After a crazy Christmas comes PJ day!

Good morning! (good afternoon, good evening and goodnight as well, depending on when you read this). I hope yesterday everyone had a magical time filled with fun, family and friends. I hope the stresses of the season didn’t dampen the glow of excitement that pervaded the air. I will admit, it took me a tad longer than usual to get into the holiday spirit, but now that it has officially come and gone, I don’t know how ready I am to see it go. My poor fiancé got sick last night, so I think we have the perfect excuse to lay around in our pjs drinking excessive amounts of coffee and watching all of those Christmas movies I never quite got around to this year. Not to mention playing with a few new gizmos and gadgets (and reading, oh so much reading).

Now, I am not a particularly materialistic person, but I will openly admit that I love geeking out over unusual items (those BuzzFeed: get through this list without spending $50 kill me every time). I have a deep fascination with the odd, obscure, and downright rare. I find my inspiration in the oddest of places. This year for Christmas my family and I had decided we wanted to do less stuff. We were going to spend more time on events that we could do together and memories that we could make, which we did. Though I must admit, we all fell back into the typical cycle of wanting to give to one another- to see the joy in another’s face when they opened a little gift from us. The benefit to having less of an emphasis on material items this year led to a surprising outcome: the gifts that were all exchanged carried some deep meaning that left many of us dabbing at sparkling eyes wet with happy tears. There was a book that my dad read to us every Christmas growing up that he found recordable version of- which he recorded himself reading, for us to enjoy forever and share with our future children someday. That way no matter how far apart we may be, he can still read us the book on Christmas Eve (I did cry with this one). There were also a few perfect little items that captured the soul with the deep understanding the giver had for the receiver.

You see, material possessions don’t really mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. But yesterday I learned the power behind a heartfelt gesture that can take the form of something as simple as a coffee mug. I have always struggled with being completely open about who I really am underneath it all; my insecurities stamp their feet and demand to be noticed any time I try to get the courage to talk about some of the things that I love, things that are so deeply personal that to have them cast aside by someone I care for would wound me far more deeply than I would care to admit. My writing, for example; I am always nervous to discuss it, in fear that others will dismiss this humble little dream of mine, afraid that they will read my words and decide that I am just not particularly good at it. I hate to admit that their opinions do matter to me; it’s not that they could ever convince me to stop writing, it is as much a part of my identity as my nose is an integral part of my face. But they could conceivably convince me that perhaps my words should be for my alone, and that maybe this dream just isn’t right for me to chase. They have the power to give a louder voice to my fears and insecurities, and I don’t know what kind of damaged that emboldened voice could do.

But yesterday I was given a tiny little nudge of support in the form of a little coffee mug. It came from my soon-to-be in-laws who have always shown me unquestioned support in all of my writing endeavors. It had a little writerly quote on it, and meant more to me than I was able to say. This was a physical acknowledgment of their support and acceptance of something that is deeply ingrained in me, it was a nod to the fact that over the years we have become close enough to share these silly little dreams. And it was a reminder that they have my back 100%, no matter how many times I devolve into a babbling incoherent mess everytime they ask me about my current project. It was just a little coffee mug, but it meant so much more than that to me.

This particular picture is just to show the entire quote on the mug, as it wraps around the mug too far for me to get a good picture of the full thing.

Yesterday was a beautiful day for myself and my family (minus the surprise illness of my fiancé, who is luckily already feeling a bit better today). I somehow managed to hit all of the important stops (we were bouncing between houses like a ping pong ball), but inexplicably, this year I didn’t feel that same stress and strain. Perhaps because for once we all started out our day with only the hopes of spending a bit of quality time with one another. We took the time to step back and really see one another, have compassion for the year we have all endured together, and reminded one another of what was really important. We shared mountains of love instead of scaling heaps of unnecessary items. For the first year in ages I have walked away from the day feeling refreshed and revitalized. I can only hope that you, my friends, felt the same love and relaxation from a day that all too often loses its meaning. As we careen towards the fresh start of a new year, I will attempt to hold onto this peace I have found. 

For at least one more day, I am going to mosey around my house with my Santa slippers and fuzzy pajamas, drinking hot tea and watching family movies as my normally energetic puppers sleeps on my feet (as it turns out, tearing up all of his new toys and hiding the TWO different bones people slipped to him yesterday has been a rather draining task). Today I will find comfort in- well, the daily comforts I so often push aside in my persuits of other ‘more productive’ things. Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a step back and enjoy the rare gift of a peaceful moment while you have it. The new year is quickly approaching, and with it will come a fresh determination to tackle yet another list of goals, one more mountain to climb. So for today, I will rest and enjoy the journey that has brought me right here.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Beautiful Festivus and general warm fuzzies to you all

My dearest friends, whatever you may be celebrating today, I sincerely hope it is a day of loving family, closest friends, cuddly critters and happy hearts. My wish for you on this lovely December day is one of simple joy and appreciation for the things that are truly important. I hope it is all that you had dreamed, and I sincerely wish that today is a reminder to us all that we are what truly matters. Reach out to someone you may not always see eye to eye with, go for a walk with a relative you normally don’t spend time with, attempt to come closer and understand one another a little better today. Enjoy your evening, I will not keep you long. 

And if nothing else goes right today, please know that this someone right here is thinking of you all and is very thankful for your presence and support in my life, though we have never met. You are making a difference to someone, you matter, and you deserve to have an amazing day today. With lots of love from myself (and the fur babies that assist me here at Tipsy), I raise my glass in a salute to you all, and I will eat another cookie in your honor (okay, maybe two- you deserve two).

The Gift of Time

I was once a somewhat materialistic girl. I think we all are to an extent. Now don’t get me wrong, I have never been interested in name brands or personal items meant as status symbloys. I adored things that showed a bit of flare, a hint of the personality hiding just below the surface. I loved my stuff, I grew attached to it, and as such, I always struggled to part with it. And then I moved- and vowed to never again buy another unnecessary item that I would have to cart around with me for the rest of my life. If I ever had to move again, I was just going to burn everything and start over, yep, that seemed like a reasonable remedy. So much easier than packing box after box to haul to the next home. As it turns out, when all is said and done, I am a bit of a liar.

This last time I moved I became introduced to that dreaded three-syllable word: downsizing. It was a painfully therapeutic tool that was a necessary evil in my life. Severing ties with physical objects was difficult for me, far more so than I am willing to admit. I grew up beilieving that even the most trivial items can be repurposed, and that if I decided to finally let go of something, I would enevitably need it immediately. Couple that with the fact that I don’t own things that I don’t like. And if I like it, well I want to keep it. I’m was a recipe for disaster, and a constant frustration for my fiancé who grew up with the ‘get one, lose one’ philosophy; meaning if he wanted a new toy, well, something needed to be traded. As always, he is the yin to my yang. The problem was that we didn’t have room in our new living quarters, nor did we have the funds to dedicate to a storage facility. So we sliced things out of our lives. I combed and purged, combed and purged, over and over again until I couldn’t bring myself to do it anymore. 

I’ve always wanted to embrace the life of a minimalist. I have read the books, I have started the work. But I’ve never been able to truly belong to the movement. I love color and variety too much to feel comfortable living with only bare essentials surrounding me. I embrace my creative nature in my living space, I don’t feel at home without at least a tiny sense of chaos, of odd juxtaposition, of inspiring objects that leave your mind reaching out for more. So no- I cannot be a minimalist. But I have learned not to bring more into my life than I can handle.

Which is why this particular season can be a bit tricky for my. It is the season of giving and receiving. You see, I am very careful about what physical possessions I bring into my life now. And I am perfectly content with what I have. There is not a single thing that I need. And at this point, I don’t have any extra room to dedicate to superfluous objects. For the first time in a long time I can say that everything I own enriched me in some way. Which is why I find it rather difficult when others demand to know what I want this holiday. The answer of ‘nothing’ does not seem to go over well, many believe it’s just a modest answer that I don’t really mean- you know, one of those tricks us women like to play on the unsuspecting men in our lives. Last night I overheard a conversation between two people that I found rather interesting. The man was like me- he didn’t want or need anything, and he would rather any extra money be spent on his grandkids instead. His wife, however, had a different view of the matter. She got upset that he wouldn’t say anything, and finally yelled, “it’s not always about you. The gift giving isn’t always about you, sometimes it is because other people want to do something nice for you.”

I can’t tell you why I found this so interesting; probably because I know a number of people who show their affection through the physical act of buying things for those that they love. And perhaps it’s also because I do genuinely understand the desire to do something kind for a person that you care for. We all want to see their eyes sparkle when we had them the perfect little item they never would have asked for. We get our own satisfaction in the giving; I’m like this as well. 

So this year, I am trying something a bit different. For those in my life who still feel the need to pay for a gift (though I am always quick to tell them that I would rather they spend their money on themselves)- for those that don’t like this answer, I am asking them for something a little bit different. Either a picture of us or something important to us- no frame needed- for me to put up in my office to look at all year round and remind myself why I go in there everyday, something that will make me smile during those moments that test my patience and my kindness. Or else the gift of simple time- this is perhaps the thing most often neglected. We are all too quick to replace our own presence in someone’s life with a memento of us instead. As thoughtful as the item itself may be, nothing can replace the actual time we spend with one another. It could be something as simple as a walk down the street with a cup of coffee looking at Christmas lights, or a lunch at a new restaurant. Or even (as my sister did this year) a little Ugly Christmas Sweater Party with friends and family). This year I would rather we spend our money on experiences to bring us closer together. I am not an overtly social person, and I struggle to get out of my box and join the world some days. So the greatest gift for me is a shared experience with someone willing to give me the greatest gift of all- a few minutes of their precious time. That is all that I need. Not more trinkets to put on a shelf or keep in a box until I move to a bigger house. Just a couple minutes of your time, and perhaps a smile or two. This year I want memories, not merchandise. I want a Christmas to look back on always with the fondest of memories that will outlast anything you could buy in a store.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Right now I am sitting bundled up in blankets in my little office (I use this term loosely, as this little room doubles as my impromptu living room and occasional dining area- I live small). We put up our own strand of white christmas lights around the single window, and we are both working by their comforting soft glow tonight. There is a chill in the air and talk of snow next week. Yesterday at my dentist’s office we listened to all of those old holiday favorites everyone can sing along to. And tomorrow morning I have a date with my mom and sister to bake (hopefully) delicious holiday treats. It seems this year ran away with me before I could take a second to enjoy the scenery. 

It is the time of year for thankfulness and small acts of kindness. A time to remember all that we have and make sure those in our lives know their importance. I can occasionally appear to be a cynic (I prefer the term realist) on the outside, but inside I have always been a hopeless romantic who falls head over heels in love with this time of year. As cliche as it sounds, it isn’t about the bows and shiny wrapping paper. It’s not even about the twinkling lights and eggnog. What I love about this season can only be found in the smallest of moments.

It’s in the way my sister’s eyes light up when she finds the perfect Christmas tree. Even at 25, the magic is never lost on her. We will tramp through the lines and lines of trees, scrutinizing every detail until our noses are as red as cherries and we can’t feel our toes. And then she spots it. She grins like she did when we were kids and she stole my first dollhouse. We make our way back with our prize slung carefully over our shoulders and warm up over hot apple cider and rice crispy treats. And then onward home to trim the little beauty in all its glory. That’s why I love this holiday- because it puts a smile on the face of a girl who doesn’t catch many breaks the rest of the year.

It’s in the way I can dance in my car on the way to work and not even feel silly (I strongly suggest Jim Carey’s The Grinch soundtrack for this activity). It’s in the pay it forward coffees as Starbucks. It’s in the excited way my nephews tell me all about their letters to Santa or proudly hold out their freshly cut paper snowflakes. It’s in the midnight snowball fights on the front yard (in which Zach will, at some point, drop some down the back of my shirt). It’s in the small little thoughts of coworkers who try to make the office a little bit brighter. It’s in the way we all speak to one another a little more kindly, smile a little broader, listen a little bit longer when we ask how the other is. It’s in the calming twinkling of those beautiful lights that dance across our faces on late night walks with the dog, all bundled up with gloves and scarves.

There is a magic to this season that is unparalleled. When you stop to enjoy the life that it breathes into a soul during these dreary winter days. There is a warmth to it that you won’t find come January or February. It’s unique, it’s comforting, it’s a hopeful conclusion to a long and busy year, holding delicately a promise for the year to come.

Welcome back, my dear, sweet holiday season. This year, may we remember what is truly important and learn to find some common ground. May we bring one another smiles and friendship without ill intentions. It is the time of year for openness and hopeful endeavors. My friends, may you find all of the love and promise that you had hoped for this season, may you rediscover the childhood joy that still sleeps within, and may you embrace the simplistic beauty that surrounds us. This year, may we find comfort building bridges to one another instead of constructing walls to hide behind. May we remember who we once were and who we still hope to become. Cheers, my dearest friends. May we all embrace this magic and hold true to the true meaning that breathes life back into our weary souls.