Happy, Merry Whatever

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Per my new blogging schedule, this is supposed to be some sort of writing advice blog. But it’s also Christmas day, a day slap bang in the center of a massive holiday season encompassing many significant days across many religions and spiritualities, so, I thought there’s a chance you’re enjoying the day with families and friends. Hence the post’s title. I can’t take full credit for it, though. I’ll explain it later. No authorly advice, though. I don’t think. Who knows? We’ll just see where the holiday spirit takes me.

Some years it is terribly difficult for me to get into the spirit of things. This year, not so much. We got a tree earlier than usual this year, and unless I am an absolute grump next year’s holiday season, I’d like to get a tree even earlier.

I’ve been watching Christmas movies, listening to Christmas music on the radio, I hummed along to whatever was playing in the stores while I went shopping. I’ve been generally happy this year. Which is surprising because this year has basically sucked. Maybe I’m just glad it’s about to be over. Whatever the reason, I’m just trying to fully appreciate this festive feeling of exuberance.

Instead of getting all sappy, though, I thought I’d tell you some of my favorite Christmas stuff. So, here goes.

Cookie: I love snickerdoodles this time of year, especially these cream cheese filled ones, but then there are the fruit cake cookies my husband’s grandmother makes every year. I’ve never had fruit cake cookies before I met her, and I don’t know that I’ve seen anyone else make them. And screw actual fruit cake…but those cookies? Fruit cake cookies, FTW!

2nd Place: Those snickerdoodles.

3rd Place: English Butter Cookies

Song: Carol of the Bells. It’s always been my favorite. It both creeps me out and gets me excited for the season. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s a little dark. Haunting. It’s not bubbly. While I love most interpretations of it, the one that springs to mind is by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. If somehow this eargasmic score has eluded you, here. Take a listen.

2nd Place: It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, Perry Como

3rd Place: Christmas Canon, Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Movie: This one is tough. I am going to name National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation as my favorite because my husband and I sit down and watch this one together every year. I don’t think I have to list my reasons for loving this, so I’ll spend more time on second place.

2nd Place: Dolly Parton’s A Smoky Mountain Christmas. It was made for TV a long time ago. No one, except maybe CMT, plays it anymore. (Wouldn’t really know, as I haven’t had cable in nearly five years.) But this movie makes me feel so peaceful, and it is set in my absolute favorite place on earth. It’s simple. I love Christmas decor that leans on the simplistic, rustic side. So, this is most definitely not a popular choice of movie, and I watch it alone every year because my husband doesn’t care for it, but for me, Christmas doesn’t start without it.

3rd Place: A Christmas Story.

Memories:

     Childhood: Decorating the Christmas tree. My mother despised having just colored balls hanging on a tree, so our family tree was filled with ornaments that had meaning. And we often discussed that meaning every year when the ornament was taken out of the box. Some ornaments had written histories with them, but I would often times see my mom in deep reflection as she selected an ornament from the box.

My brother and I also had this rather odd tradition of creating a “Christmas village” of ornaments we specifically hung on the underside of the tree. Often lying under the tree like mechanics meticulously arranging them and rearranging them, and of course fixing them when gifts would knock them down.

       Bonus Childhood Memory: Actually, this isn’t a memory of mine, but it is a story that gets retold every year. Apparently when I was a youngster I had no interest in getting up early. Not uncommon. But, this extended to Christmas morning. The story goes that my brother, somewhere around 9 or 10 at the time, woke before everyone else and spied the bounty under the tree—but wasn’t allowed to touch anything until I, aged 4 or 5, also awoke. My parents eventually gave into his pleas to wake me up, and followed him into my room. They say it was so sweet and went something like this:

Brother: “Hey, sis, it’s time to wake up.”

Me: *nothing*

Brother: *gently shakes me* “Come on, get up. Look. Santa Claus came!”

Me: *rolling over and looking out the window* “Nuh-uh, Cwiss (Chris), Santa Claus ain’t come yet, it’s still dark outside.” *proceeds to close eyes and go back to sleep*

Brother and Parents: *Jaws drop collectively*

Yep. That story gets shared every year, just like fruit cake…only it’s more enjoyable, methinks.

     Adulthood: My third married Christmas. We were still blissfully young, but we had our own house (big mistake, but we didn’t know it at the time) and we invited my family over for Christmas morning. We’d decorated the house beautifully…I spent an insane amount of time on the mantle. We had a fire going. I made a huge breakfast. (My family has always been big on breakfast.) It was wonderful. Peaceful. My brother was so grateful that I’d remembered to buy him pulp-free orange juice that it is still sometimes brought up nearly a decade later. Dad’s health wasn’t the best, by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it is now. That was an exceptionally great Christmas.

Gift:

Fingernail Fun

Hellooooo 1995!

     Childhood: So many to choose from. We weren’t rich by any measure, but my parents always made sure my brother and I had a good Christmas. I will always treasure the story behind one particular present, though. Does anyone remember something called Fingernail Fun? I was 10, and I wanted this so badly, and apparently lots of other little girls did, because my folks had a hard time finding it.

One fateful night, very close to Christmas, my brother found one and I forget the particulars, but for some reason he had to get down on his belly to reach underneath a display to procure the very last box. For that reason, Fingernail Fun will always be a special memory for me.

     Adulthood: I honestly don’t know. I never know what I want for Christmas anymore. I’m good with socks. This year my husband did surprise me with something I’ve wanted for a long, long time and that is a set of All Clad pots and pans. I haven’t talked about them in a few years, so it meant a lot to me that he remembered. Last year, however, my mom was browsing a thrift store local to her and had an impossible find, which I suppose takes it for sentimentality’s sake. She found a teapot that once belonged to my grandmother. Now, you may think that it might have just looked like a teapot that once belonged to my grandmother, but no. This one really did belong to her. She’d broken it, and repaired it. And it was very obviously hers. It had been lost after my grandmother died in 2003, and my mom found it randomly and gave it to me. That’s going to be a hard one to top.


This is my last post of the year! When we reconvene on January 1st, we will be talking about setting goals and resolutions for the New Year, and I’ll list mine. We’re going to try some public accountability. Woo-hoo!

I’m going to end this here and get back to spending time with my nearest and dearest, but I’ll leave you with the story behind the blog title.

Many moons ago, I worked in retail management…not pleasant around this time of year. One lady had just berated one of my employees and myself because the cashier said “Happy Holidays” rather than Merry Christmas. Another lady happened to hear the exchange, and very loudly said “HAPPY MERRY WHATEVER! I’ve never seen someone get so upset because someone wished them well! You should be ashamed!”

I so loved that second lady. Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas. Whatever you celebrate, I hope it has been the most joyous it can be. If you’d care to share some of your own holiday favorites and memories, I would love to see them in the comments below!


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