Time for the tinsel

Christmas tree

Is there anything lovelier than a home at Christmas?

I love this time of year because, you know, our home has insta-style. And that style is holiday. Decorating is still a somewhat daunting task for me, so our house has many bare walls — but when you truss them up with sparkly garland, evergreens and jolly Santa figurines, you’ve really got something goin’ on.

And oh, it’s going.

I’ll be honest: Christmastime is still a little bittersweet for me. Despite the fact that I am happily married and expecting, part of me longs to be back with my mom, dad and sister doing all our old-timey holiday traditions. Last year? Kind of sad. Not because I wasn’t thrilled to be spending it with Spencer in our own place, our first married Christmas, but because . . . well, because it was different.

Different can be hard.

This December, I’m determined to be perky! and excited! and not stressed!, which has meant getting organized earlier (I have spreadsheets!) and starting to wrap gifts before it becomes an intimidating task that results in lots of gift bags and frustration. Fun fact? I actually love wrapping presents with all the bells and whistles, but I tend to wait too long to complete the task. I don’t want to be freaking out on Christmas Eve, you know?

Not. Doing. It.

You know how, when you’re a kid, the holidays are a theatrical production put on by Santa, elves and your parents — an event in which you’re simply expected to delight in the fruits of others’ labor and absolutely nothing is expected of you?

Adulthood is . . . not like that.

At nearly 30, I should have accepted that responsibility was coming down the pipeline. Speaking of which, I think hosting our first Thanksgiving was a resounding success. Did I panic a little at the thought of arriving at our house for the annual feast? Sure. Yes. Absolutely. But I had tons of help, Spence made the turkey and ham, my mother-in-law was an excellent help in the kitchen — and ultimately, our family chipped in big time . . . just as they always do. It was a grand time.

But now it’s the holidays and Christmas is shaking its sparkly stick at me, demanding attention. The pressure to contribute to the family holiday, come up with amazing gift ideas and somehow manage to spend time with everyone in a meaningful way is . . . difficult. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, friends; this is something we all coordinate, something we must all work out for ourselves.

And I’m getting there.

Our calendar is brimming with fun, festive events in the next three weeks (!!) — and even though I have plenty of shopping and scheming left to complete by December 25, I know that’s not what Christmas is really about.

It’s laughs and meals with family.
Crunchy sugar cookies.
“Charlie Brown” and hearing the angels sing.
Cinnamon rolls in pajamas.
Fat stacks of colorful cards in the mailbox.

And so much more. So, so much more.

As this is our last holiday without a little one, too, I’m determined to make it a happy and memorable one for our family of two. More than anything? I just want to adorn it all with sparkly tinsel, sip hot chocolate and watch cheesy Hallmark movies. You know the ones.

And I’m going to get there.

Extra cinnamon rolls may be necessary . . . but I’ve made my peace with it.

A sticky, delicious, gooey peace.


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Beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Christmas tree


Though I’ve been listening to my Michael Bublé holiday station on Pandora since before Thanksgiving (shh), I’m just now getting into the Christmas spirit. Eh, I guess it’s just been a little whacky around here lately.

And now I look up to discover the holidays are upon us. With our nuptials no longer zapping every ounce of energy from my body, I’m finally open to drinking hot chocolate, digging out beloved Christmas ornaments, lighting evergreen-scented candles and generally basking in the warm glow that is our first holiday season as a married couple. As we put up our Christmas tree on Saturday, I was reminded of all the milestones we have yet to reach — and how exciting it is to be doing these things together.

The holidays have always been celebrated loudly — and proudly — in my family. We put on Hanson’s “Snowed In” as we throw tinsel and set up the Christmas village, lining shelves with artificial snow and hanging our stockings with care. I have such fond memories of Christmas a kid, especially the prep work, and I wanted to extend those traditions to the home I now share with Spence . . . which meant finding my favorite ornaments for our tree.

Though I kept many special ones with my parents, a few bearing personal significance made it to the new digs — including my pink Power Ranger circa 1994, many cupcakes and the wooden cable car Spencer and I picked up in San Francisco on our first big trip together last year. As my mom and dad honeymooned in California on their honeymoon and picked up a very similar ornament in the ’80s, I almost fell over when I saw this little gem at the Cable Car Museum two summers ago.

It seemed like destiny. I had to have it.


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Our cable car, 2012

Mom and Dad's ornament

Mom and Dad’s cable car, 1980


Given how much we like to travel, it’s no surprise that many ornaments come from past vacations — especially London. I have a slew of English ornaments I purchased abroad or bought when I got home to bring back happy memories. And they definitely do . . . like my William and Kate wedding ornament! I picked it up at the Buckingham Palace gift shop (otherwise known as my happy place) in 2011.


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Since we don’t have the biggest tree in the world, we had to be selective with what we hung from our noble branches this year. We tried to include a healthy mix of Spencer’s childhood classics, including some porcelain Grinch ornaments, as well as newer additions commemorating our marriage. We made as much as space as we could — especially my favorites from childhood.

I’m big on continuity — and tradition. Keeping old ones, making new ones . . .

And drinking hot chocolate all the while.


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Beginning to look like Christmas… at work!

Kelly and I — our office’s “spirit elves,” if you will — had some helping dragging all of the Christmas decorations down from the recesses of our building last week. It took a few hours of slave labor but — hey! — our holiday tree is up! And it looks pretty nice, if I may say so. I have several scratches up and down my arms from wrestling with our lovely faux tree, but I’ll wearing them proudly as battle scars.

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And we have an adorable snowman guy here too,
complete with Buffalo snow
(or pillow stuffing, call it what you will):

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And, because I’m such a serious lover of all things pink, I present to you my infamous Bright Pink Christmas Tree:

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Thanksgiving weekend wrap-up

Although it’s still hard for me to process, Thanksgiving has come and gone — but it was great! As always, my family outdid themselves. I always wish I could have a fraction of that delicious food for later in the week, but somehow the magic isn’t quite the same after the holiday! We did have plenty of leftover potatoes, ham and turkey, though. And pumpkin pie, of course. My sister brought home an entire dessert from her boyfriend’s great family! In fact, that reminds me . . . I think there may be some left . . .

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Black Friday turned out to be pretty low-key at the store — I got in, cleaned up a bunch of stuff and headed on home.The bookstore wasn’t very busy at all, quite a contrast to years past. I know all retailers are afraid of what this holiday season will (or won’t) bring, and from what I could tell the shopping situation is pretty bleak. It didn’t feel like a major shopping day at all. Bad for the store, but good for me — I didn’t have to deal with many irritable customers. I did have a minor incident in the Kids department, but nothing to rank in my Top 10 Worst Customer stories!

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