Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My Favorite Things About Christmas

Someone recently made me aware that I have been having a pity party for awhile now. I am going to have to thank that person. I probably have been, I have just been partying too hard on that pity to realize it. I get most of my frustrations out on the bike or on the last mile of a run, but sometimes it slips out into everyday life no matter how hard you try to stop it. So I've decided I'll clean up my mess and put the noisemakers away, it's time to stop "partying" and start enjoying more. 

Today seems a good a day as ever to cut out the self pity and get on with the positive thoughts. Christmas was once my favorite time of year, I'd count the days until the first Christmas song came on the radio, now however, this has been my second Christmas without a tree up in my place. I can't wait until next year to shift back into my old Christmasy self. I'm going to put a tree up, get all my beloved ornaments out, and go and bake cookies with my mom. I don't know where this Scrooge came from but I promise he is taking the next flight out. To help things along I'm going to make a list of my favorite parts of Christmas, if lists aren't your thing, turn away now. I know these kinds of things can be very boring, but I feel the need to go on. 

1. The tree: Decorating the tree was always a dedicated afternoon for me and my mom. We did the ornaments together and relived the stories each one of them had. Every year the same little keepsakes would come out, and every year we would remark on how we should start marking the date on them so we can at least try to remember where they came from. But that would take all the fun out of guessing where the heck some of them actually came from. Like the little stuffed man in the sombrero? When and why did he first grace our tree?
As fun as this time was and is, my favorite part of a Christmas tree is early mornings. When the world is dark and not yet together, the tree glows in the corner of the house like a little sign of family and love. Even seeing it through other people's windows, white lights, colored lights, big fat real trees, and skinny little fake ones, it makes me all sentimental inside. The tree is the heart of Christmas itself (other than the religious meanings behind the holiday), and I feel a special connection with each and every person who has one lit up and spruced up for all of us to see. 

2. Christmas morning runs: This was a tradition I began about six years ago that I have abandoned in the last two years. Two particular runs stick out to me the most. The first Christmas morning run I did was back in 2008. I woke up early before everyone else and headed out the door for a solid ten miles. It was so crisp and quiet outside. The world seemed to be at peace. I could smell fires burning and in some spots breakfast cooking. There were very few cars on the road and my mind wandered to the soundtrack of my feet hitting the ground. 
The second run that sticks out was the Christmas I ran from my old place in the Highlands to my parents, 13.1 miles straight home to open gifts around the tree with my family. This run was a straight shot down Ocean Avenue, no cars, just the sound of the waves hitting the shore and again my feet crunching on the road. The moment that sticks in my mind the most is the Christmas tree that caught my eye in one of the big bay windows of a house on Ocean Ave. I admired it for a moment and remember well that just beyond the tree I could see a family gathering around a table for breakfast. They all looked so happy, and filled with laughter. It was Christmas they were together and it was that simple, I could feel their happiness carry me though the rest of my run. The spirit I felt there quickened my pace so that I could get to my own family Christmas breakfast.

3. Bagels, cinnamon buns and Christmas traditions: I was always a stickler for tradition. Things have changed over the last few years and we have our wonderful new additions to our family. My niece and nephew have brought new families and new traditions together, and I am welcoming every new change they bring with open arms. Christmas is more fun when it is about the kids. I can't wait until they are a little older and the Santa fun starts. 
Even with so many new beginnings, my mom does keep some traditions alive no matter what. We still all get our stockings. Year after year we can count on there being all our favorite toiletries stuffed in and flowing out of each and every stocking. She also makes sure to get me a box of Legos, I can't live without my legos, yeah I know I'm 30. There will also always be bagels and cinnamon buns first thing in the morning. New traditions are exciting to welcome, but some old traditions keep the feeling of family and home burning inside you no matter where you end up. 

4. Family and friends: This goes without saying. It is the time a year you look around at those you love and the ones that love you and really appreciate what you have. It is also the time where you remember those without all that love and can only hope that wherever they are there are strangers around them showing them the Christmas spirit. I have an amazing family that is growing every year, and with every passing year I grow more and more appreciative of them. That goes for my friends too, as crazy as some of them are! 

5. Neil Diamond's Christmas album: He may be Jewish but man can that guy belt out some solid Christmas tunes. If you haven't heard his Christmas album, please, do yourself a favor and download it. 

6. A Christmas Story: Particularly A Christmas Story marathon on TV every Christmas Eve. I fell asleep watching it last night and woke up to it this morning. There is nothing better than waking up to "ralphie I can't put my arms down." That movie is Christmas, with Home Alone being a close second, in my personal opinion at least.

7. Gingerbread lattes: You can find these almost anywhere, but Starbucks particularly is the best. All I can say is this drink warms me up with happiness and feelings that there really might be a Santa Claus. One sip and I'm staying up late writing letters to Santa about the new Specialized Shiv I was hoping he might fit in his sleigh. 

8. Christmas brunch at the Schwartz's: This is last on my list for tonight, but certainly not least. Brunch at the Schwartz is a newer tradition for us, and I'll admit I wasn't happy about it at first. When I was first told about this shift in tradition I thought, "It's Christmas morning we were all supposed to sit around at moms, open presents, eat, drink and be merry. We never went anywhere on Christmas morning!" But families extend and life changes and this has become one of my FAVORITE new traditions. I really couldn't imagine going anywhere else from now on. 

Ok, that was 8 favorite things, next year I promise I will make it 10, I am too tired and too filled with delicious food, mimosas and wine. I just want to say I am so blessed with the family and friends that I have, and hope everyone around me has had the same wonderful Christmas filled with laughter and love and good cheers! And for you Scrooges, I hope that you too can rid yourself of him, as I believe I have. 

Oh and no work out for today, not a chance, next year I will return to the Christmas morning traditional run. 

Who got a work out in today? Who skipped it and indulged on A Christmas Story?


  1. I've become a scrooge too! This isn't good!

    1. What you didn't get a MTB for christmas? :(

  2. Having you here for Xmas brunch makes it that much more enjoyable for all of us!