Christmas plans? [Day 23]

Day 23: What are your Christmas plans?

We’ll be spending Christmas with Tom’s family as we have for the past 2 years. Tom’s parents host Christmas Eve at their house, so we’ll get to spend time with some of his aunts, uncles, cousins, and his grandma the night before Christmas. Sometimes weird things happen, like Tom and his dad putting conic Christmas decorations on their heads…

Father Son bonding

The TV is usually on with “24 hours of A Christmas Story” for some part of the evening and next day.

On Christmas Day, we unwrap gifts together in the morning. I’ve gone more in depth on how the morning usually plays out in my post for Day 18/19. Finster goes nuts for the wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags, and boxes; it’s probably a highlight of Christmas.

Finster present

After presents and everything, we all just relax and hang out, eating leftovers for lunch. For dinner, one of Tom’s aunts and his grandma come over again for dinner. Overall, Christmas is a pretty chill day.

Favorite Christmas-y Drink? [Day 22]

Holy cow, guys and gals, there are only 3 more days until Christmas!!!

Day 22: Favorite Christmas-y drink?

Well, last Friday, we had a fun day at school filled with Christmas-y activities; there were cookies to be decorated, holiday cards to be made, dance games to be had. While students decorated and ate cookies, there were cups of hot chocolate for everyone. There was a candy cane hooked on the side of my cup which gave the hot chocolate a nice peppermint-y flavor.

Peppermint Mochas from Starbucks are pretty banging.

Tim Horton’s has a similar drink – order a café mocha with a shot of mint.

At home, I’ve been using a peppermint coffee creamer in my [duh] coffee.

So pretty much any hot drink with a little peppermint. But not too much. Just a little.

Favorite Christmas Meal? [Day 21]

This was actually Day 20’s post, but I had already screwed up and written Day 21 for yesterday, so whatever.

Day 21: Favorite Christmas Meal

Umm I honestly don’t care what the meal is because I love food. Except the foods that I don’t like. So I guess anything that isn’t one of those things. Like raw fish. Or really spicy things. Or…what else don’t I like…raw onions.

Last year, we had Italian food, I think. The only thing I can definitely say that we had was shrimp cocktail, and that’s only because I have this precious picture.

Shrimp cocktail cat

Holiday Travels? [Day 20]

This was actually Day 21’s question, but I had already written it all for today, so tomorrow’s post will be today’s original question. Got it? Cool because this is really important.

And by important, I mean not at all important, but worth sharing…or maybe not…? Anyways, moving on.

Day 20: Do you travel on the holidays?

Heck to the no. However, before and after the holidays: yes.

I’ve actually travelled around the holidays since my parents split, but that was always less than 2 hours worth of travel each way.

Since Christmas 2011, I have travelled around Christmastime every year. It all started because there was this tall, handsome redhead that lived 350 miles away.

  • Christmas 2011
    • I finished my semester of student teaching on December 16; I was then on a train to NYC on December 17 to spend a few days downstate with Tom and his family before Christmas. Tom met me at Penn Station and I finally met his roommate and business partner Jim! We sat at the Starbucks while waiting for the next LIRR train to Stony Brook. Tom’s parents gifted us tickets to Godspell on Broadway, so we went back to the city for a day to ice skate in Rockefeller Center and see the show.
      Christmas 2011
    • On Christmas Day, I made a trip up to Buffalo to spend the day with Courtney and her family. It was such a lovely day and we started our tradition of taking pictures in front of her tree, as if we were posing for a Christmas card…on Christmas Day. Her dog Jack looks like he’s about to poop.
      Christmas card 2011
    • I made a trip back to NYC with three of our friends (Courtney, Matt, and Laura) to stay at Tom’s apartment in Brooklyn over New Year’s. Three of us drove from western NY to Albany to pick up our other friend, and from there took a really inexpensive bus ride (I think it was $7) from Albany to NYC. Tom met us at the bus stop in midtown and we all took the subway from there. A bunch of college friends that lived downstate met up with us in Times Square and we made a day of hanging out, playing hide-and-go-seek in ToysRUs (now I think this is obnoxious haha…tourists…), playing the giant piano in FAO Schwartz, chilling in Bryant Park, and just enjoying time together. On New Year’s Eve, Courtney, Matt, and Laura went to Times Square to see the ball drop in person. I knew that my bladder could not handle this, plus Tom and Jim had bought tickets to a party in Union Square. So I went to the party with them and Jim’s girlfriend, Tara, to ring in the new year. It was a blast and I’m really glad I had all that extra time with friends, new and old, and of course Tom.
      friends in nyc 2012
  • Christmas 2012
    • This was my last Christmas living upstate. I was moving downstate to attend Teachers College, Columbia University for grad school in less than a month, so I didn’t plan a trip to see Tom as I would see him in less than a month. Before Christmas, all of my high school friends got together and we named it Ggg-mas as we call ourselves the Gs/Gggs.
      Gmas 2012
    • After seeing Mom and opening presents with her on Christmas morning, I went up to Buffalo to spend the day with Courtney and her family again. Of course we continued our tradition of Christmas card-esque photos.
      Christmas card 2012
  • Christmas 2013
    • This was my first Christmas downstate with Tom and his family. I had just finished grad school the week before and we had gotten engaged over the summer, so everything was super exciting. It was great getting to spend time with his extended family as well since Tom’s parents usually host holiday parties at their house. December 27, we made the trek upstate and spent time celebrating friends and my mom. We had G-mas again, minus one; but we Skyped her in and got a picture of that.
      Gmas 2013
    • We unfortunately didn’t get to go to Buffalo to see Courtney, but she and Matt came to us so we grabbed lunch together for some much needed friend time!
      Main St Pizza with friends
  • Christmas 2014
    • We went upstate before Christmas since we had plans to go to Orlando over New Year’s. We got to see friends and family as usual AND made it to Court’s house for some quality time and Christmas card pictures!
      Christmas card 2014
    • We also had G-mas, minus two; but don’t worry, we made plates with their most flattering pictures on them. At one point, we all took a drive to the most lit up house near our hometown. This house has always been a spectacle every year, so Tom got to experience it.
      Christmas 2014
    • The trip back home was ridiculous as our train arrived an hour late and within 30 minutes after departure, one of the axles locked up, so we had to wait for over an hour while another train came to tow us back to the Rochester station. We then had to wait another hour or two until buses came to pick us up; that was mad chaos. We finally arrived home 14 hours after our trip started (train ride usually takes 7) and every time we travel upstate by train, I hate it. Tom isn’t a fan of flying, but sometimes I make him suck it up because the train can be a real pain.
      train disaster
  • Christmas 2015
    • We are currently upstate visiting friends and family, so yee-haw! We took a plane this time and our flight was delayed 4 hours and my mom’s presents got thrown out because lotion is considered a liquid (okay okay it’s understandable…but they were still fully wrapped AND wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper!) and I didn’t feel like going through security again after checking my bags. Stupid.. The plan is to go to church and later have our annual G-mas (high school friends) on Sunday, see my mom and Godmother Josie on a daily basis, and go to Buffalo to see Court and her family on Tuesday. Other plans are still in the works.

Gifts and Stockings [Days 18 & 19]

Day 18: When do you open gifts?

This may seem like a weird question; like, they’re Christmas gifts, so obviously you open them on Christmas.

But, I know a few people whose tradition is to open their presents at midnight on Christmas Day. I think it’s a Latino thing. Or some people are just super excited and can’t wait until morning!

My family and I have always waited until morning…err, well, at least a few hours after midnight. As a child, I was a restless sleeper on Christmas Eve, and would wake up a million times until I finally couldn’t take it anymore and would go to my parents’ room at 5 am to see if we could get up. The answer was usually no, but at least I knew that I was that much closer.

I don’t remember when I started to sleep a little later, shower, and eat breakfast before opening gifts. That was during my teens I guess. When I still lived upstate and once Mom was in the nursing home, I would obviously wait until later in the morning or early afternoon to go take her presents and open them with her.

The past couple years with Tom’s family, his younger sister is usually the first to get up because she’s so excited. She then knocks on doors to wake everyone else up because she’s just too excited. She’s 23 haha. We all grab a bite to eat, I think we stay in our pajamas, and sit around and chat for a bit. When it’s time (Tom’s mom delegates when this is) we start with our stockings and then make our way to unwrapping the presents under the tree.

When this post goes up, Tom and I will be on our way to JFK airport to go upstate! I’ll probably give my mom her gifts right away (today) because I got her a few candle wax cubes for her candle warmer and a few of them are Christmas-y scents. I want her to be able to enjoy them before Christmas and for as long as possible. And don’t worry, I don’t think she regularly reads these, so it’s okay that I just told you what I got for her. Although, last time we were up there, I opened her computer to show her how to make a Google+ hangout call with me, and she had my Instagram account up and one of my more recent blog posts! Weird!

Day 19: Favorite stocking stuffer?

Growing up, it was always a tradition that we would get new toothbrushes, chapstick, and scratch-off lottery tickets in our stockings. I have to say, those are the best stocking stuffers. Even though the first two sound boring, like getting socks from your grandmother or something, they are essentials and it sucks when you’re stuck without them! And the scratch-offs, even though they were usually total rip-offs, still provided a little excitement and suspense. I think the most I ever won on one scratch-off from Christmas was $50.

Old Christmas Photo [Days 16 & 17]

Day 16: Hardest person to buy for?

I mentioned this on day 9 when I talked about the easiest person to buy for, but it honestly changes every year. Tom is actually pretty hard to buy for – whenever he needs something, he’ll get it himself. I don’t know what he could use in the technology world (that he’ll actually use), he already has too many items of clothing, and let’s not get started on how many comic books he has

Then again, everyone is hard to buy for in their own way. I would love to go the easy way and just get Sephora/Victoria’s Secret/any restaurant/any VISA gift cards for everyone so they could choose exactly what they want. I honestly think they are great gifts to receive. But they don’t take much thought or effort. And there’s no wrapping involved (this is both a pro and a con).

So anyways, everyone is hard to buy for thoughtfully.

Day 17: Post a picture of an old Christmas card.

I don’t have any old Christmas cards other than the ones we received last year. If I do have older cards, they are in storage. So instead, I found this old picture of me and my parents at Christmastime. I think this was in 1998, so I was 8 years old.

Family Christmas

Tress and Gifts [Days 14 & 15]

Day 14: Real or artificial tree?

I mentioned this in Day 7’s post about my most memorable Christmases. Growing up, we always had a fake tree which was great – less hassle, less maintenance, less clean-up.

But. I still always wanted to experience a real Christmas tree. Then, two Christmases ago, I was spending my first Christmas with Tom and his family. I had just finished up with my grad school exams and had moved from Manhattan to his parents’ house in Long Island. They caught wind of my desire to have a real tree and decided that they would go back to having a real tree.

I got to go with them to pick out the tree and it was such a fun experience! Everything smelled pine-y and it was cold and snowy, adding to the season and the effect of it all.

Christmas Trees!

When we got our tree home, it smelled so wonderful and looked so pretty; even Finster liked it.

Finster and the tree

Again, I didn’t have to clean up the needles, water it, or get rid of it once Christmas was over, so I am still all for a real tree. When Tom and I have our own house, I definitely want to get real trees, even if we stick to tiny ones!

Day 15: Best gift you’ve ever given?

I’m not about to brag about things I’ve gotten people. It’s not about the cost or size of the item, it’s more of the excitement I felt before giving a gift and while watching the person open it. It’s about knowing someone so well that you get them a gift that you are sure will make them happy.

Two Christmases ago, I got my mom a record player, some speakers, and a few records to replace some of hers that she lost during the yard sale once I moved. It made her really happy – although her original records would never be replaced, it helped a little.

Playing catch-up [Days 10-13]

Yikes, life happened and I forgot about this for a couple days, so let’s play catch-up.

Day 10: Favorite Holiday Scent

I inherited my passion for candles from my mom. It’s not just because of the lovely scent they give your space(s) but also for the soft glow of the flame when they’re burning. It’s especially nice during this time of year to have a candle burning; it makes everything seem really cozy and warm.

Oh wait, it’s mid-December and it’s been in the 60s for a week. Right.

At this very moment, I’m thisclose to being done with a Signature Soy candle from Target called Sleigh Ride [coconut, vanilla, lemon, Sandalwood, and Amber]; it’s not super Christmas-y, but it’s a light, fresh scent. They blended the scents together nicely because it doesn’t smell overtly like any one note.

A couple weeks ago, I went a little nuts on the Bath and Body Works site and bought a few [eight] candles. The reason I was on there in the first place was to get my mom some lotion for Christmas as she loves the Mad About You scent. Then I realized that 3-wick candles were on sale for $12 (normally $20). Jackpot.

If you’re curious, here’s a line-up of the scents I purchased. Really, only the top two are Christmas-y; some are more for New Year’s and other celebrations (Black Tie smells like men’s cologne!), and others are for any day, any season.


L to R, T to B:

  • Tis the Season [The rich, fruity scent of red apples, green pine & golden cider captures the joy of the season]
  • Cozy Cabin [Escape to a rustic cabin with a welcoming blend of frosted vanilla, sage, and golden glowing woods]
  • Cheers [Raise a glass with family and friends to notes of red fruit and mulled apples layered over rare saffron spice]
  • Black Tie [Your perfect date to any holiday party – green sage, sandalwood, and Tonka bean]
  • Champagne Toast [Pop, clink, and sparkle with an effervescent blend of champagne, juicy nectarine, and blackcurrant]
  • Italy Espresso Cafe [Immerse yourself in Italy’s coffee culture with an impressive blend of rich Italian roasted coffee beans and the perfect dash of vanilla cream]
  • Fresh Water & Sea Salt [Refresh a room with the clean fragrance of crisp water notes, sea salt crystals, and a bright hint of citrus]
  • Sundrenched Vineyards [A full-bodied blend of rich fruit, white wine grapes, and oak recalls an unforgettable day at a family-run vineyard in Sonoma]

Day 11: Favorite Christmas Tradition

When I was a kid: getting presents.

Now: Giving presents and watching people open them.

Day 12: Wrapping Paper or Gift Bags?

I don’t care. Do people really care about this?

Day 13: Favorite Christmas Book?

At first, I read this and thought, “Are there such things as Christmas books, and do people actually have a favorite?” I dug deep into my memory and realized, “YES, and I have one!”

When I was in first grade, my teacher read us a book that intrigued me so much that I made it my mission (and my mom’s mission, of course) to find and obtain my own copy. We went to so many stores searching and asking about it that I don’t even remember where we actually ended up getting it from. I’m not certain if I even have it anymore, similar to my Christmas decorations. I’m really hoping it’s in storage, but if it’s not I will definitely be buying it in the future. You know, for our kids because they’ll be sure to love it.

The book is called The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Alan Ahlberg. It’s got letters you can pull out of envelopes and read. When I was younger, among other things, I wanted to be a post office delivery person. I loved sorting and organizing things, and mail excited me because back then, whenever I received it, there was always something good inside.