Christmas Bucket List

I do quite well with lists and checking things off (and yes, sometimes checking it twice. Me and Santa, you know.). I decided to make a list for Christmas, things I want to make sure to do and see and experience, and to help me remember that many of the seemingly so important, frantic parts of the season are not for me. And that’s okay. This probably isn’t one of those lists that people will print out and share, or Pinterestize, or whatever, and that’s okay too. This is for me. And maybe you’ll get a good idea or two from it as well, and that would be a huge bonus.

Last year at this time I had *just* unpacked our moving truck in Arizona, but was back in Salt Lake for a few more weeks, then to Arizona for a few days, and then BACK to Utah for the holidays. I didn’t decorate. No tree, no lights, no holiday baking, just hanging up the lovely assortment of received Christmas cards. This year feels brand new and fresh in almost every way, I hope I can start a few new traditions, and also somehow remove the mental block of needing snow and fragrant piney trees and bitter cold weather for it to really be Christmas.

Harriet’s Christmas Bucket List:

  1. Find Christmas decorations…what closet/corner are they in!?
  2. Figure out tree situation & decorate (Should I get two trees?)(I’d LOVE two trees!)
  3. Lights up outside! (The first time for me!! A HOUSE with LIGHTS ON IT!)
  4. Luminarias on Christmas Eve (White bags and candles are ordered!)
  5. Christmas Card (family photo, order cards & stamps, address, send)
  6. Angel tree or other donation project for a needy family
  7. Make Christmas play list, play constantly: I just loaded my huge stack of CDs into iTunes!
  8. Pull out all Christmas movies: watch on repeat!
  9. Read Jesus’ birth story in all four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
  10. Make gingerbread houses, one of my favorite family traditions
  11. Christmas cookies: gingersnaps & frosted sugar cookies
  12. Desert Botanical Gardens: Los Noches de Las Luminarias
  13. Go see some really great Christmas lights
  14. Church Christmas party, this is a Saturday morning breakfast. Brilliant!
  15. Christmas manicures (with these!!!!)
  16. Christmas orchestra concert at the kids’ elementary school
  17. Blue Eyes work holiday party
  18. Hang up all the Christmas cards!
  19. Wrap all the presents!!! (This is one of my favorite parts!)

What about you? What’s on your Christmas bucket list!? What are you trying to avoid over the next month?




Christmas Wish List: 2015

The last few (four) years Blue Eyes and I have mostly been apart for the holidays. We have been together on Christmas Day, but only 5 or 6 days each month during the holiday season, or less. That’s….not a lot of days. It makes for a lonely holiday season when you spend it primarily alone.

We are together this year. I mean, for all of last week at any rate. And this week. And next week. (And the week after that, repeat, the rest of the year.) It’s my Christmas wish from the last several years, finally coming true.

My love and I are together.

So, when your biggest, longest wish comes true it’s kind of difficult to figure out anything else to ask for. I truly feel like I have everyone and every thing I could possibly want.

It is enough; I am content.

(Also, when you have spent the last several weeks packing up and then unpacking all of your possessions, it makes the idea of adding MORE possessions to your house seem a little less necessary. Note to self for 2016: perhaps you can ride this minimalist-ish wave for a little while?)

Harriet sig


Every family has some kind of holiday tradition, I think. Whether that is Christmas or Hanukkah or Festivus or Football, I think most of us grew up with traditions and then added to or edited as we started to celebrate on our own. Before I got married my favorite and best Christmas tradition was me waking up in a quiet apartment on Christmas morning, listening to Christmas songs while I drank hot chocolate, curled up on the couch, reading Christmas stories and/or Luke 2. Extra bonus points if it was snowing. I would always go visit family for lunch and spend the day with them, but Christmas morning was mine.

Of course, when you marry into a family with a couple of half-grown kids you really cannot justify such a tradition on Christmas morning. So, presents and breakfast and noise and giggles and laughter are the order of the day. And when you move to a new state a few weeks before Christmas and are not actually spending the holidays in that state anyway…well, Christmas everything is reduced to a minimum.

I hung a wreath because I found it while I was moving.

We have a large poinsettia on the dining room table.

For the first time I am sent Christmas cards, more than 100 of them!

I have loved the ones we’ve already received at our new house and hung them all up (with a very fancy string+command strip hooks situation, best idea ever).

I’ve been listening to Christmas music all day, loudly, because there are no coworkers nearby to irritate

I have finished my Christmas shopping, and most of the gifts are wrapped…but they are all in Utah still because I didn’t see any point in hauling them 700 miles south only to turn around and haul them back again for unwrapping.

But, no Christmas tree this year, no lights outside, no growing pile of presents. And honestly, it’s not terrible. I mean, I would love a really tall fragrant fir in the living room and twinkly lights in all the windows and piles of Christmas cookies and everything. But ultimately, that’s not what Christmas is actually about. It’s about love, Christ, spending time with family, and showing kindness and charity to others.

So, I’m reading the Bible and Christmas stories, researching charities and places to donate to help others, and enjoying a much simpler Christmas overall. I’m sure next year I’ll overcompensate with the biggest tree Arizona can offer, but for now, my poinsettia and Christmas tunes will do.

What are your Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus traditions? Are you having a traditional holiday this year? Or are you doing something else?

Harriet sig

Anti-Christmas Shopping Rant

That’s it. Next year I want to be finished with any and all Christmas shopping/gift arranging before Thanksgiving. Done! D-U-N! DONE!

I have never been a fan of the Black Friday shopping blitz. I am actually convinced that the better deals on the bulk of merchandise take place the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving. If you are standing in line for that new tech gadget, the specific TV or gaming console or whatever, sure, you may have the best deals on Black Friday. But who wants to stand in line in the cold, in the dark, when you are full of turkey-tryptophan and desperately need a nap? Not this girl! No, I’d much rather spend my holiday weekend with my family, taking naps and eating leftover pie than elbowing crazy shoppers for that sweater or tchotchke or whatever. No, thank you, I have always steered clear of Mass Consumerism during my Thanksgiving holiday, thankyouverymuch.

That leaves me with two options. First is to be done with my holiday shopping prior to Thanksgiving. The other is to brave the masses who pop into the shops on a weeknight after work or who storm the malls on Saturdays. No, thank you. I love finding presents my loved ones will adore. I love reading reviews to determine if this or that is the better choice. I love the element of surprise. I love wrapping everything up in beautiful paper. I do NOT love that whole process starting sometime in December. Or, really, of completing that process sometime in December.

Before I got married and joined a whole new family my Christmas shopping lists were pretty simple, and over the years they were pared down even more. When I graduated from high school I stopped drawing a name for the cousin gift exchange. When I was in my early 20’s my siblings stopped giving presents to each other, instead we started taking turns selecting a charitable cause to donate to each year. That’s 8 people knocked off my list, right there. I stopped giving gifts to my nieces and nephews after one Christmas with three new babies. It’s just too many people; current count on my side is 9 nieces/nephews. (I do, however, send them all birthday cards every year, because I am vying for the role of Favorite Aunt.) Before getting married I bought Christmas presents for exactly 5 people: my Dad and Stepmom, my Mom, my one friend who always gives me a lovely and thoughtful Christmas present, and my significant other, if applicable. That’s it. No co-workers, no neighbors, no other friends. No gifts for my hair dresser or the UPS delivery man or the landlord. No presents delivered to extended family or people I serve with at church. Nada.

When I got married that all changed. First of all, when Mr. Blue Eyes and I got hitched I became a Stepmom to a couple of elementary-aged kids. I will state unequivocally that I really enjoy finding surprises and presents for my stepkids. It’s fun to shop for them, to talk about what they like, to try to figure out a great surprise. Why I couldn’t have just added 2 more people to my list and ended up shopping for 7 people is kind of beyond me (okay, 9 people, his lovely parents should make the list too).

My in-laws family is all about the Christmas presents, they all give to everyone every year. That is 17 people giving to 17 people and it’s just…it’s the worst. Let me be clear, THEY are not the worst, my in-laws are wonderful. But the Everyone Gets Presents From Everybody thing is exhausting. And the flurry of text messages and emails that are sent every year requesting ideas for this person or that person makes me think that they all aren’t that keen on it either. Perhaps I can tactfully suggest we draw names among the nieces/nephews and also among the siblings? I don’t know how one tactfully suggests such a thing, so in lieu of that happening my plan is to be completely done with Christmas shopping well before I plop my Thanksgiving turkey into it’s brine bath.

More than the excitement about missing the holiday shopping marathon, is excitement about returning the focus of the Christmas season to Christmas-y things. I’d rather make Christmas cookies than make a plan of what stores to hit in what order for what items on my day off. I would rather spend my time reading Christmas stories and listening to favorite Christmas songs than trying to locate and acquire this season’s Must Have Gift. I’d much rather squeeze in a few more holiday parties and meet ups with friends or family to view the Christmas lights than spend a Tuesday night elbowing people at Target. I’d rather secure tickets to the Nutcracker or a great Christmas concert by a local band or group than spend a weekend researching new gift ideas because so-and-so has claimed Good Idea #1 and so-and-so has claimed Good Ideas #2 and #3. I’d rather spend my December fun money on a Sub-for-Santa than on two dozen gifts for people who really don’t need gifts. And I’d rather spend some time doing good for others than spend my time scouring the internet for last-minute rush-shipping gifts for that one person we forgot about.

Mark my words, next year, shopping will be finished before Thanksgiving!

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