Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Merry!

Merry Christmas my sweet blog stalkers.  
I hope you are enjoying a cozy morning with those you love the most.  

Tomorrow my family is off to Lake Placid for a few days of wintertime fun!  Will be back soon with pictures from our adventures up in the snowy North.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Nashville Gets into the Holiday Spirit

            Just your average flashmob at Nashville International...check out the security guard getting down with her bad self to Mariah Carey's classic!  Hope you're enjoying your Christmas celebration wherever you are.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Peek at our Tradition

            Every family has its own traditions.  The little things that remain the same each year and remind us that there are certain things that can be counted on despite the uncertainties that we face when we walk out the front door each day.  Within the walls of our homes, surrounded by the families we've been given or the families we've created, our traditions bind us to that which is safe and familiar.  That which is home.  And since I spill my guts to y'all all the time, I thought maybe I'd let someone else do the talking this time.  And that someone else is my 18 year old brother, Scott, who wrote this essay for his high school English class last year.  I think it sums it all up pretty well.  (And for those of you who read this excerpt last year in our Christmas card, sorry for the repeat!)

Scott Ball
Period 7
Slice of Life Memoir

            Being the fourth of four children, I have seen my siblings mature and grow and move away from home for bigger and better things.  Although I remain at home with my parents, there is seldom a time where all six of us are gathered together at home again.  Once a year, however, all of my siblings and I are lucky enough to be at home with our parents to catch up and enjoy one another’s company.  At Christmas time, my family seems to go back in time about ten years.  Each child naturally assumes his or her respective role in the family as if no one had ever left.  My eldest sister, Katie, acts as the motherly coordinator of anything and everything that the rest of us do and say.  The second eldest, Julie, becomes the social comedian that keeps everyone laughing.   Finally, my brother Andy and I constantly argue about nothing, and compete to prove who is the alpha-male, when in fact we wouldn’t know what to do without one another.  It is at this special time of year when we can all be together and truly be ourselves.

            My family spends the Christmas holiday by upholding old traditions with extended and immediate family, all of which make it easy to forget one’s problems and simply live in the moment.  These traditions range from big to small, important to insignificant.  Like potato soup on Christmas Eve or sitting on the front steps in age-ascending order on Christmas morning, as we await the presents that lie under the tree in the living room.  Or watching claymation Christmas movies in the days leading up to the big holiday, slowly setting the mood and getting into the Spirit. 

            Yet, there is one simple tradition that seems to stand out above the rest – a tradition that encompasses the morals and values of my family on a very subtle wavelength.  It is a ritual that may appear to a visitor as immature and silly, but feels just right to us.  After savoring every last drop of Katie’s potato soup, saying goodbye to our cousins, and getting home from the 11:00 church service, the six of us take our places on a small couch next to the tree – one that is probably meant to seat two.  Huddled on top of one another like little kids, sit a 25 year-old teacher, a 23 year-old graduate student, a 19 year-old college sophomore, and a 17 year-old high school junior.  Between us, sit our two parents.  As we sit scrunched together on the unforgiving small couch, my dad reads The Polar Express aloud.  You may be thinking how weird we are, acting like we are toddlers rather than coming of age young adults.  But this is tradition, and it is bigger than a simple picture book.

            For anyone familiar with the story, the Polar Express emphasizes imagination, faith, and friendship discretely intertwined with a plot that any young child would salivate over.  As the main character ventures to the North Pole aboard a fantastical dream-train, the four kids and two parents lose themselves in the story, and in one another’s company.  A small statement, that no matter what is going on at work or school, no matter how far away we live from one another, or no matter how old we get, some things will never change.  A small 15 minute activity never meant so much.  For that short amount of time, as we laugh and joke, and enjoy the story, we are simply and perfectly happy.

            With this in mind, my family has granted me the invaluable opportunity to venture out into the world and take risks, for at the end of the day I can always come home to those who love me.  It is the small things such as this that shape my personality and actions on a day to day basis, and in turn, mold me into the person that I have become today.

If you hung in there for that long...thanks for reading!  Merry Merry!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes...

            Now that finals are over and the grueling 13+ hour drive back East is complete (don’t worry, I had a Tori Spelling book on my Ipod), I can finally settle into this Christmas spirit I’ve been getting glimpses of over the past few weeks.  It is hard to believe that Christmas is only three short days away…especially since I have not purchased a single gift or nailed down the ever-anticlimactic New Years plans.  But instead of getting stressed and allowing myself to succumb to the Grinch-like attitude of those crowding the King of Prussia Mall, I am going to do just the opposite.  I am going to succumb to my urge to sing Christmas carols in the car at the top of my lungs while sipping a gingerbread latte and expertly navigating the bustle along Lancaster Ave.  I am going to read a book that I actually enjoy and not worry about the fact that I have absolutely no idea where life will take me over the course of the New Year.  Cause what I do know is that though I have the power to create my own happiness, much of life is far beyond my control.  So why not grab some eggnog and the Glee Christmas soundtrack and enjoy the ride?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Four Down, One to Go

            It’s hard to believe that I have put away yet another set of textbooks and graduation and the real world are only a semester away!  But the end is in sight and it feels oh so good.  So last Tuesday night, after wrapping up our last final, my school friends and I got together for a little celebration.  Now, it was nothing crazy but a little cookie decorating and a lot of champagne drinking was exactly what we needed!  And though the combined sugar/champagne buzz was heavenly while it lasted, the crash came hard and quick and we were in bed by 10pm.  Ohhhh to be a grad school grandma J

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Snowy Sunday in the South

            This is going to be a post of few words.  Instead, I will let my pictures do the talking because a) my brain is not functioning due to excessive amounts of useless information about swallowing that are occupying space that is usually reserved for (somewhat) eloquent and witty thoughts that end up on the blog and b) the first snow has a way of blanketing even the busiest of cities and most stressful of days in a quiet that can't really be described in words.

"I am younger each year at the first snow.  When I see it, suddenly, in the air, all little and white and moving; then I am in love again and very young and I believe in everything."

~ Anne Sexton

Happy Snow Day!

The Hotel

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DIY Happiness

"People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you are fortunate.  But happiness is the result of personal effort.  You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world to find it.  You have to participate relentlessly."
~Elizabeth Gilbert

            Being the wishful thinker that I am, I tend toward the mindset that if all of the pieces would just fall into the right places, I would be perfectly, blissfully, happy.  If only I could get this one wish or change that one moment that set in motion the chain of events that led to some sort of unhappiness.  So when I read this quote, I got to thinking about happiness.  Sure, I know that in theory, we are the creators of our own destiny, blah, blah, blah but I don't often think about the fact that if we really want to be happy we may need to take matters into our own hands.  

            So that is just what I did tonight.  Recently, I have felt like I am balancing a stack of textbooks on my head and holding my breath until Christmas.  This whole eat-sleep-breathe speech and language thing is taking it's toll and I desperately needed to go out and join the living.  And when I did, I discovered that life is going on in a big way out there.  I hadn't even realized it but the Christmas season is really here.  There are lights on branches, candles in windows, and trees lined up under tiny white bulbs just waiting to be picked.  And there is no better place to experience the magic of the holidays (and a friend's birthday!) than at the Opryland Hotel.  This place is Christmas on speed and I'm not afraid to say that I am addicted.

            So though it may not have been good for my GPA, my Christmas outing was good for my soul.  Instead of giving into the misery that is finals week in grad school, I went out searching for my own happiness and discovered if you just open your eyes and look around a little bit, it's not all that elusive after all.  

P.S. Can you believe how the Opryland Hotel has bounced back since the big flood?!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


            Calm down...I didn't see T.Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal, though I am studying in the cozy coffee shop where they were spotted just this past week.  But I am desperately hoping for a sighting even though I think it is stupid that they are dating and she is way to young and he should be my boyfriend instead.  Don't judge me.

             But back to what was really spotted here in Nashville this morning.  SNOW FLURRIES.  Yep, it's snowing here in my Southern city and I am loving it.  So what if it is not sticking and will probably be 50 degrees tomorrow.  Right now it feels Christmas-y and festive and I am soaking it up.

Gotta run!  Off to catch some snowflakes on my tongue.

Friday, December 3, 2010

In Case You Were Wondering...

            I know that Thanksgiving has come and gone but I wanted to just share a few pictures of my family's celebration at my favorite place in the world.

And I also promised my Aunt Kim that she would get a shout on the blog and I couldn't let her down!  

            Though we were only there for a short 24 hours, we soaked up every minute of our cozy Fox Point holiday.  Meal preparations were filled with the typical banter that I expect is present in every household in the minutes leading up to the turkey carving and consists of arguments about how many more minutes the turkey needs in the fryer (yep, I said necks and proud of it), where we should put all of the food, and who is sitting next to who at the big long table.  To top it all off, the night ended with a massive family turkey coma, during which relatives of all ages were sprawled across every inch of living room carpet eyes glued (or closed in the case of the men) to the tv as Will Farrell pranced through the streets of New York City looking for his dad.  Talk about getting into the holiday season.

Sorry so blurry!

            And though I loved all of our Thanksgiving, I think one of my favorite parts of the holiday is the grace.  This is always my grandfather's job and though he gets made fun of for being a little long winded, the man says a mean grace.  The rest of the Thanksgiving celebration is hectic and filled with the happy hum of cousins and dogs and football on tv, but during those few minutes we all are quietly reminded of what is at the core of Thanksgiving.  And that is my favorite part...besides the sweet potatoes.