I cannot express how excited I am for Christmas this year. For the first time since we’ve been together (coming upon 9 years) we will be celebrating all of Christmas together. People who are close to me know how important every aspect of this holiday is to me; everything from celebrating the birth of our savior to recreating important family traditions. I’ve also been really lucky to have a young little brother who still believes in Santa so it’s really sweet to see him live in the magic. This year Conor finally gets to be a part of all of it with me and my family.
When Conor picked me up from my parents home my mom had a great surprise for us; our first Christmas tree! My family traditionally goes out to cut down a tree for Christmas, but the past few years I haven’t been able to be a part of it because of college and living so far away. Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to this year either she wanted me to be able to decorate a tree with Conor to celebrate in new ways and create new family traditions. The tree she got us is a fake one so it was a little strange to me while we were putting it up but it’s beautiful nonetheless.
When I went to the store to get ornaments I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of colors and types (and prices!). I don’t think I’m too great at mix matching colors and shapes so I just decided to keep my tree basic by using only red and gold. You can’t go wrong there right? I found one box of 100 red ornaments and one box of 100 gold which came with glitter, glossy and matte plastic ornament balls. I also picked up a third box that included both colors but it turned out that I didn’t need 300 ornaments on my tree and returned that box. I think I went a little crazy! I also picked up gold ribbon and 8 boxes of candy canes. My disclaimer for the candy canes is that Conor is in love with anything mint or peppermint so as quickly as I get them on the tree is just as quick as he’ll eat them off! The only thing that is left is finding an angel for our tree. I just haven’t found one that feels right yet, as strange as that sounds.
Finding an angel that reflects our family is really important to me.Since I was a child we always had the same angel and my mother bought her when I was born to watch over our family during Christmas. So looking for a new angel to watch over my new small family (Conor and I) is really important to me. I’m really thinking about making my own with Conor so it’s even more special. Anyhow, Conor helped me decorate our first tree a few days ago and it was the sweetest thing ever. I put on a Christmas station while we were decorating and he surprised me by singing along to Rudolph. I couldn’t take how cute he was because he hardly ever spontaneously sings with me outside of long car rides. After a few hours we finally finished putting all the lights, ribbons, ornaments and candy canes on the tree, and finished the night off with some hot chocolate. The rest of the apartment still needs some Christmas touches but that’s work for another day! Tomorrow we will probably pick up the stuff I need to make my angel and nativity scene. I’m so excited that everything is coming together for our first Christmas!
I have been writing so many posts this week for this blog but I keep saving them to my drafts folder. They keep getting set aside because there’s so much I want to write or I want to keep reading them over and over again because I need to get the post just right given the nature of the content. I get so caught up sometimes that I lose joy and wonder in things, it’s almost like I get tunnel vision and forget to look at what is around me. I’m leaving you with this incredibly short post and photograph to remind you to look up and really take in what is around you. Being snowed in for Thanksgiving made me look around and see how much beauty is in the world. Even if it’s just as simple as your own snow covered front yard. I really want to hear from you, tell me below about a time you were so blown away by beauty in the world. I know that driving to school one day I was in tears over the beauty around me that one morning.
For many young couples there is always the holiday sharing struggle. This year Conor and I have decided to part ways this Thanksgiving and spend the day at our respective families homes. It makes me sad that we won’t be spending this holiday together but we have to do what will make our families happy. Christmas will be a little different though, we will be spending Christmas Eve at my parent’s house where all my grandparents will be coming along with my Aunt’s and a few more family members and friends. Christmas morning we will open gifts, eat breakfast and then drive down to Long Island to spend the rest of Christmas day with his family. Last year he did spend Thanksgiving with my family because that’s just what his school schedule allowed him to do and for all other holiday’s we mostly spent them apart.
I’m having a lot of anxiety leaving him this time though. This year has been a big year for us as we moved in together and began making our “home”. Now with the impending snow storm, I have just a little more to worry about. I’m so glad that our President at my job decided to close the office today a little after noon. Now rather than leaving after 6pm like we originally planned, we should be on the highway driving to Bushkill by 1pm. I have never driven during holiday traffic so I’m praying that the drive goes quickly and safely, especially after Conor drops me off at my house and he continues his trip to Long Island.
The better side to this is that I get to spend Thanksgiving with my family and I’m so thankful that we’ll be there for the most part. My grandparents are driving all the way from South Carolina to be with us and I’m so excited to see them. This Thanksgiving is also another one spent with my father. I’m very open about this because I like to think that if I talk about a struggle maybe I can help someone else who is going through something similar. The very condensed story is that my father was diagnosed with brain cancer while I was in college. He is thankfully doing very well and every chance that I have to spend another holiday and moment with him is something to be so gracious for.
Even though Conor and I are parting ways this holiday and I’m very anxious about it; I do get to spend it with family that I love and miss dearly. I’m really curious how other couples split up the holidays, please let me know how your family handles holiday sharing. I also want to hear what you all are doing and where you’re going for the holidays this year! I hope you all have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!
Growing up I knew that I always wanted a tattoo, they were always around me and just seemed like it was a part of life. My grandma had quite a few, my grandfather, my father and my mother, I never even thought about what other people “thought” about them. I never realized that there was some kind of negative association with tattoos. I knew that I loved my grandmothers intricate dragon on her back, my Uncle’s name with a halo above it was beautifully scripted across my mother’s ankle and the names of my father’s loved ones and heart were worn on his sleeve. The first tattoo that I designed for myself was when I was in 7th grade. It was a simple fairy with fall foliage blowing around her whimsical wings. I quickly decided that it wasn’t meaningful enough to permanently etch into my skin.
At this point in my young life I was already very involved with international aid organizations and had fallen in love with Sub-Sahara Africa; specically Uganda, DRC, Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya and CAR. As the years went on I only became more and more involved. I interned at Mercy Corps for a few years, I was an incredibly passionate advocate for Invisible Children. I attended countless sit-ins, protests, marches, and planned over 20 screenings and talks with Ugandan Speakers. At some point I realized that I wanted some type of tattoo to convey my love of people and my work with human rights. Nothing seemed good enough until I became even more involved with Invisible Children and attended the Fourth Estate. I’ll explain more about this leadership conference in another post. At this conference though we were introduced to the Liberty Triangle.
I didn’t want a tattoo that represented my work in just a few countries in Africa, I wanted a tattoo that represented my ideals and beliefs as a person. The Liberty Triangle did this for me. It’s a symbol of connectedness, of changing the course of history to tilt towards justice, to demand rights liberties and equality for not just ourselves but others that have been left behind. If you want to know more about the Liberty Triangle Click Here.
I waited a while before getting it because I knew that I needed it to be perfect. I shopped around for an artist and I made an appointment with a famous artist in my old town. It turned out that he overbooked my appointment and a girl named Jessica did my tattoo. Her dream was to be the top woman tattoo artist in PA and then Eastern United States. I sat down with my dad watching and she started tattooing my with her hello kitty tattoo machine. It didn’t hurt as much as I expected it and as she made it out to hurt. She had mentioned that the back of the neck usually tends to be a really sore and painful spot to tattoo but it wasn’t for me thank goodness. I got wrapped up after she finished and it healed really well for the most part. The only problem I had was sleeping because I tend to roll on my back and my puppy Louie wanted to lay near my neck every night(maybe because he knew something was up?). I got some spots touched up and may get one more spot done again along with adding and olive branch and eagle feather to each side.
When I walk around with my hair up I love when people stop me to ask what it’s all about. It’s a fantastic conversation starter for something I care so much about. Do you have any tattoos or a tattoo story? Let me know below in the comments!
Every year I try to create new meaningful Christmas traditions with my family and Conor. Today Conor and I put together our present for Operation Christmas Child and I think we both agree that we now would like to make it a yearly tradition. It’s something simple that reminds us to care for our brothers and sisters around the world and it makes such a impact on a child’s life.
I decided to pack my box for a 5-9 year old girl and I have to say it took me awhile to find just the right things for my box. While walking around Target I was a little disappointed because there were many parents that I passed in the toy aisles that used toys as a bribe to make their child stay quiet and behave in the store. I can’t imagine how many toys these children have at home that are untouched, I know that my little brother has piles of toys under his bed that he doesn’t touch. I hope that these parents are teaching their children to appreciate all that they have and to help others who may not have even the basic of things.
For my little girls present, I included:
- Composition notebook
- Pencils and sharpener
- Coloring book
- Pack of Crayons
- Hair Ties
- Two Sparkly Barrettes
- Stuffed Animal Cow (Too adorable!!)
- Jump Rope
- Purple with Stars Hot Wheels Car
- Bar Soap
- A few other things
I tried to have a good mix of toys, school supplies and toiletries. I wish that I was able to pack a second box but we’re a little worried about how much traveling this holiday will cost us. I guess I could have bought more from the dollar store but I wanted the little girl to have things that would last a little longer. I also included a note from Conor and I, telling her how special she is and how it’s so important to study hard in school.
Please let me know what you included in your boxes or what new traditions you plan on creating this year!
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