Friday, December 18, 2009

"It's the Holiday Season..."

Really?... it is? Okay...

So we're chatting about Christmas traditions, eh?... seems a bit early in the year to me, but I suppose I have a few in common with my fellow girls!

You see... the closer it gets to the actual day, the further I tend to drift into my traditional state of denial that it's even December fer cryin' out loud. I guess I'm with Maureen ("Not as Big a Slacker as Lesley") on this one.

Then there's that traditional recurring eye-twitch I get every time I pass a mall - the one that tells me before I've even conciously acknowledged it, that Sleigh Ride is playing over the PA system - and the pathological urge to avoid parking lots (I don't even drive!). I'm with Jillian ("Too Cute to Be The Grinch") on these.

After the denial and the twitching comes the strange cravings to watch all my traditional holiday-fave dvds. I'm with Tracy ("The Christmas Elf") on this one. Although... my seasonal picks tend toward "Die Hard" (it is too a Christmas movie) and "I, Claudius" (don't ask - it's just a tradition in our house).

And then I get odd, panicky flutterings that tell me I should really haul my in-denial butt to the mall because maybe I should START SHOPPING... I'm really with Lisa ("Spirit of the Season") on this one.

These are my little internal traditions for this time of year. I'll probably start to ease myself out of the temporal disbelief by stopping off to pick up some pine boughs on the way home tonight... ("Nah," sez internal voice. "Stores won't have them yet. Too soon." See? Told you. Denial.)

Of course - one thing that, as of this year, is becoming a tradition for me - and one I'm rather less inclined to be in denial of (although I still can't really believe it's here already -- oops, that sounds like denial - never mind) is that little festive occasion known as a BOOK LAUNCH! Yup, just like last year, smack in the middle of the mid-winter festivities (whenever those are - some weeks away yet, I do believe), yours truly will be getting another one up there on the shelves. Sure... it's another thing to make me a little more seasonally crazy (ha! - "little") but it's something I'm willing to get used to!

And just in case the Holiday Season really is right around the corner (it isn't, is it...?), I would like to wish a Merry Yule, Joyous Mid-Winter, Happy Christmas, Cheery Hannukah, and all the rest to all the Novel Girl readers out there! Have a safe and fabulous holiday season!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Grinch of The Group

Don’t get me wrong, I actually do love the holidays. I love watching my kids open gifts and cool desert nights and cacti strung with Christmas lights. I love the break from work/school and the feeling of being able to wrap up the year relaxing instead of stressing. But I’ve never been able to get myself into the whole “holiday season” and all the joy that I know I’m supposed to be feeling.

First of all, every time I leave the house this time of year, I regret it. My lazy morning errand runs to Target with my toddler, suddenly become a nightmarish fight for parking and a shopping cart, plus a super-long checkout line which usually amounts to a toddler meltdown. By the time I leave, I’m usually cursing the holiday crowds.

Then there’s the more-than excessive holiday music that plays constantly on the radio from Halloween onward. I actually like holiday music, but not that much of it. Not all the time. And the beautiful Christmas lights that adorn the houses on my street – pretty to look at, but not so nice when the lights across the street shine so brightly into my son’s bedroom that he realizes it’s more entertaining to peak through the window at the lights than actually lie down and go to sleep.

Of course I love all the holiday food and treats, but I hate having to start the new year with a resolution to lose those extra five holiday pounds. Those cute little iced gingerbread cookies I picked up at Trader Joes for the kids last week, are my worst enemy right about now.

I know. I know. None of this is what the holiday season is supposed to be all about. I know it’s really about appreciating what we have and spending time with our families and memorizing a child’s face as he unwraps a gift that he really wanted. And I do love these things. I do. But I tend to love them a whole lot more in January, once I’m able to walk back in a store, listen to the radio, and enjoy those dark starlit nights again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ode to a Last Minute Shopper!

Every single year I proclaim, "This is the year I'll get my shopping done early."

Every single year I am still racing out to the mall on Christmas Eve.

Sigh. There is no indication that 2009 will be my year for change. So, here I am 9 days before Christmas making out my list. And checking it twice. Without fail I'll be wrapping into the wee hours of the morn on Christmas day. As for why I do it every year? I'm pretty sure it has to do with my genes. My sisters and I all have the same problem. Can I ever change? Probably not. But I'm happy anyway. This year, I've accepted my last-minuteness and I'm focusing on all the good things about me. I'm a cheerful person, I'm creative and I sure do love my boys. In the scheme of life, waiting to the last minute to Christmas shop is not the end of the world. So all of you who tend to live as I do (and I know there are plenty of you out there) have heart!

Or, even better, give of your heart! That's what this crazy holiday season boils down to, don't you think? Giving of ourselves. Whether it's through our time or our resources, let's give something special to someone who's not on our list. We're all creative people. It shouldn't be too hard to come up with a way to bless someone with an unexpected visit or gift. I have a particular soft-spot in my heart for old people. I think my sons and I should make a point to go over to a nursing home on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day with a beautifully wrapped gift and spend an hour of our time with an elderly person who is all alone.

It's just a thought. I'd love to hear other suggestions of ways I could take the focus off me and put it onto someone else. And in the meantime show my sons an example of brotherly love. It's been a season of great joy in my home. My prayer is that I never forget from where my blessing comes. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays to all our loyal Novel Girl Followers. We are very grateful for the time you spend with us. God Bless you all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas is Next Week? WHAT?

So now, after reading Tracy's post, I feel like the biggest holiday slacker EVER. She's done Christmas shopping and is shooting to get all of her presents wrapped this week.


I just sat down and made a list of gifts to buy. I still need to get my mom a list for my son. I just realized that if I buy anything online, I'll have to express ship it. Argh.

Normally, I enjoy the holiday season and savor Christmas shopping. I'm not sure what caused me to be so behind this year--maybe it was the fact that Thanksgiving was a week later, that my child suddenly morphed into a demanding two-year-old, or that I'm so wrapped up in promoting A Bump in the Road, getting Not Ready for Mom Jeans prepped for publication and finishing up my next book all at the same time.

I'm hoping that I can bang all of my shopping out at Target. Or, at least most of it. Of course, that would require my son to actually behave and allow me to examine shopping items before putting them in the cart--usually, we race through stores, stopping only briefly to grab whatever is needed and chuck it into the cart. The goal is to get in and out with as few casualties as possible--no dirty looks from strangers, broken merchandise, no red faces and certainly no bodily injuries due to being hit by an errant flailing toddler appendage.

But, I do miss being able to savor the season. So, right now, I'm going to publicly declare that I'm going to do my best to actually enjoy the next two weeks. With hopefully very little bodily harm.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Holiday Favorites

I'm a HUGE Christmas fanatic. I love this holiday more than any other, and (often to the chagrin of my kids) tend to go a, shall we say "overboard?"...this time of year. My Christmas shopping is already done (except for a gift card or two), and I've already started wrapping and plan to have all of the wrapping done by this Friday. I hope that actually happens, because usually, I'm up to the early, early hours on Christmas Eve getting everything wrapped. And I SO don't want to do that this year.

I'm not sure if it's the lights, the food (yum), the music, or the all-around holiday cheer that makes me so happy, but I am completely in my element during the month of December. Actually, it's probably a combination of all of these elements, plus the fun I have shopping for others. Regardless, soon after Thanksgiving, I start listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, and reading Christmas books.

In fact, over at my personal blog, I've been sharing some of my favorites.

Last week, I shared that Love Actually is my favorite romantic comedy holiday movie, along with my other favorites in this genre. I also talked about my favorite classic Christmas movies, with A Christmas Carol (1938) being top on my list. And on Friday, I shared my favorite online Christmas shopping destinations this year.

This week, I'll be giving my list of family and kid favorite Christmas shows/movies, and next week, I'm going to post a couple of my Christmas cookie recipes, and maybe a few other holiday recipes.

Between now and Christmas, my family will take one evening to check out some of the area neighborhood lights (we have a few that go all out), we'll take in a movie (probably Disney's A Christmas Carol, but not sure yet), we'll have one full day devoted to Christmas crafts (my kids love painting Christmas ornaments every year, and then the next year, they go on the tree), and a couple days of baking (probably next Monday and Tuesday!). Whew, I'm tired just thinking about it.

So yes, I love this season. This year, I'm hosting Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. This is a first for me, as usually we do the big dinner thing on Christmas Day, but for once, I'd like to have a calm Christmas where I might just stay in my pjs for the entire day. Or not. We'll see!

What about you? Do you like the holidays as much as I do? And if so, what are some of your favorite aspects?