Tis the Season Guest Post: “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

Today’s Tis the Season post comes from a special guest! Join me in welcoming Shannon from If You Captured Your Life in Snapshots, What Would it Look Like?.  She was kind enough to share her favorite holiday traditions.  I love her list and hope you do to!  Thank you so much, Shannon, for contributing!


 

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Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. There’s just something so magical about the season that no matter what part of the world you live in, the goodwill is infectious.

From the moment you spot that first snowflake or that first piece of tinsel, you’re grinning like a kid on Christmas Day. The first Christmas carol in December has you humming under your breath all day and the moment Advent starts, you start begging your mom and favorite aunt to sneak you some sweets. Christmas cheer is all around and you can’t help but pass it on.

For me, the best part of Christmas has always been the traditions. There are those that have been observed in your family for generations (like Midnight Mass or making boxes of sweets to send to your neighbors), those that seem more habit than tradition (like not hanging your decorations until the last weekend of Advent) and then there are those that you decide to adopt for one Christmas.

No matter what traditions you decide to follow, each of those little traditions adds something to the festive magic of the season. Each tradition makes the season infinitely more special and unique to you.

Some of my favorite Christmas traditions are:

  1. Decorating my house on 23rd – That one day when everyone steps out of their bustling lives and gathers together to decide how the house should look
  2. Advent Calendar – This is one tradition my Mom drummed into me when I was younger. Our calendar didn’t just count down the days to Christmas but worked as a Good Deed checklist as well. We got to choose what image we wanted to draw for calendar – stockings, candles, holly etc. If you did a good deed for that day, you got to color that day’s image in. Two good deeds equaled two colors for that day and so on and so forth.
  3. Cuddling up in front of the TV to watch Home Alone 2 – This is one of my Dad’s favorite Christmas movies
  4. Taking a walk around the neighborhood to admire the decorations, the lights, the community cribs etc.
  5. Last minute shopping – Even though I finish my Christmas shopping months before, I love browsing through the shops for last minute small gifts. You never know what treasures you may spot through the bustle 🙂
  6. Getting ready for Midnight Mass – If you have any siblings, you’d probably understand the attraction. There’s something about the craziness of that moment when everyone’s scrambling to get presentable that endears itself to me. It’s a moment for excitement, for confusion, for gossip, for resolutions and for good cheer.
  7. Sleeping under the Christmas tree – This one needs no explanation. There’s nothing better than watching those vibrant hues dance above you as you slowly drift off, comfy cozy under a warm blanket.

What are some of you favorite Christmas traditions?


Tis the Season is an annual holiday-themed series on Keep Your Feet.  The goal is to bring the blogging community together to celebrate holiday memories and traditions.

Weekend Coffee Share: Life is Looking Up

If we were having coffee, it means I’m emerging from another hermit stage.  In all the changes over the past month, I’ve become a recluse, hardly seeing or reaching out to anyone besides my parents.  I’ve definitely been tossing my blogging schedule out the window, but I just didn’t have the will to sit and write.  Plus, I didn’t want my readers to drown in my negative attitude.  So, although I continued writing in private, my posts have been limited.

Thankfully, things are looking up.  I’m here again in the metaphysical coffee shop with you, ready to talk.

If we were having coffee, you’d know that orchard season is finally over!  Yesterday was our last day.  In many ways, it was a wonderful season.  All our records were smashed–we had the biggest crowds, biggest harvest, biggest sales.  My family is really thankful for all the people who came out this year, but oh boy…  We are exhausted.  It’s been a long haul, working six days a week for the past three months.  I’m really looking forward to having normal weekends and a manageable schedule again.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my birthday on Tuesday was an absolute blast.  Although I spent the first half working, I took the afternoon off.  My mom and I went shopping at the Mall of America, where we both spent WAY too much money.  It was good, though.  I got new pants, a sweater, and some really pretty scarves.  We had dinner at a fancy restaurant, where they gave me free cake.  At home, I unwrapped gifts, which included a vintage typewriter!  The ribbon is very faint, so I can’t use it at the moment, but what a perfect gift for a blossoming writer.  I’m excited to put it to good use.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about how my new job as Interim Director of my local Chamber of Commerce is going well and there is an end in sight.  I finally have the day-to-day tasks figured out and the chronic anxiety is ebbing.  We had a Board of Directors meeting last week, where everyone was really kind and encouraging.  Despite feeling under-qualified and constantly stressed, I seem to be doing a good job.

That being said, we’ve been interviewing candidates for the Executive Director position and I think we’ve found the perfect one.  If all goes well in the hiring process, I will pass the torch over to her in December.  Which means there is light at the end of the tunnel on my end!

If we were having coffee, you’d learn a secret: My next big adventure might be just around the corner.  No decisions have been finalized, but I’ve been exploring international possibilities.  If things go well (and people actually return my emails), returning to Europe might be closer than I ever dreamed was possible.  I’ll give more details as plans become solidified.

In the meantime, it feels so good to have a sense of direction again!

Now it’s time to pass things over to you.  What would you share over coffee?

This post is part of a link-up at Part Time Monster

Twenty Three Years and Counting

Twenty three years ago, I entered the world.

I’m torn between feeling very old and very young.  On the one hand, I’m not a student anymore, which means adulthood is here to stay.  On the other, I frequently get mistaken for a high schooler when out in public.  Which is both annoying and flattering.

But hey, twenty three!  Two years past being able to legally drink, two years until I can rent a car.

My brothers were home the other night to celebrate.  We had family dinner, opened gifts, ate cake, and watched Inside Out.  I got a new sweater and scarf, two free passes to my local ski hill, and Howl’s Moving Castle on DVD.

As far as birthdays go, this year isn’t exactly dramatic or exciting.  I mean, last year there was a blizzard.  Two years ago, I was in England.  Today, I’ve got a board meeting and a long slog of office hours.  When work is done, Mom and I are heading to the cities to do something fun, which will keep me going through the bore of work .

I’m excited to not be twenty-two.  It was definitely a tough year, filled with rocky friendship moments, endings, and transitons.  I’m looking forward to a year that is bigger, brighter, and filled with possibilities.

Twenty three years and counting, here I come!

DONE!

IT IS FINISHED.  I AM DONE.  THE SEMESTER IS OVER.

It’s been a fantastic day.  This morning, I spent some time with my friend, Neala, who is going on the Amazing Race (a missions trip where they visit eleven countries in eleven months) in January.  I also got $32 from returning textbooks, which is the most money my school has ever given back to me.  During my library shift, I got chewed out by the new librarian for not watching the color printer closely (which was stupid), but on the plus side one of my classmates brought me a mocha from the campus coffee shop!  (I never buy coffee there ’cause it’s expensive, so it was a real treat.)  I also packed up my bags, which was exciting, and took my last final.

I feel like I should be more sentimental about being halfway through my final year of college… but really, all I want to do is read books for fun, play video games, hang out with my cat, and sleep forever.

Excuse me while I celebrate by packing my car and leaving this tiny town.  Maybe I’ll get Chipotle on the way home.  Life is suddenly full of beautiful possibilities.

I feel like this photo encapsulates all the joy in my heart right now.

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Photo from my friends’ holiday party this past weekend. We did Secret Santa and my friend Kassandra gave me the most beautiful socks in the world.

For those of you still pushing through finals, best of luck!  You can do it!  The end is in sight!

 

Twenty Two

I might as well come right out and say it… today is my birthday.

Slogging through six inches of snow was not how I imagined spending my first day of being twenty-two.  But this is Minnesota, and Minnesota does what it wants.

On this day last year, I was in Oxford, England.  How many people can say they spent their twenty-first birthday in Oxford?  (British people aside, that is.)  It was one of the best days I’ve ever had.  I splurged on shopping, toured some of the colleges, and had my first drink at the Eagle and Child pub.  It was quite the adventure, and you can hear all about it (and see pictures!) on my old study abroad blog.

My twenty-second birthday is definitely not as epic, but still has been incredibly special.  My mom came to visit yesterday.  We drove up the road to Alexandria and went antique shopping, wandered around town, and had a special dinner at an expensive restaurant.  We sat eating for several hours, enjoying each other’s company and opening cards and gifts.  The day ended relaxing in her hotel, where we did some online shopping.

I spent the night in the hotel and had the joy of commuting to campus in five inches of snow.  The local school district cancelled everything today, but the University never closes.  I keep telling myself that God just wanted to drop LOTS of natural confetti to celebrate my special day… it’s a nice thought, but not super effective.

Outside of the normal Monday routine, do I have anything special birthday plans?  Not really.  All my normal Monday night events were cancelled due to the ghastly weather.  So it looks like I’ll be staying in and watching movies with the roommates.  It’ll be nice.  I’ll wear comfy clothes, eating goodies, and avoiding homework because…

I’ll also be rocking out to the following song in my head, even though I absolutely loathe it.  But it’s my birthday.  I’m twenty-two.  I’m going to break all my rules.  (Then go back to loathing it tomorrow.)