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!

Liberation Day

Liberation Day

Some of the most important things I have learned in life I learned from my parents.

I have been very fortunate to have parents that were always present, involved and encouraging .

They taught me to depend on them while I grew into my own independence.

Likewise, it was my goal, as a parent, to be present and guiding but to make sure my children could stand on their own two feet.

And like my parents, we did a good job because just like I became stubbornly independent in my 20s, so too have the girls become independent.

My dad calls it Liberation Day! It truly was liberating for all of us.

The girls now liberated were taking those first scary steps into adulthood and we, the parents, are also liberated to continue with our lives, goals and dreams outside of parenthood.

But it does not end there. My father in declaring Liberation Day shows his pride in the passing of the torch to the next generation.

So today I celebrate that we have made it to this point in time, with gratitude and high hopes for the future!

Happy Liberation Day!

Christmas in July

Christmas in July

I went into a craft mega store yesterday that I love because it is jam packed with crafts, ideas, decorations, themes, colors and smells.  I can spend hours in there.  In fact, I have.

I was especially excited on this visit when I started seeing 80% off signs on summer stuff.  So I was really in my shopping groove when I turned the corner and I saw it….

The reason for the big sale was the cleaning out of several aisles of goods in order to put out all the Christmas decorations, trees, wreaths, nativities and all the other Christmas decorations that make the season so great!

As you can tell, I love Christmas!

And I appreciate that the ideas are out in July.  Some people may be dismayed to see Christmas out before Halloween and Thanksgiving–but I think it’s brilliant.

The free enterprise system is telling us how wonderful our economy is this year! The optimism is amazing.  The idea that we are all doing so well that we can plan ahead to these upcoming holidays is heartening.

And I am all in!

When I got home–I sat down to make my Christmas list.  Not the gifts I want to receive–that list is a hard one–but the people I want to find the perfect gifts for.

I love looking for things for others that they may love and are not expecting.  Each year that is getting harder and harder to do. There is so much available so quickly to everyone that finding the perfect gift for the people that mean the most to us is quite the challenge.

That is probably why so many people dread the holidays!  They procrastinate and wait until the last minute to get inspired on what to get their friends and family and then run around crazy looking for the perfect gift.

Of course, as hokey as it sounds–there is also nothing like a home made gift.  At the very least it is original, customized to the person receiving the gift and can not be found on Amazon.

So my excitement aside–and the great craft mega store addiction–let’s remember how magical Christmas can be–even when the feelings come in July!

It’s a wonderful life!

How do you feel about Christmas?  Drop me a comment! And have fun!

 

Surprises

Surprises

There are many surprises that come into our lives. Some are good surprises and some are bad.

I don’t like surprises myself because I like to know the who, what, where, when and why of everything so I can PLAN it.

Yet from time to time, I come across a surprise that impacts me greatly.

I’m not talking about the someone popping out of a cake surprise–I’m talking about the kind of surprise you receive when you find out your life has been impacted by someone else or that you impacted someone’s life by a single act of kindness and it just grabs at your heart.

I had a surprise like that just this week.

There is a person that I don’t know very well but who I love and who I have a very high respect for–that passed away this week.

As a matter of fact, I have never met this person face to face, but I have known about her most of my life and carried her with me as I carry many people I care for.

It is a hard thing to explain.

I am, among other things, the family historian. I keep the family tree, many of the family stories, some of the family secrets and as many pictures of family members–past and present–that I can get my hands on.

This has been a self appointed role–not one that anyone said I had to take on. And I do this for my own pleasure and curiosity.

I don’t do this to judge family members’ lives or the choices they have made–after all, who am I to cast the first stone?

In researching a branch of my mother’s family 4 months ago, I found my mother’s sister. My mom is 75 years old and her sister, 77.

Through the twists in life and other circumstances they had lost touch with each other, both migrating to this wonderful country from their native land at different times under a different set of events.

They had not spoken to each other in over 60 years when they were both barely young teenagers in another country and another time.

They were able to reconnect, and I believe, both were very happy to have found each other again. Many phone calls, emails, cards, pictures and gifts have been exchanged over the course of these months.

For me, I found a whole new set of people to call family and my dear aunt had a daughter exactly my age. She and I communicate frequently thanks to the miracle of technology.

I feel very close to my cousin and care for her deeply–we have become not just family but friends.

Through them both, mother and daughter, I have been able to collect a few more family stories and information to fill in the blanks that I had–they have indulged me in my hobby.

Unfortunately, my aunt had cancer.  In this short time that I came to know this woman, I grew to admire her strength, her resolve and her courage.  She made sure to be strong when speaking to my mother over the phone because she did not want to worry her “little” sister.

My aunt and I shared the exchange of one long letter–one in which I told her all about my life and her reply that provided acceptance, encouragement and love.  I was in the middle of sending her another letter that I will no longer be able to send.

But a beautiful surprise came to me in a letter from her, transcribed by her daughter–my cousin, my friend–because she was too weak to write herself.

It was information about a family business back in the old country and how the family was involved in it.  She had told me she wanted me to know the story and she had promised to send it to me for my collection of family lore. The letter was written and put in the mail to me on the day she left this earth.

Sometimes, we do something simple, say something to someone, offer a smile and it changes another life.

A selfless act–a beautiful gift–and a surprise. She grabbed my heart as all good surprises are wont to do. It has impacted me greatly as I am sure her whole life impacted others–regardless of time and space.

May the Lord keep her in the palm of his hand, until we meet again.

Priorities, Priorities, Priorities

Priorities, Priorities, Priorities

In my last post, I shared with you how much I am enjoying using my calendar to schedule the events and tasks that are important to my life, my goals and my priorities.

I’ve received a few questions since then about how to set your priorities and how I know if they are the right ones!  Wow! Huge questions and tough ones, but I decided to tackle them.

Setting priorities can be a very difficult task–depending on what your priorities are and if they match your values and your goals.

So first you really need to decide what you really want in your life.  Do you want a job, career or calling that you are excited to get up for each morning? Or just a means to make some money to obtain the OTHER things you really want in your life?

Do you want the romantic relationship of your dreams? Do you want to travel more or have more interesting experiences? Or do you want just more TIME to do all of these things?

You see, as we get older–the things we want change and that will change our goals and the methods we use to reach them.  This happens–not because we are getting older–but because we continue to grow as long as we are still breathing!

As we grow, we have to keep examining what it is we want so we can shift–you got it–our PRIORITIES!

How do you set your priorities? The right priorities for each person will be different depending on what they value.  

If you value family, like I do, then your tasks and the events you choose to attend will revolve around family–because that is what makes you happy and so you have internalized this as a priority for you.

How do you know if your priorities are the right ones? Well…this is easier to answer and harder to answer.

I am not going to say: “if it feels good make this a priority in your life”  because sometimes we pursue or do things that feel good in the moment–but that are really bad for us.

What I will say is if something is important to you, like traveling and seeing new places, and you have to work all year to save and earn your two weeks off in order to be able to enjoy it–but you do it because you really get joy from the traveling then this is a priority for you!

So the right priorities are the ones that feel right to you and that match up with the things you values.

As I continue growing and enjoying this journey, I have done a lot of self inspection.  I have found that my life’s passions include my personal growth, my family, traveling and writing or being creative in some form of expression. I also realized that I am a fixer–or as I prefer to think of it–a helper.

I was happy to realize that most of my life I have been reaching and obtaining these experiences, even through the years that had brought hardship, confusion and disasters into my life.

Getting older and continuing to grow just means for me that I will be putting more focus on my passions–my priorities–because it is what makes me happy and what is leading me to my purpose.

So knowing your priorities is very important! Examining what your heart is telling you makes you happy is very important! And then prioritizing your life so that you are going towards those goals is what makes this life so worth living!

Never stop growing! And do not be afraid to treat yourself well by honoring the things that are important to you!  We only live one life, folks, have fun!

Comment below and share some of the things that you have made priorities in your life!

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