Gearing Up For The Holidays

I feel like I haven’t really blogged about “life” lately. I kinda feel like I haven’t really even had a minute to sit down and write. Between wacky schedules at work and an even wackier sleep schedule, writing has been a challenge. So here are some highlights from the past couple weeks….

Right after Halloween, Sirius XM radio launched a bunch of their holiday channels and the Christmas music was readily available.

I took advantage of a rare 60 degree November day and put up the outside Christmas lights. I know, I know, people think I am rushing the season. The truth is, I don’t like putting them up in the cold. They have been up for a couple weeks now, and the only time I have turned them on is to make sure they looked ok.

The side porch takes the most lights. I always check the strands before stringing them up to make sure they work. For some reason, one of the strands had a cluster of lights in the middle that didn’t light up. Both ends lit up, but not the ones in the middle. I went through and tested bulbs, but couldn’t find the problem. So I put them up anyway! I just made sure the unlit portion of the lights was covered by lights I knew worked!

We don’t do much to the front porch, though I’d like to. I got razzed about how I didn’t get up and string lights on the roof by some friends. I’ve never been a fan of heights, so, these are the highest my lights will go. Besides, I only have a three step ladder!

Baby Milestone

AJ celebrated being one month old a week or so ago. It is amazing to come home from work and see just how different he looks to me after only one day! He is much more alert and his sister just loves him! He is starting to take notice of a lot of things around him. Recently he discovered the mobile on his swing.

Holiday Tradition

Every year, we take a trip up the Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth (“The World’s Largest Christmas Store”) and get an ornament for the Christmas tree that represents a big event from the past year. Sam and I have one for our engagement, our first Christmas as husband and wife, when Sam was pregnant with Ella, Ella’s first Christmas, and now we needed to go and get one for AJ’s first Christmas.

Obviously, life at our house is pretty crazy with two little ones. We had planned to all go to Bronner’s as a family day trip. AJ was napping and Sam suggested that Ella and I go, since we knew exactly what we wanted. There is an ornament that is exactly like Ella’s except it is blue for a baby boy.

Finding the ornament took all of 5 minutes. The line to get it personalized was long and we stood in line for almost 30 minutes (Thank goodness I had the PBS app on my phone, so Ella didn’t lose her mind waiting!). I had pictures of Ella’s ornament and how they did hers, and we wanted AJ’s to be done the same way. Ella and I walked around a little bit while they worked on the ornament. There are plenty of photo ops throughout the store and outside.

It was close to lunch time, so we snapped a couple pictures, picked up the ornament, and drove home. I hope to be able to take a drive up there one night when the lights are all lit up and grab a couple pictures.

Later that day, I took advantage of nap time and brought the tree up from downstairs. We’ve been trying to decide where to put it this year. We’ve moved everything around in our living room two or three times due to the addition of Ella toys or furniture, so it was unclear where it would go. There is a little nook in our living room where we had moved a lot of her toys, easel, toybox, etc…. We decided to find somewhere else for those things and that the tree should go there.

So, the tree is up and the lights are on it. However, we will decorate it this weekend or next weekend. I did have some help with the lights as I put it up …

…and, of course, little brother had to get into the act …

I’m excited for the holidays this year. Ella is at the perfect age for unwrapping presents! It is going to be a fun holiday season ….

Mom Memory – Ceramics

My brother was decorating for Christmas today and sent me a picture. That picture is the inspiration for this blog. I don’t recall blogging about this specific topic, but if I have, please forgive me.

My mom had many hobbies. I know I have mentioned them in the past. I can always remember her crocheting things as a kid. She made blankets, vests, and yes, even Christmas ornaments. She also was on a fabric paint kick for a while. She made sweatshirts for everyone in our family and friends, too.

Aside from quilting, I believe the longest hobby she did was ceramics. The work she did was amazing. I recall she had a table set up in the basement where she worked. She had one of those desk lamps with the swing arm on them to help her see. I remember it was a bright yellow lamp.

I remember two pieces she did for my grandma. One was a ceramic “praying hands” and another was a bust of Jesus. She did both of these in a “Mother of Pearl” paint and they came out white and shiny. I have no idea what became of them, but its a good bet that one of my aunts have them.

Somewhere I still have a few of the pieces she made for me. I have a snail and frog that sat on a shelf in my room for years. She made mugs, statues, busts, an Easter village, Halloween village and trick or treat bowl for candy, and Christmas ornaments. One year, our tree was loaded with so many of her ceramic ornaments, we had to tie the tree to the wall so it wouldn’t fall over!! My brother and I joked that it was because of the “angel band” ornaments. She must have had 40 ornaments with angels all playing a different instrument (they were hideous!).

She made ornaments for every family. Each one had their last name on it. My brother still has the one that was on our tree. I’m not sure if I lost when I moved in with Sam, but my mom made an ornament with a dog sleeping by the chimney. She painted it to look like our beagle, Daisy. I didn’t see it when I unpacked the ornaments this year, so I am not sure if still have it. I hope so.

One of the things my mom made (and I wish I still had) were ceramic Christmas trees. From what everyone tells me now, these are very popular and the older ones are worth some money. They had a light in the bottom that lit up the lights that were glued into the tree.

My grandma loved these little trees so much, she had my mom make her a large one. It was two pieces. My mom did the tree in the “Mother of Pearl” paint that she used for the pieces she made for my other grandma, and I remember it was just beautiful. My grandma used to put it up in her front window.

If you look closely, you can see where the base and top come together on the tree above. It probably was 3-4 feet tall.

I write all of the above to get to the picture my brother sent me today. I had all but forgotten about these pieces, which came to be symbolic of our Christmas decorations. I don’t recall them having a specific spot among the decorations. As a matter of fact, I believe they moved around from year to year. Sometimes they were on the table in the front room, other times they were on the mantle. Sometimes they were among the buildings of the Christmas village, other times they were in the front window. Mr. & Mrs. Claus were always there.

I don’t know if they were my mom’s favorite pieces, but she always made sure they were displayed prominently somewhere each Christmas. My mom told me that Santa was kissing Mrs. Claus goodbye before heading out to deliver all of his toys.

To be honest, I probably knew my brother had these, but I forgot. Every Christmas, I miss my mom a bit more than the rest of the year. Maybe it is because of the ornaments. Maybe I miss her singing along with Johnny Mathis. Maybe I just miss her smile and laughter. I’m grateful that a bit of mom still shows up at Christmas.

A Wave I Want NO Part Of (and other thoughts)

The Beach Boys sang the surfing hit “Catch a Wave” back in 1963. They were the kings of “surf rock” and their songs had a “happy” sound that made you wanna grab a surf board and head to the beach. Today, when we talk about waves, it has nothing to do with surfing. The wave I don’t want to catch is the second wave of Covid-19!

Covid-19 – Wave #2

Less than a week ago, I blogged about some co-workers and a former co-worker who all contracted Covid-19. The consensus among them all was that it was awful. One said they “wouldn’t wish this on their worst enemy!” The day after I posted that blog, we found our neighbor had it. He informed me today that his wife also has tested positive. One of the symptoms is a loss of taste or smell. He developed something weird – he says that all he can smell is cigarette smoke and that he has a burning in his nose and throat.

Yesterday, I found out the pastor who teaches my classes tested positive for Covid. He was actually in the hospital and was given what the doctor called “The Trump Treatment.” He was released from the hospital and said he was resting in his “man cave” in the basement isolated from his wife. He said that it was very fatiguing. The thing that he said bothered him the most was that his eyes bothered him when he read. For a pastor who loves to read, he found that most annoying. He posted on his Facebook today that his wife has also tested positive for Covid. He joked, “Well, at least we can hold hands again!”

Our Governor had a press conference last night stating that cases were rising again. Some things were shut down again, while some things remain open and will be reevaluated in three weeks. Hospitals are filling up fast and it looks like we are in the middle of the second wave. I am half expecting our lab to shut down again, which will not be good for us. We can’t live off unemployment and I’m not sure I can mentally handle the stress of being in a Labor Pool again!

I pray that we get past this sooner than later.

Our Ella

I can’t end this blog on a sour note, so I thought I’d share a few pictures from the weekend.

My wife comes up with the some of the coolest ideas for pictures. We were putting up the tree and had most of the lights on it. She ran to Ella’s room and grabbed the “First Christmas” blanket, and set her down with a strand of lights. It took a few shots, but this one came out pretty cool. I wish I had the app that lets you keep some color and put some of the picture in black and white. I just love the way that picture came out!

I mentioned last week that we had gone to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth to get Ella’s ornament. It made it on the tree, appropriately right next to the ornament Grandma Rose gave us (the baby shoes) when we mentioned we were having a girl.

Ella loves when we read her books. Sam got some books for free with rewards points and such on Amazon this week, so I read them to her last night before bed. They were still on the couch this morning when Sam came home from work. Sam started reading them to her. Realizing this was a moment I wanted to catch on film, I grabbed my phone and caught this amazing photo –

The book is called “Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada” by Jimmy Fallon. I love those two with all that I am! This picture fills my heart with such joy.

Thanks for reading! Stay Safe!! Avoid the “wave”!

‘Twas a Blog Before Christmas

It feels like I haven’t blogged in forever.  Usually Christmas brings about many topics and many memories to write about and I felt like I had dropped the ball.  However, as I looked back over the last 7 blogs – 6 of the 7 were Christmas related, so I guess I’m not as “Grinchy” as I thought.

It’s been a busy week for me.  Last Monday, we had our company Christmas party.  This year the theme was “Hawaiian Christmas”.  I used to have a Hawaiian shirt, a few actually, but my ex hated them and made me donate them to good will.  I was telling Sam about the theme, and my mother in law told her she had a grass skirt, coconut bra, lei, and Hawaiian hat at her house.  I borrowed them for the party and wore them all – including the coconut bra (it’s always about getting a laugh!).  There’s a story behind it, which many of my coworkers know, but some do not, so I won’t tell it here…but one of our coworkers came dressed as Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s!  This, in itself is hilarious, but factor in that the coworker who did it is female makes it even funnier!!

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One of the highlights of the get together over the past couple years has been the White Elephant gift exchange.  This always reminds me of that Christmas Episode of The Office where everyone has a specific person they are to buy for and then it becomes “Yankee Swap” with everyone getting gifts that were meant for someone else.  One of my favorite episodes of that show.

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With our party, everyone brings a gift.  Everyone choses a number and then gets to pick a gift.  No one unwraps them until the end.  A gift can be stolen three times.  This can be very misleading, as some of the biggest and prettiest gifts are often crap!  Last year, one coworker got a toilet seat and accessories (This year, he got a HUGE can of Bush’s Baked Beans!).  Another got bunny slippers made from tampons.  This year, I found a silly picture of my boss (Amy) from last year’s party.  I blew it up into an 11 x 14 picture and had a caption on it “Who needs an Elf on the Shelf?  You now have Amy in a Framey!”  Lots of laughs … and I wasn’t fired, so that’s good!

For the gift exchange, I got the LAST number!  Really, this is the worst because, all the gifts worth stealing have been stolen three times and not going anywhere!  As they got closer to my number, I kept looking to see what one I might want to steal.  When they finally got to my number, I was handed a gift.  I didn’t get to chose one.  I was like “What the hell?!? What if I didn’t want this one?!”  I was basically told that “this is the gift that you get!” Then, I opened it….

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My sneaky coworkers took up a collection and bought Sam and I stuff for the baby.  The basket included teethers, rattles, onesies, some very cute outfits (one will probably be the “take home” from the hospital outfit), and an Amazon gift card.  They knew we hadn’t received a mattress for the crib, and we are using the card to get one.  It was pretty overwhelming and they are lucky I held it together.  With as emotional as I have been lately, I could have easily cried at the party.  I work with some pretty amazing people!

Ultrasound

We had a coupon for a return visit to the place that did our gender reveal ultrasound.  It does 3D ultrasounds, so we can really see our baby’s face.  I was so excited to go in and see her!  We got there and found out that they had overbooked.  They were going to get us in, it was just going to be a bit.  When we finally got back, Sam got up on the table.  We saw the baby’s face briefly, and did get a picture of her.  We found out, however that the baby is breech.  Frank breech to be exact.  I had no idea that there were a few different “breeches”, but sure enough, there are!

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So, basically, she is sitting in Sam’s pelvis with her legs up in the air.  This made it difficult for them to get more pictures.  They suggested we go walk and see if the baby would move.  We went and had dinner and walked around the store.  When we returned and got back up on the table, it was even harder to get pictures.  We had to reschedule.  We’re going to go back right after the first of the year.  Sam said she hopes that she doesn’t come before then, as she’s starting to have cramping and contractions on occasion.  She isn’t due to arrive until February, so I’d like her to wait a few weeks.  Here is the picture we got to see.  I think she looks like Sam, but she thinks that she has my facial features.  One thing we did get to see was that she has hair.  We could see it floating on the ultrasound.  Pretty cool!  The excitement continues!!!

Ella

I love that we can see her like this!!  It really is amazing!!

Writing Prompt Extras

I get a daily writing prompt in my email.  Many times I don’t feel like there is enough to write about in a full blog.  There were two this week that I felt I could write about, but only as an “extra” to a longer blog, or a blog full of random things (like this one).

Prompt #1

“Besides a family member, what is something that used to be a part of your holiday celebration that is missing today?”

Instant Egg Nog.  Really?!  Yes!  My brother and I recall this vividly!  My grandmother used to buy it in a pouch and make it for us every year.  It was VERY good.  I have looked for it every year, but simply cannot find it.  I recently came across a picture of the pouch and hoped that this would lead me to a website to buy it, but no such luck.

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I have always loved Egg Nog – the non-alcoholic stuff, anyway.  I never even knew that it was supposed to contain alcohol until just recently.  When you go to the store today, you can find various kinds of Egg Nog’s, and I have to admit, I really like the Custard Nog.  It has a very unique flavor to it.  Please let me know if you ever see this instant stuff in a pouch, though!

Prompt #2

“What is the oldest Christmas Ornament on your Christmas Tree?”

I actually mention the ornament in the blog I wrote about Christmas Trees.  When I was a 6 year old boy, I was going to catechism for church.  They gave us all this baby Jesus ornament.  My mom always hung it on the tree, and it eventually went with me when I moved out. The ornament get’s hung every year on the tree.  I remember asking Sam if I could hang it when I moved in.  It really doesn’t fit with any of the ornaments that she has, but she lets me hang it up there every year.  The ornament is 43 years old.  One day, I hope it will get passed down to one of my children, and then one of their children.

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Good Grief

In between working my real job, filling in at the radio station, and working on the baby’s room, I finally got 30 minutes to sit down and watch a Charlie Brown Christmas. It is one of many Christmas specials I have to watch every year.  Every time I hear Sally say, “Will you please write a letter to Santa Claus for me?” I chuckle.  They had to feed so many of the child actors their lines a few words at a time and then piece it together to form a sentence.  You can really hear it in that line.  I love it!

I don’t care how many times I see it, I still love when Linus starts quoting the Bible and tells the Christmas story only to walk over to Charlie Brown and say, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

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One of my favorite Charlie Brown quotes:

“It’s not what’s under the Christmas tree that matters, it’s who’s around it.”

After work tonight, I will go home to sleep.  I am excited because I get to have my sons tomorrow.  Christmas Eve was always when we celebrated with my dad’s family, and it is when I get to celebrate with them.  Christmas Eve morning is our Christmas.  I can’t wait to pass out their presents and celebrate with them.  My grandmother always made ravioli, and I plan on doing the same.  My work schedule has prevented me from seeing them much this month, so I am extra excited to have the day with them.

Because I will be focused on my sons, and my family, I may not get the chance to blog before Christmas.  I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season and that you are surrounded by friends and family.  Whether you are celebrating, Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, or another holiday, I hope that your holiday is full of joy and that you make happy memories!  Thanks for reading!  Merry Christmas!

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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 …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Christmastown”

Friday, October 25 marked the 13th anniversary of my mother’s passing.  My brother came up from Ohio to spend the weekend in Michigan.  We got to see him a couple days, then he met up with his best friend, and then he stopped by and saw my dad.  He arrived in Michigan on the Thursday and spent the night at my house.  Thursday evening, Sam and I took him out to dinner at our favorite steak place.  Dinner was filled with good conversation and laughter.  Friday evening, I had to DJ a preschool Halloween Party, but we had plans for early in the day Friday.

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Growing up, we often visited Frankenmuth, MI.  “Little Bavaria” it is often called.  There is a lot of German Heritage in this town.  My grandmother (mom’s mom) was of German decent and Frankenmuth was a nice day trip.  We would go to the Bavarian Inn and have a chicken dinner.  My great aunt (grandma’s sister) always went to Zender’s across the street.  We travelled there often as kids.  One of my earliest memories was going to Frankenmuth and stopping at this country store and getting a dill pickle.  I also recall one trip where we got there, ate dinner, and walked outside to see it snowing like crazy!  I remember my grandma, grandpa, aunt, mom, dad, me and my brother all crammed into my grandpa’s Buick driving home on Southbound 75 doing about 3 miles an hour!  That was one scary drive!!

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Anyway, Friday, we took my brother to Frankenmuth (which is literally 5-10 minutes from my house now).  The last time he was there, he went with my dad.  I guess they walked around and hit some of the shops, but never went to one in particular – Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland – The World’s Largest Christmas Store.  My dad was never really a fan of that place, so we told Chris that we’d all go together.

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Sam and I go there every year and we buy an ornament for our Christmas tree.  It’s a tradition that she has had for a long time, and we have continued it.  When she bought the house, she bought a “new home” ornament.  When we got engaged, we bought an engagement ornament.  When we got married, we bought a marriage ornament.  This year, we needed to go and get our “baby on the way” ornament.  They will personalize your ornaments, too!  They literally have an ornament for everything!!

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People come from all over the country – and the world – to visit Bronner’s.  There are some very neat pictures of the many celebrities that have stopped in to check it out.  It really is a magical place.  Along with the thousands of ornaments, they have trees, stockings, and Christmas villages.  My mom used to have a village she set up every year, but I am not sure what happened to it.  This year, they had some Halloween villages (one from the Addams Family, one from the Munsters, and one from the Nightmare Before Christmas).  They have many pieces for the various villages, too (Peanuts, a Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, etc…)!  We spent about 3-4 hours walking through.

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They have many Precious Moments figurines, as well as others (like super heroes, Peanuts, Star Wars, Disney, and more).  And if you need a nutcracker – they have plenty!

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It really was a fun time walking through there.  Sam and I enjoy doing it, although this year was a bit rougher on her as she is 24 weeks pregnant!!

After our walk through Bronner’s, we grabbed lunch at one of my favorite places in Frankenmuth – The Frankenmuth Brewery.

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This was where Sam and I had one of our first dates.  We ate outside on the balcony overlooking the river.  I have always been a fan of craft beers and there are some favorites that are brewed here.  The Christmastown Ale is a personal favorite.  This time I chose the Pumpkin Chucker, which was very good, and in season.  It was made from pumpkins from one of the local pumpkin farms.  Great eats, good beer, and good times with family!

(If you plan to visit – be sure to grab some cheese at the Cheese Haus and shop at the River Place shops)

Despite being busy throughout most of the weekend, I am so glad that I was able to get a day with my brother and Sam.  I think what made it extra special was that we spent the day in Frankenmuth.  I have some great childhood memories there, I have had some very fun times with my sons there, Sam and I had our first real date there, AND I asked her to marry me while riding in a horse-drawn carriage there.  It’s a very special place for me.

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