Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday Meme

My aunt, Booklogged, posted this meme on her blog, and I really enjoyed it. So, here's my meme:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Both. I only drink egg nog around Christmas, but I drink hot chocolate all winter long - I especially love Stephen's Chocolate Cinnamon Gourmet Cocoa.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? As a kid, my brothers and I would leave our stockings on a section of the couch or the loveseat. Santa would then leave our presents, unwrapped, by our stockings. Now that I'm older, Santa wraps my presents and puts them under the tree.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? I really liked the white lights when they first came out, but after a couple years, it seemed that the white lights were taking over. Now I'm glad that the colored lights seem to be making a comeback. On my house, I like both. On the tree, I like to mix it up - some years it has white lights, some years it has colored.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Why? Who am I gonna kiss? My brothers? I don't think so. Maybe someday.

5. When do you put your decorations up? It depends. This year I'm shooting for the first weekend of December, if not sooner. It may be later. There's no hard-n-fast rule.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Mashed potatoes, made with whipping cream and butter, no gravy. I adore my sister-in-law's candied yams (no marshmallows - it's divine!). Green bean casserole. Okay, the whole turkey dinner - I love it!

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: Christmas Eve, right before us kids would go to bed, my parents would set the time we would be allowed to wake up the next morning - usually around 6am. I'd wake up way before that time and lay in bed waiting patiently for 6am to show up on my alarm clock. Usually just before that time, my older brother would peak into my room and we'd sneak downstairs to check out our Santa presents. We'd play with our own presents first then our younger brothers' presents. Only then would we go wake up the younger bros. We'd play until the pre-determined hour that we were allowed to wake up our parents, then we'd wake them up. They'd check out our Santa presents, then we'd all open the presents under the tree. We still take turns opening our presents, either oldest to youngest or youngest to oldest, so everyone can see what the others get.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? My dad told me when I was in 2nd grade. I had walked in on him making my Santa present - a yellow kitchenette that I adored - and decided it was time he told me the truth. I don't remember walking in on him, so he could have waited a couple years, but I hold no ill-will towards him because he told me at such a young age. In fact, I enjoyed being in on the secret.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We used to, and sometimes still do. My mom would always pick the present we could open, and I was so excited, anticipating something really cool. It took a few years for me to figure out that the present would always be pjs. I love that tradition and, if I ever have a family of my own, I plan to continue it. Hmm. Even if I don't ever have my own family, I'm going to continue it. I'll buy myself pjs and open them Christmas Eve.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? I'm just starting an ornament collection. I have several white and red glass ornaments. I've only used them once, last year in my apartment. My plan is to continue to grow the collection and also get red, white, silver, and clear balls. I'd like to start the tradition of buying an ornament every year that represents something about what's happened. For example, I'd like to get an ornament this year that represents finally graduating from college.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? I love snow when I can either play in it or just watch it fall. I prefer not to drive in it, if I can avoid it. I love nights when snow covers the ground and the moon is full. Beautiful.

12. Can you ice skate? My only time ice skating was with a guy I met at the U my freshman year. I was horrible and nervous, so he held my hand while we skated. Afterwards, we had ice cream and hot chocolate. His name was John. I can't believe I remember that.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? My mom is great at coming up with awesome gifts. One year she gave me a cedar chest and I love it. Another year she gave me a mattress and box springs. I know that sounds like a strange gift, but it was perfect and so comfortable!

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Family and tradition. My family doesn't have a plethora of traditions, but I really enjoy the ones we have. I love being with my family and I'm glad we're so close - both in location and in friendship.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Pie. No question. I love pie. My favorites are chocolate pie and cherry pie. I also love pecan pie, banana cream pie, coconut pie, strawberry pie, peach pie, and cream cheese pie.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? I like going around town to look at Christmas lights. I always get car sick, but it's fun. My mom always makes clam chowder for Christmas Eve and a egg and sausage casserole for Christmas breakfast. I love making candies with my sister-in-laws. A new tradition that I really enjoy is my office parties. We go to the same restaurant, eat, and exchange white elephant gifts. My boss lets me invite my mom since I'm not married. There's a lot of laughter.

17. What tops your tree? I don't have my own tree topper, and I'm not sure what I'll get. My mom has a flying Santa Claus. It's cute.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? I prefer giving. I struggle sometimes to come up with a gift that I think someone will love, but there's no better feeling than finding the perfect gift for someone.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? The First Noel, O Holy Night, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, White Christmas, I'll Be Home For Christmas. I can't name them all, but I love all the hymns and most of the traditional songs.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?? YUM!!! I'm not fond of the fruity canes, but the traditional white and red canes are divine. I love them.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Thanksgiving is in TWO WEEKS! Where has 2006 gone? It seems like yesterday when I bought my new car, graduated, and was camping in the hills above Parowan. To me Halloween marked the beginning of the end - the start of the holiday season. shudder

This year I've noticed I'm grouchier than usual, and this bodes ill for the upcoming festivities. What is happening to me? I think I'm having a gratitude-attitude problem. Take my job for instance; I remember thanking my lucky stars and Him daily that I had such a great job. I still enjoy my job, usually, but I've begun to take it for granted. I forget what a generous, patient, wonderful boss I have, my fabulous coworker in whom I confide everything under the sun, and the challenges I face and learn to overcome on a regular basis. Instead, I focus on the things I don't have - you know, paltry things like a raise, insurance, and retirement - who needs those!? (The answer, I DO!! I won't tell you about the mind-numbing, black-out-inducing, eye twitch-causing dental bill I incurred this week. Sigh.) The point is, I don't want to be like Madame Bovary who married Monsieur Bovary when she thought he was romantic and sexy (my word, NOT M. Flaubert's) then grew bored and ungrateful as the years of domesticity set in. Though I know there are opportunities out there that exceed what I will ever have at my current position - until I take those opportunities, I'm determined to appreciate my job, my situation, my life, and certainly the many blessings bestowed upon me.

To that end, I'm going to list some of those blessings. I got the idea from my cousin's recent post, so thanks, Aly.

Why I'm a Lucky Bugger (in no particular order):

1. My mom. I have a fabulous mother, and I don't tell her enough how much I appreciate her. Not only does she let me live with her rent-free (I insisted upon paying her rent until I learned she planned on putting it in a savings account for me, then I suggested I just put it in my own saving account), but when I told her about my dental bill she offered me money (I refused) and, more importantly, moral support. She's always supported me in my decisions and always encouraged me to follow my dreams. She expects me to always do my best and that inspires me to be better than I think I am.

2. Friends. Throughout my life there have been a string of wonderful people I have called friends. The people have changed with time and circumstances, but what has remained the same is their acceptance of me for who I am, or am trying to be, and how we could/can talk forever about everything and nothing. I still think about some of my old friends - Elizabeth in Rexburg, Peggy from Delta, Jaime and Erin in Vernal, high school friends, mission comps (one has a fabulous blog, so I get to keep up with her goings-on), nanny pals, ex-boyfriends, and college chums - all out of my daily life, but never forgotten. I especially appreciate my current friends and hope that we keep in touch forever.

3. My job. I've already talked about it, so I won't elaborate. I'll just say that I really do feel lucky to have my job. It's not perfect and I may be growing out of it, but I'm still extremely grateful.

4. Health. Except for the odd cold/flu and despite my weight, I'm fairly healthy. I have use of all my limbs, my mind works well in most circumstances, and I never feel the need to visit the doctor's office. I hear well, and with the aid of glasses or contacts I have fine vision. In a few weeks my teeth will be in excellent order. Even that is a blessing. Yes, I'm paying a lot for it, but I caught the problem early and now can do something to prevent further problems - problems that would have cost even more than my current bill.

5. Nature. Did you see the full moon the other day? Breathtaking, absolutely amazing. If I had been born hundreds and hundreds of years ago, I would have worshipped the moon goddess. As it is, a clear, winter night sky is about the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Throw in sunrises, sunsets, sunlight shining through tree branches laden with leaves, fall in New England, Bryce Canyon, and the lazy river meandering through Long Valley and I'm terribly thankful for my vision so I can appreciate nature's beauties.

6. Family. My brothers keep me humble. They are patient with my imperfections. They are good men and I respect them terribly. They have married great women and have, and someday will, produced wonderful kids for whom I get to be the favorite aunt. My nephews and niece give me more joy than I deserve. I'm also glad to have such good relationships with my extended family. We're a close family and I'm thankful for it. A special shout-out to Aly and Cassie; I'm glad we've become so close this year and hopefully I'll go to the U and we'll be able to hang out even more!

7. Agency. Even though it would be easier if He told me everything I need to do in and with my life, I appreciate that He lets me make a lot of decisions for myself. It's hard, but I know I learn from it, and frankly I like making my own decisions. I'm also thankful for His confirmations of my decisions once I make them and for His gentle steering towards some of the best decisions I've ever made.

8. Miscellaneous. There are a lot of "little" blessings for which I'm grateful. Among these are a dependable car, the opportunity to vote, my brother K's bed on which I sleep - it's comfy to the max, books and the pleasure I get from reading, finally graduating, mom's leather couches, PBS, the Food Network, compliments, time to relax, sleep, makeup, hair dye, being single, my old ward, blogs, journals, and more things than I can think of right now.

You're right, Aly, listing your blessings does boost your mood. In case I don't get around to posting again before the holiday (I'm spending most of next week in Las Vegas), I hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving!!