Tis the Season: Light Amid Darkness

In past Tis the Seasons, I’ve shared many, many holiday stories: family traditions, interesting historical tidbits, heartfelt sentiments, favorite songs, and so on.  When faced with writing a post this year, though, writers block hit and it hit HARD.  I had lots of ideas, from sharing new memories to fleshing out older stories, but every time I sat down to write, I ended up staring at a blank page.  The words just wouldn’t come.

Then, I got thinking about what my friend Rachel said in her post earlier this week about Christmas being a time of light in the darkness and hope when all feels lost.  The more I thought about it, the more it felt right.  Light in the darkness… what a timely message.

We live in days of darkness, days of sorrow, days of pain, days of disappointment.  It’s been a rough year for so many both here in America and abroad.  We live in days of horrific war, days of the displacement and death of innocents, days of bombs and destruction.  We live in days of intolerance, of cruelty, of fear.  We live in days where people are massacred and ostracized for their beliefs, for their cultural heritage, for their orientation, and for their gender.  We live in days of doubt and days of deep insecurity where truth and trust cease to exist. Continue reading

Tis the Season: A Holiday Story by Corina Carrasco

Today’s Tis the Season post is a short story by Corina Carrasco from at Wasted Days And Wasted Nights.


She was working late on Christmas Eve and again all day on Christmas Day. It was the third year that she had no family to keep her away from work and so she had volunteered to take the shifts that no one wanted so that others could be with their families. She considered it a gift to both her co-workers and herself. Her co-workers could stay home and celebrate their traditions with their families. She could spend the time at work and be distracted from the fact that she had nowhere else to be.

In previous years, she would not have missed family Christmas. She would not have given up the spirit of family being together, laughing and loving, even teasing and rolling their eyes at the words coming from the black sheep. She loved being with everyone else, in a house too full for stretching out one’s elbows but full enough to lock the warmth, both outer and inner, inside each person.

Christmas Eve wasn’t bad. A lot of people came into the coffee shop to relax after getting the last of their errands finished. Feeling accomplished, they would sit and enjoy that venti hot drink before moving on. There were smiles and holiday wishes. Other people would pop in to get that last minute Christmas gift that they had forgotten, or the one they would have on hand in case they needed one more gift. She sold a lot of gift cards that night and by closing time, she had all but forgotten that she was closing up alone and that she’d go back to her empty house to put on Christmas carols and have a cup of hot chocolate so she could sleep well and pop back into work at seven o’clock the next morning. It would be busy even though it was a holiday. She wouldn’t let her mind wander to the past. That was all over. Continue reading

Tis the Season: A Thailand Christmas and a New Holiday Perspective

Today’s Tis the Season post comes from Britta of  It’s a Britta Bottle!


A Thailand Christmas and a New Holiday Perspective

One of my absolute favorite Christmas memories is a relatively recent one, in what some might see as a most unconventional location.

The Setting: A shopping mall, Bangkok, Thailand

The Event: Christmas Ice Skating

The Players: A group of Western English teachers

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A visual image of the scenario

Christmas in Thailand! Say what! Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share 12/17/16

If we were having coffee, we’d be meeting in the library.  To be specific, you’d be leaning against the “check-out” area of the circulation desk holding a mug and I’d be perched on a desk chair on the other side.  Yes, I’m at work.  Saturdays are pretty quiet and we just got another big snow last night (more on that later), so we should be able to have a good chat.

It’s been a long week.  Although the daily door counter tells me otherwise, work has felt extremely slow and it’s been exhausting.  I have a lot on my plate right now that needs to get done outside of work, but when I finally get home, I practically collapse on my bed and go to right to sleep. Continue reading

Calling Holiday Guest Bloggers!

It’s that time of year again!  Although the retail world has been celebrating Christmas for a month already, the arrival of December means that the holidays are just around the corner.

This year, I’m excited to announce the return of what is becoming one of my favorite holiday traditions: Tis the Season.

Every year on my blog, I do a week-long series in the days leading up to Christmas.  In it, I share family traditions, stories, favorite songs, and discuss what the holidays mean to me.  I did most of the writing in year one and, last year, I was joined by some wonderful guest bloggers.

This will be year three of Tis the Season and I am really looking forward to what the series has in store.

I would like to invite you, reader, to join me!  This time of year is all about togetherness, so what better way to celebrate than by bringing in guest bloggers?

Tis the Season this year will go from December 19-25.  My vision for the series is to have a post for each day.  Ideally, I will write one post and guests (yes, you!) will write the others.  If interest is high, I am all for making the series longer or putting up mulitple posts in one day.

It’s really easy to get involved!  All you have to do is send me an email or leave a comment on this post.  Then, it’s up to you to write your guest post.  Possibilities are limitless, but keep it holiday-themed.  I’ve got a list of prompts/ideas at the end of this post to help get your brain churning.

 

Please email me your post with a link to your blog by December 15.  This leaves me plenty of time to organize and format everything.  If you want any photos included, send those along as well.  Send emails to keepyourfeetblog@gmail.com.  I’ll include a link to your blog and any other social media in the final post, so if you’re looking to get your site out there, this is a great opportunity!

Post Ideas:

  • What holiday do you celebrate?
  • What does the holiday season mean to you?
  • What are some of your favorite holiday memories?
  • What are your favorite holiday traditions?
  • What are your favorite holiday songs, movies, etc.?
  • What is the best gift you’ve ever given/received?

I’m so excited to see what you all come up with and share the holiday season with you!

Tis the Season: No Matter What Comes, Christmas is Still Christmas

Christmas Eve is usually my favorite day of the year, but we’re running a bit low on holiday cheer in my house.  Over the past few days, my family has been thrown one curveball after another–from our power going out to my grandpa ending up in the hospital.

Initially, I had something VERY different planned for today’s Tis the Season.  This wasn’t a post I expected, but it needed to be written.

I’ll start with Grandpa.  Early on Monday, he checked himself into the Emergency Room with pain in his abdomen.  He thought it was food poisoning.  It turned out to be much worse.  On Tuesday, he had emergency surgery.  Removing a gallbladder is usually a short procedure (or so I’ve been told), but Grandpa’s took hours.  The surgery didn’t go well at all–due to a poor diet, his gallbladder was completely dead.  Taking it out set off several complications.

The thing about Grandpa is that it’s very hard for him to give up control.  I love him very much, but he can be domineering at times.  He likes his independence.  When I visited him on Monday, he looked exhausted from the pain and irritable for not being able to do things on his own.  He doesn’t like to be a burden to others.  The fact that various extended family have driven hours to help care for him makes him feel guilty.  Of course, post-surgery, I don’t know how lucid he is.  Mom’s been there every day and says he looks awful.

Because of this, Christmas plans have been shuffled around quite a bit.  We haven’t watched our normal movies or made our holiday yum-yums.  Mom hasn’t even wrapped presents yet.

On to the power outage.  Yesterday brought a mix of rain, sleet, and snow, resulting in hazardous driving conditions.  As I headed home from work, I noticed a car in the ditch.  Its hood had been completely ripped off and little bits of mechanical parts littered the ditch.  It turns out, the car ran straight into an electrical pole, tearing the power line in several places.

So… no electricity, no running water, no wifi.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal.  However, my brother and I planned on catching up on holiday baking.  It’s hard to bake cookies without a working oven.  Also, I hadn’t eaten lunch and couldn’t open the refrigerator, lest I let all the cold out.

We solved the no-power problem by taking our supplies to Grandpa’s now-vacant house and using his kitchen under the supervision of our sassy Southern aunt.

Things aren’t all bad, though.  My family still made it to church last night and then went to see the new Star Wars.  The power is on again, so we’re able to watch Christmas movies and decorate all the cookies we baked.  We’re still having steak dinner, followed by opening gifts around the Christmas tree.

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns.  I often idealize the holiday season as a never-changing remnant of my childhood, but it’s so much more than that.  Traditions may fall by the wayside and plans may be changed last minute, but Christmas is still Christmas.  My family is still here and there are still a thousand reasons to be thankful.

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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: It’s Almost Christmas!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how excited I am for Christmas!  This time of year is always incredibly busy with holidays and family commitments, but I couldn’t be happier.  I’ve got a lot coming up over the next few weeks–Christmas, attending a conference in St. Louis, and getting ready to head to England.  To be honest, I’m having a hard time focusing because there are so many big events in a row.

If we were having coffee, you’d know that I’ve spent the majority of my day preparing for my annual holiday series here on the blog!  Tis the Season started last year and I had so much fun with it that I decided to give it another go.  The holidays are all about coming together, and what better way to come together than host guest bloggers and share traditions?  I have a couple of really wonderful guest posts lined up, as well as a few of my own.  Stop by each day this week for a new post starting TOMORROW!

If we were having coffee, you’d know that I only have three days left of my job!  I’ve been working as the Interim Executive Director of my local Chamber of Commerce since October.  Although I really don’t enjoy the job much, I’ve been trying to maintain a positive attitude.  It’s been a great learning experience for me.  We hired a new Executive Director a few weeks ago, but she isn’t starting full time until January 4.  I’m currently working on training her and setting things up for a smooth transition.  I absolutely can’t wait to be done working there, but I’m thankful to have been able to work right until Christmas.

If we were having coffee, I’d let you know that I am not seeing the new Star Wars until Wednesday.  So no spoilers!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that in exactly a week from now, I’ll be in a minivan bound for St. Louis, Missouri .  I will be attending Urbana, the largest student missions conference in the world.  I’m interested in pursuing Christian ministry/missions as a career, so this conference is a great opportunity to learn more about the field and network.  It only happens every three years, so I’m thankful to catch it.  There will be over 16,000 people attending!  It’s going to be a powerful week.  I know many people who have attended this conference in the past and have told me that it’s life-changing.

If we were having coffee, I’d inquire about your plans for the holidays.  Are you traveling?  Do you have any special family plans?  Is there anything big on your Christmas list this year?  Tell me all about it in the comments and stay tuned for Tis the Season posts throughout the week.

P.S. Enjoy this Christmassy photo I took with my cat, Paco, whom I love dearly.

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Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is like the middle child of holidays.  It lives between Halloween and Christmas, not as flashy as its spooky elder and doesn’t make as much money as its younger.  People enjoy it when it comes, but don’t seem to remember it exists.  When they do, it’s only significant because it comes right before the biggest shopping day of the year.  One cell phone provider’s tagline for their sales this year is “Thanks-getting”.  Which, honestly, pisses me off.

Despite the fact that Thanksgiving is based on a mythic story of Native Americans and their soon-to-be white oppressors coming together over turkey and corn, I actually really enjoy this holiday.

To me, Thanksgiving isn’t a stepping stone on the way to Christmas.  It’s not a precursor to Black Friday, although I do enjoy shopping.  It’s a day to gather with the people you love and reflect on all the things you’re thankful for.

This year, my family is spending the holiday at my great aunt and uncle’s house in the cities.  We usually spend it with my entire extended family and I’m really excited for something more low-key.  We also don’t have to cook, which is amazing.

So, dear readers, time for a list.  This year, I am thankful for:

  • The opportunity to live and work at home for the past six months, which has enabled me to spend lots of time with my family.
  • My job.  I know that I complain about it a lot, but having a job is better than unemployment.
  • All my friends, near and far.
  • Being done with college, which means I have a lifetime of pleasure reading that I’m still giddy about.
  • My cats.  Because it’s gotten cold, they’ve all been super cuddly lately, which I love.
  • Direction.  Even if it’s only until the end of March, I love knowing where I’m going to be.
  • The fact that I’m going back to England in a little over a month.
  • This blog and all the lovely people who read it (including you!)

What are some of the things you’re thankful for?

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I found this Thanksgiving theme photo on Google and kind of fell in love with it’s awkwardness

Tis the Season Day 6: Be Still

I’ll let you in on a secret, readers.  This Christmas series has been exhausting.  After school ended, I thought life would settle down.  I thought things would be smooth.  And I thought a week-long blogging Christmas blitz was a fantastic idea.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved writing the Tis the Season posts every day.  It’s been a big challenge, planning and writing what I hope have been fun, insightful themed posts every day.  I definitely feel like I accomplished something that I’m incredibly proud of.  But, outside the world of blogging and Christmas, the world goes on.

In the past week, I finished my semester, had my wisdom teeth removed, attended a terribly awkward family gathering, and spent two days traipsing around Duluth, MN in the rain.  I’ve had one day of true vacation, three days of mouth pain in pajama land on the couch, a day of socializing with people I really don’t care about, and two days on the road.  It’s been fun, don’t get me wrong.  But boy… blogging on top of all of this has me plumb worn out.

So, in the spirit of the holiday season, I encourage you to take some time in rest.  As crazy as the past week has been, I find myself in these little quiet moments reflecting on all the blessings in my life.  There is so much to be thankful for.  So today, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I encourage you to take a minute to be still.

Also, the Oh Hello’s “Family Christmas Album” is one of the most spectacular holiday arrangements I have ever listened to.  Get comfortable, press play, close your eyes, and let the music flood over you.

Tis the Season Day 5: A Shift in Focus (Guest Post by Britta!)

Welcome to Day 5 of Tis the Season!  Today, I’m honored to feature a guest post by the wonderful Britta of What’s Past is Prologue!  Although I don’t know her very well, I’m over-the-moon in love with her blog and so pleased to have her contribute to my Christmas series.  If you’re looking for new blogs to read, definitely stop by her blog!  Here comes the post…

Christmas 2014: A Shift in Focus

Hello there, everyone! In case you don’t know, I’m Britta; Amelia and I go to the same little college out on the prairie together. When I started up my blog a short while ago, she was one of my first followers and I always look forward to her own posts. So, it’s my pleasure to be contributing to Keep Your Feet’s “Tis the Seasons” series.

The holidays have always been a magical time for me. I love the traditions, being able to spend time with family, the overall cheer. I love how we are able to take the darkest time of the year and give so much beauty and light to it. There is something so undeniably special and comforting about that.

Despite all this, despite my love for the holiday season, I have to admit—I’m not feeling the holiday spirit at all this year. Last year at this time, I was so excited for Christmas I could hardly stand it. I listened to Christmas music non-stop in the days leading up to the end of fall semester. It was without a doubt my study music of choice pretty much every day. I looked forward to seeing family, to continuing the long lasting Christmas traditions we have, to having time off from school and basking in all the holiday cheer.

This year though? Not so. For some reason, my holiday cheer has been increasingly lacking in a way I can’t even really properly describe. I’ve been listening to Christmas music on and off, though certainly not with the same zeal that came with last year’s holiday season. The Christmas tree at home with all the presents underneath it is certainly beautiful, but it doesn’t conjure up the same feelings of excitement that it used to give me in the past. Today my mom and I made Christmas cookies—okay, well, truthfully she did all of the baking and I just helped with decorations and such. Usually, I am over the moon to contribute to this time-honored tradition—today? I couldn’t have been less excited. Even decorating the tree—one of my absolute favorite traditions—wasn’t as fun this year. This year, all these traditions that I usually love so much just seem more like chores to me than anything else.

Hold it, hold it! What kind of addition to “Tis the Season” is this? This is supposed to be all about the beauty and joy of the holiday season and you claim to be lacking all of that right now! What the heck?

Yes, you may be asking these questions right about now. In fact, I completely understand if you are. This certainly wasn’t the post I set out to write when I initially told Amelia I was interested in writing a guest post. I realized yesterday while I was trying to write that initial post that, while it probably would have been cheery, bright, and funny, it wouldn’t have been in line with my current feelings; my initial post idea would have felt cheap and dishonest.

To appease any uncertainties that might be had with this, I promise that I’m about to get to what I hope will be a meaningful point here, so just bear with me.

I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I’m being a Scrooge this year. It’s not that I’m not thankful for this holiday season. I really, truly do love all the joy and happiness that the holidays bring with them. The fact that Christmas comes around every year is quite comforting, really. It’s not that I hate Christmas or am dreading in it anyway; that is not the case at all. More so, I’m just filled with less excitement than I usually am.  During my busy semester that just wrapped up, I blamed my lack of excitement on my stress and exhaustion; however, I don’t think that’s what’s really going on.

You know what I think? I think I’m growing up.

Okay, that might sound cheesy, but it’s true. 2015 will be a year of big transitions for me as I graduate from college and move out into the real world. I think a lot of my disinterest in Christmas this year is simply coming from the fact that I’m more concerned with what’s ahead; my priorities have shifted as I look for meaning in myself and in my future. An appreciation for the time honored traditions that I love so much have been dampened with this shift in focus.

Despite my lack of excitement, I still want to make the most of this Christmas season. The traditions I usually love so much aren’t what’s most important, anyways. More so, I want to make sure I spend this holiday season the right way with the people who matter most. I want to let those people know how much they mean to me. To me, the holidays are really about  with family and friends, appreciating each other, and making special and long-lasting memories. They are about looking back on the year and being thankful for all the good times, for looking ahead with hope to the New Year.

There is so much beauty in this time of year; I am still very much aware of that and I am very thankful for that. A lack of holiday cheer doesn’t necessarily mean this holiday season will be any less enjoyable for me; it just means I’ll have to approach it differently.

Different can be good. I’m going to try to make the most of that.