Friday, December 17, 2010

Round 12: Santa

If you could not tell from previous posts, I am more than slightly obsessed with Christmas. Yeah, duh, we got that. But something else you probably caught [if you've been paying attention] is that I LOVE Santa. And when I say LOVE, I mean LOVE. Santa is one of my absolute favorite parts of Christmas. Let me review:
1. It's not Christmas until Santa comes in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
2. My favorite theme of the Christmas season is Believe. [more on that in a minute]
3. I smile whenever I see a Santa in the mall
4. I love any artwork with Santa in it
5. I still go to bed early [ish] on Christma Eve so Santa can come. [Yes, he still does]
6. I still set out a treat for Santa.
7. Hands down, my favorite wrapping paper has Santas on it
8. The saddest thing ever is when someone stops believing.
9. Most of my favorite Christmas movies have something to do with Santa
10. I have been known to wear a Santa hat on random Christmas occasions.

Santa, to me, represents all that is good and magical and wonderful about the holiday season. As a child, there was nothing more exciting than the thought of Santa. I loved writing to him, making crafts of him, making cookies to leave for him, and seeing the magic proven on Christmas morning with full stockins, new presents, and an empty plate and glass. Of course, this also made falling asleep on Christmas Eve just about impossible. The lack of sleep was so worth it.

{How fun is this? Hope those kids are sleeping!}

Some people choose not to let Santa into their lives. That's their right, and I won't say anything about it because it's really none of my business. But to me, including Santa in Christmas only magnifies the true meaning of Christmas. What did our Savior come to the world for but to give us the most amazing, impossible gift of all? Why should we not allow the tradition of Santa, a man who brings joy to others and expects nothing in return, to fill our holiday season as well? The magic of Santa only magnifies the reality of our Savior's infinite goodness. That's my opinion, at least.

{Beautiful artwork by Greg Olsen}
I love hearing children tell me all about Santa, about how they saw him at the mall or at a party, how they wrote him a letter and mailed it... The innocence of children makes Santa even more fun for me. I remember asking my mother when I was young if she believed in Santa. "Yes, I believe in Santa. Do you?" I nodded. "Good. If we believe in Santa, he'll believe in us." I still hold true to that. He is as real as we let him be. This is probably why I love The Polar Express and Josh Groban's song Believe.


One of my favorite TV shows is NCIS [hang in there, bear with me, I have a point]. One of their recent holiday episodes involved pulling off an impossible task for a little boy who asked for just one thing for Christmas. Acting as Santa's helpers, they made it possible. When they have done it, the forensic specialist Abby, who is the most interesting TV character there is, says to the agent who did it, "You would make a great Santa." He replies, "I guess you just gotta believe." Then Abby delivers my favorite line of all time: "I do believe."
It's that simple. Believe in the magic, believe in the wonder, believe in the tradition. Macy's has the theme of Believe for the Christmas season, and each Macy's store has a mailbox specifically for letters to Santa. For this reason alone, I have grown exponentially fond of Macy's. [Okay, that and the fact they sell Frango mints. Gimme a break.] I almost get choked up when I see it. To bring emphasis to the importance of believing during this season of wonder and miracles and magic.... Way to go, Macy's!

{Someday, I'm going to go see this NYC Macy's in person. LOVE this!}
I believe in Santa Claus. Do you?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Round 11: Chicago Christmas

Permit me an indulgent Christmas dorky blog post about something that none of you get to experience but is one of THE highlights of the Christmas season for me.
Chicago Connolly Christmas.
This started...well...when my dad was little, I guess. He grew up in Chicago and his mom still lives there, so every year, around Christmas, the whole family comes in. Those that travel more than an hour to get there stay over at Grandma's house. Now some of you may be wondering how we do that, as it has to be a lot of people. Well, you would be right. It is. But long ago, Grandma and Grandpa were really smart and invested in air mattresses. And couches with fold out beds. And then actual beds. So never fear, there is room for us all....just don't expect to be able to move very much.
Okay, I'm going to pause here momentarily and introduce you all to the cast of Chicago Connolly Christmas.

Baga -- she gets top billing. It's her house that we invade, her fridge we raid, and she is the most wonderful woman on the planet!
Papa -- although he is no longer with us, he loved Christmas a LOT, so he too is a key player. We think about him a lot around this time. I'm convinced he comes to laugh at us all and give us a "Good O".
The Pennsylvania Gang -- Dad's older brother, his wife, and their three kids. They always drive in, which I have never understood as I am not a roadtrip kind of person, but more power to them! Almost as into swimming as we are. Almost. =)
The Lafayette Contingent -- Rather scattered at this point, but we're all still in the category. My dad, mom, brother+wife +daughter, me, sister 1 and sister 2. And the dog. We always have to bring the dog. Baga insists. We drive, too, but it's not bad.
The River Forest Posse -- Dad's younger brother, wife, and three kiddos. Chicago based. [I have to say River Forest to distinguish them from others]. My aunt is from New Orleans, and her food is TO DIE FOR! Love it. They have some of the best Chicago accents ever.
The Seattle Crew -- Dad's sister, husband, and two girls. INSANELY tall family. Not even kidding. And some years it is a miracle we even get them in. Remind me never to be in Seattle during an ice storm. ICK!
The Mokena Band -- Dad's youngest brother, wife, and three girls. Also Chicago based. [Again, the distinguishing of Chicago family] We see them the most, as it's oinly a 20 minute drive or so from their house to Baga's. Don't discuss Cubs baseball with them, they are Sox fans. Nuff said.
And last, but not least, Georgia -- Baga's black lab. Has the most powerful, vicious tail in the world. More than one innocent bystander has lost a kneecap to it. Sweetest animal in the world.

So, if you were counting, that's 28 people and 2 dogs. Are we insane? You betcha.
Don't worry, only 18ish sleep over at Baga's. She has three bedrooms besides hers, with two beds in each, so the rest of us sleep on those air mattresses and couch beds and actual beds in the basement. It's tradition, and nobody has died....yet... Actually, it's a ton of fun. We laugh a lot.
Anyway, so all 28 (ish....some years it's just not possible to get every person there) gather for one day where we enjoy lots of food, stockings, and gifts.
Let me say a word about the stockings briefly: They are hilarious. Papa and I used to hang them every year, it was our special job. Now it's just me, but I like to think that he's sitting there in his chair still, smiling as I figure out the best logistics. Anyway, each family buys one stocking present per other family persons, and for the adults, it's mostly gag gifts. There are nice things too, but mostly funny. And half of the presents don't fit in the stockings, so we have piles. We used to attach strings from the stocking to each pile, but untangling that mess kind of ruined the Christmas spirit, so we don't anymore. Just piles....everywhere....
Okay, so then after that, and more eating, (we're Connollys. We eat.) we go upstairs to the tree, where all of the big presents are. The cousins [the unmarried ones, at least. No idea how long that'll continue, I'm the oldest unmarried one, so I'm kinda the one who'll decide, I guess] draw names every year and get a present for their person, and we each get a present from Baga, too. The adults just get a present from Baga. And then there's Carly....the next a field all her own....she totally cleans house in the gift department.
Anyway, once that's over, we just hang out and eat [duh] and play games and eat [yes, again]. It's really awesome and I love my big, huge, crazy Connolly family.
Chicago Connolly Christmas is this weekend. I'll let you all know how it goes with an official recap post later, but I know a few things for certain already: there will be Aurelio's [best pizza EVER] and Pop's [best sandwich place EVER] and the Pennsylvania Gang will not be there. We'll miss them! [We have to go early this year due to Jen's crazy swimming schedule and our family is so wonderful to come in early, but those guys have their own swimming that weekend and could not miss. Sad day. =(]
Hope you all have some sort of special Christmas something that only your family does, too. It really makes the season even more exciting and magical and fun and bright. If not, I hope you'll enjoy hearing about [and imagining] mine, and maybe you can create one for yourself. It's a really good time.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Round 10: Christmas Movies

Okay, after the complete insanity [it's okay, you can insert the word EPIC if you so desire] of yesterday's post, I decided to tone it down a bit for today's....but only a bit, because, and here's a shocker, I am also a HUGE Christmas movie buff. No, really, just ask my friend George who likes to give this Christmas quiz slideshow and I know all the answers every year. Yeah, I'm that good.....or that sad, depending on your opinion and stance on Christmas movies.
First of all, you should know that Connollys are very very big on tradition. And by Connollys I mean my immediate family, I cannot speak for the extended Connollys, much as I love them. Anyway, we have a rule that there will be no Christmas anything before Thanksgiving, because that holiday deserves all the respect a holiday can get. We officially kick off the Christmas season on Thanksgiving, after we have all feasted and napped, by watching Scrooge. It is a musical adaptation of the book A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and it is truly a classic. It has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. In my opinion, it is the best version of it. Albert Finney is amazing, playing both the young Scrooge and old, and delivers a believeable performance of a true character transformation. And the music is awesome. And to share a quote, "There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not there any more."
Beyond that first movie, things are far less structured, but no less opinionated. See the following list for movies and opinions. If you don't agree, that is your perrogative and I will allow it. But don't expect to sway me, I am immovable! =)
A Charlie Brown Christmas -- CLASSIC! Grew up with this movie, know all the lines, and consider it a significant part of the Christmas movie collection. Linus tells us just what Christmas is all about, and they sing Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and it's just awesome. "Do you have pantophobia?" snicker...
Garfield's Christmas -- CLASSIC! Again, a rather important part of Christmas movies from my younger days, and currently as well. Nothing like Garfield aroung the holidays to make things happier! They go to Jon's parents' house and it's just hilarious, particularly the Grandma! "If I'm not back in an hour, send a banana cream pie after me."
Christmas Eve on Sesame Street -- Mock if you dare, but I seriously love this movie and so do my sisters, and so do, as we found out, another family of fully grown children/adults in the area. WE'RE NOT ALONE! This movie is so cute, and I fully intend to share it with my children one day. "And if that isn't a true blue miracle, I don't know what one is."
The Polar Express -- ever since this movie came out, it has been a favorite of mine. I always loved the book, but seeing it in movie form was really special. The music is awesome, and I have always loved the theme of Believe for Christmas. "Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe."
How the Grinch Stole Christmas -- ANIMATED VERSION! Sorry, this is one I will not bend on. The animated classic is SO MUCH BETTER than the feature film with Jim Carrey. It just is. The end. "He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!"
The Santa Clause -- This has been a favorite of mine for a LONG time. Tim Allen as Scott Calvin is hilarious and the little guy who plays his son Charlie is adorable. I just love how Charlie believes the entire movie and only towards the end does Scott believe it too. Again with the believing theme, but a GREAT family flick, and totally hilarious. "What are you talking about? Everybody likes Denny's! It's an American institution!"
Miracle on 34th Street -- the OLD ONE! You don't have to watch it in black and white, but this version, the CLASSIC, is the best. Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, and Natalie Wood. Awesome, amazing, terrific...can't think of enough good words. Plus, they sing in Dutch. BONUS! "But... but maybe he's only a little crazy like painters or composers or... or some of those men in Washington."
The Muppet Family Christmas -- I suspect you all may think that I'm a little childish [sticking tongue out at you], but this is also a classic. The Muppets surprise Fozzie's mother by showing up unannounced for Christmas, and hilarity ensues! So good! "Whoa-ho, is this piano out of tune! I love out of tune pianos."
Claymation Christmas Special -- Okay, I have no idea what this thing is actually called, but I still love it. Very fond memories of childhood with this one. Skating hippos, soulful singing camels, the California Raisins, waffles... It's got it all! "I told you there was a song about snacks!"
A Christmas Story -- Another classic. A little boy who wants a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas and all he has to go through to get it. His imagination runs wild and it is truly hilarious. If you've never seen it, you are missing out! "Okay, Black Bart, now you get yours!"
It's A Wonderful Life -- I LOVE this movie. I really truly do. One of my absolute favorite Christmas movies--heck, one of my favorite movies PERIOD. Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore.... Classic cast. This is just a masterpiece, and I fully intend to make it a significant part of my Christmas traditions. "No man is a failure who has friends."

{Classic photo from the film. Beautiful.}

The Natvity Story -- This beautiful movie only joined my collection recently, and I absolutely adore it. Keisha Castle-Hughes delivers a powerful and stirring performance as Mary, a young girl with an incredible mission, and Oscar Isaac is amazing with his portrayal of Joseph, the humble carpenter with a huge weight on his shoulders. This movie gives a whole new scope to the story we read so often at Christmas. "There is a will for this child greater than my fear of what they may do."

{Does it get any better than this?}

So those are my Christmas favs. I know there are others, but did you really want me to go on? I thought not. What are your favs? Share with the class! Then we can all watch a ton of Christmas movies together wtih popcorn and hot chocolate! Party time!

*Sorry for the complete LACK of toning down. I didn't mean for this to be so long. Really.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Round 9: Christmas Music

WARNING: You are about to venture into the height of Becky's Christmas Dorkiness. All who are not prepared for what lies ahead may wish to turn back now and read a nice cooking blog instead. You have been warned.
Question: What songs do you have on your ipod? What makes you tick? What is the soundtrack of your life? What songs take up the most space on your ipod or computer or shelf of CDs? Okay, I have no idea what the answers to the first three questions are for myself, but I know the answer to the last one!
As I have previously stated, I have over 1000 Christmas songs on my itunes. Sad, you might think, but I am actually quite proud of it. But instead of raving on and on about how Christmas music fills my soul with joy, how I used to secretly listen to it during studying for spring finals because it helped so much with winter finals, how the entire month of December is filled with nothing but Christmas music... Yeah, instead of that, and in honor of the announcing of the Golden Globe nomiations today, I'm going to give out nominations to Christmas songs. And there is the fact that I do not have one favorite. I have multiple.

Best Christmas Song -- Comedy
Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer - Elmo and Patsy [A Connolly girls favorite. We know all the words.]
The Twelve Days of Christmas -- Bob and Doug McKenzie [I cannot help but crack up to this one. "And a beer...." Bah hahahaha]
Rusty Chevrolet -- Da Yoopers [I distinctly remember one Christmas Eve hearing this on the radio, and I have never forgotten it]
The Twelve Days of Christmas -- Allan Sherman [The most random song ever. Hilarious]
You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch -- Thurl Ravenscroft [technically, this is a soundtrack, but whatever]

Best Christmas Song -- Non-religious Non-traditional
Christmas in Killarney -- Anne Murray [I SERIOUSLY love this song!]
All I Want for Christmas is You -- Mariah Carey [truly a wonderful song, especially if you have a special someone]
The Night Before Christmas -- Amy Grant [Always loved this song. So good]
Please Come Home For Christmas -- Charles Brown [I really love this bluesy jazz number]
The Bells of Christmas -- Kenny Loggins [makes me get all choked up and stuff]
Feliz Navidad -- Jose Feliciano [Tell me THIS isn't your favorite too!]

Best Christmas Song -- Religious Non-traditional
Love Has Come -- Amy Grant [sorry, this song taps into my inner Baptist, complete with handclapping]
Mary, Did You Know? -- Clay Aiken [I'm not a huge Clay fan, but this song is awesome]
Breath of Heaven -- Amy Grant [Never fails to move me]
Rejoice -- Il Divo [This song is seriously amazing]
No Room At The Inn -- Anne Murray [I love this song. Again, my inner Baptist]I Cannot Find My Way/Three Kings -- The Forgotten Carols by Michael McLean [this song touches my heart every time]

Best Christmas Song -- Non-religious Traditional
White Christmas -- The Drifters [seriously, who DOESN'T love this song?]
Holly Jolly Christmas -- Burl Ives [it's a classic!]
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas -- Mel Torme [This song is the epitome of all Christmas songs]
The Christmas Song -- Nat King Cole [This is without a doubt, the best version of this song]
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year -- Andy Williams [seriously my happy song]
Sleigh Ride -- Johnny Mathis [grew up with him at Christmas, love this song]

Best Christmas Song -- Religious Traditional
Do You Hear What I Hear? -- Andy Williams [the BEST version of this song]
O Holy Night -- Josh Groban [I spent a major part of the Christmas of 2004 listening to this with all the lights off except Christmas lights]
What Child Is This? -- Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli [Best duet I have ever heard. Ever.]
O Holy Night -- Celtic Woman [they are INSANELY incredible]
Panis Angelicus -- Il Divo [it was a toss-up between them, Josh Groban, and Celtic Woman. I love them all.]
The Lord's Prayer -- Andrea Bocelli with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir [Yeah. 2 for 1 special. Seriously the most powerful song ever.]

Best Instrumental Arrangement of Christmas Song
Auld Lang Syne -- Kenny G [FAVORITE]
Ave Maria -- Will Galison and Toninho Horta from Carols of Christmas [very reflective and beautiful]
Mad Russian's Christmas -- Trans-Siberian Orchestra [it's really the sugarplum fairies and nutcracker songs, but HOLY CRAP is it awesome!]
A Christmas Festival -- The Boston Pops Orchestra with John Williams [it's got EVERYTHING!]
O Holy Night -- David Darling from Carols of Christmas [beauitful, beautiful, beautiful]

Best Christmas Song from a Motion Picture
Believe -- Josh Groban from The Polar Express Soundtrack [AMAZING song.]
Where Are You Christmas? -- Faith Hill from How the Grinch Stole Christmas [makes me tear up sometimes]
God Bless Us Everyone -- Andrea Bocelli from A Christmas Carol [Amzaing song. Amazing.]
Thank You Very Much -- Cast of Scrooge [don't start, it's an amazing song!]
Somewhere In My Memory -- John Williams from Home Alone [honestly, this is one of the greatest songs from a movie ever]
True Blue Miracle -- Sesame Street [do not laugh, it is an amazing song from my childhood that will ALWAYS be a favorite!]

Best Christmas Song by Mormon Tabernacle Choir (Yeah, they get their own category. I'm convinced they were the angels that sang when Jesus was born. Totally serious about that.)
What Shall We Give To The Babe In The Manger?
Hallelujah from Handel's Messiah
Joy To The World
Angels From The Realms of Glory
The First Noel
For Unto Us A Child Is Born from Handel's Messiah

Best Christmas Song in the LDS Hymn Book
Joy to the World #201
With Wondering Awe #210
Far, Far Away on Judea's Plains #212
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #209
Angels We Have Heard on High #203
Silent Night #204

Best Spoken Word
The Polar Express read by Liam Neeson [Yeah....]
The Night Before Christmas by Robin Willams [SO good!]
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss [Yeah, I have the whole thing on CD, so I can actually listen to the movie. Way fun.]

Best Christmas Album
Christmas Album -- The Boston Pops Orchestra conducted by John Williams [AMAZING]
A Christmas Celebration -- Celtic Woman [OUTSTANDING]
My Christmas -- Andrea Bocelli [totally blew me away]
Noel -- Josh Groban [very VERY good]

Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits -- Various Artists [probably the best collection of original traditional Christmas songs ever]

Best Christmas Artist that is Totally Out There
Mannheim Steamroller
Trans Siberian Orchestra

Best Christmas Artist Overall
Kenny G [seriously, I adore all of his Christmas stuff.]
Andy Williams [classic]
Amy Grant [no really, she has everything!]
Anne Murray [a regular part of my Christmas music repetoire]
Nat King Cole [the true king of Christmas music]

Well, now that this has been the longest post EVER, I just have to say that I know these nominations are mine and not necessarily yours, but all of these were chosen for a specific reason and I love them dearly. And they are all on my ipod [winces]. And I KNOW I left some out, but really, look what I DID put in!

But anyway, whatever your preference for Christmas music, listen to it, love it, enjoy it, because we only get it for a limited time. It brings true magic to my Christmas, and I hope that it does to yours.
Oh, and PLEASE listen to some of my nominations if you aren't familiar with them. They're way good! And if you have any for me, let me know! I am always open to new songs! =)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Round 8: Wrapping Paper

Okay, before you all roll your eyes again that I will be gracing you all (yes, all three of you) with a blog post on the single topic of wrapping paper, I need to break in with a special report: I am SO grateful that I did not die last night on my way home from my parents' house, or this morning on my way to work. And I very easily could have in that craziness of a blizzard. Never have I been so grateful for my apartment than I was last night. I was safe, I was warm, and even though I could hear the crazy wind and snow outside, it didn't bother me. Well, until I had to get up and drive this morning, but whatever.
And now back to your regularly scheduled dorkiness.
Wrapping paper is what makes the world happy.
Well, I don't know about that, but it certainly makes ME happy! Anytime anything is wrapped in special paper that serves no other purpose but to cover a gift and make you more excited about the occasion the gift is for certainly SHOULD make someone happy! And Christmas wrapping paper is the ULTIMATE wrapping paper, thus delivering ULTIMATE happiness. And yeah, I'm having too much fun with the caps lock. Wrapping paper has that effect on me.
{Seriously, though, look at this beautiful-ness! Aren't you smiling???}
Let me spin a little story for you. Growing up, we had the regular wrapping paper that you could pick up at any store. We used a lot of it, mostly because we were terrible at wrapping presents and used way too much, but we were also really good at using the odd scraps. Anyway, we knew all of the paper we had, and we had our favorite rolls. Grandma's presents always came in much nicer paper, much fancier, and we used to save it for when we could use it again next year. But the best, and I mean BEST, wrapping paper of all was the paper that Santa wrapped his presents in. It was something none of us had ever seen every year, obviously, since Santa wraps his presents at the North Pole and they have their own AMAZING stash of wrapping paper, (I'll post on Santa later...look for it). But it was always so exciting for me to see that new paper, that special Santa paper that was only used for his presents. Maybe that's just super dorkiness on my part, but that was really special for me.

{Sighhhh, what a beautiful mess.}
Some people are really talented when it comes to wrapping paper. My aunt Karen is one of them. Her presents are works of art. It's almost a shame to open them. Almost. I, on the other hand, have very little skill. Well, that's not true. I have very little artistry when it comes to wrapping. I'm quick and efficient (okay sometimes I use too much still, so what?). My presents are very rarely anything awe-inspiring, but the paper is cool. =){Seriously, look at this TOTALLY AWESOME paper! I want presents like this!}
Basically, one of my favorite things is Christmas Eve, when we've finally brought down the presents (more about traditions later, stay tuned) and assembled them under the tree, and then step back and look at all of those presents wrapped in that amazing paper underneath our tree with the lights reflecting off of it. So stinkin' cool.{Okay, this is a touch ridiculous, but LOOK at the variety! Who wouldn't be happy with this???}
And the wrapping paper is a MAJOR part of that awesomeness!
And this has nothing to do with the fact that I just collected 35 rolls of wrapping paper for a community Christmas thingy and was in charge of all of the wrapping volunteers, who wrapped 264ish presents in an hour and a half. Nothing at all.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Round 7: Christmas Candy

Okay, show of hands, how many people get excited when they walk into the grocery store after Thanksgiving and see Christmas colored candy on the shelves? ............none of you? Okay, so it's just me then. Awesome.
But no really, I do get excited by that. Nothing says Christmas is here like holiday colored M&Ms and Reese's and Hershey's Kisses and Hugs. True, yes? Of course, true.

I know it seems weird, but I really do like it. It makes me smile to see some of my favorite things during the rest of the year suddenly show up in Christmas colors. I would much rather have a bag of Hershey's Kisses that are red and green than a bag that is only silver. It is the epitome of Christmas spirit when the candy gets into it.
Every year in our stockings, Santa leaves us candy. Typically, we get some Christmas colored Hershey's assortments. You know, Mr. Goodbar, Krackle, Hershey's Milk and Dark chocolate. We sometimes get little holiday snickers. But every year, cuz Santa loves us, we get the coveted Reese's tree.

[cue hearld angels]

Seriously, best thing ever. You always have to wait until the last minute to eat that because nothing else compares to it. Seriously.
Now, as for other candies....well, who doesn't like candy canes? Don't answer that. Mint is the quintessential Christmas flavor. I'll post on that another time.

Homemade Christmas candy is amazing too. I don't have that often, as Connollys lean more towards baked goods, but I fully love and appreciate any homemade Christmas candy.
Basically, Christmas Candy is like regular candy plus holiday spirit, which everyone knows equals AMAZINGNESS. If our candy can get all excited and festive about Christmas, then why not us, huh? For reals.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Round 6: Christmas Socks

I know, I know, I said I wouldn't talk about my thing with Christmas socks, but honestly, it was the first thing that came into my mind today. Besides, I'm wearing a new pair of Christmas socks right now and I am really excited about them.
Now some of you might be thinking, "Really? She's going to do an entire blog post on socks she can only wear one month out of the year?" Yeah, it's crazy, right? But you might want to keep reading anyway if for no other reason than it could be a fascinating read, and really, if you're reading this far, then you don't have anything better to read right now anyway, so why not read about my obsession with Christmas socks, eh?

I mean really, aren't these fun???
I'm not sure when this thing with socks started. I know that growing up, my mom had a few different pairs of socks for holidays and she used to get us a pair or two every year, and it was always exciting. (Hmm, maybe that's the trouble right there: a child who is excited by socks.....) Anyway, whatever it was, it stuck and now that my feet have stopped growing, thankfully, (uhhhhhhhh.......) the socks that I have had for years still fit, so when I buy new pairs (and I do), they just add to the growing collection. The saddest day ever is when I realize that a trusty pair of socks that I have had for some time have gone the way of all the earth and I can no longer wear them without the skin of my foot touching my shoe. Sometimes I still wear them. Depends on the sock.
To illustrate how bad my little Christmas sock fettish is, let's use a real life example: I just now tried to count how many pairs of Christmas socks I have. I couldn't do it. That right there is the sign that something's wrong, when I can't even remember how many pairs I have.
But this year I have branched out. This year I have purchased at least 3 pairs of Christmas KNEE SOCKS. I KNOW!!!!!! Shocking, you say. Daring, you say. What the heck, most of you say. Yeah, yeah, I know, but now I can wear Christmas socks with my boots and maybe see some of them above the boot! Or I could just make myself look like an even bigger dork and wear them with regular things because it's freezing cold outisde and my calves appreciate the extra fabric. Like now.
There are, of course, rules to wearing Christmas socks. Rules, you say? How's that? Well, just look:
1. Christmas socks match absolutely everything. Every. Thing.
2. If your selected Christmas socks don't go with your outfit, refer to Rule #1

Now that's not so bad, is it? Pretty straightforward.
I firmly believe this, actually. Normally I'm pretty set on color coordinating, but come December, the colors are blurred by the Christmas Spirit of your socks and magically, the socks match everything. Don't you laugh at me, you fashionistas with no Christmas Spirit, you Scrooges of the fashion industry! My feet enjoy expressing Christmas by their attire, so you can just deal with it. And go to your nearest department store and buy some for yourselves and see if your feet aren't happier in Christmas socks. I promise you, they will be.
These aren't mine.....but they might as well be. Hey, some of those are cute......
To wrap things up, let me just say this: whoever thought of putting Christmas things on socks should be given a statue somewhere. Or a plate of Christmas cookies, if the statue thing doesn't work out. At the very least.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Round 5: Christmas Trees

I have an almost unhealthy obsession with Christmas trees. Something about them just makes me happy all over. A few weeks ago, I ran to the grocery store for a few things and I saw a big truck unloading fresh-cut Christmas trees and I just grinned so big. And the air smelled AMAZING!!!!!! Yes, I am one of those great big Christmas dorks that actually goes around SMELLING trees. I can't help it. They just smell so fresh and clean and Christmasy! I blame my mother; every year when we have our tree, when they cut off the bottom for us, Dad hands it to Mom to smell. And when we trim the top of the tree so that the star will fit, he hands the bit he cut to her so she can smell it. Now we both smell it. And when the tree was still in the garage before we decorated it, I would go over and literally stick my face in the tree and inhale deeply. It is one of my very favorite things to do. Garfield calls it "tanking up on Christmas spirit". I agree.
Now, I'm pretty insistent on having a Christmas tree and decorating it. A real tree, not a fake one. Unless a fake one is just not feasible, ie college students, then it's okay. I don't blame anyone for not having a real tree; but in my opinion, fake trees are lesser creatures. That's just me. There's nothing quite like going to a tree farm and seeing all of the many different kinds of trees and trying to find just the right one for our family. Good memories there. Of course, nowadays my family goes to Lowe's for our tree and, as previously stated, it took us 5 minutes. But then, we are seasoned Christmas tree shoppers. We know what we like.
So cool. If you can do the tree farm, do it!
As for decorations, some people go for themes on their trees and make a huge deal out of the details and that it be perfect and for show. Great, good for you. Hey, I enjoy a nicely decorated tree every now and then, too. But my Christmas tree has the most random assortment of ornaments ever. Every year we get a new ornament, and every year we try to see how many we can fit on our tree before it looks ridiculous. And then we step back and see a tree full of childhood memories.
My favorite part of the tree, though, comes when all the decorations are up and the lights and everything, and we turn out all of the lights in the house except the tree and let the light from it fill the room. The walls are spattered with colors, shadows of needles, reflections from the ornaments... It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, and it never fails to make me happy and at peace.
I am also one of those people that wants to go to NYC just to see the tree at Rockafeller Center. Cuz I'm a dork.But look how pretty it is!
When I was I think 15, when we were in Chicago for our Connolly Family Christmas (I'll post about that later, it's always a WAY good time), we took a day and went up to Navy Pier, which is usually a summer thing, but we decided, hey, why not? And they had a Christmas tree special display room with displays from all over the world. I was in HEAVEN!!!! It was seriously SO STINKIN' COOL! But again, that's because I am a great big Christmas dork.

I just LOVE these trees! Note to future would-be-fiance I'm a sucker for Christmas trees!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Round 4: Christmas Lights

I have a Christmas Dork obsession with Christmas lights. No really, I do. It all started when we were kids and we thought it was so cool that Dad would get ON THE ROOF to put up our lights. I'm not sure what it was, maybe the fact that he was risking his neck and life for some lights, so they must have been really important, or the fact that it always looked so cool when he was done... Not sure, but something about it made me love them a lot. And then as Christmas got closer, our parents would take us for a drive just to look at Christmas lights. Growing up in West Chester, there was a lot of lights all around, but one house in particular, on the way to our best friends' house, was always spectacular. They had nicknamed them the Griswolds, but I didn't understand what that meant at the time. I actually thought that was their name.
This isn't it, but it looked like this in my mind. Cool, huh?
Anyway, I know better now, but I still remember the excitement and awe that I felt every time we were going to take our Christmas Lights drive. It was during the last of those drives, in 1997, when my parents informed us what they were going to name our youngest brother, who was due the next month. It was a very special night.
Now that I'm older, I still get a childish delight out of Christmas lights. Especially when they are done well. I have a few rules about Christmas lights/decorations that go outside.
1. Plastic figurines look tacky most of the time.
2. Very very rarely are plastic figurines a good idea, See #1.
3. Blow up things are worse than plastic things.
4. Under no circumstances may Christmas light nets be used.
5. If nets must be used, refer to #4.
6. Setting lights to music gets you 1,000 automatic bonus points, and may possibly negate rule #1.
7. A poor job of lights is not worth any lights at all. If your lights are going to suck, save them for your tree. If you even have a tree. Grinch.
But generally, I'm not picky. =)
Lately, I've really liked the red/white light combo. Just white lights are always gorgeous, just red lights slightly creepy. But the combo is really very nice. This year, my parents and I opted for just white lights on the outside, mostly because all of our colored strands were busted. But inside on the tree, we ALWAYS have colored lights. I love that. I LOVE the way the lights play off of the ornaments and shine onto the walls. One of my very favorite things is to turn off all of the lights in the house except the tree and just lay on the floor in that room and stare. With Christmas music playing, of course.
The best lights I have ever seen are these one Temple Square in Salt Lake City:
Isn't it beautiful? If you've never gone, go. Seriously, amazing.
For those of you more local, come by my parents' neighborhood. They have a neighbor who sets lights to Trans-Siberian Orchestra. That's about 5,000 bonus points alone, and it's FABULOUS, which earns another 2,000. So, really, he wins.
I love Christmas lights. Don't you?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Round 3: Christmas Cards

I have a slight obsession with Christmas cards. Maybe it's because I'm nosy, maybe it's not, but I really and truly love going out to the mailbox in December and finding cards from people that I haven't thought about since...well....last Christmas! I love opening up those cards and seeing the pictures and reading the letters (which are sometimes the best works of fiction I have read outside of a Barnes and Noble or more ridiculous than the Letters to the Editor).
My mom tapes Christmas cards to the doors in the front foyer of the house. The front door and frame, the basement door, the coat closet... When I would come home from college for Christmas, the first thing I'd do is go and see who we had heard from this year.
Last year, I did a lot of the addressing of envelopes and stamps. That was a little stressful, but I really enjoyed it, because I could see who we send cards to and where they were at the moment, and then I could later see who sent us cards. Again, I'm nosy. Whatever.
The actual cards are pretty fun too. I enjoy seeing who goes for the religious theme, who goes for Santa cards, and who just opts for something wintery. But mostly, I enjoy how we reach out to each other during the Christmas season, even if it is just to tell everybody what totally awesome things we've done this year. I know that things are changing with the technology now and the poor economic state, but I really hope that Christmas cards -- actual cards in the actual mail with actual Christmas stamps -- don't die out completely. It would be really sad.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Round 2: The Advent Calender

One of my absolute favorite parts of Christmas is the excitement that surrounds the entire month of December, and before, if you cheat, which is mostly fine by me. But it seemed silly to write a Christmas Dork post on excitement, so I opted to choose an example of that excitement: the Advent Calender.
Now, some families go for the Lego calender, where each day you pull out a small set of Legos and put it together, until right before Christmas you have a full set of characters and spaceships, or what look like spaceships.
Fun; cute, maybe; but not for me.
Some families go for the chocolate calendar. Each day you open the little door with the day on it and get the piece of chocolate inside, until the chocolate is all gone on Christmas morning.
This is more my style, but still, not for me.
I have also seen really cute wooden advent calenders, where each little door with a number on it opens up to reveal a surprise inside. This is also really cute.
You could have all sorts of fun with this, painting and colors and such, but still, not for me.
But the advent calender I grew up with, love, and still insist on using, is a felt one. It's homemade, and we all love it. Each day, one of us, and we all know the order we are allowed to go in, puts one of the little velcro items up on the tree, until Christmas morning, when the star goes on top. It's always so much fun to see the tree get more decorated, and it just brings the excitement of Christmas closer. I decided recently that I am going to make one just like it for my kids, because counting down until Christmas brings the excitement to life, and ending with the star on top of the tree brings the rememberance of why we truly celebrate Christmas and why it is special.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Round 1: Snow

Snow is falling on the ground...actually, it's just sort of blowing around right now, and eventually it gets to the ground, where it is blown across the roads and makes really cool swirly shapes as I drive through it. It seems rather fitting that for December 1st, I wake up to find snow on the ground. Not a lot, but just a dusting. Just enough.
Which brings me to Round 1 of your Becky's Christmas Dork List: Snow.
Yes, that nastiness that covers roads and clogs tires and turns all grey and brown and disgusting if it is there for too long. Yes, I do like it. Not all the time, mind you, considering that nobody likes driving home from work in a blizzard, especially when the road treatments are less than quality work, but I like it enough that it made the list.
But in general, I really do love staring out of my window and watching snow flakes gently (or not so gently, like looks like the sky is having a wimpy flurry fight) fall to the ground. I love being all warm and snuggled inside with hot chocolate watching this. I love waking up to find snow on the ground, particularly if the sun is out and making the whole world glitter.
I am also a firm believer in a White Christmas. There is something very special about that in my mind. And it doesn't even have to be a major snow. Just a dusting will suffice. Just enough to make the world white and glittery.
I get excited when it snows most of the time. If I have to go somewhere in it, I am less excited, but still excited. I love catching snowflakes on my tongue, throwing snowballs, making snowmen, and I REALLY love the crunching sound of walking through the snow. I love taking walks when there is snow on the ground. I LOVE taking a deep, cleansing breath of the cold, snowy air.
Basically, I like snow. Deal with it. =)

I mean, c'mon, isn't this pretty? I know it's fake, but still. So pretty!