Why I’m Welcoming 2015 With Open Arms

To begin this blog post, I’d like to do a little recap of my Christmas holiday. I’m sure some of you enjoy reading about how others spend their seasons (I know I do!), but this is mostly as a document for myself, so when I go back and read old blogs, the memory will bring a little smile to my face.

I’ll begin with Monday, December 22nd.

Life for me lately has been a whirlwind. Between work, having a social life, and maintaining my fitness goals, I have been all over the place and have barely slept a wink. This coupled with Christmas planning sent my health in a downward spiral, and I found myself in urgent care on Monday night BEGGING for a steroid shot, of which I was denied because I had one thirty days prior. Not pleased. After filling my prescriptions and buying 84 cans of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, I went home, crawled in bed, and watched The Santa Clause. A part of me was thinking, “But I have SO MUCH LEFT TO DO. Shopping, cooking, cleaning, packing, EVERYTHING.” The other part of me felt thankful. Despite the fact that I was taking 2400mg of Ibuprofen/daily (which, apparently, is a LOT), I was finally at rest. And it took me getting sick to fully appreciate the Christmas season and it’s beauty and simplicity. It’s kind of a shame that it took me until the 22nd to feel the “spirit of Christmas”, but I’m so thankful it did.

First of all, Campbell’s soup? Too salty. I mean, it was comforting and it cleared my sinuses and all that jazz, but that soup made me bloat. Not nice. Secondly, The Santa Clause is a fan-freaking-tastic movie. It just is. It’s so heartwarming and Tim Allen basically IS Santa and I just felt so happy curled up under my covers watching it, even if I was blowing my nose every five seconds and my body felt like it had been run over by an 18-wheeler.

Tuesday, December 23rd, I woke up on a mission. I knew I had been sick the day before and that my health wasn’t at it’s finest, but I had Christmas stuff to do, dang it. I quickly got dressed and high-tailed it to PJ’s for a caffeine fix. Coffee always helps. Around 2pm, I finished my errands, got back into my pajamas and began cooking for our Christmas Eve family gathering. My uncle and aunt were coming over to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, since they couldn’t make it to my mom’s on Christmas Day. I cooked chicken and sausage gumbo, baked gingerbread and sugar cookies and made peppermint bark, and, might I add, it was all perfecto. NOT TO TOOT MY OWN HORN.

Picture 6
So Martha.

 

Anyway. I think I passed out early this night curled up in bed watching Christmas movies. Again. This time it was “A Boyfriend for Christmas,” and I couldn’t help but smile my way through watching it because of my previous post. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m a hopeless romantic. Just don’t tell anyone.

Ever.

I woke up on Christmas Eve as giddy as could be. I was finally feeling more like myself, and I was just so damn excited to get the day started. The weather was finally cold, so I eagerly jumped into my red coat, which I’ve had for years but refuse to let go of. It’s just so beautiful, and it makes me feel French. But, like, I shave. Ok. Whatever that means. Again, I swung by PJ’s to wish my coworkers a Merry Christmas and to also load up on the caffeine. I got a quadruple shot of espresso and an iced coffee and was on my merry way. I ran a couple of last minute errands, which, ultimately lead me to Elmwood, which ultimately lead me to drink, because Elmwood was chaos. Absolute chaos. I swung by New Orleans Original Daiquiris and got a medium half 190 Octane/Crawgator with an extra shot and drank that shit on my way to my grandma’s because I AM THE LAW. In all honesty, I forgot about the “don’t drink and drive” rule. New Orleans confuses me sometimes. Can I be drunk in public or not? Am I allowed to drink and drive or not? What is sober?

Picture 5
Road daiquiris are legal, right?

Family started arriving around 3pm, and we immediately exchanged some gifts and dug into the gumbo, which was a success! As were the cookies and peppermint bark. Just call me Betty Crocker. By this time, I was 3/4 into my daiquiri and thought it’d be fun to pose with the giant gift basket my uncle brought.

Picture 7
Just posing next to a basket the size of my TORSO.

With libations flowing, so did stories of my uncle and aunt’s past. Let’s just say these people aren’t are pure as I thought they were all these years. Funny what kind of stuff you figure out as you age. I wonder what kind of secrets will come to be when I’m 24…

Everyone started trickling out around 7pm. My mom, brother, grandma and I all got into our pajamas, watched National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and sipped on the most amazing peppermint hot chocolate that I bought for us from Williams Sonoma. Deeeelicious! We went to bed around midnight. I almost felt too excited to sleep. No matter how old I get, Christmas Eve night will always be the night that Santa comes, and that’s just EXCITING. Who could blame me, though? The next day was the best day of the year. Finally.

I woke up Christmas morning around 7am, and before I even brushed my teeth, I ran… straight into the kitchen to the Keurig and brewed myself a cup of coffee. I wanted to make sure my day started off on the right foot, and the right foot is always caffeinated.

We spent the morning getting ready and flitting about with excitement. My little brother was so excited, he didn’t even change out of his pajamas for the entire day. I’d say it was gross, but I was actually pretty jealous of that. We left my grandma’s for my mom’s around 9am. I had my car packed to the brim with gifts, food, and booze (of course), and I high-tailed it while blasting Christmas music and taking road selfies. #duh

Picture 8
There’s no place like home for the holidays.

Once we got to mom’s, we plugged in the tree, turned on Christmas movies and began prepping the food for the day. We had… quite the spread. I was pretty amazed at all of the food we had in the house. Once my aunt and her friend got there, there was even more. Let’s break it down:

Smoked beef roast, honey baked ham, fried turkey, two kinds of stuffing (my mom and aunt’s boyfriend had a “stuffing-off” this year. Mom won, hands down), corn fairfax, green bean casserole, mirliton casserole, carrot souffle, sweet potatoes with marshmallows (YUM), two kinds of rolls (because carbs), roasted Brussels sprouts/sweet potatoes with maple bacon, cranberry sauce, and apple and pecan pie.

Picture 9
Christmas dinner

I ate all of it.

Forty times over.

While we were eating, I was looking around the kitchen and just thinking to myself how thankful I was and how blessed my family is. I’m so happy that we could all gather and enjoy each other’s company and that we had the means to provide all of the wonderful things we had for each other. Which brings me to the gifts…

If anyone ever asks me what I want for my birthday or Christmas, I always say the same thing, which is “nothing.” I honestly don’t need anything. The only thing I ever want is to just spend time with my family. And I would much rather give than receive. This year was no different, and I honestly didn’t expect much since we just came back from Gatlinburg, but when it came time for everyone to exchange gifts, you’d think we each had a hundred people to buy for. The living room was PACKED full of so many amazing gifts and goodies, and I just honestly couldn’t believe it. Everyone got what they asked for and more, and that is so special. The holidays aren’t about presents, but being able to provide presents for the people you love is another thing entirely. That’s where my family’s heart was this year for everyone else, and that’s where mine was too. It was beautiful. After it was all over, it was a mess, but it was a beautiful mess! Haha. My brother was ripping his gifts open and exclaiming, “Wow! Awesome!”. My mom was crying tears of happiness while receiving sentimental gifts and her annual Pandora jewelry. My step-dad was taken aback by man things like deer stand heaters and flavored smoking chips. My aunt and her friend loved their cat-themed presents. My grandmas adored their coffee mugs with pictures of their grandkids plastered all over them. I got showered in gifts as well, which I’m very thankful for. I feel very blessed. But if you asked what my favorite part was, I’d tell you it was watching everyone else’s faces light up while opening their gifts. It was truly remarkable, and I cried the entire time because my heart was so full.

My step-dad and his mom left not long after presents. By this time, it was getting dark. Mom made a fire outside, and we sat on the porch swing drinking champagne and roasting marshmallows by the fire. The air was crisp and the company was good. We took the dogs on a short walk around the neighborhood before ending the evening by lighting lanterns and letting them float into the night sky. But not without making a wish on them first. 😉 I think that’ll be a new tradition for us all.

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a sucker for Christmas. It’s “my holiday.” Christmastime is when I feel most spirited and alive. It’s the chill in the air and the anticipation of Christmas Day. It’s the gift-giving, the movie-watching, and the cookie-baking. It’s all of those cliched things rolled up into one, big, happy package, and I live for it.

It took me awhile to really “feel” the Christmas season this year. I contributed some of that to my busy schedule and also my being single. The business did play a role, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t experience moments of loneliness this holiday season, but that’s honestly not a factor. My singleness. If anything, it helped me appreciate time with my family even more so. I focused on my family’s needs and creating special moments with them, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way this year. It’s what my heart needed. It’s what my soul needed.

I know I’ve said it before, and it won’t be the last time that I say it, but I am so blessed to have the family that I have that appreciates moments of togetherness and also traditions. This might’ve been the greatest Christmas I’ve had so far, and I just know that they’ll only get better as the years go by.

With that being said, I’m welcoming the new year with open arms instead of dreading it, and here’s why:

Sometimes in life, we can become so focused on what went wrong. “I didn’t book the job.”, “I didn’t get a callback.”, “I didn’t get asked on a second date.” There are so many ways to become blinded by “failure” and not see what’s already in front of you and what you do have. I have a roof over my head and a family that would do anything for me. I have friends that I love very, very much. I have a job that pays well and a means to save. I have a passion that I’m striving to turn into a career every single day. I have a beautiful city that provides me with opportunities of all sorts, entertainment, and hope. I have everything I need and more than I could possibly want.

This past year was powerful in more ways than one, and it tested me and pushed me to my limits more than I was prepared for. To dread 2015 would be a crime, because I would be dreading new opportunities and possibilities and challenges and heartbreak and all of the components that make me… well, me. I would be dreading my personal growth.

In a few, short days, I will be standing with my friends with a glass of champagne in one hand, and a friend in the other. I will be wearing heels, sparkles, and there will be glitter EVERYWHERE. And I will countdown from 10 to 1, 11:59pm to midnight, and when the clock strikes 12, I will rejoice in the new year. I will jump with excitement and hug my best friends. I will down my champagne and cheer, “This is our year!”

In the meantime, I’m enjoying what’s left of 2014. And I’m welcoming the new year with open arms.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

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