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A Not-So Traditional Christmas

When I was younger, Christmas always held such excitement to me. I loved everything about the season, not just the presents. The first weekend after Thanksgiving was always the time we’d decorate, and we all had assigned roles in decorating the inside and outside of the house. I was usually in charge of handing my dad light clips while he climbed the ladder to the roof of the house while my mom and brother set up other decorations. Soon after that, my mom would start baking a million cookies, my brother and I would start searching for our gifts, and the holidays were officially upon us.

As we age, traditions change, as is inevitable. For me, Christmas got a little smaller. I still go see my dad’s side of the family on Christmas Eve, but on Christmas day it’s usually just me and my mom or the three of us when my brother joins us. My mom and I still bake cookies together because that’s a tradition we enjoy doing. We give them out to friends, neighbors, coworkers, and of course have a stash when my brother comes home for Christmas, even though he’ll say he doesn’t want to eat any. After we open the stockings and gifts, we’ll likely go to Christmas mass, then have some lunch, and go see a movie (this year it looks like it’ll be Little Women). The movie thing is only a few years old, when I was younger Christmas was all about playing with new toys we received. One year my brother and I got an air hockey table, that was a loud Christmas for my parents I’m sure. For some, these may not really seem like a traditional Christmas, while to others, some of these traditions are how they celebrate as well.

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Here’s the thing I’m learning about Christmas as we grow up. What is a “traditional Christmas” to one is completely different to someone else. Traditions can change, sometimes in ways that cause growing pains, other times in ways that make you wonder why you didn’t change them sooner. For some people, Christmas happens a week before the actual day. For others, it happens a week after the actual day. What makes it a traditional Christmas is that everyone is gathering together. Christmas is a time for family and friends to gather together, reflect on the year, look forward to the upcoming year, and most importantly, create memories together.

Whether you celebrate by going to the beach or building a snowman or having a Christmas movie marathon, your Christmas is traditional to you. If your family is not the kind to gather around the piano and sing Christmas carols, that’s ok, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a traditional Christmas, it just means your traditions look a little different. As long as you are with people you love, whether your family by birth or family by choice, that’s the most important part.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! I hope no matter how you’re celebrating this year, that you’re surrounded by love and laughter.

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Let Go of the Perfect Christmas

As a society, we’ve pretty much had it drilled into us that we should have the perfect Christmas. The perfect tree, the perfect decorations, cookies, etc., y’all can see where I’m going with this. We all feel so much pressure at the holidays to have the perfect holidays and the perfect family photos, and really, it’s the little moments that aren’t perfect that make it so much better. Trying to be perfect can be draining, so it’s time to let go of the perfect Christmas that you see in magazines and Instagram.

So let go of the perfect Christmas and start enjoying the moments you have together. Don’t be stressing about having the house perfectly cleaned and decorated for your guests, because that’s not the important part. The important part is the time spent and the memories made together. Go look at Christmas lights or go out and try a restaurant’s holiday drinks together to celebrate the season. Enjoy the slightly crispy cookies that came out of the oven after a few minutes too long. Enjoy celebrating early or late, because you were able to get the time together, and really, the day isn’t important. Don’t stress about the party you’re throwing being “just right” because family and friends care about spending time together, not if the appetizers look like Grinch or reindeer.

Learn to Rest

This past week I was down with some sort of illness, and I had to do one of the worst things in my mind: rest. I am very much a go go go type of person, and having any kind of downtime can be very difficult for me, especially when I’m sick. This time of year is horrible too since it’s so busy with baking and cleaning and decorating, so I definitely was not feeling like resting. However, my body had a different idea, as I could barely stay awake the first day thanks to a nasty fever. The next day was all about learning to rest so I could move on from the illness.

For those who prefer to constantly be on the move, learning to rest can be pretty difficult, but it’s something we all need to do. Our bodies will tell us when we need to rest, we’ll feel more fatigued or start lacking energy, and when we hit that point, we need to start listening to our bodies and take the downtime. I wasn’t able to bake cookies or do much around the house, but I was able to watch several cheesy Netflix Christmas movies, keeping the Christmas spirit alive, even if I was struggling to stay awake some moments. Whether you prefer to read a book or relax and watch tv when sick, it’s definitely important to allow your body the time to do so, and maybe even schedule some in before you get sick.

While you’re resting, especially while sick, don’t forget the immunity tea, chicken noodle soup, and lots of water. This is cold and flu season, so we all need our immune systems to be on guard, and if your body is telling you to slow down, listen to it! I am so glad I took a couple of days off work to rest and get over whatever I had rather than trying to push through and extending it for more time. Because sadly, that’s the reality of pushing through when you’re sick: you make the sickness last longer.

Pace Yourself on Holiday Treats

The holidays are officially here and I know one of the biggest downsides, and biggest upsides, is that it’s cookie season. I am an avid baker, and I love trying new recipes out, which means I also looove eating cookies. Unfortunately, that’s not the best choice when it comes to healthy eating, so this means falling back on my favorite thing. Moderation.

Everything in moderation is my standard for things. I don’t overindulge, but I also don’t restrict myself to where I won’t have a piece of chocolate cake if I want it. However, I do have to exercise a bit more self control during Christmas cookie times because those are so delicious. Just make sure to pace yourself. Set yourself a limit and enjoy only a few a day, and make sure you have other healthy snacks in there too. There’s no harm in helping yourself to an extra cookie or two if you can balance it out.

One thing I like to do is pick and choose where my sugar comes from. If I go to Starbucks that day, I avoid the extra sugars elsewhere like in desserts, because I know that White Chocolate Mocha or Peppermint Mocha I love so much is loaded with sugar. However, if I’ve been having unsweetened herbal tea and water, then there is no reason for me to refuse the dessert menu or not help myself to a couple of cookies from the tray.

Another option is to lower the sugar count in your cookies. There are so many recipes out there and it’s easy to do. Another thing I like to do is increase the flour while decreasing the sugar. You get fluffier cookies, and the sweetness really doesn’t change.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for pacing yourself during the holidays? Drop them below, I’d love to read them!

Enjoy the Little Moments

The holidays are an absolutely insane time of year, and it can be overwhelming to run from the parties to the decorating to baking cookies. But the best way to handle things is to enjoy the little moments. Enjoy the moment where you and your family are just sitting quietly, all together around the Christmas tree. Enjoy the moments where you accidentally burned some cookies and are laughing about it after. Those are the moments you’ll hold onto for years to come.

Mint Chocolate Cookies

I can’t wait to get started on cookie baking this weekend, and this is one of the first recipes I am going to try out.

You’ll Need:

  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 bag of dark chocolate and mint morsels

How to Prepare:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda in a small bowl.
  • In a larger bowl, beat butter, both sugars, and vanilla until creamy.
  • Add in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Slowly add in flour mixture.
  • Add in morsels
  • Drop rounded tablespoons onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set.
  • Put on a wire rack to cool and enjoy!

Shop Sales and Save

Cyber Monday and Black Friday may be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still find amazing sales and savings. Pretty much through the New Year stores will be having various sales, which means you can stock up on some necessities or wants.

One thing I never pay full price for are Christmas decorations of any kind. I always wait until closer to Christmas when everything goes on sale, and then I get those pieces I was eyeballing for my decor. I save a ton that way and can get more pieces for my house by purchasing when they’re at least half off.

Same thing goes for clothing, furniture, and even tech. More of those items will go on sale right before and right after Christmas, so if you’ve been eyeing something, hold out until the sales come out so you can save and get it for an even better deal.

Clean Out Your Decorations

Now that we are in the ‘ber months, it’s the time to start cleaning out your decorations. Go through what you have for Halloween, Christmas, and Thanksgiving, and make sure that everything works, anything that’s broken gets thrown out and anything you haven’t used in a couple of years can get donated. This way, you are making sure that you aren’t holding on to something that won’t work anyway, and you’re getting a headstart on cleaning and organizing your garage storage space.

Purge the Extra

It’s almost a New Year, you got new stuff for Christmas, purge what you don’t need. Go through closets, clothing, the garage, the attic, donate anything that’s in good condition, but doesn’t fit or isn’t used. Start the new year fresh.

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