious attention on my relationship with God. 

So, 22 years ago, on December 7th, I was baptized in Christ.  So every year on this day, I am reminded, more significantly of Christ.  Of the sacrifice he made for me, and his complete and boundless love for me. I, as a mother, am awed by the love of a Father to send his son to this earthly realm.  On Christmas Day, we celebrate that birth, and on this day I remember the sacrifice of the innocent for the guilty.  For I am guilty.  Without Christ, I am a broken, weak, sinful woman, who spent her time and energy chasing the wind in this life.  Focused on the things of this world, where rust and moth decay. 

I'm not perfect.  Far from it, but I'm perfectly loved by God.  I am grateful and for ME, Christmas really is about Christ! 

So, today as we remember the sacrifice of the more than 2000 servicemen and the dozens of civilians who lost their life at Pearl Harbor, and we procede with the Christmas season, let's take a moment to remember the One who paid the ulitimate price for you! 

Merry Christmas and God Bless. 


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Day 6 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

Day 6 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me".

Day 6 finds me outside at 7:30 in my yard, in stocking feet waving at Santa as he rides through the neighborhood on a fire truck.  It's pretty warm here, so there we are in our bare feet or flip flops waving and cheering for Santa and his Firefighter elves.  Lights are  flashing, and sirens blaring intermittently. He's waving and all the parents and kids are outside, and I'm seeing neighbors I haven't seen in months.  I mean, really you live 2 doors down, and I'm not sure I've seen you since Santa came aroung last year.  A couple of his firefighter elves are tossing candy to the kids. They are playing christmas music for all to hear. Some of us are in stocking feet, and several of the younger kids are in pajamas.

 Reminds me of the year when our fire alarm kept going off.  It would just blast us to kingdom come, and there was no fire.  Did it several times that year, and of course always when it was most convenient.  One night there it goes, sounding the warning call.  CarpoolKing is working late and I can't turn it off, and the alarm company is calling me and alerting the fire department. So the dogs are barking wildly, the kids are panicked.  A couple of minutes later, both girls soggy just from the shower, dogs locked in kennels, I am outside to explain my predicament to the fire fighters and who is riding on top???? You got it, Santa!

So that was one year, Santa made a house call. I thought I was going to get put on the naughty list for making Santa leave his parade.

So Fireman Santa is something that Christmas means to me.


Day 5 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me"

Day 5 of 25 Days of "What Christmas means to Me" brings me to Christmas Sweaters. 

Let's face it, Tacky Christmas Sweaters were really big a while back.  We've all had one at one time or another.  Mine, was a sweatshirt instead of a sweater, but it was definately Christmas.

 I wear it only after Thanksgiving until Christmas.  Mine didn't light up, but that's ok, we can't all be That awesome.  The Christmas sweater is immortalized best in the movie Bridget Jones Diary.  Bless Colin Firth. 

I see a resurgance in the fun-filled fashion choice in recent days.  We already have 1 invititation to a Tacky Sweater Party this year.  Some may feel that they are too cool to wear the Christmas sweater.  But I say, put that sweater on, with the reindeer ears, and your jingle bell earrings.  Get your Christmas spirit on, literally.

 Merry Christmas everyone!