Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Top 9 Things....

One of this week’s writing prompts from Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop was to “list the top 9 things that bring you joy”.  It wasn’t as easy as I thought.  First I struggled to come up with 9 things that made sense then I had to struggle to stop at 9.  These are the top 9 in no particular order:

The beautiful smells of winter & summer in New England ~ my sense of smell might be the only sense I have that works completely.  Too completely sometimes.  I can sniff drugs in luggage for TSA if they need me, I think.  I love how each of our seasons has its own smell.  Since we moved to an area with more trees I especially love pine.  I love the grass when it’s newly cut or when it’s a little damp in the really warm weather.  I love how cold and crisp the air is in winter and how I can smell the wood stove my neighbors use to heat their home.  Autumn and spring have their own wonderful scents but I love those I find during winter and summer the best.

Meeting my husband at the door each night when we get home ~ my husband and I eat dinner together every night with rare exceptions.  Our time together is very limited so we like to make sure we connect over dinner, decompress and spend time relaxing.  I love seeing him pull into the driveway or find him there when I arrive home.  Where he is, is home for me.

My cat, Camille ~ she’s 8, domestic short hair, black with a little white mark on her chest.  She is very social and remarkably vocal.  She’s super nosy, loves to eat and loves to be with us.  She also loves to wake me at 4 a.m. to feed her – that part does not bring me much joy.

Spending time with my family ~ I’m very blessed to be close to my family.  We have fun together pretty much wherever we are.  We all know how quickly things can change and how precious life is so we make the most of what we have.

Listening to my 7 year old niece talk about fairies ~ my little niece is 7 going on 19.  She has a flair for the dramatic that my mother insists she got me from.  She’s funny and talented and pretty (hey…she is just like me!) and she is a ray of sunshine in my life.  She has had quite the thing for fairies for a while and if you get her going she will amaze you with how much she knows.  She has me convinced I have two living in my yard.

Star gazing ~ I always liked looking at the stars but I so love doing it now in our back yard.  When the sky is clear, it is dark enough here for me to see forever.  I feel very small and very awed at what a tiny part we play in such an enormous story.

Cooking & baking ~ many chefs swear by the adage that food is love.  I completely agree.  Little gives me more joy than feeding people.  Or making people eat my cooking experiments.

Summer ~ I love summer.  I love being barefoot outside, warm grass and soft moss, how warm sunshine smells, drying clothes outside, windows open all day and all night, crickets, eating outside, iced coffee, swimming …

Beautiful music ~ there are pieces of music that make my ears bleed, but others make me want to cry.  These are some sounds I love: Canon in D; John Denver and the Muppets~A Christmas Together; children singing just about anything....

There are many more things but here are my top 9.  If you are feeling blue or think you have nothing to be joyful about - I say to you -start counting and don't stop.


Monday, December 3, 2012

I love sappy Christmas movies

A note~ this blog post is about Christmas and Christmas movies.  If you are anti-Christmas, don't like Christmas, don't like to read about Christmas - this might not be of interest to you.

Back to our story.

I love sappy Christmas movies.  I make no secret of it.  I will watch them over and over and always be surprised at the happy ending.  I sometimes cry even though I know what's coming.  I am always happy when things work out.  My friend Stacey and I both love "While You Were Sleeping" so much that we each have a copy and sometimes watched them at the same time.  I can honestly say that is my very favorite movie.  Ever.  Forever.  I love you back  :)

I wonder if I watched some of the movies (except my favorite, which I watch year-round) in say June or October whether or not I'd react the same way.  I think that it is the spirit of Christmas that helps me to enjoy them more.  For many, Christmas is a nutty, overly stressful, way too commercial time of year.  Buy too many presents people don't want/need.  Bake fattening treats that throw folks off of their healthy paths.  Not being able to say "Christmas Tree" or "Merry Christmas" because some people feel offended or left out.  That's what is has become for many.  I try hard not to let that happen to me and here's how....
  • I make gifts when I can and give gift cards the rest of the time.  It is either really personal or really practical but I give with love and with great thought.
  • I bake using healthy recipes much of the time, although a couple things you just can't mess with
  • I don't send Christmas cards - I send New Year cards and eliminate all of that stress
  • I decorate a little - lights and things that make me happy. My husband is Jewish so I make sure not to exclude him
  • I always have something pine-scented burning to help set the mood
  • I watch sappy Christmas movies
I don't know when I started loving those movies but it has been going on for quite a while.  I enjoy the classics but there is something about the barrage of movies playing endlessly on the Hallmark channel and on ABC Family that appeal to me more.  There are umpteen versions of the classics (Scrooge, It's a Wonderful Life) made more modern.  There are many that are so silly you know they can't happen in real life.  They are built around a formula of sorts: a seemingly OK life * some kind of conflict * maybe an angel * maybe romance * a miracle.  And that is how many of them work.

When I stop and think about it, I can almost apply that formula to the original Christmas story.  Young homeless couple about to have a baby * angels * a miracle.  Yup.  That might be why I love them.  They aren't making fun of the season...they are helping to keep the basics of the story alive.  Sort of like teaching people a lesson they didn't know they were learning.

If you can't bring yourself to watch any sappy Christmas movies - I say to you - try to keep the spirit of Christmas in your heart and that will be enough.