I married someone whose body runs on jingle bells, sugar cookies, and old-fashioned Christmas decor. Starting with our very first Christmas season together, we wanted to accomplish all the things. We saw The Nutcracker that year, made gingerbread houses at a Christmas party that his sister threw. We cut out paper snowflakes and decorated everything with Christmas lights. I showed him all the best Christmas lights that I know of in Alabama. We watched Christmas movies every single day. I put Christmas lights all around his bedroom…attached to his ceiling. Which was a bad idea, looking back. But, from that first year, Christmas has gotten bigger and bigger.
We started a tradition last year where we pick out one Christmas ornament, and one Christmas children’s book. Last year, he picked out a plushy, dumpy, black and white, amorphous felty blob that somehow perfectly resembles our cat, James. I picked The Nutcracker. I loved this illustrated version of one of my all-time-favorite Christmastime experiences. This year, it’s my turn to pick the ornament, and Trey picks the book.
We spent last Christmas in Florida, where we forced it to feel like Christmas while we spent every day beneath palm trees, and celebrated anytime the temperature dropped below 70. When we moved back, we said that this Christmas, we were going to do it all. And so we are. We are focusing more on experiences rather than presents, and we are squeezing everything we can out of this magical season.
This is a gift guide for brothers, fathers, male friends, cousins, male coworkers, and whoever else. It could be for husbands, too. But, not mine because then he would think that he is getting some of this good stuff and Christmas is a season for secrets and magic, so this is not a gift guide for my husband, though he would love all of this. What a sentence. Here we go. Scroll over the photos for links.
- A fun sweatshirt and t-shirt. I love everything that Bitter Southerner does. Their apparel is perfect for the cool southerners in your life.
- Perfect wall art. I love vintage paint by numbers, and this Etsy account has so many options, and there’s something for everyone. This is perfect for that guy in your life that loves antique stores, and all things art.
- An educational book about cocktails. I think cookbooks are also always appropriate.
- A very, very fun flask.
- Socks from Little River Sock Mill. These socks are made in a small mill in Alabama, and are so soft and wonderful. They’re not just socks, they’re special socks.
- A perfect flannel. Because flannel is easy to throw on and go, and this is perfect for your brother who tends to wake up a little late, and needs something comfortable and easy to get him through the day.
- A dop kit. Perfect for YOUR husband or brother who keeps their toiletries a plastic bag when they travel. Get that fella what he needs.
For the past several years, as we gathered in my grandparent’s eat-in-kitchen, we would hold hands and say a prayer. My grandfather would always give it, and he would ask for blessings over the food that we were about to eat, and he would give thanks. In the long, beautiful list of everything that he would express gratitude for, he would give thanks that we all were there, surrounding the room for another year. Every year, the prayer had that. At Thanksgiving, Christmas, any event that we all gathered at and a great deal of food was present. And every year it hurt more and more, because we all knew that this could be the last prayer.
This year, my older brother said the prayer. He also carved the turkey, which had also always been my grandfather’s job. The day had a weight on it. Everything that I wanted to be easy, felt hard. Every hug meant more. Every voice was a little bit quieter. But, it was a good day.
I was able to go home for a couple of days before Thanksgiving, which I’m very grateful about. My mom and I got to have our favorite salads, and we sat in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace and looked at Christmas magazines together. I celebrated a best friend and the baby boy(!) that she will be having in the spring.
I have so many things to be thankful for. But right in this moment, I am grateful for my husband. He loves me in my lowest lows and my highest highs. Happy Thanksgiving, to you and yours from me and mine.
Scroll over the photos for links.
- Everlane Giftcard – Something that she won’t buy for herself, but you know that she wants it. She can use it towards the Day Heel that she has been lusting over for months, or a cashmere sweater to warm her heart in January when the Christmas cheer is dwindling.
- Jewelry from a local, female maker. – Shop small, and support your lady neighbors. These diamond drop earrings are sexy, simple, and perfect for that friend that likes to keep things low key.
- Catbird’s Threadbare Rings. – Perfect for your single or married friends who have everything else. Get her a ring, and get yourself one to match. You both can wear it and think of each other.
- Boob Pot. – For your breast friends. She can use it as a planter, a place to hold toothbrushes, makeup brushes, pencils, paintbrushes, spare change, buttons, whatever. It has breasts, and breasts are beautiful. Perfect for your friend that truly doesn’t care what her houseguests think.
- A cozy, flattering sweater. – This sweater is so soft and wonderful. The colors are unique, and I guarantee she doesn’t already have one like it in her closet. It has a flattering fit, which will make sure that your girl feels as beautiful as you know her to be.
- Ilia Lip Conditioner. – The shade, Bang Bang is my personal favorite. It’s the perfect shade of red that isn’t scary and risky to wear. It’s lightweight, makes your lips feel silky smooth, and smells like cake. Win, win, win. Perfect for your friend that likes to keep things fresh faced.
- Incense Matches. – These are the coolest things, and they are so much fun to use. Perfect for stocking stuffers, or buy the whole bunch for a lifetime supply.
- Madewell Leather Bag. – As her best friend, you probably know what her handbag needs are. Maybe she is the friend that keeps her debit card and license in her back pocket when she leaves the house. Maybe she is the friend that never uses her wallet. Maybe she is the friend who dumps her bag contents out on the sidewalk when trying to find quarters for the parking meters. Maybe she is all three (like me). Get her a bag that is sure to fit her taste, that she needs, but for some reason isn’t buying for herself.
- A biography about a powerful woman. Our best friends are all complete power women, and we are inspired by them daily. Buy her a book that will surely inspire her.
- An essential oil diffuser. There are all sorts of different kinds that range in price. Perfect for your friend who has trouble sleeping, or is prone to anxiety, or who isn’t a fan of candles, etc. Perfect for everyone.
- A lightweight robe. Perfect for layering over pajamas when the temps turn cold, or perfect for warm summer days around the house. Perfect for homebodies or for your friend who watches makeup videos, has a full eyeshadow menagerie and needs something easy to throw on between the shower and show time.
- A perfect, simple gold flask. For your friend that you once sneaked sips with at that dry wedding, or at the family gathering.
Throw something in that online shopping cart for yourself, too. You deserve it.
So, it’s November, and I may have over committed when I made my autumn list of to-do’s. I think I forgot that there are only 31 days in October, and that when November 1st rolls around, I’m in full on Christmas mode. Maybe I didn’t forget. Maybe I thought that I honestly could take a trip to my favorite pumpkin patch near Birmingham, and my other favorite near Florence, and also take a trip to Georgia to pick apples, and also carve these pumpkins, while taking a trip to Huntsville for my girl to get married, while also having a Halloween party, while also taking trips to the best antique stores, and then also working 40 hours a week. I’m not sure what happened. But, the fact of the matter is, I won’t be able to knock everything off of that list. I’ll make my winter list in the next couple of weeks, but until then, I’ll keep checkin’ things off the autumn one. ENOUGH ABOUT MY FAILURES. MOVING ON.
Today is my mom’s birthday. I wish that I was home celebrating her because she truly deserves all of the celebration in the world. Today is also my in-laws’ anniversary! My younger brother’s 21st birthday is in seventeen days. Christmas is in… *not counting it because the I will think I’m late to the party and I can’t feel that way*.
Yesterday, I felt thankful that my sister in law lives so close to us where she can just come over and watch Stranger Things while she does homework.
Today, I’m grateful for a month that encourages gratitude (even if it does get mixed up with major money spending days that are confusing).
I’ve always wanted to throw a Halloween party. Always always always. My mom and I would dream them up all the time when I was growing up, but we never actually had them because life always gets in the way. But, this year, my friend Dianne and I hosted one and my dream came true.
We were coming down off of a very busy weekend of celebrating, so we were running on fumes, but it all fell into place. Dianne and her husband Pierce came swooping in, putting the finishing touches here and there. Pierce was a fantastic cohost, and a hilarious Eleven. Dianne, the best Barb ever, took pictures of everyone and made a fantaaaaaaastic taco dip. Luke came as a nerd, or a preacher, and kept snapping his suspenders all night. His wife, Autumn came as a cat, in her nurse uniform. They made corn dip and I’m still thinking about it. Trey whipped up these S’mores brownies, and it just now occurred to me that everyone was telling ME how wonderful they were all night, and I took full credit without thinking. *exhausted brains do weird things* Jerika came in full armor and her girlfriend joined her! Cal and his wife came as a wolf and a deer, and I just have to say that I love all of Trey’s friends. Trey’s sister came in with a plaid shirt, painted Stranger Things-y, and her hair wild and messy. My friend Xanna came as Sandy from Grease, but her cigarette broke immediately, so she was really just Xanna. Oh, and Trey and I were farmers. It was so much fun, and I can’t wait for Friendsgiving.
One of my favorite things about parties is the snapshots that can be taken the morning after. Candle wax drips make me swoon.
Halloween is tomorrow and I think that I will be spend the entire day taking naps, watching movies, and drinking leftover boozy cider.
Happy Halloween, ya spooks!