Monday, December 27, 2010

How I Spent my Week-long Christmas.

I always feel like the holidays come and go way too quickly. Soon, Christmas will be a distant memory, as we begin to take down all the decorations and replace them with our regular decor, Christmas trees will lose their place of honor in the home, and will be tossed outside, and the new, exciting gifts will soon become mundane. The magic of the holidays will be lost, theoretically put on a shelf until next year.

To me, the holidays are all about family - putting aside all of the issues and problems, and just embracing time together. Luckily, with our family, based on busy schedules and trying to maximize time together (without rushing or stressing!), we celebrate Christmas with my dad's side of the family the Sunday before Christmas.

This year was no exception, in our week-long Christmas celebration.

There was time with family and friends:

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What happens when your family hires a bartender for Christmas:
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Family friends. (And I promise my brother owns other shirts!).
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Lots of food:

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Decorations:

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My neighbor seriously made everything in the next two pictures for our family! Too cute.
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Santa Claus from my mom's childhood in France, which now stands in the library.
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And of course, lots of Christmas presents! (Don't worry, I didn't take pictures of everything!).

There were also a ton of books, DVDs (more Golden Girls and Law & Order SVU, yay!), games for Wii (including Just Dance 2, which my mom has been doing for HOURS every day - seriously), and apparently hints from my family that they think I am a super fatty, because I received Zumba for Wii, Gold's Gym Dance Workout, a weighted jump rope, a gym membership, and eight pound free weights. Cool! ;)

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Gifts from Cooper always crack me up.
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Stocking gifts!
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Pat's wrapping jobs are really a thing of beauty (the first picture is of ONE gift).
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At the moment, I am thoroughly enjoying the fact that I don't have to work for a week, especially since I have about sixty thank-you notes to write to all my students! (Not shown in the pictures was the ridiculous amounts of Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts giftcards - and when I say ridiculous amounts I am over $200 worth ridiculous! - and Godiva chocolates given to me by my darling students).

There is also shoveling to be done - for those who live under rocks (or I guess overseas - that's an exception), we got HIT on the East Coast by a ridiculous blizzard that has left us here in NJ with 20 inches of snow - ah! My parents cars were literally snowed into the garage, and Pat and my cars (which there is no room for in the three-car garage, boo!) were buried under at least 3 feet of snow (from all the snow that drifted with the wind, etc.). Crazy!

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I hope that all of you on the East Coast are staying warm and safe, and that those of you on the West Coast are enjoying the lack of snow and shoveling! :) Can't wait to catch up on all your blogs and hear about everyone's holidays. I've missed you all!

Currently listening to: Keane - Bad Dream (I think this may be my most favorite song of all time - I never get tired of it and put it on almost EVERY CD I burn for myself!).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Wishes.

The holidays are approaching so quickly - Hanukkah has come and gone, and Christmas is right around the corner (but I'm still craving latkes!).

Rather than stress about the holidays, the shopping, the endless tasks, the inevitable family drama - I'm choosing to look to the positive, and find the things that I'm going to do/have done to get into that holiday spirit! (And I say this while listening to The OC Chrismukkah mix - so I am screaming holiday spirit right now!).

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So, to keep up this festive spirit, and not allow anything (which includes Cooper running away this morning and us finding him way down the end of our cul-de-sac, or being sick for four days and still not having an appetite) to stress me out or turn me into the Grinch, I'm going to partake in the most holiday-ish activities ever.

I will be bleeding green and red for Christmas 2010.

So,

This holiday season, I'm going to...

1. Curl up by the fireplace with a good book (orrr with my Mac - I can't read all the time!).

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2. Have a holiday cupcake at Crumbs every time I'm in the area (peppermint hot cocoa pictured - filled with buttercream frosting - yum!).

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3. Watch all my favorite holiday movies - and probably cry over and over.

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4. Donate at least ten pairs of shoes to the Salvation Army, and send a few other pairs to my friend Harriet in Uganda - because I really believe that this season is about giving to those less fortunate (and I in no way need/wear all these shoes - that's just half of one side!).

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5. Get a Frrrozen hot chocolate at Serendipity III.
(If you've never had one of these, go, go, go next time you're in the City - but definitely make a reservation, the line wraps around the block!).

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6. Rewatch every single Chrismukkah episode of The OC.

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7. Make holiday cards.

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8. Get to Rockefeller Square to see the tree (and maybe ice skate too!).

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9. Spend time with family (and extended family too).

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10. Eat a huge breakfast on Christmas morning and not feel bad about it AT ALL.

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11. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry so that I can give back.

"We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out."
-Roger Ebert

12. Count my blessings.

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13. Drink a lot of champagne.

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14. Drive around neighborhoods/communities where they go crazy with Christmas lights (points if the people actually put them up themselves - my neighborhood is filled with professionally done lights), including the Elvis House, which is pictured below (ridiculous!).

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15. Bake cookies (LOTS of them!).

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16. Buy gifts for my family that allow me to give back.

(These Punjammies pajama pants are handmade by women in India who are escaping a life of forced prostitution - read more about this amazing organization here!).

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17. Pop over to Starbucks as much as possible to drink the seasonal drinks and feel happy about the red cups.

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18. Not get sick (fingers crossed!).
*Update: I have since failed at Christmas wish #18. Maybe next year?*

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19. Smile at strangers - especially ones who look like incredibly stressed, or sad, or just like they could really use some kindness. I firmly believe that a smile can change someone's day.

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20. Eat a lot of fruits, veggies, and salad (to make up for #2, 4, 5, 10, and 15).

(This is a real life strawberry I found the other day in the package! GROSS - it was not eaten).

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21. Let my mom know how much it means to me that she takes the time out of her busy schedule to make the house look so festive.

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22. Take pictures of all the hysterical holiday things I see - like, when I was walking in Ridgewood and came across Santa and Frosty, who apparently prefer Greek food to anything else on the block!
(Seriously - upon closer inspection it was REAL food!).

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23. Attend ugly sweater parties (I have been invited to four so far, ah!).

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24. Dress Cooper up like Max the dog (from The Grinch), much to his dismay - and maybe buy him a doggie Snuggie (JUST KIDDING).

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25. Make my own Butterbeer - Harry Potter fans (Lindsay, I'm talking to you!), you are welcome for this one!

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How are you planning on getting in the holiday spirit?
Anyone suffering from the bah humbugs?
Currently listening to: Maybe This Christmas - Ron Sexsmith (This song always makes me happy - and makes me think of The OC, which in case you can't tell, I am very much a fan of!).