I’m a firm believer that the new year is a great time to inventory your life and set new goals. I know, I know. Time is a made up construct and honestly, yes, if you have a dream, you really should start working towards it now. Don’t wait for the new year, next month, Monday, or tomorrow. Start today.
That being said, I still believe the new year is ideal for reflecting and realigning myself. I make a big thing out of it. I sit down in a quiet place with my journal and some music and dig deep about how the past year went and what I’d like to accomplish for the next year. For my businesses, this is a much easier exercise as I look at revenue and page views. It’s very data and product driven. But with my personal life, I like to dig much deeper into my behaviors and habits.
Decorating the Christmas tree is a very special tradition for us every year. We make hot chocolate, put on holiday music, and carefully unwrap our memories from the year. It’s so meaningful because we truly are unwrapping memories. Throughout the year, as we travel, we purchase ornaments for souvenirs. When we get home, I write the year on the ornament and tuck it away in a box until it’s Christmastime.
Every ornament has a story and that’s usually the reason decorating takes so long to complete. We take turns picking ornaments to hang and pause to share stories, laughing along the way. Lots of “do you remember when…” and “it was so cool that…” moments. It’s all very Hallmark and I wouldn’t change it for a second.
In that spirit, I’d like to share with you 7 of our favorite ornaments this year. The list changes every year based on where we are mentally and emotionally, so enjoy the stories. There may be an entirely different list next year.
Warning… there’s a lot of Disney. 🙂
Santa – Every year, we buy an ornament to commemorate the Christmas theme. I happened across this ornament on my first solo outing after Cameron was born. I just wanted to get away for a little bit, stretch my legs, and give my brain a break. Hank suggested I go to Joann and as I was aimlessly wandering the aisles, I met this little guy.
2. Disneyland Paris Minnie – This ornament has the potential to make the list every year. When I was 22, my best friend and I backpacked through Europe for 24 days. It was a huge courage stretch for both of us. To give ourselves an emotional break halfway through the trip, we went somewhere that would feel familiar – Disneyland… in Paris. As we walked into the park, we both felt like we were back in Anaheim. Not that the parks look that similar (they really don’t) but because it was Disney. We suddenly felt at ease and were able to enjoy a stress-free day thousands of miles from home.
3. Jax’s Paw – When we got Jax, people jokingly called him our “starter child” but honestly, that’s what he has been – our first child. Jax has taught us so much about ourselves and who we want to be as a family. He has loved us unconditionally as Hank has left for months on end without explanation (to him), we have moved him to a completely foreign place (to him), and we’ve added a new person to the family (without consulting him). We could never repay the amount of love this puppy has shown us but we are committed to giving him the absolute best life we can.
4. Pluto’s Christmas Tree – I bought this set early this season because I have always loved the Pluto’s Christmas Tree cartoon. What I didn’t know at the time was it would be the first holiday cartoon that Cameron would actually watch with me. Early one morning, he was being particularly engaging and we put on this cartoon in the background. He insisted on facing the tv and allowed me to introduce him to the wonderful world of Disney, which was such a magical moment.
5. Hotel del Coronado Sand Castle – We’ve been missing San Diego something fierce this year. Last year, we did Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado and it’s one of our favorite memories together. This ornament simply reminds us of how amazing our time in San Diego really was together.
6. Robin Hood Wedding – Disney’s 2017 wedding ornament of the year just happened to be from one of our favorite movies and was a “must purchase”. I also purchased it from the company store at the Burbank studio, which make it extra special to me. Like, it’s Disney-Disney special.
7. Once Upon a Wintertime – As a child, we had the Once Upon a Wintertime cartoon recorded on a VHS and I have very vivid memories of rewinding over and over to watch it. Usually I was sitting on the floor of my living room in my jammies…and it was July or August. (I really love Christmas.) I thought the boy was so sweet to the girl and oh-so talented! Did you see those moves on the ice?! It will forever be one of my favorite Disney cartoons and I love having an ornament of these two adorable characters.
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Growing up, my family had a handful of holiday traditions that I treasured from year-to-year. Honestly, some of them may not have even been intentional “traditions”, but there were simple things I looked forward to. For instance, I loved helping my mom put up all the decorations, carefully hanging garland around the fireplace and unwrapping the handpainted Christmas village. Later, we added an electric train around the tree that was both festive and a pain in the ass.
A few years ago, my husband and I had a conversation about what we love about the holidays and ways we wanted to celebrate. The result was a short list of things we want to ensure we do every year, even if we’re crazy busy. We budget money and time to make these happen every year and everything else for the season is a bonus!
In our house, game night is king. From the holidays to casual weeknights, we love gathering around the table to play board games and do puzzles together. Over the years, we have amassed quite the collection of games and have found a few crowd pleasers for players of all ages.
These 7 games can be adapted or easily learned by players of most ages, especially with a little help or “coplaying” from an adult. (“Coplaying” = “Come sit with me and help me play.”) All of them also have a sneaky educational factor so kids can learn and play at the same time. Win-win for all families!
Cooking is one of my greatest joys. I find quite a bit of personal fulfillment in making something delicious for my family while exploring new flavor pairings and food. However, it hasn’t always been that way. I used to loathe cooking because it took too long and nothing ever turned out how I wanted. Lots of undercooked or charred to a crisp chicken. Soggy veggies. Over-flavored noodles. I just couldn’t seem to get it right.
Then I took a knife skills class at Sur La Table. It was a gift that completely changed my relationship with food. You’re probably wondering how a knife class changed my cooking. Well, let me tell you…