It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I’m not a huge Christmas celebrator, but fortunately there’s enough Christmas to go around. I’m going to share some of my holiday favorites. You can hit me up with yours in the comments section.
Despite all the sin talk, O Holy Night
I’m also a huge fan of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” videos, especially the British naval versions.
Favorite Fictional Character
Not that creepy Santa. Not any elfy thing at all. I am anti-elf. My apologies to you LOTR types. I like the Grinch. Not him, per se – he’s a bad banana with a rotten peel. But the story is pretty great.
Favorite Present to Get
I’m a control freak who lives in a tiny house. Either get me a gift card, or make a donation in my name.
Favorite Present to Give
Gift cards. Get what you like.
Walking around downtown Oxnard, drinking hot chocolate and looking at the lights (starts about 2:40 in)
Or, if I’m with family, playing cutthroat bingo, an annual tradition (when you get a bingo, you grab a wrapped present. The next person to get a bingo can either take a different present, or steal yours.)
I really miss the Vocal Arts Ensemble Christmas concert in San Luis Obispo. So. Good.
My friend Brian is on the far left with the impressive curly white hair and Reambo is front and center, black hair and tux.
Tamales. The kind with chiles and cheese. And for dessert, anything with caramel in it. The exMrStapler’s family used to make these divine little handmade caramels, individually wrapped in waxed paper. Yeah, I’m going to miss that.
Favorite Cookies (yes, they are too their own category)
I’d love to say someone’s grandma’s recipe from the old country, but dang, Trader Joe’s Peppermint JoJos are great. But if you’re baking, a real simple shortbread (flour, butter, sugar, salt) is my favorite.
My first year without alcohol. I was never a big Christmas drinker, but a nice bottle of Champagne wouldn’t have been unwelcome. This year? Probably some Peppermint Hot Chocolate or Pellegrino and Cranberry juice.
We have so many Spanish-style bungalows around here. A string of those old school C9 big colored bulbs on one of those is sheer perfection. The new super-saturated LEDs are pretty cool, too.
Blitzen. Blitzen is definitely the coolest reindeer name.
Favorite Thing to do on Christmas Day
Go for a walk on the beach. Isn’t that what everyone does?
No need to spend a zillion dollars on Christmas decorations, people. Head to your local thrift store! Mine has bales of cast-offs at a fraction of the price. The digging for treasure is half the fun.
Yesterday, I got a wreath made of gold jingle bells for $2, a set of 12 days of Christmas ornaments for $3 (even though they seem to be long on 5 golden rings and short on some of the higher numbers) and my favorite, this Fitz & Floyd cookie plate for 95 cents. Look out. It may be headed your way, piled with brownies.
Well, gang, we have done it. NaBloPoMo, 30 days, 31 posts. It could not have come at a more perfect time – my blog was limping along, barely alive. It needed something, and a post a day seems like it might be just the thing to revive the ol’ blog.
Thanks for playing along. I appreciate your comments. They’re the bees knees.
A friend told me that she had recently been at an event where there was a presentation on diversity. She was scratching her head because the characters in the little play were all different ethnicities…and all portrayed by white people doing accents.
“It’s like they want to approve of diversity without actually doing anything about it,” I said.
The whole conversation led me to think about the places in my life where I want something without actually wanting to change, those stuck places where it is harder to get unstuck than it seems at first.
Like I’m still a fat girl in a less-fat body. I still want to eat whatever I want without having consequences. I still eat too much, sneakily, even though there is no one to hide from. The other day I realized that I eat about 500 calories a day in the car, because somehow it doesn’t count as eating if I am not in an eating spot, but on the road.
And even though I quit drinking, I still haven’t quit being an escapist. Now I just numb out playing games or noodling endlessly on the computer instead of having a glass of wine or three. I have the health benefits of not drinking alcohol, but my brain is just as occupied with stupidity as it ever was.
Sure, I have done some work. I have excavated some bad habits and have left some of the actions behind. But there are parts of my life where I’m standing on stage doing a fake-ass Chinese accent, instead of asking a real Chinese woman to tell her truth.
So much. So thankful. Have a nice day, everyone.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, but my favorite part of Thanksgiving comes the night before.
My church has a gratitude service, where we pray a little, sing a little, listen a little. Then the parishioners are invited to stand up (before God and everyone!) to say a few words about what they are thankful for.
It gets me every time. Our thanks are so much the same and so different. People give thanks for things that you would expect – a husband coming through cancer treatment, a new baby – and things you wouldn’t – unexpected blessings and lessons wrought through loss and illness.
It’s good, to stand up front and declare what deserves thanks. It feels right to be part of this community of thanks-givers, of noticers. Being among them helps me notice, too.
The first night of Hanukkah is tomorrow night. Hanukkah is also called the “Festival of Lights” because it celebrates the miracle of oil for a lamp lasting 8 days instead of just the one it was expected to.
Then we swing into Christmas season, where we celebrate with lights and candles…the season of light is upon us.
Here’s my request to you for the season beginning tomorrow and ending at the new year: give yourself a month off from criticizing yourself. If you’re like most people, a voice inside you tells you just how bad you are. The voice feels free to speak badly to you, no matter how minor your infraction.
You dropped a can of food? “You idiot!”
You forgot to get gas for the car- “You loser! What is wrong with you?”
And worse. Far, far worse.
So try, just try, this month, to silence the voice with a laugh at how ridiculous its accusations are, or with an inner “Shhhhh.” Or maybe, as I do, yell “SHUT UP, PARASITE!”
(Do not do this last suggestion in public places, though. The 72-hour lockup is no place to spend the holidays).
The voice lies. The voice exaggerates. The voice has nothing useful to say to you. Don’t you deserve an inner voice that is at least as nice to you as your outer voice is when you’re talking happily to your loved ones?
(The correct answer is YES, YOU DO).
Give the voice the month off. Let your heart be light.
“The sign of Christmas is a star, a light in
darkness. See it not outside of yourself,
but shining in the Heaven within…”
- A Course in Miracles