Posted in 30 Days of Thanks

Day 25 – Hosting the Holidays

I am thankful for the opportunity to host holidays at our house. And at the same time, thankful we didn’t host Thanksgiving this year. It’s been a hectic year and this has been a very hectic week with it being mom’s birthday, squeezing a week worth of work into two days, getting ready for Italy and other family plans this weekend; so I was relieved that I also didn’t have to cook a Thanksgiving dinner this year. But I am looking forward to Christmas, where we will be hosting. It’s the first time we’ve hosted Christmas Day, over the past four years, we’ve done Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas Eve, but never Christmas Day. I’m excited for something new. I’m excited to spend the day not leaving my house. I’m excited for everyone to see our house decorated for the holidays!! I love the feeling of getting prepared and seeing our family relax while we do the work. It’s a blessing being able to have our families and friends over, and an extra blessing when it happens for a holiday.

Posted in 30 Days of Thanks

Day 24 – Grandma’s Tree

IMG_2454.jpgToday I am thankful for my favorite Black Friday tradition – coming to Long Island to put up Grandma’s Christmas tree! While many people are out shopping, I take my day to spend time with my grandmother and help her decorate her house for Christmas, and get the tree up and ready. I’ve been doing this every year since 2002 (with the only exception being 2006 when I was in Ireland) and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. It is a wonderful way to spend time with my grandmother and to start celebrating the holidays.

Posted in 30 Days of Thanks

Day 23 – Christmas Time

I am thankful for the Christmas season! I know it is still technically Thanksgiving, but I promise I’m not getting ahead of myself. Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, now Christmas can begin! And it truly is my most favorite time of the year 🎄

I firmly believe in waiting until after Thanksgiving to begin the Christmas season. And I don’t participate in Black Friday shopping. We now have a month to celebrate Christmas and all that goes with it – especially acts of charity and love. Plus I can now listen to my favorite Christmas music!

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Day 22 – Traditions

I am thankful for traditions. Growing up we had a number of them, but over the years they changed – Sarah and I outgrew them, or they disappeared when our parents got divorced and now a number are gonna without Mom. But just because most of the traditions from my childhood are gone, doesn’t mean I don’t have new ones. Tom and I started some traditions before moving to our home, but since then even more have come about. We go strawberry and blueberry picking in the summer. And in the fall we go apple picking, and even try to make time to go apple picking upstate where I used to go with my parents – and then go pumpkin picking too. And the tradition I’m most looking forward to is buying our Christmas tree 🎄! We go to Jones Farms on our anniversary every year to buy our tree – this has double meaning. First, we go on our anniversary so we always spend they day together and second, it’s where I used to get a tree as a little kid, before my parents got an artificial one. These traditions may seem simple, but I am thankful for them every year!

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Not-Christmas-Christmas Songs

Christmas is a time for joy and laughter. For Christians, it is a time to rejoice that our Savior has come. For everyone celebrating, it’s a time to have fun, be merry, eat too much and unwrap our presents from Santa Claus. While the true meaning if Christmas has been overrun by Hallmark, the true meaning of Christmas is still abound and plentiful these days. One thing is for certain though, no matter how many Christmas hymns we sing in Church and songs we hear in the radio, there are more than a couple ‘Christmas’ songs which missed the mark of the true meaning and spirit of the holiday.

All I Want For Christmas Is You by everyone who has sung it
Whether you think Christmas is about Santa, Jesus or family, it’s not Valentine’s Day and I don’t think Santa delivers men (or women) to be waiting for you under the tree.

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer by Randy Brooks
While it was written as a joke some 30 years ago, it is popular and catchy. But how does grandma getting drunk and maimed by reindeer fit with the joy of the holiday season?

Little Drummer Boy by Justin Bieber with Busta Rhymes
This song originally is a personal fav. It’s a song sung in Church by little kids beating a plastic drum at the end of the Christmas pageant. But turning it into a rap song to celebrate a family holiday? No thanks. And what drum sounds like “pa rum pa pum pum yeeaaaaaaah yeaaaaaah”?

Mistress for Christmas by AC/DC
Maybe it’s just me, but committing a mortal sin doesn’t seem to fall into the Christmas spirit of celebrating our Savior who came to save us from our sins.

You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch originally written by Dr. Suess himself
Everyone who is against the Christmas spirit at this time of year is referred to as a Grinch. Why? because Mr. Grinch is too anti-Christmas and tries to take the fun out of it for others. It’s one thing to be a party pooper, but this is not the time of year to spread your misery.

Yelling At The Christmas Tree by Billy Idol
Christmas might not have always been a happy time in the Idol house when Billy was growing up, but don’t be a Grinch and spread your painful memories with those of us who only want to remember the good times at the holidays.

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The Christmas Story Told Through Hymns

Christmas has become more of a Hallmark holiday than one of the most holiest times for Christians. Holiday music is being pumped out of speakers across the radio in cars and stores, making Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer and I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas stuck in our head for days. But for Christians, Christmas is about much more — Christmas is a joyous time to celebrate the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who came to save us from sin and die for us. Christmas music has been around since the beginning of hymns in Church. The story of Christmas can be found in the lyrics of some of our favorite hymns.

The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Came
“The angel Gabriel from Heaven came….“All hail to thee, O lowly maiden Mary, most highly favored lady.”….“For know a blessed mother thou shalt be, all generations laud and honor thee”.”

O Come, O Come Emmanuel
“O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel. That mourn in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”

O Little Town of Bethlehem
“O morning stars together proclaim the holy birth! And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on Earth. For Christ is born of Mary and gathered all above, while mortals sleep the Angels keep their watch of wondering love.”

Away in a Manger
“Away in a manger, no crib for His bed, the little Lord Jesus, laid down His sweet head. The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus, asleep in the hay.”

What Child is This?
“What child is this, who laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?”

Silent Night, Holy Night
“Silent night! Holy night! All is calm, all is bright, round yon virgin mother and child, Holy infant so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace!”

The First Noel
“They looked up and saw a star shining in the East beyond them far and the the Earth it gave great light, and so it continues both day and night. Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, born is the King of Israel!”

O Come All Ye Faithful
“O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, o come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem. Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels. O come let us adore him, o come let us adore him, o come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.”

Joy to the World
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let Earth receive her King, let every heart prepare Him room, and Heaven and nature sing, and Heaven and nature sing, and Heaven, and Heaven and nature sing.”

We Three Kings of Orient Are
“We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar, field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star. O star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us the thy perfect light.”

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Never too Old for Santa

One thing I have strongly believed for a long time is that you are never too old to believe in Santa. If given the choice, why would you choose to not believe? I mean, no I don’t believe that Santa flies around the world bringing gifts to every boy and girl by dropping in through everyone’s chimney. I do believe in what Santa represents though. I like to think that there is always goodness in the world, and I especially like to think that it is present at the holidays. I have seen what the real world can do to people at the holidays. People become stressed out, some loose their family members around the holidays, others have to deal with the economic stress when they can’t really afford presents for their loved ones. Holidays aren’t always negative though. They are a time for joy and cheer. Friends and families come together. People truly step up to the plate and help out. I’ve always known that it is a good thing to do good for others, regardless of the time of year. But I have been fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of some of this charity at the holidays.

To me, Santa represents all the hope and love and caring and joy and all the good at the holidays. Santa stands on the corner ringing a bell collecting money for the poor. Santa puts a smile on almost everyone’s face. Santa is the one person people will wait on line for hours to pay to see. Santa allows kids to believe in magic. Santa gives people hope. Santa motivates kids to be good. Santa embodies what is good in our world.

I don’t even remember when I stopped believing in Santa as a little kid. I have a younger sister, so when I came to the realization Santa wasn’t coming down the chimney every Christmas Eve, I kept it to myself as I didn’t want to take anything away from her. Eventually we were both old enough that we knew mom and dad were the ones leaving our gifts under the tree but I didn’t want to stop believing. Until 2007, I always needed to pretend at least that I believed for the sake of cousins but before the last one stopped believing, I was a believer again. When I was younger, there was a Christmas where my dad was out of work and we weren’t supposed to get much that year. Even knowing that, my sister and I had lots of presents that year because someone else stepped in and provided them for us. This year, my father is again unemployed and we all know that money is tight. That said, we were able to have a splendid holiday because of our family and friends. Some of my mom’s friends (some known and some anonymous) truly stepped it up and provided my family with things we otherwise would not have had. It’s people like them that embody Santa and it’s people like them who allow me to still believe. Virginia has always believed in Santa. And I’ll always have Virginia’s back.