MEEEEERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. POTTER!

Wishing you all a VERY VERY VERY merry Christmas full of food, friends, family, and – most importantly – FAITH!  I’m so grateful for all of the presents I’ve received and all of the friends I’ve gotten to see over the past week, but I’m most thankful for the reason I celebrate Christmas: Jesus.  I love Him so very much and I’m so grateful for the blessing of His birth and the gift He gave us – salvation.

(Has anybody noticed that when Linus says “Fear not!” he drops his blanket?  So subtle and so awesome.)

why i celebrate christmas | christmastime is here {part four}

Hello and welcome to my Christmastime Is Here blog post series that centers around – you guessed it – my all-time favorite holiday ever, CHRISTMAS!!!  Over the next few weeks (every Friday until Christmas), I’ll be adding to this series, so stick around because it’s going to be awesome.  I’ve never really done a Christmas blog series, but because of all of the growing (and blogging) I’ve done this year, I think it’s in order.  Christmas is just something that is so special to me because it’s the time to celebrate God’s most precious gift to us – His son, Jesus.  So grab a mug of something (tea, coffee, hot chocolate, pretzels) and enjoy!

(Before I start, I’d like to apologize for the lack of posting this past week.  I’ve been studying for a final like crazy and don’t really have much to say besides ranting about that.  {Well, that and Star Wars.  Wanna hear me rant about Star Wars?  I can do zat.  Comment if you want me to.  Moving on.}  I’ll try to schedule some posts for next week, but I can’t promise anything.  Okay, I’m done.)

Christmas has always been a special time for my family.  We spend time together, exchange gifts, and focus on the reason why we celebrate Christmas – Jesus.  I’ve always loved Christmas, and it’s my favorite time of the year.

Over the past year or so, I’ve met a lot of people who don’t “do” Christmas.  They have a lot of good reasons, but I don’t think they can say anything to change my opinion.

I celebrate Christmas because I feel like I don’t celebrate God’s gift to us enough.  I lose sight of Jesus constantly, and I’m so grateful that we have literally an entire season dedicated to celebrating His birth.

I understand that sometimes the commercialism overwhelms the real reason for Christmas.  I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I get too wrapped up (lol #punintended) in what I need to buy for my siblings or watching Christmas movies that have nothing to do with Jesus’s birth.  But the reason why I believe in Christmas is always there, and everything I do around Christmas always goes back to that.

I’m not going to try to pressure anyone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas.  (Although it’s always been hard whenever I’m around someone who doesn’t.  I always want to sprinkle tinsel on their hair and show them Linus’s scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas.)  If you choose not to celebrate Christmas, I’ll respect that.

But I love Christmas and I will never ever ever give it up.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go put on my Santa hat and not take it off ’til New Year’s Day.

no i shan't

favorite christmas songs. | christmastime is here {part three}

Hello and welcome to my Christmastime Is Here blog post series that centers around – you guessed it – my all-time favorite holiday ever, CHRISTMAS!!!  Over the next few weeks (every Friday until Christmas), I’ll be adding to this series, so stick around because it’s going to be awesome.  I’ve never really done a Christmas blog series, but because of all of the growing (and blogging) I’ve done this year, I think it’s in order.  Christmas is just something that is so special to me because it’s the time to celebrate God’s most precious gift to us – His son, Jesus.  So grab a mug of something (tea, coffee, hot chocolate, pretzels) and enjoy!

I’m totally one of those people who can listen to Christmas music before Halloween.  I think it’s because I love music so much, but I just don’t care when the Christmas music starts playing on the radio.  I won’t actively start listening to it ’til after Thanksgiving, though.

I have like a thousand favorite Christmas songs.  It’s so hard to narrow them down to just a handful, too, because I love them all so much.  But I did, so here you go.

Marshmallow World by Johnny Mathis

My family has a record player and one of our favorite records is a Christmas one, full of awesome classics like this one (and the following).  I just love the lyrics – “The sun is shining like a pumpkin head” is one of my favorites because my siblings have had many conversations about what a pumpkin head is.  (???)

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams

Okay, so this one’s just a classic and it’s fantastic and if anyone thinks differently, well, you’re entitled to your own opinion but so am I SO THERE.

Carol of the Bells by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra

This is one of the first more metal songs that I actually loved.  Because you can’t listen to it without furiously headbanging at 0:32.

Silver Bells by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell (from The Lemon Drop Kid)

I’ve grown up with this song and have played it nearly every Christmas since the first year I learned it (back when I was probably nine or ten).  I’ve wanted to see The Lemon Drop Kid for forever, and I recently found this clip (which makes me want to see it even more).

Born in Bethlehem – Third Day

I’m not a huge Third Day fan (despite the fact that I’m pretty sure they live like 30 minutes away from me), but I do love this song.  It’s one of my favorite Jesus-themed Christmas songs because of how real it is and how meaningful the lyrics are.  I love it.

While You Were Sleeping by Casting Crowns

This one ends on kind of a downer (albeit a thought-provoking one), and it rocked me to my core when I first heard it.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel by Tyler Joseph

I’m such a Twenty One Pilots fan and I’m not afraid to say it.  When I first heard that this song existed, I listened to it and tucked it away for Christmas.  Fast-forward to a few weeks ago, when I rediscovered it.  HELLO, LISTEN ON REPEAT.  (Currently at 44 repeats.)

Well, there’s my eclectic mix of Christmas songs that I love listening to.  What are some of your favorites?

favorite christmas memories & traditions | christmastime is here {part two}

Hello and welcome to my Christmastime Is Here blog post series that centers around – you guessed it – my all-time favorite holiday ever, CHRISTMAS!!!  Over the next few weeks (every Friday until Christmas), I’ll be adding to this series, so stick around because it’s going to be awesome.  I’ve never really done a Christmas blog series, but because of all of the growing (and blogging) I’ve done this year, I think it’s in order.  Christmas is just something that is so special to me because it’s the time to celebrate God’s most precious gift to us – His son, Jesus.  So grab a mug of something (tea, coffee, hot chocolate, pretzels) and enjoy!

Today I’m going to be talking about my favorite Christmas memories and traditions.  I was going to have two different posts – one for the memories and one for the traditions – but then I decided that you guys don’t want to hear about the stuff I do that much, so it’s one post.  : )

I’ve had quite a few very eventful Christmases over the two decades I’ve been alive, and they’re all due to my nutty family.  On a normal Christmas morning, my family will open our stockings, have a quick breakfast, open presents, and then spend the rest of the day relaxing and spending time with each other.

However, sometimes things don’t really go as planned.  For instance, two years ago, my brother caught some kind of stomach bug/flu thing a few days before Christmas.  He slept through most of the festivities with our extended family, and then he decided to spread the Christmas cheer and share his sickness with all of us.  It ended up that we were all sick and mopey on Christmas morning, too tired to do much more than open presents and sleep all day.  It was pretty awful.  This was probably the worst Christmas I’ve ever experienced, but it was definitely memorable.  😄

One of my favorite Christmases is almost the exact opposite of that Christmas.  We were between houses – we’d just sold our previous house and were in the middle of building the next one – and we lived in a super-cramped apartment.  None of us were looking forward to spending Christmas in our teeny-tiny apartment, but we were going to stick it out anyway.  Then, a few weeks before Christmas, a friend told us that they were going to be out of town over Christmas for an entire week and said that we could live in their house!  IT WAS SO MUCH FUN.  Honestly, it was one of the most magical Christmases ever.  I still don’t know how my parents got all of our presents there.  We enjoyed the bigger living space (and super-nice kitchen and huge backyard and cable TV) and it was such a blast.  Definitely one of my favorite Christmases ever.

As for traditions, my family has several.  We take them pretty seriously.  (There have been arguments between siblings about some of our traditions.)

One of my favorite traditions is reading the advent books by Arnold Ytreeide – Jotham’s JourneyTabitha’s Travels, and Bartholomew’s Passage.  (In writing this post a few weeks ago, I discovered that Mr. Ytreeide had written one more and I MUST HAVE IT.)  The stories hold many memories for me and my siblings – sitting around, reading the stories, lighting the candles… so many memories.  I shipped Jotham and Tabitha when I was ten years old – wayyyyy before I knew what shipping was.  Nathan will forever be one of my favorite literary characters ever, and my siblings and I still get a shiver up our spines whenever we hear the name Decca of Meggido.  *shivers*  (If you guys haven’t heard of these stories, look them up.  It’s a little late to read them now, but you can buy them as Christmas presents for your family and do it next year.)

Another one of my favorite traditions is our family get-together.  Most of my relatives are super close, and we all love to get together.

With my dad’s side, we have a huuuuuuuuuuuge gathering and eat delicious food (my grandma’s punch is my favorite), play the white elephant game (with amazing strategies that are perfected every year), and enjoy spending time with relatives that we rarely see.  We have late-night conversations with a certain aunt and uncle that I really look forward to.  (Last time I saw them, we stayed up ’til 3am.)  This year, my siblings are going to see The Force Awakens with my cousin – YAHOO.

On my mom’s side, we usually get together with her siblings and her mother, and some of our extended relatives on that side.  It’s always so much fun and the food is fantastic because my grandma on that side is a really good cook (and she always makes special gluten-free stuff for me).  That side is a little more laid-back, but I love both traditions equally.

The other day, my sister brought up another one of my family’s smaller traditions – signing our Christmas card.  Every year, my mom writes the Christmas letter, prints it out a million times, and we all sit down at the table to sign it, complete with drinks (at another table, of course) and Christmas music.  Then everybody gets a job as we stuff the envelopes with the letter and family picture, seal it, stamp it, and address it.  It’s not a huge deal, but it’s something we all look forward to.  Last year, we all signed our name once and Dad digitally put our signatures on the paper, but we all decided that that wasn’t as fun, so I think we’ll go back to the old way this year.  We’ll see.

Another favorite tradition of mine are the Christmas concerts I participate in.  Ever since we’ve lived in Georgia, my siblings and I have been in a local college orchestra, and we always play in their Christmas concerts.  (When this gets posted, I’ll be psyching myself up for the second one – WAHOO.)  We listen to the choir and the jazz ensemble in the wings or the balcony, then play a few songs with the orchestra, then listen to the winds play, then we do The PrayerSleigh Ride, and then do a Christmas medley as our huge finish with the choir.  Five concerts in one weekend is a little rough, but it’s so much fun that I can’t imagine stopping.  (I’d invite you all, but the concerts sell out so fast.)

Finally, my absolute favorite Christmas tradition, however, is what my family does on Christmas Eve.  A few days before Christmas, we buy and bake a ton of cookies and start making a list of families we’d like to bring the cookies to.  What we do varies every year (sometimes we’ll bake all of the cookies, sometimes we’ll buy all of them, and sometimes we’ll do some candy, too), but we always spend a few hours on Christmas Eve going around to different people’s houses.  It’s always fun to listen to music and talk in the car, but one of my favorite parts is popping in on people.  It’s interesting to see all of our friends’ Christmas Eve traditions.  For instance, we’ve interrupted someone’s family gathering three years in a row and they always invite us in.  Sometimes, people aren’t at home – which is fantastic because that means extra cookies for us!  When we get home (which, depending on when we start, can be anywhere between nine and eleven at night), we always change into our pjs and watch It’s a Wonderful Life.  And I always cry.

Well, that was certainly longer than I thought it was going to be.  HA.  Hope you weren’t bored.  If you made it this far, congratulations!

What are some of your favorite Christmas memories and traditions?

my favorite christmas movies | christmastime is here {part 1}

Hello and welcome to my Christmastime Is Here blog post series that centers around – you guessed it – my all-time favorite holiday ever, CHRISTMAS!!!  Over the next few weeks (every Friday until Christmas), I’ll be adding to this series, so stick around because it’s going to be awesome.  I’ve never really done a Christmas blog series, but because of all of the growing (and blogging) I’ve done this year, I think it’s in order.  Christmas is just something that is so special to me because it’s the time to celebrate God’s most precious gift to us – His son, Jesus.  So grab a mug of something (tea, coffee, hot chocolate, pretzels) and enjoy!

(I’ve decided to do this post first so that you have time to watch any of these movies, if you haven’t seen them.  They’re also not in any particular order.  I tried to number them from least to most favorite, but they’re all amazing and I love them all so much.  So.  Yeah.)

(Also, honorable mention goes to The Nativity Story.  I’ve only seen it a few times, and it’s not really a tradition, but it’s still a fantastic Christmas movie – and one of the only ones I’ve seen that actually has to do with the real meaning of Christmas – Jesus.)

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Elf (2003) | Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zoey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen

When this movie first came out, my parents weren’t sure it’d be appropriate for us (as well they should have thought).  However, my dad previewed it on an airplane ride and couldn’t stop laughing.  Now, watching it is a tradition for us.  After we get our tree every year, we always watch this movie while we decorate the tree.  It’s gotten to the point where we can quote the entire thing, front and back – and not even during Christmas!  (For instance, the other day, my dad texted me to ask what time I was scheduled to take a test.  I replied “10am.”  Almost immediately later, he texted back, “10AM!  SANTA!”)  Totally stupid, but memorably so.  “The best way to spend Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”  Recommended: 6+

lwwmovie

Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) | Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Anna Popplewell, William Moseley, Tilda Swinton, James McAvoy, Liam Neeson

I hesitated with this one because it’s not necessarily “a Christmas movie,” but it does have a lot of snow and it came out the day after my (December) birthday and it has Father Christmas in it, so it fits many qualifications.  ; )  It’s such a fantastic movie – and the cast is perfection – so it’s a must-see for many reasons.  “Aslan is on the move.”  Recommended: 8+

charliebrownmovie

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) | Peter Robbins, Christopher Shea, Tracy Stratford, Chris Doran

I honestly can’t remember the first time I saw this movie.  We’ve always watched it, almost every year for as long as I can remember, and it’s gotten more dear to me every year.  Out of all of the old Christmas cartoons (The Grinch, Frosty, Rudolph), this one stands out because of its timeless truths.  Every year, Linus’s spotlighted speech moves me to tears.  “Maybe that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”  Recommended: All Ages

grinchmovie

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) | Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski

Before you bash me for liking this one more than the animated one, let me say something.  This movie helped me when I was struggling.  Story time with Ashley.  Back in 2010, I was feeling really depressed.  It was two days until Christmas and, for whatever reason, I just didn’t feel the Christmas spirit.  It probably had something to do with the fact that it was my second Christmas away from my North Carolina friends.  I remember not even wanting to watch the movie and pitching a fit about it but succumbing anyway.  As I watched the Grinch’s attitude about Christmas change, I nearly started crying.  And then he said, “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas means a little bit… more.”  I lost it.  Everything came crashing down and I realized that I’d been looking for happiness in places other than where true Christmas cheer should come from – our love and gratefulness for Jesus’s sacrifice in coming down, both fully God and fully man, to die for us as the atonement for our sins.  WOW.  So that’s why this one’s on here (aside from the fact that it’s absolutely hilarious).  Recommended: 10+

whitechristmasmovie

White Christmas (1954) | Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen

This movie is such a classic.  Set in post-WWII Vermont, it’s full of patriotism and holiday spirit and romance (and bromance).  There’s so much to love about this movie, you’d be insane to not like it.  All of the musical numbers are fantastic – especially “Sisters,” “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me,” and, of course, “White Christmas.”  The love stories phenomenal  If you haven’t seen it, seriously, what are you doing with your life.  Go.  Watch it now.  “You shouldn’t mix fairy tales with liverwurst and buttermilk.”  Recommended: 8+

Eloisemovie

Eloise at Christmastime (2003) | Sofia Vassilieva, Julie Andrews, Gavin Creel, Sara Topham

This movie’s definitely higher up there on my list.  Ever since I first saw it, I’ve looked forward to Christmas coming just so I can watch it multiple times.  Sofia is just fantastic as Eloise, the spoiled brat you can’t help but fall head-over-heels in love with.  Gavin plays an adorkable butler who entertains Eloise’s every whim while falling in love (again) with the Plaza’s owner’s daughter, Rachel (Sara Topham).  And Julie Andrews is THE QUEEN, as always.  And who can forget the adorable piano scene between Bill and Rachel?!  “I absolutely love Christmas!”  Recommended: 6+

theholidaymovie

The Holiday (2006) | Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black

Oh. My. Gosh.  My mom discovered this movie last year and made us watch it because she loved it so much.  Ten minutes into it, I fangirled so hard over Jude Law that I fell on the floor.  Definitely a new favorite.  It’s lesser-known, so the basic premise is that two women – one from England (Kate Winslet) and one from Hollywood (Cameron Diaz) – find themselves single at Christmas and decide to trade houses for a few weeks over the holiday.  Romance ensues.  Jack Black plays a composer and Jude Law steals the show, playing Kate Winslet’s adorable brother.  It’s beautifully written and acted.  Watch it with your mom and sisters.  It will make you feel feelings.  (This one’s a little more content-y than all of the others, so keep that in mind.)  “There’s another kind of love: the cruelest kind. The one that almost kills its victims. Its called unrequited love. Of that I am an expert. Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the rest of us?”  Recommended: 16+ (with ClearPlay or VidAngel or something)

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It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) | James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers

The “no particular order” thing stops here because THIS ONE IS MY FAVORITE.  Second to none, this movie will always be my favorite Christmas movie of all time.  There’s just nothing like watching Jimmy Stewart go from an adorable, selfless young boy to a bitter middle-aged man who realizes that he’s never been able to do the things he’s dreamed of doing.  But then he realizes that his life is better than he could ever have dreamed it could be and he’s forever thankful and everyone watching is left in tears.  Watching this movie is my family’s Christmas Eve tradition.  I love, love, love this movie.  (And now I have to stop or else I’ll start crying about it.)  “Remember, George – no man is a failure who has friends.”  Recommended: All Ages

What do you think of my list?  Are there any movies on here that you haven’t seen?  Think I missed a few?  Comment and let me know!