Hey y’all one of my favorite holidays is coming up this week and are you ready? Whether you are hosting a bunch of family over for the day, traveling to be with others for the week or spending it on your own, you’ll want to start preparations early. For those hosting, that’ll start with doing chores one evening, the next making pies ahead of time, then preparing the stuffing mix, etc. If you split it up into a few tasks each evening leading up to the big day, you can enjoy the actual day of a little more without feeling so stressed out. For those of you traveling, the same thing applies! Pack your bags ahead of time, make sure your arrangements for your pets are done, get that rental car confirmed, and then make sure to take time to relax beforehand. Traveling can be super stressful, so take care of yourself and try to alleviate any extra stress that you can. For those who will be spending it on your own, prepare a smaller version of the big meal for yourself, and then find some time to relax. Whether you have to work Black Friday or are studying for a big test, get some of the other things done out of the way chore-wise so you can focus on that and not feel as stressed each day.
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.
This past weekend, I was in Paris to ring in the New Year, and celebrate with family. From delicious food to stunning architecture, there was plenty to see and do on this trip. We spent a total of 4 days there, and most of it was a winter wonderland.
Flying in to Paris was a bit less fun than expected, though I will say, business class flights are AMAZING. I never sleep on planes, but on the 7 hour flight from DC to Germany, I slept, in a bed, and it was so helpful, especially since the end of the flying day didn’t go quite as well as the beginning. Unfortunately, during a plane change, our luggage got lost in Germany, and we had to wait several hours for our luggage to be delivered to Paris. That put a bit of a delay on our trip, so by the time we got checked in to the hotel and settled, there wasn’t much time for exploring, and instead we met up with the rest of the family for dinner and drinks.
On this day, Sunday, we wandered around Paris seeing the main sights, like the Eiffel Tower and some Christmas markets. The Eiffel Tower is one of those landmarks that you just have to go to every time you go to Paris, so despite having been once, we hiked over again, and it was a beautiful hike in glorious cold weather. Along the way, we got to see some beautiful architecture that unfortunately you just don’t see anywhere. The old columns and the way that buildings are so modern on the inside, but still remain the same outside, is a beautiful tribute to the history of the city, without falling behind in the times.
New Years Eve, this day was spent touring the Louvre, as well as seeing Notre Dame. The Louvre was packed, with lines everywhere, it honestly reminded me of Disney, but even more people. However, despite that, I was able to push forward and get a picture of the Mona Lisa. There are so many beautiful pieces of art, and you can literally wander that museum for hours and still not see it all. They even have the original castle walls in some areas from when it was a castle, and let me tell you, that’s really cool to see.
New Years Day, the final full day in Paris, one spent wandering around, seeing the Arc de Triomphe and wandering different parts of the city, looking at the architecture and buildings. Unfortunately, there were protests occuring in Paris over the past couple of weeks, and we saw some of the damage from it. Shattered ATM machines, graffiti over boarded up windows. While this is the Paris that I so enjoy visiting, seeing the shops in that state was very sad, and very unfortunate for those workers who came into work to find every window cracked and smashed, in some cases, a door nearly pried open and shattered glass littering the street.
Of course, the food was amazing, and my favorites would be the macaroons. I definitely have a soft spot for those sweet treats, and no matter what, they just aren’t the same when I order them in the U.S., so I had to stop for them not once, but twice! I ate several each day on the trip, and have several here for myself for a week.
It was cold, but beautiful, and there is nothing like wandering a Christmas marketplace in nearly freezing weather. I was happy to see they still had Christmas lights and decor up, it added something special to it, and really lit up what could have been a dreary winter day. Instead, it made it a winter wonderland with beautiful foliage, and adorable little shops set up here and there.
However, no matter how beautiful and great all of it was, the best part was undoubtedly spending time with family. There is nothing like ringing in the New Year, and discussing resolutions with those that you love, and cherish spending time with, even if they can get on your nerves at some points during the trip. All in all, it was a great way to start 2019 fresh, and with a bang.
Create a new holiday tradition this year with your family. Make it out of a mistake or something missing, and make it your own. Use heart shaped cookie cutters or a pink Christmas tree, and make that your thing for each year.
No one is perfect, no not even your neighbor who seems to have it all together. I know so much of our time spent is trying to be a perfect person, with the perfect life, but that’s just not reality. So instead, let’s try to embrace imperfections.
I’ve always been a perfectionist, even when I was a kid. I strived to get all A’s in school, be amazing at whatever sport I tried, etc. I’m still an overachiever, and I did manage to get A’s in school, but I didn’t get all A’s. In fact, I nearly got a C in Geometry Honors, and that truly crushed me in high school because it didn’t fit the image of this perfect girl I was trying to be. I colored my hair, because in my mind, being blonde was more perfect than being a brunette. I also started straightening my hair every day, because again, in my mind, straight hair meant perfection. I can’t really explain to you how that worked, but I can say I have learned since then to embrace the imperfections. I went back to my natural hair color, and now, if I want a change, it’s because I want to try a new color, not because blondes are somehow more perfect than brunettes. I learned to embrace my naturally wavy hair. It’s not perfect, it gets frizzy, and it fights me on styles certain days, but that’s ok. It’s me, it’s what I was given to work with, and it’s not always perfect, but it’s a part of myself.
I feel like sometimes we get so caught up in giving off this appearance of perfect that we lose ourselves. Society puts so much pressure on us, especially this time of the year, to be perfect with the holidays. Holidays are messy, there’s family in town, so things are more high-stress and things get broken, and things don’t go quite as planned, and maybe your Christmas light display isn’t as grand as the one next door. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, that doesn’t mean you failed Christmas. If you burned a batch of cookies, that’s ok, it happens to the best of us. If you forgot to make the vegetables along with the rest of the main meal, it happens. Just learn to roll with those moments and embrace the imperfections. Maybe you burned the cookies because you were out building a snowman and lost track of time. That to me sounds more perfect than missing out on that amazing memory to have a nice batch of cookies.
Life is messy, there’s so much of it that we can’t control, and that can make us all want to have these picture-perfect moments. But I can tell you, some of the strongest memories for me, they weren’t in picture-perfect moments, they were in messy moments, moments where things got forgotten because we were spending time as a family or moments where, the most important thing was a family game of football, not how perfectly decorated the house was. Enjoy the mess. It’s those little moments that make up a big, beautiful life.
Tis the season for giving! Whether you are getting a Starbucks for the morning or you just want to help your neighbor out with a small task, start a pay it forward movement, and let that Christmas cheer spread.