:: just warmed my heart ::

I relish the few "slowed down" days after Christmas. It's a time to review and make some resolutions for next year. I'm going to write some posts of my favorite Chrismas moments over the next few days as I reflect on our Christmas celebration.
This event took place one week before Christmas. I was thrilled to have an evening at home after a string of holiday parties (two at our house) that just came at us bam bam bam. We had fun at every party - and loved being with our best family and friends. But, I welcomed a night at home and a chance to work on addressing my Christmas cards.
Scott had gone to the church to help with a youth Sub-for-Santa project. They were to be wrapping the gifts for some little children that they had purchased the week before. I almost didn't answer the phone when it rang, but when I did, it was Scott. "Debbie, we need your help."
I asked what was going on and Scott said that when they got to the church they found out that there was another family that they had been assigned to buy gifts for: a mother and her two teen-aged daughters. Scott was calling from Wal-Mart where the group of three adult men and two teen-aged boys were trying to pick out clothing for these women. I was almost laughing as I told them to go to the section where the sizes were 3,5,7 not 6,8,10. Scott found that section and I told him to find some hoodies. Scott was carrying on his conversation with me and the boys. "Hey guys, do you know what a hoodie is? Find one." They found the hoodies - they had cartoon characters on them. I knew that if they were Sponge Bob characters that Scott would think they were cool and acceptable, so at that point I said, "I'll come down and help with the clothes. Go to the electronics section and find a digital camera or mp3 player."
So I went to Wal-Mart and there they all were, proudly showing me the things they'd found. Athletic shoes for each girl, and an mp3 player too. An outfit for the mother, and a gift card. They really didn't need me, except I found a really cute yellow bag for one of the teens, and some cute tops to add to the hoodies they had already selected. (No pictures on these.)

I couldn't resist following them to the church with the camera, and it was heartwarming to see their delight as they wrapped and labeled each gift. This was an all-guy collaborative project, and they did a wonderful job - without a word of negativity or complaint. It was a joy to behold!


{ a beautiful "live" nativity }

I thought I'd seen everything, and then at Aunt Norma's party I saw this nativity. These are cut-out photos of Norma's grandchildren posing for a nativity scene. They are all dressed in the sweetest costumes, with the perfect props. And they seem to be posed just for this project. Each photo is mounted on heavy cardboard and there is a small block of wood glued to it to make them stand up. Someday (when I have time) I'll call my cousins Cami or Jami and find out how they made this. Meanwhile, if you do the nativity on Christmas Eve, take your posed photos so you can make this for next year!


Congratulations Winston!

We went to Las Vegas for son-in-law Winston's Masters Degree graduation. HE DID IT! We are so proud of him and Suzie for supporting him through lots of night classes, homework and his thesis. It was fun to be in Vegas in December. We went shopping (of course - see my cut the crazy blog for shopping photos), went out to dinner and a movie (Australia - awesome), and Scott and the girls played an intense game of Rummicub. We got to ohh and ahh over Suzie's & Winston's house all decorated for Christmas.


== today I am fifty-five point five ==

Today I am 55 1/2. Hey, I'm just barely OVER THE SPEED LIMIT! There must be some metaphor for my life in this. Normally I don't notice my "half-birthday," but for some reason I realized that today is a special half-birthday for me - my 55.5.

So I made two resolutions. First, I am going to start doing yoga or some kind of exercise for flexibilty. Becky and Suzie said, "Now mom, don't get discouraged, because yoga isn't very fun." They know me well. My second 55.5 resolution is to try to be more "conscious." To not always be in auto-mode or in other words "non-thinking mode." Yesterday, here in Las Vegas where we are visiting Suzie & Winston, I left a sack in a shopping cart, and then later, I left my purse in a restaurant. In both cases we had to get in the car and go back to the places and I was just lucky there were still there. Arghh. So now I am making myself stop and think before I move on. "Do I have my purse?" Do I have my cell?" "Do I have my coat or bags or whatever?" It's not funny.


Aunt Norma's Christmas Party

The first Christmas party of the season - and what a fun one it was. We went to Aunt Norma's house for a delicious dinner, games and music. Scott, being his usual competitive self, won two of the games and the prizes were twin stuffed animals. He was thrilled. There was a group version of "Partridge in a Pear Tree," with Ethan as the star, and then more Christmas serenades and piano solos. It was wonderful to see Aunt Irene and my cousins - and kids of cousins. When Aunt Norma brought out the plate of her homemade penuche and fudge at the end, I knew I could never put on a party like this one - but I sure was happy to be invited!


:: a pretty picture & some good advice ::

I was in the bookstore last month and a book jumped out and said, "You need me." I wasn't planning to buy another 'self-help' book, but I thought maybe this particular book would be useful as I taught the Cut the Crazy out of Christmas class...and I had that 30% off rewards coupon to use. The book is by Richard Carlson, the author of "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff." The title is "You Can Be Happy No Matter What." The book is worthwhile with lots of philosophy like, "Happiness is a state of mind not a set of circumstances." But what I especially like is his suggestions on how to handle stress. Here are a few tips:

Stress is an unpleasant feeling - it signals that we are not at our emotional and psychological best. It's interesting that when we feel ill and are not at our physical best, we pay attention to our bodies and do what we need to to feel better (rest, medicine etc.). Why not take the same care in times of emotional stress? When we are experiencing stress we need to use common sense, wisdom and be aware of our own needs.

Carlson says the solution to stress is to lower our tolerance for stress. The level of our current stress will always be exactly equal to our current tolerance. If we tolerate and can handle a lot of stress, we will always have to do just that. People with lower stress tolerance will pay attention to their stress EARLIER and will sense when it's time to slow down, regain perspective, and manage their thoughts and feelings.I find this concept so interesting. When I read it I just had to stop and think about it for awhile and ponder how it relates to me.


wheRe's the sNow??

We are on a little trip to Park City. When we planned this trip in August, we hoped there would be snow by Dec. 1st. It was a gamble, but we had some time share points that had to be used by the end of the year. On Tuesday morning, Scott went for a walk and took a bunch of SNOWLESS photos.

On Tuesday afternoon, a little storm blew in and left a few inches of snow, enough to make us feel like we're in ski country. But not enough to cover the mountain so the resort can open. Our son-in-law, Pitt, works at The Canyons, so we're especially interested in the snowfall. The latest report is that the resort has been able to make snow since Tuesday, so The Canyons will open tomorrow. One run. Is it worth it to go skiing? I don't think so.
We're having fun anyway. Merilee and Val came up to Park City to hang out for a night and along with Becky and Pitt, we played Cranium. I thought Val and Scott would win for sure, but they got hung up on humming identifiable songs. They were good at the acting though.
Merilee and I were a formidible team - at first. Eventually she had to draw stuff on a pad, and I was completely clueless. When she acted out the Energizer Bunny I lost it, and eventually we lost the game.


loving my red and white decorations

I'm DECORATING! It's a little early for me, but I when I was teaching the Cut the Crazy class on Big Picture, I told myself that this year I would do a decorating blitz on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I have had to PUSH myself, because there are so many distractions. I almost went to the mall Saturday afternoon, but told myself, "Just one more box," then I lost the desire to go to the mall (I know, I sound like an addict) lol. I really wanted to go to the mall to redeem yet another Bath & Body coupon. But I have quite enough lotion and wall thingies. So, back to decorating, and soon I had finished the family room. (I have a lot of decorations. I'm a collector of stuff.)

I love anything red and white. Maybe that's why I love Christmas. I snapped a few photos of some of my favorite red and white things. My bowls are so cute - notice that the polka dot one says 'merry merry' inside. And, of course, my JOY plaque. I put it on my window sill right above the kitchen sink so I can look at it all the time. Good luck to you on your decorating. Believe me, it feels good to get started!
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