Holiday “Letters”

Today’s blog comes from a Daily Writing Prompt.  I thought this was a fun idea.  Some of my answers came immediately, while others I had to think a little bit.  Here is the prompt:  “Make an alphabetized list of the 26 best things about the holiday season, with one item for each letter.  Choose your favorite thing and write a short paragraph about why you love it.”

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“A”

A Christmas Carol.

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Every year since junior high school I have read this amazing tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation by Charles Dickens.  I also listen to Patrick Stewart’s wonderful audio performance, as well as watch the many movie versions.  No matter how many times I hear this story, it always makes me happy.

“B”

Blessings.

The holidays are a time where we reflect on what we are thankful for, and a time for counting our blessings.  In years past, I suffered from severe depression and often never really was conscious of those things.  With the changes in my life, I am much more aware of how blessed I am.  I have so many things to be thankful for and I am truly blessed in more ways than I can count!

“C”

Christmas Cookies.

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To borrow a phrase from Sesame Street – “C is for Cookie.”  Every year as kids, my brother and I would wait for my grandma to ship us a huge tin can of cookies!  She would make Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal, Sugar, Ice Box, and so many more.  The cookies pictured above are called Pizzelle cookies.  My grandma always made them at Christmas!  My brother still has her pizzelle maker.  Today, I still make the Chocolate Chips from a recipe she had in a metal index card box!

“D”

Dante’ & Dimitri

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My sons.  Sharing the holidays with them means so much to me.  I LOVE watching their excitement as they open their presents.  I love spending time with them, whether it is watching TV, playing a video or board game, or just having a heart to heart talk.  They continue to grow into fine young men, and I am proud to be their father.

“E”

Eggnog

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I LOVE eggnog!  My grandmother always had it for us at Christmas.  There used to be an eggnog mix that she would buy, but I can’t find it anywhere anymore.  My brother and I used to drink this like water!  I recently discovered a “custard” eggnog that was really good, too!  All things eggnog – I like:  McDonald’s Eggnog Shakes, Starbucks Eggnog Latte’s, and even the alcoholic eggnog!  There was a place in Frankenmuth that had a drink called the “dirty elf” – it was eggnog with a shot of Fireball whiskey in it – SO good!

“F”

Family and Friends.

What would the holidays be with out them?!  When I look back on holidays of the past, they are special because of the friends and family who were present!  I look forward to the holidays each year because it means special times with these special people in my life.

“G”

Garland.

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When I think about Christmas, I always think about garland!  My mom used to string it on the tree.  She’d hang it on walls, wrap it around things, hang Christmas Cards from it – it was everywhere!  We had gold and silver garland, thick and thin garland, and even garland with snowflakes on it.  I don’t use it today, because I know our cats will just eat it.

“H”

Holiday Music.

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I have blogged about this enough that you had to see this coming!  I love Christmas music.  There are so many wonderful memories connected to specific holiday songs.  While there are some songs that bring tears to my eyes, the majority of them bring me so much happiness.

“I”

Italian Food.

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EVERY Christmas Eve – my grandma made ravioli.  That was part of our tradition.  We also had breaded steak with ammoglio (moy-gyoo) sauce.  She always made an Italian feast.  I have tried to keep this tradition going, even though my sauce is no where close to being as good as hers.

“J”

Jingle Bells.

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This is two-fold.  First, the sound of jingle bells goes hand in hand with the holidays.  To me, there is something about hearing those bells that makes it feel like Christmas.  Second, it is one of those holiday songs that I love.  It’s probably THE universal Christmas song.  My favorite versions are done by Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Doc Severinsen & The Tonight Show Band, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, and SO many other versions!

“K”

Kris Kringle.

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Also known as Santa Claus.  He’s the subject of many Christmas songs.  Millions of children sit on his lap and convey their Christmas list to him.  In one night, he delivers millions of toys to good little girls and boys!

“L”

Lights.

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I love Christmas lights.  When I first got my driver’s license I would pop a cassette tape of Christmas music in and I would drive around looking at the lights.  I remember driving around Jefferson Avenue where all these huge mansions were.  They would have their lights done by professionals and they were just amazing.  Walking through Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo, or taking the Christmas train at Crossroads Village to see lights is also a treat!  I love the way they look and enjoy them more and more every year.

“M”

Mail.

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In a world where most communication is done by phone, e-mail, or text messages, I really enjoy getting Christmas cards in the mail.  I also love getting the “year in review” letters in them.  I can never understand why people diss these letters, because I love to read about what my friends and family have done over the past year.  I love when they include pictures from the past year, too.  I also love family photo Christmas cards.  I used to send them every year.  Sam and I were just talking about how we need to get better at sending them.

“N”

Nostalgia.

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No surprise here, especially since 95% of this blog is about nostalgia!  When the holidays come around, I get VERY nostalgic.  I think of my grandparents, my mother, and remember the good times we shared.  I remember past gifts.  I remember past relationships.  I remember good times and bad times.  There are many memories connected with the holidays for me.

“O”

Ornaments.

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One thing I love about Christmas ornaments is that when you put up your tree, as you unwrap each ornament, it brings back a memory.  Every year, Sam and I go to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth and get an ornament that signifies an even from the past year.  This year’s ornament is obviously about us expecting our baby.  We have an ornament from when we got married and when we got engaged.  I have a few ornaments that I brought with me when I moved in with Sam.  One of those ornaments is from 1977!  It was an ornament that we all got when we were in Catechism in 2nd grade.  It is an ornament of the baby Jesus.  It is the oldest ornament I have.

“P”

Presents.

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When I was a kid, it was all about what presents I was getting.  As an adult, and as a parent, your focus shifts.  It becomes about what special gift you buy for someone else.  What can I get that will make the boys smile?  What is the perfect gift for my wife?  What do I get for my dad, who seems to have everything?  It truly is better to give than to receive, but it is also nice to get something special from someone, too.

“Q”

Quiet.

I know, this seems impossible!  I would agree to a certain extent.  Many holiday gatherings are noisy as hell, but I am speaking of a specific quiet. One of my favorite things is standing outside after a snowfall, just listening to the quiet of the neighborhood.  There were many times I’d be out shoveling the walk, and stop just to enjoy the quiet of a winter day.

“R”

Rudolph

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Sure, I love the Rankin and Bass TV special!  I, however, and talking about the above decoration.  My grandma had these, and so did we!  This decoration was made of melted plastic.  Pinterest calls this a “melted plastic popcorn wall or window hanging decoration”.  There was a Snowman, a Christmas Tree and a Santa in a sleigh decoration, too.  My grandma hung 9 of these reindeer and the Santa in a sleigh on the wall every year!  Man, do I miss seeing this every year!!!

“S”

Snow.

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One of the things I love about living in Michigan is that we see all four seasons.  The holidays without snow are very disappointing to me.  If it is mid to late December and there is no snow, the song White Christmas really hits home.  I NEED to have snow on Christmas!  It is just one of those things that makes the holiday mean more.  I love the beauty of snow on the ground and stuck to the trees … but, yes, I do hate driving in it!

“T”

The Tree.

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You can check out the blog I wrote a week or so ago entitled “Oh Christmas Tree” to read about why this means so much to me.  For now, just know that it is one of the things I LOVE about the holidays.

“U”

Underwear.

I really didn’t have a lot of “U” options.  I don’t like underwear for Christmas, but I put it here because of something I started seeing a few years ago.  I guess you would call it a meme today.  I see it posted on Facebook a lot and it makes me laugh:

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“V”

Vacation.

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Again, a two-fold answer.  (1) Vacation time?  Yes, I do get some time off during the holidays, but nothing real big.  I wish I had the opportunity to actually take a few weeks off around the holidays, but that never is possible for me.  (2) Christmas Vacation Movie?  Who doesn’t love this Christmas film.  There are so many great lines and characters in this film!  Come on – you know any time you pass a house with a gazillion lights on it you call it the “Griswold house”!!

“W”

Wife.

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She makes EVERYTHING in my life special.  The holidays are already a special time for me, but spending them with her make them extra special.  There is not enough space on the internet for me to write about how much she means to me, how much I love her, and how happy she makes me.  I am so lucky to call this beautiful woman my friend, my partner, and my wife.  For Christmas this year, she is giving me the best present ever … she arrives in February.

“X”

X’s and O’s

Ok, it was hard to come up with something beside Xylophone for X!   X’s and O’s are hugs and kisses.  Hugs and kisses from friends and family during the holidays make the season special.

“Y”

Year Without a Santa Claus.

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You should have saw this coming, too!  Last year, many characters made a Christmas blog and this year I wrote an entire blog on it.  I HAVE to watch this every year!  I also have to listen to the Miser Brothers songs in the car during the holidays.

“Z”

Zzzzzzz’s.

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Yet another stretch, but Holiday Zzzzz’s are something I certainly look forward to!  In Twas The Night Before Christmas they talk of a “long winter’s nap”.  In my opinion, any time I can grab a nap over the holidays, it’s a good thing!!!

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That was a fun blog to write!  Now it’s your turn.  What are your “holiday letters”?  I’d love to read them …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A week of Showers and Lights

It has been very busy week for us! It has been so busy, this is the first chance I have had to sit and blog. I won’t bore you with some of the busy stuff (like work, work meetings, and such). I’ll hit the high lights and try to bring you up to date.

We have a weekend routine. That routine was all jumbled up this week. The things we would normally do at certain times had to be done between things that we normally don’t do. I was all messed up.

Most of the week, we were doing last minute preparations for the baby shower. We had things to do Thursday night (after a call in meeting for work), and then Friday we had tons of running around to do. We had to drive an hour to Sam’s work to pick up new scrubs. After that we had our monthly appointment with the OB/GYN (and got to hear baby Ella’s heartbeat, again!). Then we had to go to the hall to set up for the shower. We were gone literally all day. Saturday, we had early errands to run before heading to the hall for the baby shower.

Baby Shower

What an amazing day for us! We were surrounded by family and friends and they showered our baby with so much love! My mother-in-law and sister-in-law hosted the shower for us. The theme was a “shower”. We had clouds and raindrops. It was perfect.

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Not everyone we invited was able to come. Some live out of state or out of town. Some of our friends/family who RSVP’d weren’t able to make it either, but we understand that sometimes things happen.

Some of the high lights for me:

  • Seeing my beautiful wife. The future mommy of our baby looked simply amazing! Her sister put a little braid in her hair, and she wore a very cute outfit. There were times I’d be chatting with someone and I’d catch her out of the corner of my eye and just smile! I am one lucky man!
  • Seeing my Godmother. I can’t even begin to tell you how much it meant that she was there. I LOVE just sitting and talking with her and she means the world to me.
  • Seeing my cousins. I was so glad to see cousins from my dad’s side of the family and my mom’s side of the family. I don’t get to see them often enough! Every year, my cousins from my dad’s side have a big holiday party, and I cannot wait to go!
  • Watching my dad and Sam’s dad chit chatting away at the “guy” table.
  • Being able to wish Rose a happy birthday a day early.
  • Having my old morning show partner, Steph, and her daughter there. She told me her gifts were so we’d think of Aunt Steph all year round, and she was right! She have us a beautiful Christmas blanket and about 8 Halloween costumes! I expected nothing less from her. She is really one of my truest friends!
  • Meeting some of Sam’s family that I hadn’t met yet.
  • Having Sam’s Grandma there. She had been praying for us to have a baby since we got married! She is so excited for us.

One of my cousins mentioned how much she loves reading this blog. Again, I was told what a good writer I am, not by one, but by a few of my cousins. I am always embarrassed by this. I am also humbled by the fact that people actually read what I write. I’m not sure why.

The hardest part of an event like this, is getting the chance to talk to everyone. Once everyone is there, you are being pulled this way and that way. You try to mingle while people are eating, but you never seem to make it to everyone. Then you are obligated to be up front to open presents. People sometimes leave before you ever get the chance to say hello. It’s not intentional, it just happens.

I guess I acted as the emcee for the gift opening. I was the one reading the cards and announcing who the gift was from. Our nieces were there basically opening them for Sam. It was unorganized chaos – LOL! They were opening things so fast, that we actually went through the gifts at home afterward, so that we could actually see some of the stuff that we missed at the shower.

As someone who talked on the radio for a living, I was given the responsibility of thanking everyone after all the gifts were opened. I was having such a hard time. With all that has transpired over the past three years, and to be there in front of those who love us, to have to come up with words was very difficult. I am sure Steph probably shot video of it. I was certainly fighting back tears! I know I wanted to share a dream I had the night before, but the emotions of everything took over, and I never did – so here it is:

The morning of the baby shower, I shot up out of sleep. Sam was already awake and asked if I was ok. It took me a second to kind of figure out that I had just woke up from a dream. The dream was so real and so vivid. I was dreaming that we were at the baby shower and the baby was already here. I was holding her. She was beautiful (just like her mother). She had dark hair. I was feeding her at one point. There were many people there. At one point I looked up and my mother was smiling. I was in the process of handing the baby to my mom when I woke up. I wish I could remember more about the dream!

After the shower, I stared at the table of gifts. I thought about how much our baby is loved and she has yet to be born. The outpouring of love and well wishes was truly overwhelming. Sam asked if we’d need someone else to bring stuff home. Well, I naturally took this as a challenge and put all those hours of Tetris to the test. It wasn’t easy, but I fit every last gift into the back of the car!

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Thank you Tetris!!!

Speaking of “thank you”, my dad gave me a huge laugh at the end of the shower. One of the things you have the guests do at the shower is address an envelope. This is the envelope that we will send the thank you card in. So my dad comes up to me at the end of the shower says, “Here’s my envelope.”

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This cracked me up so bad!

Wild Lights at the Zoo

Sam and I knew that the baby shower was going to leave us pretty wiped out, so we both took Sunday night off. It was opening weekend of Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo. We decided to get tickets and go. We’d done this once before and loved it! They decorate the zoo with Christmas lights, play Christmas music, and it is something that we have decided will be a tradition for us.

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Every year, they add more lights. There are some areas where the lights are all synchronized to music and there is a light “show”. It is very cool. There are also lights shaped like animals. So we saw elephants, penguins, giraffes, and new this year – foxes.

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As you walk through, they have bonfires where you can stop and warm up. There are also places to buy hot chocolate, coffee, or alcohol if you wish. Some of the houses are open as warming stations – the Otter House was open, but they were busy sleeping and we didn’t get to see them. I love the Otters!

Some of the photo ops are just amazing. They have this huge Christmas ornament that you can stand inside of. While we were there, there was a wedding proposal inside the ornament. I probably drove Sam nuts taking all kinds of selfies while we were there! I always feel weird asking someone to take our picture, but we had someone take one of us by this huge star – it was pretty cool!

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The last time we went, it was very cold! Last night, it was about 39 degrees. It was the perfect night. It took us about an hour to get through, which was perfect, especially since Sam had been on her feet almost the entire day before, and now here we are walking the zoo. As you walk out there is a very cool tunnel of lights –

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There was still snow on the ground yesterday, so it was the perfect event to get you into the holiday spirit.

Christmas is coming …

I woke up today to see that one of the radio stations I work at flipped to all Christmas music. I got text messages from some people asking why we did it, and some from others who were thrilled that we did it. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, this kind of thing is very polarizing – you either love it or you hate it.

Sam loves Christmas and loves to sit in our living room with all the Christmas lights on. The tree is up after the first snowfall. So, yes, ours is up already! There are those who will say we are rushing the season, and they may be right about that. To those people I say, “So what!?”

The holiday season (which includes Thanksgiving and Christmas) is a time for thankfulness and happiness. It is that time of year when we are all a bit kinder to each other. We give a little bit more, we smile a little more, and we love a little more. I have quoted this song before, and I will again. Elvis sings:

“Why can’t every day be like Christmas? Why can’t that feeling go on endlessly? For if every day could be just like Christmas, what a wonderful world this would be!”

Spread the joy! Share a smile! Be kind! Be thankful!

I’m totally ok getting into the holiday spirit a bit early –

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