I must say, this was probably one of the best Christmases of my life. I’ve learned some valuable lessons over the past year that I’d like to share with you throughout this post. Nothing crazy or anything, just some life adjustments that really made a difference during this holiday season.
I think it was a few weeks before Thanksgiving that I decided that I better start becoming serious about the holidays. For as long as I can remember, I pretty much thought that things were going to miraculously come to me. I’d sit in my desk seat watching videos of Thanksgiving Day get-togethers and feasts and assume that if I waited long enough, I’d be eating a wonderful dinner surrounded by candles and atmosphere. Unfortunately, it’s taken me a very long time to learn that what you put into it, you get out of it. If Laura and I didn’t think about and prepare this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, we would have been sitting on the couch eating Pop Tarts. We did think about it though and we enjoyed every last minute of it. You can read all about that here.
It all started out by watching a video. You can see it below (if you’re reading this post via email, you’ll need to click through to the post):
A New England Christmas
After watching the video a few times, something dawned upon me. All the wonderful things that the folks look like they’re enjoying so much were painstakingly put there by someone. Nothing is by chance. There was a vision and that vision was realized by a group of people who truly wanted to enjoy, or have others enjoy, the season. I suppose I always knew this but it wasn’t until recently that I matured enough to realize that I’ve been being a bum about the whole thing. I’ve been lazy.
Throughout the season, Laura and I visited a number of towns and stores in an effort to purchase small gifts for one another. Our goal wasn’t to be anywhere near extravagant – all we wanted was a few items to put under our Christmas tree. As a matter of fact, you can read the posts I wrote about our adventures this past December here and here and here. Another goal we had was to enjoy a nice dinner on Christmas Eve as well as Christmas night. We did that too.
I think Laura thought I was joking when I mentioned that we should wrap our gifts. Even though we both picked everything out and knew what we had, I thought it would be fun to, sort of, wrap each item up in some used tissue paper she found in her closet as an event for the big morning. Yes, she most likely thought I was joking, but she didn’t think that for long as I began getting everything ready on the dining room table. And it only took a few seconds more before she was smiling and wrapping some herself. Moments later, we had a small pile under the tree.
Let’s see if I can remember what we got for each other. Beer, cookies, those old fashioned candies, some candied peanuts, a cookbook, coffee and a few other things. Oh yeah, we got some preserves as well. It looks like really good stuff. And even though we were both in on it, remarkably, we both had a really good time opening the gifts. It was so stupid it was fun, if that makes any sense. I felt like a kid again.
You’ll most likely see that same tissue paper again next year. We didn’t use tape and took good care of it.
I took those two pictures last night as I was messing around with my camera. Whenever we dim the lights to eat at the table, I always think the ambiance is so cool that I begin snapping away at the most random things. This time, it was the jelly and the candy. By the way, we got those 13 ounce jars of preserves for $2.99 each in Reny’s. I’ve seen them anywhere from $4 to $10.59 online. Beware. Also, Reny’s has a huge assortment, so I think we’ll have to grab some more.
As we were in Hannaford getting everything we would need for our dinners, I thought I’d give some dessert wines a try. I most likely have already tasted some of these types in the past, but I’ve forgotten all about them. Giving these another shot was in order.
The two we decided on were both made by Taylor in New York and are Tawny Port and Cream Sherry. After trying both of these very similar tasting wines, I’ve decided that I much prefer the Tawny Port. It doesn’t have any more alcohol content, but it sure tastes like it does. It has a bite and I like it.
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, both Laura and I did a lot of cooking. As a matter of fact, I’ve already posted three of the six recipes we used on my other blog, so if you’re into food, you should really check them out. Each recipe came out really well and after last night’s dinner, we were both stuffed. Believe it or not, I actually had to wait a little while before I could drink any of that wine I just talked about.
So, what are the lessons I learned this year regarding the holidays? Well, I’ll try to remember them and list them below (not in any particular order).
– Nothing is going to come to you. You need to go get it.
– If you’re after a certain “feeling,” you need to decide what that feeling is and head towards others who think the same way.
– Don’t get caught up with how things “used to be.”
– You need to enjoy a nice quiet dinner with someone who means something to you.
– While preparing that dinner, you need to be listening to holiday music. Actually, just listen to Christmas music year round.
– Someone needs to make a big deal about things. As a couple, it’s far too easy to say, “Yeah, we’ll get to that.” Usually, it’s just one of you who takes the lead. Be that person and the other will gladly follow once they discover you’re serious.
– Relax and drink a dessert wine after dinner. You’ll be happy you did.
– Turn the lights down low.
– The Christmas music I mentioned above should be loud and played throughout the house.
– Make sure you get a Christmas tree early. A week after Thanksgiving is perfect.
– Give. Find a worthy local cause and share some of your profits. I never believed in this until recently. It makes life worth living.
– Shake hands and give hugs. We’re all on this earth together and even if you have to nominate your significant other (a-hem) to give someone a hug, you’ll likely make that someone’s day.
– Visit friends and neighbors. I need to get better at this. I swear Steve, we’ll come over soon.
– Watch as many Christmas shows and movies in December as you can. They’ll surely get you in the mood.
– Be sure to purchase a new ornament every single year until the end. It’ll give you a reason to get out to those “off the beaten path” stores.
– Get presents. They don’t need to be huge. Just enough to enjoy the morning and to brighten the day.
– Make a nice breakfast on Christmas morning.
– Develop friendships. There are so many people out there who are ready to be really great friends. Just say hello and invite them to do something with you during the holidays.
– Send Christmas cards to friends and people who mean something to you.
It’s weird, I didn’t know I’d write as much as I just did, but I still feel like I’m leaving something out.
There’s a cashier named Norma in the Hannaford we visit. She’s one of the sweetest women that we’ve ever met. The very first time she checked us out, which was years ago, we began talking and we haven’t stopped since. Well, as luck would have it, she was transferred to the Customer Service desk recently, so we don’t see her as nearly as much as we used to. Last week, after Laura and I paid for our groceries, we saw Norma as were passing her station. She came out from behind it and was very happy to see us. Upon witnessing her joy (and our’s too), I asked Norma if she wanted to give Laura a hug. She said, “Of course” and did. Then, I asked her if she wanted to give me a hug too. Before she could answer, I leaned down to hug her. Strange, but it felt great. It’s those little things in life that are special.
Next up is Laura’s birthday and New Year’s Eve. After that, we have a few months off. I think we already have the menu selected for New Year’s, but I still have to put one together for her birthday. I need to make it good too, because Laura’s a special person who always makes me the best birthday dinners. I need to pay her back.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!