When you stop believing in Santa you get underwear. –unknown
Okay, so I’m not really a member of the official Santa Claus family, but Christmas is my FAVORITE time of the year! I am well versed in all the songs of the season, know the “Code of Elves” verbatim and I’ve successfully completed several Christmas-themed Buzzfeed quizzes. So OBVIOUSLY I’m practically an adopted member of the Claus household 🙂 and as a self-appointed Christmas authority I feel obligated to share these 12 little goodies with the planet to ensure you and yours experience your best Christmas yet! In no particular order, I present to you Anna Claus Holiday Must Haves….
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. I read this collection of short, satirical (and politically incorrect) stories every December for many, many reasons. Mostly because who doesn’t love the escapades of a grown man parading around Macy’s as an Elf, the unlikeliest Christmas Eve houseguest EVER and the snarkiest review of children’s Christmas pageants you’ll ever read? Nothing gets me in the holiday mood quite like this fun (and funny) book. Complete brain candy, it is good for continuous laughs.
Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas If you love jazzy, upbeat Christmas music this album is for you! The 60s style jazz offerings are traditional yet they possess that special “zing.” CAUTION: The “cool cat” vibe this album induces may cause scatting! Wonderful background music for doing just about anything holiday related.
Candy Canes Nothing says Christmas like candy canes. Sweet and pepperminty I try to consume as many as possible. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s it’s not unusual to find these tasty treats (and their tiny crumbs) in my purse, in my pockets or in my mouth!
Pandora’s Swingin’ Christmas Radio Station This is the ONLY internet radio station I listen to during the holidays. On the computer and on my phone this is my go-to background music for the holiday season. Here you’ll find everything from the Rat Pack Christmas album and Louis Armstrong offerings to Michael Buble and everyone in between.
Santa Hat (Reindeer Antlers optional) My all time hat of choice, the Santa hat comes out right after Thanksgiving and lives among the coats all Christmas season long. This year I’ve decided to add reindeer antlers to the list of approved December head-gear. Very festive!
Starbucks Christmas Blend and Peet’s Holiday Blend Warm, sweet and spicy…this is what Christmas tastes like! For a coffee lover like myself this is a terrific blend that gets the day going…also serves as the perfect addition to an evening dessert. Would I like another cup? Of course!
Nativity Nativities set the scene for a Christ-centered holiday. Our family nativity is my all-time favorite and I love to share the story about how we acquired such a unique set. I also love visiting the homes of family and friends and seeing their nativity displays. Most times it leads to another wonderful story as well.
Cookie Baking I am probably guilty of too much cookie baking during this time of the year, but I love it!!! I wish we could live off Christmas cookies, but I’m afraid of what we might look like if I got my wish. Too many favorite cookies to name, I especially love making treats to give away to family and friends.
Holiday Movies The Christmas season would not be complete without holiday movies. My all time favorite is It’s a Wonderful Life. Watching the Charlie Brown Christmas is a must. I also like to sprinkle in a little Christmas with the Kranks, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story and Elf among others.
Christmas Cards I love the tradition of Christmas Cards, but I’ve noticed that this tradition is fading. Sigh. As someone who has lived in several states and many cities (towns) over the years, this is one of the best ways I know of to catch up with far away friends and family. Be sure to throw in a zany family photo or funny Christmas letter!
Christmas Lights Tour This is a tradition that goes way, way back for me. I can remember piling up in the car as a child and checking out the Christmas lights in my little hometown. Today, my husband and I continue to take (drag) our children out to look at the lights. This year we cranked our adventure up a notch with a Holiday Lights Scavenger Hunt. Great fun!
Snow Never a guarantee, but snow really makes it all perfect. It seems that whenever it snows the world seems to slow down a bit…offering us a moment to take in and savor everything around us. The holidays typically fly by…I need a little snow to take it all in.
A few honorable mentions to my list: cocoa, caroling and Christmas parades! They don’t call it the most wonderful time of the year for nothing. Wishing you the Merriest Christmas!
“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy – I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” -Art Williams
Congratulations! You’re about to embark on an exciting adventure! And if you’re anything like I was at age 18, then you had one foot halfway out the door during senior year. I originally offered this advice to my niece when she made her BIG move, but I thought I would offer it again here. (Original post January 5, 2017.)
Moving away from home/going to school takes guts. Not everyone can do it. Not everyone should do it, but having the courage to walk away from everything you know and try something new/exciting/scary and uncomfortable deserves some major props. In doing this, you have already proven one thing: you are WILLING to take chances. Kudos.
In many ways you’ve been preparing for this your whole life and in many other ways you’re not prepared at all. This is okay. In fact, it’s better than okay. It’s absolutely normal.
Good things will happen and bad things will happen, too. How you deal with these things will make all the difference. My favorite quote is by author Og Mandino. It says “Count your blessings, proclaim your rarity, go another mile, USE WISELY YOUR POWER OF CHOICE, and one more–to fulfill the other four–do all things with love…love for yourself, love for all others, and love for GOD….You Are the Greatest Miracle in The World.” You can always choose. Remember that no hole is too deep, no place is too far for redemption.
Never date a man with hair longer than your own. Random, I know…but really. Who needs the competition? I actually came up with this rule while visiting friends at K-State. I can’t remember what the circumstances were exactly, but it’s a rule that has served me well. BTW…man buns are now included in this one!
Talk to God (a lot) and don’t forget to listen, too. Although I think you should go to church, I have to admit that I didn’t attend while I was in college. I can honestly tell you that I missed out and I would definitely do this part differently today. Nonetheless, I did a whole lot of praying during that time and LISTENING to God, too. This saved my bacon more than once and I am eternally grateful. Looking back I can clearly see God at work during my college years. Make your relationship with Him a priority.
Practice the “pause.” I didn’t come up with this…I’m not sure who did, but it makes a lot of sense and it may actually save your life someday. “When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, always pray.”
Keep an eye on your drink. Again, another random one…but this is vital. There are bad guys (and girls) out there. People who do not have your best interest at heart. People who will try to use (and abuse) you and hurt you to satisfy their own evil desires. These people will buy you drinks and worse, they may even spike your drink. I made it a practice to never, ever, EVER accept a drink from a stranger (and eventually I didn’t accept any drinks at all.) It was not always well received. I’ve been called countless names, been yelled at, and made fun of. I didn’t care. In fact, it just proved that this was someone who I definitely didn’t have any business hanging out with. If someone wants to buy you a drink, great. The two of you can go up to the bar and order it together. At a party, keep in mind that you are perfectly capable of pouring your own drink. Carry a water bottle (drunkenness is overrated anyway.) Be on guard. Protect yourself…and look after your friends, too.
You’re not expected to peak now. While these clearly are some of the best days of your life…they’re not the only days of your life. Someday you might choose to travel, land your dream job, become President, meet an awesome guy, have a fabulous wedding, start your own business, become a mother…the list goes on and on. Life is a series of journeys. Never think that your best days are behind you…always look forward.
Trust your gut…that’s the Holy Spirit at work. Look people in the eye, but more importantly watch what they say and do. I wholeheartedly believe God speaks to us and a little warning light goes off when we’re in bad company. Do not ignore this! Women (especially) tend to discount this small little voice. We want to be nice, we want to give people the benefit of the doubt, we don’t want to seem childish or afraid…you get the point. So we make nice…and often times this puts us in very vulnerable situations. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right. End of story. You owe no one an explanation.
Finally, know this…you can always go home. ALWAYS. There is no shame. You’ve stepped out once, you can and will do it again. This IS life. Having a home base is a luxury not afforded to everyone. You have a family that would move mountains for you (just ask.) This is an incredible blessing.
SPECIAL NOTE: You cannot live on Ramen. You will try (we all do.) But I repeat, you cannot live on Ramen.
Remember, there are a lot of people rooting for you, kid! You got THIS. Welcome to your next adventure!
The old is gone. The new is here. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Have you ever tried vacationing with an introvert? It’s the absolute worst! I know because I am THAT introvert.
Basically, I’m a home body. I’m perfectly content with staying inside ALL DAY. This becomes problematic when your entire family is made up of extroverts. They like to do things (like go out of the house,) hang out with friends, see new things and try adventurous stuff…in the HEAT of summer! Ugggghhh. I’m not “anti” all of this…I’m just a lot more particular about how it all gets done. Thus, the worst introvert to vacation with. EVER.
So what does this have to do with the last song on my summer playlist? A lot actually. “Vacation” by the Go Go’s was a smash hit in 1982. Quirky, fun-loving, and surfy…these girls really nailed the pop/punk rock/girl power kind of sound. A tune about trying to use a vacation to get over a guy–well what could be more practical than that? (Introverts LOVE practical!) “Vacation” further cemented the popular girl group as 80s icons resulting in the song earning the number eight spot on both the Billboard Top 100 and the Rolling Stone Best Summer Songs of All Time list. And while these ladies seem like the “vacation” type, interviews and soundbites reveal that they were actually a little salty. Group members wrote their own songs, learned how to play their own instruments, scoffed at the record label executives, and basically did everything on their terms. Which sounds a little bit like my approach to vacationing…why do we need to go, what will we see there, how much is this going to cost, is it really worth my time, is it safe and (my favorite question) how many people are going to be there? So who wants to travel with me now?
Seriously, I love this song and remember thinking as a kid how cool it would be to perform synchronized water-skiing with my best girl friends. We all wanted to be Belinda Carlisle and the catchy chorus still brings a smile to my face. Besides, the music video actually depicts the best kind of vacation ever–virtual! Enjoy YOUR summer!
Walk towards the good life and one day you will arrive. –Atticus
I’m not gonna lie…”500 Miles” by the Proclaimers is on several of my personal playlists. Both catchy and campy, this song contains a quality that resonates with many…especially since one does not have to knowhow to sing in order to sing along with this little ditty. And who doesn’t love a song like that?
Now a world-renowned hit, “500 Miles” first appeared on the music scene in 1988. The Proclaimers, made up of Scottish twins Craig and Charlie Reid, first topped the charts in Iceland, Australia and New Zealand…but it wasn’t until 1993 (with the release of the movie Benny and Joon) that the song reached epic status. From there, “500 Miles” has topped the charts worldwide, been featured in additional films, on TV, and in commercials, rewritten for charity and covered by countless bands. Penned by Craig Reid (reportedly in less than one hour,) he said in an interview that he knew it would be a hit…although he had no idea just how popular the song would be! The duo’s only American Top 10, it initially received limited air time, that is until station managers realized the term “havering” actually didn’t mean anything “naughty.” (The slang term actually refers to endless babbling.)
The song has come full circle for me. While the lyrics seem to suggest that this song is about a couple, I think it can also fit any type of love relationship or friendship…probably one of the reasons so many are drawn to it. It was my best friend’s favorite song back in high school. We played it countless times on the way to and from school, while cruising Main Street on warm summer nights, in the Sonic drive-thru…I think you get the picture. I carried this song with me to college…playing it over and over as a fun reminder of days gone by. Eventually this one-hit wonder drifted away from my mind until my teenage son “discovered” it on Netflix via the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.” Apparently the song has regained status among a new generation thanks to the antics of Ted and Marshall. Today, “500 Miles” has become something of an odd family favorite as we all know the words and typically sing it at the top of our lungs while cruising along in the swagger wagon…a zanny anthem for sweethearts, friends and now…families, too!
“Da da da dun diddle un diddle un diddle uh da….”
Up Next…SONG 14…”their ain’t no cure for the summertime blues….”
There are moments where time simply stands still. In those moments a solid memory is formed…and that’s where the next song on the list comes in. “Someday” by the group Sugar Ray (released in 1999) was the soundtrack to an absolutely perfect space in time for me. As a transplant to California, I quickly learned that there’s a learning curve to navigating the Golden State lifestyle. First, practically everyone is beautiful. People dress differently in Cali and carry themselves with a lot of confidence. Next, most things costs way too much, really. And finally, driving there is a sport. Still, after a few months, I finally felt like I was finding my way. This was home.It’s hard not to love California…amazing scenery and that salty, ocean smell. I recall driving on the 101, windows rolled down, the rolling hills of Marin County in the background when this song came on the radio. A song about having no regrets, a song about believing in the choices you have made, basically a song about contentment. And that’s exactly what I felt in that moment. For whatever reason, whatever my destiny was, however my purpose on this planet worked out–I wholeheartedly knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that particular place in time. I’ve never forgotten that feeling.
Lead singer, Mark McGrath has said in interview that the group was about having fun and seeing just how far they could go. While Sugar Ray actually played a wide variety of music styles…it was their pop rock, upbeat stuff that launched the group to fame. “Someday” was a top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot Modern Rock Tracks, Hot 100 Airplay and on the Canadian charts, as well. The band enjoyed great success with their trademark southern California vibe.
Whenever I hear the song, I’m transplanted back to that time (I can even smell the ocean!) My life has changed a great deal since them. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had other experiences like the one that day. Today, I refer to them as “God-moments,” little assurances where I know I’m in just the right place, and I am so grateful.
All you need is a good dose of vitamin sea. –author unknown
So much of that great summer vibe revolves around water. Whether you’re fortunate enough to live near the coast, spend weekends at the lake, or just have access to a pool…summer requires water (and a lot of it!) The surfy sound of “Rock Lobster” by the B-52s fits perfectly into my summer playlist for all the right reasons. This 1970s tune has a catchy new wave sound, lots of nonsensical beach/ocean references, and its chorus just goes on and on (and on!)
“Rock Lobster” was written by two original band members and released two different times. The first rendition was a little over four minutes long while its second release comes it at around seven minutes! The song is a staple of any B-52s set and enjoyed chart topping success worldwide…listed at No. 147 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song remains popular today thanks to its appearance in current shows like The Family Guy (among others) and its also featured on the video games Just Dance 4 and Rock Band 3.
I love this song for so many reasons…its whimsical throwback beat that never goes out of style, the call and response vocals between the men and women in the group, and for its marathon run time! The B-52s have always been one of my favorites (especially for karaoke 🙂 ) Plus, you can’t go wrong with a summer jam whose popularity has spanned almost 50 years!
Up Next: SONG 11…”just close your eyes and I’ll take you there.”
Summertime…it’s all fun and games…until it isn’t. No one dreams of having a bad summer and yet they still exist. But if summer isn’t all sunshine, thank heaven for quirky 80s songs that make the bad days bearable! Here’s where “Cruel Summer” by English pop group, Bananarama, comes in. Added to my summer music countdown for it’s easy chorus and spunky sound, it just screams summer…and then some.
The song actually debuted in 1983, but became a hit on the U.S. pop charts in 1984 thanks to the movie, “The Karate Kid.” The lyrics tell the story of one stuck in a miserable, hot city AFTER a bad breakup. Ouch! Unlucky in love, and unsure what to do next, the singer is mired in a hopeless situation. Shot on location in New York City during a record heat wave, the group didn’t have to do much acting. Unaccustomed to oppressive city temps, the girls share that they simply wanted to shoot the video in NYC because they hadn’t been there before and may have bitten off more than they could chew. Group member, Siobhan Fahey, details the misadventures of the video shoot in her book, “I Want My MTV.”
I was nine years old when this song was all the rage. I remember the ratty hair, big belts and overalls and did my best to emulate the look! And of course, I remember singing this song…over and over (and over.) Today, I sing this song in an attempt to bring back the 80s…AND to torture my kids, of course 🙂