A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story

While my favorite Christmas movie is It’s a Wonderful Life, and my husband is kind enough to watch it with me each year–it is NOT his favorite Christmas movie.

My husband’s favorite Christmas movie doesn’t have a romantic, spiritual or an especially moralistic message.

In fact, the first time I saw his favorite: A Christmas Story–I was surprised that this movie would be popular at all.

The entire plot revolves around a young boy who is dreaming of receiving a bb gun from Santa at Christmas as he goes through his daily life in the weeks leading up to the holiday.

I just didn’t think it was funny–or good.

The 2nd year I watched the movie (we actually watched it twice since there was A Christmas Story Marathon), I noticed different details in the movie and enjoyed hearing my husband laugh as he watched.

And now, years later, as we watch his favorite I find myself laughing and looking forward to the scenes of 9 year old Ralphie battling a school bully, a mean Santa at the mall and convincing his clueless parents to get him the ultimate Christmas gift.

I love seeing him dressed up in his pink bunny pajamas and dealing with his little baby brother…

And while this movie is not my favorite movie of all time at Christmas, it is part of my tradition because my husband enjoys it so much that it makes me enjoy it too!

Ultimately it reminds me the importance of the season: joy, family, laughter, togetherness, and the blessing of living this American life that allows us to celebrate and enjoy the holiday in any way we choose.

Enjoy your own Christmas Story!

Deck The Halls

Deck The Halls

It has become our family tradition to put up the Christmas tree and the decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Since the birdies have left the nest, it was just me and the hubby doing the honors.

I have always liked an artificial tree and my husband prefers a real tree–and over the years we have had both, but I finally convinced him that an artificial tree is better for us because of our (read my) allergies and the mess of pine needles a real tree leaves behind.

So last year we bought one that even has the lights already on it!

While I was at it, I also bought all new ornaments in a country theme–and the results were spectacular.

To top it off my husband surprised me with a beautiful old fashioned country angel for the top!

So this year I was very excited to put it all up again!

We set up the tree and my 3 (count them! 3!) nativity sets and we were very pleased with the results.

A pleasant hush came over the house as even the doggies were impressed with the decorations!

It is really the simple things in life that makes all the difference in our hurry up run around life.

This time of year reminds me of the importance of family and traditions.

But it also reminds me how wonderful this American life is that we can have traditions about a tree and a barn that promises love, hope and charity to close out each year.

For This I Am Thankful

For This I Am Thankful

There is nothing like getting older to really put your life in perspective and to show you how to be humble, grateful and thankful for all we have.

And there is no better time than Thanksgiving to reflect and share those thoughts with others.

I am thankful for my family. My mom and dad who gave me life, good examples, education and purpose. My sister, who is not just family but my trusted friend. My husband who travels this journey with me as confidant, companion, friend and champion. Our daughters who have taught us the importance of living. My nieces and nephews that renew my motherhood. And all the other family members and friends who have added to my development and joy to be who I am today.

I am thankful to be an American, to live in a country that is free, strong and prosperous. A country in which we have a right to our lives, our liberty and to pursue our individual happiness.

I am thankful to all our military, past and present, who are willing to lay their life down to preserve the values of our founding fathers and keep our way of life alive.

And I am thankful for God who made all of this possible.

Wherever you are and whoever you are with–Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Santa Has It Right

Santa Has It Right

Tis the week of Thanksgiving and all we hear is on its way…is another busy run around Black Friday!

Silly me, what was I thinking going out this weekend to the stores? Well I was thinking I just wanted to get a look at what is available this year.

Maybe, I thought, I’d find a clever hostess gift for my sister who is hosting Thanksgiving next week.

Boy was I ever wrong! Even Walgreens has Christmas trees and Christmas stuff wall to wall.

And this is what I found…a lot of people walking around, just like me, a little overwhelmed with the impending season.

It’s a mixed up time! We are all looking forward to Thanksgiving so that the commercial Christmas season can begin–although it really began about 5 weeks ago.

Santa has it right…he is a wise old elf. He stays, safely in the North Pole, away from, well…everything and everyone and he concentrates on his job: making a list and checking it twice.

Then Santa makes sure that each person on his “Good” list has a little something under the tree, and those on the “Naughty” list receive a lump of coal.

We do the same thing. The people on our good list get a gift to show that they are important and thought of and those that make our naughty list–well I guess they didn’t make the cut.

That’s exactly as it should be. We gift the people we cherish most of all because Christmas should not be about everyone that crosses our path but about those we enjoy sharing the path with.

And while there is a multitude of stuff that can be purchased to put under the tree, it is the smaller, thoughtful gifts that are usually the most appreciated.

Also, a reason to be thankful, not for the gifts but for another year with those we love the most.

So this year I have decided to slow down, enjoy Thanksgiving with my family and be grateful for all our blessings.

Then I will make a list, and check it twice…before deciding on the gifts to be placed under the tree.

Thanks Santa!

The Color of the Fence

The Color of the Fence

When my daughters were little girls and I would tuck them in at night we played imagination games together so I could get them to fall asleep.

Many times the bedtime readings were not enough…and Dr. Seuss usually got them more excited than relaxed at bedtime.

One day I invented a game that worked for me for years in helping get them to sleep and just last night when I found myself wide awake at 2 am I thought of the game again…and sure enough, it worked!  I fell asleep within 5 or 6 minutes.

This is how the game went.  I would ask them a series of questions meant to help them visualize a pasture with sheep, and then we would count the sheep.  I know…not very original…but it was…because each night we played, the pasture and the sheep would change.

First I would tell them to close their eyes and think of a field with short grass.  And then the questions would begin:

  1. What color is the grass?
  2. Let’s build a wooden fence around the field.  What color is your fence?
  3. We left all the sheep outside the fence!  What color are the sheep?
  4. How many sheep do you think we have?  Let’s count them as they jump over the fence…
  5. and so we would count…slowly, until they fell asleep.

My oldest daughter loved this game and she was very imaginative with her sheep.  Her grass was almost always pink when she was very little and later it was always green because “there is no such thing as pink grass mom!”  Her sheep sometimes had stripes and polka dots and once they were all rainbow sheep.

She, being the oldest of course, outgrew the game first–one day announcing “I’m sleepy mom, I don’t want to build a fence.” And soon after, this little game was not needed for her to fall asleep. She has always been straightforward and logical.

The youngest also enjoyed this game but always tried to outsmart me. I would ask her the game questions and she would answer with a question of her own.  I would ask her what color is your fence? and she would ask me why the fence had to be made of wood?

It always took me a little bit more time to get her to sleep and I have to admit a few times I think she put me to sleep because I would wake up sometimes an hour later, still in her bed beside her.

She outgrew the game when she decided one evening that she did not want the sheep to jump the fence and come poop in her field. She has always been curious and practical.

And so the game was forgotten.

Until last night I had not thought of it in a long time…but in my mind I thought of long yellow grass, surrounded by a short white wooden fence.  I thought of white and gray sheep and as I visualized them jumping over the fence into the field I started to count…1, 2, 3, …. I was asleep before I knew it. The game still works.

What color is your fence?

Making the Most of Marriage

Making the Most of Marriage

Marriage is hard work. Some people make it look easy.

I’ve been reading a few books lately about people with successful, happy marriages and their secrets.

I have also spent some time thinking about people in my life who have had long, successful marriages and what have made it so.

There are two things that are present in all these examples: Trust and Communication.

Sounds pretty easy and foundational right?

I was amazed when I asked a few friends what trust and communication looked like in a marriage to find how many struggled to come up with a definition or example.

Here are my thoughts. Trust in marriage is simple to define if you have it. It means that every aspect of your life is safe in the hands of the other person.

That means that each half of the couple looks out for the other physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.

And here’s the best part of trust in successful marriages: this trust is given and received automatically by both parties without having to discuss it, measure it or ask for it.

It just is.

Communication, likewise, in loving and successful marriages is almost a natural extension of the marriage itself.

It means the couple is willing to communicate about anything and everything. It does not mean the couple has to agree.

But both are free to express themselves verbally or non verbally and know that the other will respect and accept their opinion.

It just is.

That is what makes it not hard to define, but hard to achieve. It takes time to develop and it takes practice and work to keep it consistent so that a marriage will stand the test of time, trials and testaments.

Making the most of your marriage is a worthwhile effort and looking back years from now to see the success and strength in your relationship is a blessing.

And it all begins and ends the same same way: with trust and communication.

Countdown to Christmas

Countdown to Christmas

I know, I know…it is shameful to think of Christmas right after Halloween with still 2 1/2 weeks until Thanksgiving…but today markes 50 days to Christmas and I have still not gotten one Christmas gift!

Some of you may think that I am over-reacting but if you knew me you would know that usually I begin my Christmas shopping in July and by Halloween the only task I have left is the wrapping.

In years past starting early and having everything taken care of way before the blessed day has helped me reduce the holiday stress and spread out any expenses over several months–which of course further helps reduce the holiday stress.

I have always done very deliberate planning for the holidays so that I do not fall into the consumer trap of over buying or feeling obligated to gift people that are normally not on my list.

I also have made it a point, in the last 10 years now, to purchase a few toys and clothing items to donate for kids that have less than we do. It’s what I believe the season is for.

I don’t know how this year has gotten away with me…but it did.  I love Christmas, but I do not love the added rush around craziness that comes with it.  Here are a few tips to help you have a stress free Merry Christmas.

  1. Make a list of the people you would like to get gifts for–and check it twice.
  2. Understand what your budget is for the season and stay true to your limits.
  3. Think of unique ways to “gift” the people on the list.
  4. Shop as early in the day as you can when you go out to shop.
  5. Consider online shopping to avoid traffic, long lines, product shortages and frustrations.

Ultimately, Christmas should not be about the presents under the tree but the people around it.  Spending time with those you love–family and friends–is much more important than finding the perfect coffee maker, 45 tools in one, trendy toy of this year.

50 days to go folks!  Make them count and enjoy the season.