Dear Santa …

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Dear Santa,

I write you a letter every year, even though I’m all grown up. This year was full of challenges, but through it all I am thankful to be surrounded by the warmth of family and friends. I wish had words strong enough to say how much it meant to feel supported and loved when everything seemed to be falling apart. Things are better than they were six months ago and slowly that painful weight of worry and stress is starting to lift. For this reason, my list for Christmas is more gratitude than want.

We miss Grandma, but like she promised she is still with us. Just yesterday, I thought of her while wrapping presents. A ribbon she put on my gift a couple of years ago managed to find it’s way onto a gift I was wrapping for my mother-in-law. Then, while making cookies, I found myself using her mixing bowl and spoon. Her ornaments are on my Christmas tree and her love can be felt wherever I go.

Recently, my furkids both got pretty sick and gave me quite a scare. I remember thinking and wishing for one simple thing – another Christmas with both of them. I like to think you were listening and decided I was a good enough girl to get my wish. Both of my boys are happy, healthy and will be with us on Christmas Day. One wears a scar and the other is slow with age, but their tails are still wagging. Honestly, I consider this the best Christmas gift ever. Thank you.

With Christmas Eve upon us, we are having a family get-together. We didn’t have one last year, because it just didn’t feel right after losing Grandma just two weeks before. This year, however, she is here in spirit and we are ready to celebrate. Here are a few shout-outs to those I hold dear:

  • Husband – We made it through quite a storm, didn’t we? You’re an amazing person and I wish you’d believe that more often. I’m looking forward to your Shepherd’s Pie this year.
  • Mom – You’re probably going to feed my dogs people food when you think I’m not looking. Just remember the little one has no teeth. 😉 And, I think you are an incredible person.
  • Sister – I bought the Christmas pickle gift just for you, so you better find the pickle! On a serious note, I don’t know what I’d do without you.
  • Dan – Try not to smirk at the sections of my DVD shelf that are not alphabetized. I’ve been busy. And the bookshelf is a mess, too. I like it that way.
  • Grandpa – I hope you like our new, comfy couch. I’m so glad you’re coming to celebrate Christmas with us, even though you’d rather be alone.
  • Grandma – We know you’re here and playing Bingo even though we can’t see you.
  • Dad and Sophie – Christmas just isn’t complete without you here. One day, perhaps, we can all celebrate together.
  • Jan and Jerry – You give us more than we deserve and I am so thankful for all your help.
  • Mike – You make my sister so happy, and I can’t thank you enough for that.
  • Baxter – I’ll make sure you get your meds before the party so you can play all night.
  • Winston – I’m making you wear the ugliest sweater ever, but know it will make your mother very happy.
  • Peanut and Bunny – Can you guys get along for just one night? No fighting.

Santa, this year Christmas is all about my home and the people in it. You don’t have to bring a thing. I’m good.

c.b.

p.s. Okay, so maybe a Pink and Pretty Barbie would be pretty cool. I’m still hoping! 😉

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c.b.w. 2013

Hop and Seek

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Hmmm . . . where are my little bunnies hiding?

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There’s no bunny in here, but this looks yummy!

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Oh! Look who I found!

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No bunny in this one, but these are pretty.

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There you are!

Pssst . . . who gets the chocolate?

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“Hoppy” Easter!

May your Easter be full of joy and surprises.

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Yeah, I’m a dork.  I had entirely too much fun making these little bunnies!

c.b. 2012

The Bells Have Spoken

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At precisely 6:45 p.m. on November 12, 2011, the Christmas season officially arrived in my home. I heard the Hershey kisses bells ring in the season with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and I broke out into a huge grin. I love this commercial!! It’s so cute!  I look forward to it every year and I fully intend on seeing it at least fifty times before Christmas actually comes.

The timing couldn’t have been better.  Earlier that day, I did my first round of Christmas shopping. I’m keeping things pretty simple this year as I do most years.  I love the holidays, but hate the hoopla so I tend to buy a few small gifts for those I love.  Like most things in my life, the gifts I give have to mean something or it feels like a lost cause.  I’d rather spend $10 on a gift that speaks personally to someone than spend $100 on something that will be obsolete in five minutes.

My husband and I always host the family Christmas party at our house on Christmas Eve.  After the bells sang, we started planning the games and food.  It’s tradition to play Christmas Bingo combined with a gift swap, open Christmas poppers, and hide the Christmas pickle, but this year we decided to add holiday Mad Libs.  For food, I’m going to make fudge and Hershey kisses peanut butter blossoms (of course!) and my husband is going to make a couple batches of Shepherd’s pie for everyone.  He’s been perfecting his recipe all year! It’s far from a traditional feast, but we like to break the rules.

Starting next week, the Christmas playlist on my iPod is going to get overhauled with new music. Yes, I’m one of those people that loves Christmas music, but I am careful not to annoy other people with it.  Ah, the miracle of personal music players! I can’t wait for Burl Ives, Josh Groban, and Narada to wrap me in holiday bliss.

I don’t need a mall, sales, or shiny wrapping paper to get me in the mood.  Just some ringing chocolate bells and the warmth of the season fills me with cheer.

When do you embrace the holidays?  (Or are you a Grinch?  That’s okay, too!)

c.b. 2011

Hallowed History

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Halloween has never been a favorite of mine, but I am fascinated by the history of this quirky holiday.  While I may not dress up in costume or scare myself with horror movies, I can’t help but celebrate with some fun facts about the origins of Halloween.

The origins of Halloween can be traced back more than 2,000 years to the Celtic festival of Samhain. They celebrated the new year on November 1st, a day associated with the end of summer and the beginning of the cold, dark winter.  This time of year was associated with human death because the Celts believed that on the night before the new year the boundary between the dead and the living became a little blurry. In other words, the ghosts of the dead came to visit on October 31st.

Boo!

The idea of costumes originated with the Druids who dressed up in animal skins and told each other fortunes while a bonfire raged.  Later, costumes and masks were worn to scare off ghosts or avoid being recognized by dead sprits. To keep these spirits from entering the home, food and wine would be left on the front doorstep. In addition, carved turnips or gourds were illuminated as a means to ward off evil spirits, which eventually evolved into the tradition of carving pumpkins.

By 43 A.D. the Romans conquered most of the Celts and therefore Samhain was combined with Roman festivals. Feralia was a day in late October when the Romans commemorated the passing of the dead, while another day honored the goddess Pomona.  The symbol of Pomona was an apple, which might explain how the tradition of bobbing for apples began.

In the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV declared November 1st as All Saints’ Day to honor all saints and martyrs.  Over time the holiday became known as All-hallows (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before, Samhain became known as All-hallow’s Eve.

In 1000 A.D. All Soul’s Day on November 2 became a day to honor the dead.  With this holiday, the trio of All-hallows Eve, All Saints’ and All Souls became known as the Hallowmas and they were celebrated with bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes.

Trick-or-treating most likely started in England during All Souls’ Day parades where poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes.”  These were given in exchange for a promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives.  The practice was known as “going-a-souling” and was eventually taken up by children who would visit homes in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.  The church encouraged this as a means to replace the pagan practice of leaving food outside the door.

Over the course of the 20th century, these origins slowly transformed into modern celebrations of parties, festivals, costumes, haunted houses, and candy.  While the original meaning has been lost, the traditions remain alive and well.  Even though I’m not a fan of anything spooky, I do love the candy.

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On an unrelated note, this is my 100th post!  Yay!

c.b. 2011