My Favorite Christmas Posts

From the very first year I started blogging, even from when I was on Mindsay, here are links to my favorite blog posts I’ve ever written.

Stories:

Santa…an EOE (first Christmas-themed post I’ve ever written!)

Partridge in a Pear Tree (I had actually forgotten I ever did this!)

Stupidity of Youth (Probably the funniest holiday shopping story I’ve experienced)

Christmas Spirit (Written about the beautiful ways children think)

Christmas Spirit (Written in the same calendar year as the one above, about mostly the same subject, but two completely different stories, titled the same…by accident!)

Photos:

Christmas 2012

Mom and Simon

Christmas 2010

Arionna’s 1st Christmas

Simon and Arionna

Home

Lists:

Holiday Love List

Favorite Books

Favorite Movies

Favorite Songs

Happy Christmas Eve!

My Favorite Christmas Books

Books are a core part of my life, that’s fairly obvious to anyone paying attention. Each year, around the holidays, I have a small selection of reading that I do, simply because it makes me happy. It recalls the scent of the Christmas tree, the twinkling of the lights. It tickles the memories of childhood, racing to the tree to see what Santa has left. As an adult, these memories are even more precious to me and that is why I read these items, year after year. Full disclosure, I do not read each of them every year, but most of them, most every year.

Here are my favorite holiday reads.

1. The Autobiography of Santa Claus. As told to Jeff Guinn. Without question, my favorite thing to read at the holidays. I tend to read this annually, but it was packed in boxes until last January, so the last two Christmases, it did not get read. It did this year and I was, once again, amazed at how perfect this book is. Also, it has 24 chapters, meant to be read, one per night, from December 1 to Christmas Day. Would make a terrific read aloud for older kids (maybe 8 and above?).

2. Home Again. Kristin Hannah. I first read this book the year it was published, 1996. Even back then, I was a sucker for a holiday romance. Boy did Ms. Hannah fool me. While it is romantic and lovely, this book is so much more. I will admit I have not read it every year since, but I’ve easily read it 15 times…so most years.

3. A Visit from St. Nicholas. Clement C. Moore. Every year, without fail. Honestly, I can almost do the entire poem from memory. It’s one of the most recognizable Christmas poems in the world. Most of you know it by its first line, ‘Twas the night before Christmas…

4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Dr. Seuss. Who doesn’t know, and love, this story? The Grinch’s heart growing three sizes, Miss Cindy Lou Who, it is timeless. The movies are fine, but the prose of Dr. Seuss makes this a better read than a movie.

5. A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. Another one that most people know from the movies. Have you actually read the original story? I’ve read it many times. I’m not a huge fan of Dickens, nor his writing, but I will admit that his style perfectly suits this classic story. It is almost chilling to read the original words and makes you think about the meaning; it is much deeper and darker than it is portrayed in film.

6. Twelve Days. Teresa Hill. Remember how I said I am a sucker for a holiday romance story? I love hitting bookstores and buying new ones each year. This was one I bought, brand new, when it came out in 2000. I’ve read it almost every year since. This year, I just found out, she released follow up novels for each of the children in the book. I’m so excited to read them. It’s not a traditional romance, but it is a traditional sappy holiday story.

7. How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas. As told to Jeff Guinn. This is the sequel to the original book. I like this one, but not as much. It’s still charming and delightful, like the original, and the second perspective is great. But, if you read them you’ll understand that while good, it is not quite as good as Santa’s story.

8. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Barbara Robinson. To be honest, I had never read this story until I took Clayton to see the play, two years ago. I bought the book and read it and found it delightful. I read it again last year and plan to read it again this year.

9. Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy. Debbie Macomber. This book is hard to find these days. You can get a hardcover version on Amazon, but that’s about it. I read it when it first came out (1999) and loved these quirky angels spreading holiday cheer. They are now featured in several holiday stories by this author. Always delightful and funny and sweet and nostalgic.

10. Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. Francis Pharcellus. This one is a bit of a cheat because it isn’t a book or a poem. It is, instead, an editorial response to a letter written to the newspaper by an 8-year-old girl. It was written and originally published in 1897, but the response holds as true today as it was then. The paper no longer exists, but it’s available online in tons of places. That link will take you to it. If you have never read it, take 5 minutes and go do it now. It is just the very perfect answer. I actually wrote about this once before, on my old blog. If you’d rather, you can read that post.

And there you have it, my ten favorite holiday reads. Are you surprised there are so many? I read dozens of holiday specific things each year, but these are my enduring favorites. If you haven’t, I strongly encourage you to try #1, I just love that book so very much.

Stay tuned for movies!

Holiday Love List

There are so many things I love about the holiday season, it is almost hard to decide what to talk about. Aside from snow (I LOVE when it snows in December) and the new virtual snowfall I’ve been obsessed with, here are some of my favorite (random) loves.

1. Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash

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They ONLY sell this seasonally, I do not know why. It is crisp, delicious, refreshing and full of flavor. (Do I sound like I work for them? I don’t, and don’t need to, this baby sells itself.) At any rate, I look forward to this each year. I saw it for the first time at 8 pm last night. By noon today, I’d pounded 2 20 oz. bottles. It’s an addiction.

2. My color changing snowman.
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He’s brand new to my universe. I bought him at an after Christmas sale, last year, at CVS. Yep, the pharmacy. I saw him and he was ridiculously cheap. Like $0.99 cheap. He has a USB cable and plugs directly into your computer, then he just changes color all day long. When I saw it, I almost didn’t buy it, because in my head he was a stupid idea. I was wrong, he is awesome. He sits on my desk at work and makes me happy all day long. People comment on him every single day. (Oh and as it is hard to tell in the photos, he’s only about 3″ tall)

3. The giant attitude that my niece can cop.
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(is it just me or does that face say, “I will not smile and YOU can’t make me”)

My sister is trying to get photos of her for Christmas. This is the result. I love this. Love, love, love this. It reminds me so much of Emily and her sassy little attitude last week when she was small. There were nice photos. Blog coming.

4. My decorated house and fun camera apps.

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That seems sufficiently self-explanatory.

5. The Autobiography of Santa Claus. This is a book I’ve been reading for years. Over and over again. There is so much good stuff in here, I can’t get enough. Delightfully, it is set up with 24 chapters, so you can read one per night, starting on December 1st and finish the book on Christmas. Brilliant. It’d be a great read-aloud to older children. But for anyone, it is a fun and fascinating story.

6. White Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. My two favorite Christmas movies that I watch year after year after year. I can’t recall a Christmas not watching them. I also have other go-to favorites (The Santa Clause, Love Actually, The Family Stone) but those two I never miss. I can quote them both, sing every song, and still get misty at the sappy parts.

7. Christmas cards. I love getting them. Who doesn’t? It seems like every single year I get fewer and fewer, but I still send one out and I still look forward to getting the mail in December, to see if I got any cards. (BTW, one week in, I’ve gotten a measly 2 – hope it isn’t a sign of a very low turnout!)

8. No one thinks I’m weird if I walk around humming a Christmas song all day. They do, however, find that strange in June.

9. Fresh Balsam candles. Slatkin and Co., the line sold at Bath and Body Works, makes a candle called Fresh Balsam. It smells EXACTLY like a fresh cut tree. It is amazing. It might even smell better than my tree. They only sell it seasonally, and last year they ran out! Stock up while you can. And, I’ve tried several brands of “Christmas scented” candles, including Yankee Candle Co. and these are by far the best scent.

10. The fact that I can write, talk, and blog about Christmas all the damn time and no one thinks it bizarre or annoying. Wait? You do?

 

Too bad. 17 days until Christmas!

Peeping Santa, Part I

I am not sure how effective this particular story is going to be, given that I don’t have pictures. However, I’ll try to inject as much drama and enthusiasm into the telling to give it enough life to survive without a photo.

It might help to tell you that this story is funny.

It’s all about Christmas. I would imagine, the world over, there are couples who have the annual, “put up the outdoor Christmas lights vs I hate the damn Christmas lights” argument. My parents are such people. No surprise, if you know them, that mom is on the side of light and dad, well, dad is king of the dark side.

This Christmas, we’re having relatives in town. My dad’s sister, Aunt Kate, her daughter, Sara, Sara’s husband, Mike, and their two small children, Hunter and Hadley. These fine people live in Alabama, a state not particularly known for its harsh winters. These people think 50 is cold. The children have no idea that we can build snowmen as tall as their dad. We’re extremely excited to show them the pleasures of a Minnesota Christmas. Mom, of course, wants the house to be as decked out as possible, so she ordered that the lights be put up–and no arguing!

Dad agreed, because he probably so no way out. However, he dragged his feet a bit. Through the beautiful days of October. Through the gorgeous opening of November. Several times I said to him, “you know this weather will not last? This is perfect weather for putting up the outdoor lights.” He ignored me.

I should probably mention that while there ARE actual lights on the house, the bulk of my mother’s collection is in large plastic figures. Santa, Frosty the Snowman, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus (and a real manger, no less), an angel, a couple of choir singers and a few candles with the word NOEL down each. And these plastic figures are about 3-4 feet tall, each. You know the ones, right?

Okay, so dad finally got the things UP, but they weren’t lit. Then, during one of our colder weekends, he finally got out there an put them all on the timer. During all this, he somehow (deliberately?) managed to bump Santa Claus. Now, Santa holds the place of honor, right next to the front door. Dad bumped into him just enough that Santa was partially spun around. This left him facing an unusual direction.

Somehow, I chose this night to pop by my parent’s house for a visit. Mom and I were chatting in the kitchen, just a casual conversation. I kept having the sensation that someone was watching me. It was eerie. I finally gave in and looked around, only to spot this maniacally grinning, plastic face, leering at me through the kitchen window. I started in alarm and said to my mom. “Santa is peeping at me!”

This caused her to laugh, then me to laugh, then the two of us were huddled over in convulsions as the jolly round face and big blue eyes never wavered in their direction.

It finally became too much and my mother had to go back outside and turn poor Santa the correct direction, just so we could have a conversation in peace.

Why my father didn’t fix it is anyone’s guess?

But, “peeping Santa” is now a term of merriment around my parent’s house. Happy Holidays!