Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Very Merry Christmas

I hope you all enjoyed a fulfilling and memorable Christmas. I must say this year was pretty incredible. I feel undeserving of all the love and generosity I received this Christmas. In addition to the many beloved traditions my family has this time of year, we tried some new activities as well. For instance, a couple weeks ago we did a baking night with my dad. He needed treats to take around to ward members, and his daughters (aside from me) are great in the baking department. So we all went out to Jen's and baked cookies. I basically made a mess with frosting all night, but we had a lot of fun.

Then Jenny planned a "Favorite Things" party, which all of the girls attended on Tuesday. The idea was to think of your favorite thing and buy or make one for each person. I was running low on cash and had to get creative, because I'm not a crafty person. Eventually it came to me--I love music and decided to make a cd of some of my favorite songs that my mom and sisters might not know. The cd consisted of the following songs (and if you haven't heard any of them, I encourage you to check them out)...

"Pulling a Piano from a Pond" by Cinematic Sunrise
"The Man Who Can't Be Moved" by The Script
"Elephant In the Room" by Richard Walters
"Secret Life" by Thriving Ivory
"In Pieces" by Mae
"Sometime Around Midnight" by The Airborne Toxic Event
"Viva La Vida" by Coldplay
"Rock Your Soul" by Elisa
"Defying Gravity" by Glee Cast
"It's Only Life" by Kate Voegele
"I Must Be Dreaming" by The Maine
"Take This to Heart" by Mayday Parade
"Ignorance" by Paramore
"Apology" by Safetysuit
"Crack the Shutters" by Snow Patrol
"Check Yes Juliet" by We the Kings
"A Melody, The Memory" by Mae (my spoils from the Favorite Things party)
Some of our favorite traditions take place on Christmas Eve. We all go out to dinner and then go back to my parents' house for our sibling gift exchange.
(Princess, Jessica, and me at dinner)
This year, my brother-in-law (who is a Utah grad) had me for Christmas. He was able to put aside his pride and get me something I'd really like:
We also got pajamas and ornaments from my parents, and then I spent Christmas Eve at Ashley and Nic's house. I woke up to a very generous surprise--Ashley and Nic had given me an entire Christmas, right there under their Christmas tree. I was overcome with gratitude at the thoughtfulness they showed. By 7am, I was sure I had had the best Christmas of my life.

And things got even better when we all drove over to my parents' house to talk to Matt on Skype, all the way from Mozambique.

(Elder Brown on the webcam)
We all went our different ways for the bulk of Christmas Day and then returned once again to our parents' to get gifts from my Mom and Dad that night. This was another surprise, since they had told us they weren't doing any gifts this year.

The best part of this Christmas was the large amount of time I was able to spend with my family. Last night we got together again to play some of the games we got for Christmas. I always say how glad I am that I have the family I do, but that happiness has been so securely reinforced recently. I don't know if everyone feels this way as they get older, but my siblings really are my best friends, and I honestly would rather spend time with them than with anyone else.

Being with them, having fun and laughing and simply drawing from their personalities, more successfully put me in the Christmas spirit than anything else that I tried. I played Christmas music on the radio, went shopping in the midst of the crowds, tried to be giving and kind, and decorated my apartment in the most festive decorations. But nothing worked until I sat back and focused on my gratitude for the family I've been given. That is when the power of the Christmas spirit finally touched my heart and paved the way for a very enjoyable and memorable Christmas.