What will your Thanksgiving look like this year?

Just about an hour ago I was driving to the store to pick up a spice grinder (we decided to start grinding our own spices).  Anyways, As I was perusing through the bustling store I was observing people. Many were rushed, undoubtedly picking up last minute Thanksgiving items. Some looked stressed, their lists long with errands and items. My mind wandered to this season and the many expectations we all have. What does your season look like this year?

Are you working on Thanksgiving or Christmas, or both?
Are you alone in a new city and not sure where you will spend the holidays?
Are you traveling far to see loved ones you haven’t seen in a while?
Are you newly single or in a new relationship?
Are you experiencing broken relationships?
Has there been a death in the family?
Is there a new addition?
Is this the first holidays without kids, or a spouse who is deployed?

(A photo of my Thanksgiving dinner in 2010. I couldn’t afford to go home to see family, so Brian and I had a dinner by ourselves. It was simple, sweet, and even though I was sad at the time to not have family- this is most likely the first and last Thanksgiving we will spend alone together until Lillian is all grown up! Perspective 🙂

See, the holidays bring up some heavy stuff. We all long to be with the people we love on the holidays, enjoying a warm meal and cheering to the past and future. I don’t personally know a soul who wants to be alone on the holidays. Yet sometimes that is where life brings us.

Holidays bring up unrealistic expectations. I think we have all watched our mothers break down cooking for Thanksgiving or Christmas, worn down with chores and duties and unable to even enjoy the day. We watch cousins fight, kids eat too much sugar and go wild, and hear the back and forth of couples who love to knit pick at one another.

Isn’t this real life though? I watched The Family Stone the other day and just laughed at how true that movie is. We are family and friends because we love each other through thick and thin. We belong to one another. Life is not perfect, and neither will any holiday be!

Let’s make the best of what we are blessed to have this year, whatever it may be.
Let’s love each other this year and have grace with one another. We are all hard pressed and tired at times.
Let’s help our moms and those cooking meals. Offer to do some dishes. They are tired.
Let’s remember that those silly fights are not the end of the world. Laugh and let go.
We don’t get to choose our family and friends. It is OK if they drive us crazy.

Whatever your family or friends look like this year, wherever you will be spending the holidays, remember that there is no “normal”. Life is always changing, and people come and go. Let’s be grateful for what we have in this moment, and savor the season. It will not always be this way, and even if it looks grim, we may look back on it one day and find sweetness in it.

See, I believe in family and friends, meals together at a table, celebration, loving acceptance of one another, and joy. This is the model God has given us. He has adopted us as his children into a big family we do not get to choose. We must love one another and find a way to deal with each other. He asks us to celebrate with those we love, share fellowship together through meals and drink, and hope in all circumstances, giving thanks always.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and may your day be filled with love, laughter, and hope wherever you may be!

Thankful for this week and hitting 100 followers!

It is officially the week of Thanksgiving! Here are a few things I am thankful for today!

1. Buttermilk biscuits and strawberry rhubarb jam from Denver Biscuit Co. this morning.
2. Coffee. I am thankful for my coffee grinder, coffee beans, and coffee maker.
3. Hot tea, because my throat hurts. I am drinking Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride and Good Earth Sweet and Spicy today.
4. My daughter, because she is a delight. I walked into the living room moments ago after making a cup of tea and found her doing this: cute and cozy in her pack and play, chewing on her pacifier, and eyes wide open watching Yo Gabba Gabba! It was precious. Now she is giving kisses, too!
5. My sister, Holly. I get to meet with this smart and amazing gal a few times a week. She is my opposite, but my best friend. She is that girl who throws off the curve in her economics class, and I was the one in the tutor room trying to grasp the concepts and praying for a C! I am grateful to have Thanksgiving dinner with her tomorrow as we live in Denver together and the rest of our fam are all in other states!
6. My husband. He is making homemade mole and turkey Thursday. This is a feat even many Spanish people do not do. Why is he doing this? Oh, just for fun. His directions are on four pages, and that is just for the mole. I love that he cooks for fun and dares to try new things on a big holiday. That is what life is about! Going for it!

7. Lastly, and in relations to blogging- I am so grateful to have hit 100 followers! I remember starting my blog, not too long ago, and thinking “Will I ever have one follower?”. I know that sounds so silly, but it is true, I wallowed in that ridiculous thought for months! 

So, without further ado, I want to say thank you to some of the people over the past few months who have become followers and encouraged me along my journey of blogging! Yippee!

I encourage you all to check out these bloggers below. They are fab. Thanks again to you all!

Natalie at ohemgee
Her blog is super cute and hilarious. Don’t you love the name?

Simone at Busy as a Honey Bee
This girl reads! Looking for book recommendations? She has them!

Beth at The OC Fit Girl
Ok, so right now she has a Pumpkin Chocolate Walnut Cookie recipe. It looks amazing. Her blog is awesome!

Danette at All My Love for All My Days
Danette is an amazing blogger. I just love her blog. She truly inspires!

Sarah at one sweet tuesday
Sarah’s blog is real and lovely. She has some awesome recipes.

The frenzy of Christmas shopping!

I have a confession to make. I am every marketing executive’s dream. I notice immediately when Starbucks starts advertising their peppermint mocha, feel excited when Target throws up all the Christmas advertisements, and Black Friday?! Don’t even get me started.

Here’s why: my love language is definitely gift giving. I dream all year of what my family members would want for Christmas, then imagine them opening their gifts and squealing with excitement that “THAT-IS-EXACTLY-WHAT-I-WANTED!”.

Here is the problem: I don’t have a job. I am a stay at home momma. My husband is pumping away hours at his job (He is my  hero, I have mad respect!)- to provide for me and our lil’ pumpkin.

No money=No Christmas presents.

Or so I thought. Where there is a will, there is a way!

I am determined. I am getting people something. So guess what? I am one of those weirdo’s who hoards gift cards. I hate using them because it seems like such a commitment. So I have gift cards from my wedding, baby shower, and other events (sorry friends, I have used most of them, I promise!). I have a few left, so I pulled those puppies out and checked the balances. Just enough to get everyone a little somethin’. Hopefully;).

I also have some old workout clothes I barely used. Lululemon tanks, Victoria’s Secret Sport- stuff like that. I am selling them on Ebay! They are never going to fit me again, unless I starve myself, so good riddance!

Here is my plan:
1. Use gift cards for some gifts.
2. Utilize Black Friday and Cyber Monday- but only for places I have gift cards, a list, or a strategy. I have already found some amazing buy one get one free deals. The places I am hitting? Victoria’s Secret (they are supposedly giving away freebies at 6am and are selling hoodies for $25 bucks!), Bath and Body Works, Charlotte Russe (for cute scarfs), Sephora, and Target. Cyber Monday I am hitting Woot, ThinkGeek, and Zazzle, and Amazon for the men in my life. My goal is to get stuff for SUPER cheap- and am using gift cards!
3. I WILL NOT SHOP FOR MYSELF! Thankfully I have been getting used to this, so I am OK  I had to make up my mind early on that good deals do not equal shopping for me. If I buy myself ANYTHING that is one less gift for someone.
4. I have a list, and it is in permanent marker. I already even have the items I want picked out.
5. I have a budget and cannot go over it.
6. If all else fails, which it might, handmade gifts or thoughtful letters are just as wonderful.

See, in the end, my family and friends know I adore them (at least I hope!). Gifts are icing on the cake. My prayer for this season is that I can stay grounded and sane, and live within my reality. Christmas is about Christ coming to give us the greatest gift ever- a restored relationship with God and a new heart! Everything else is just for funsies. I hope I can maintain this perspective and not be one of those crazy people in the Wal-Mart parking lot screaming profanities on Christmas Eve for someone cutting me off for a parking spot (you all know what I mean!).

What are your Christmas shopping guidelines? Are you as excited as I am to give gifts? Anyone have any neat handmade or thoughtful gift ideas that are inexpensive? 🙂

Cheers to the Christmas spirit!