Christmas Time Is Here

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Can you believe we’re just four days from Christmas? I can’t. Even though I started the Christmas music in October, Christmas has definitely crept up on me rather quickly. I remember when I was younger (as in not a working professional) how Christmas just couldn’t get here fast enough. Now with work and travel, Christmas appears on the horizon before many of us are ready for it.

This year with the women’s volleyball team out of the NCAA title hunt, I had two extra weeks to finish up things at work, attend holiday parties, bake and shop. In some ways, I really didn’t know what to do with the extra time I haven’t had for three years. I had five Christmas/holiday parties to attend last week and while I was grateful for the time with friends that I’ve missed out on, I wish it didn’t involve so many extra calories. However, the deliciousness of all the goodies, the hard work of friends to prepare them and host the parties, and the time spent together makes it all worth it.

I managed to bake and made some of my favorites including my grandma’s waffles and poppyseed bread. My shopping was finished up last night so now all I have to do is wrap everything when I get home. My mom always uses a specific wrapping paper for each of us at home, which as kids prevented us from accidently opening someone else’s presents. Now I personally just think it looks nice to have everything coordinated so well. I can’t even remember what I asked for this year. I know I asked for a few kitchen gadgets like new cookie sheets since mine aren’t so great. I also asked for some new workout gear, which is below, and the super cute pair of heels too!

I asked for this but with pink instead of orange.

You all know I have a weakness for shoes...

I know one of those tops will be a birthday present, but I won’t have to wait too long since my birthday is in mid-January. So since I can’t remember what else I asked for and my family tends to do a pretty good job with things, I guess I’ll have a few nice surprises on Christmas morning!

Enough about gifts, gift-giving and holiday baking. We all know Christmas is about a lot more than that and we have simply forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. For Christians, it’s a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior. We gather in our churches, retell the story of his coming and sing songs in celebration. One of my favorite parts of Christmas is attending church on Christmas Eve at the church I grew up in and where my mom still plays the organ and directs the choirs.

The church altar this past Sunday. The purple drapes will be changed out for Christmas Eve.

This is last year's tree at church (pardon the blurry photo, I didn't take this photo) and another one will fill its place this year.

To continue, like I said one of my favorite parts of Christmas is attending Christmas Eve services. There’s nothing that defines Christmas more for me than listening to my mom play the organ and piano, as well as hearing the choirs sing with her as their leader. There’s something so truly special about that for me and it probably has something to do with the fact that I’ve been listening to her play since before I was born.

Another aspect of the holidays I think has gotten overshadowed by the gift-giving craziness is the simple enjoyment of spending time with those we care about most. We are all so worried about buying the gifts for the sake of giving that we forget the greatest gift of all is simply the time spent together. Regardless of how crazy life as been, how many good or bad things have happened recently or during the year, we all should be grateful for the simple gift of time. Work, distance and life oftens get in the way of being able to see those we love as often as we would like, but at Christmas we have a little extra time off to spend as we’d like. Don’t forget to use that little bit of time to catch up with old friends, visit eldery family members or just spend extra quality time with parents, siblings and/or your other half.

What about those of you who might have to have an unconventional Christmas, like spending it sitting with a loved one in the hospital or nursing home, or maybe you have family in the military or it’s simply the first time you won’t be with certain people? I implore you to make the best of it. Don’t let change or less than ideal circumstances cloud the magic of Christmas. Let the magic of the holidays carry you through the tough times and bring joy to those who need it most. Maybe you can bring your typical holiday traditions with you, but maybe you’ll be able to start some new ones. The holidays will be as good as your attitude allows them to be (and that applies to more than just this time of year).

One other thing to remember at this time of year is to not forget those less fortunate than we are. It doesn’t matter how you choose to give back. All that matters is that you give at all. There are a number of ways you can help out others.

1. Donate old toys and clothes.

2. Sing carols at a nursing home.

3. Donate money to charity.

4. Sponsor a local family (these programs often allow you to provide toys and food to a family in need).

5. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.

Those are just some ideas and the possibilities are endless.

There are a few things I wanted to share with you before wrapping this extra long post up today. First is a story of a young family who simply did the right thing. I watched it on the Today Show this morning. I agree with them when they say that most people will do the right thing when put in the situation where they have to choose.

Second, there’s a Chobani Greek Yogurt giveaway over at Healthful Sense. Greek Yogurt is delicious, packed with protein and can be used in so many different ways besides just eating it as is.

Finally, it’s Workout Wednesday at A Daily Dose of Fit. Check it out!

If I don’t blog before then, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and/or wonderful holiday with family and friends. Eat lots of goodies! Will you be having turkey or ham this Christmas? Do you have any holiday traditions that you look forward to each year? At this time next week, I’ll be enjoying my first professional facial and massage with two friends from home. Can’t wait!

Quote of the Day: “He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!”

Abby

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