Newlywed Traditions

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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.

My 2017 Christmas Season List

It’s time. It’s time. It’s time.

  1. Watch Christmas movies:
    1.  Elf.
    2. Miracle on 34th Street (original).
    3. Miracle on 34th Street (remake).
    4. White Christmas.
    5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (original).
    6. Christmas Vacation.
    7. The Grinch.
    8. The Holiday.
    9. Love Actually.
    10. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer etc.
    11. A Christmas Story.
    12. Home Alone 1 & 2.
    13. It’s A Wonderful Life.
    14. Polar Express.
    15. Mr. Krueger’s Christmas.
    16. A Christmas Memory (1966 Truman Capote).
    17. A Christmas Carol.
    18. The Santa Clause.
    19. A Charlie Brown Christmas.
    20. Holiday Inn. Thoughts after watching: HOLY COW SO RACIALLY INSENSITIVE.
    21. The Shop Around The Corner.
    22. Scrooge.
    23. The Family Stone.
  2. Dress up and go see The Nutcracker.
  3. Go iceskating in Railroad Park.
  4. Bake Christmas cookies and decorate them.
  5. Bake Gingerbread cookies.
  6. Make a list of Christmas goodies to bake for Christmas Day.
  7. Have the cousins come stay for a few days and do all the Christmas things.
  8. Make a wreath.
  9. String garland up around the apartment.
  10. Fill a stocking for James.
  11. Fill a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, or get a Christmas Angel.
  12. Have friends over for Christmas movies, drinks, games, and treats.
  13. Dress up and attend a Christmas party.
  14. Go antiquing for Christmas decor.
  15. Buy annual ornament.
  16. Buy annual Christmas book.
  17. Frame Christmas art and vintage Christmas cards.
  18. Decorate a Christmas tree.
  19. Have a Snow Day!
  20. Take a drive to see Christmas lights.
  21. Make an ornament.
  22. Send Christmas cards.
  23. Make a holiday playlist.
  24. Eat peppermint ice-cream.
  25. Visit a Christmas tree farm.
  26. Learn something new about a December holiday that I’m unfamiliar with.
  27. Hang a wreath on the front door.
  28. See a Christmas movie at the Alabama Theater, then get dessert and coffee.
  29. Take a “family” picture with James.
  30. Make our annual anniversary video.
  31. Have Trey’s cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.
  32. Go for a winter walk or hike.
  33. Kiss Trey under mistletoe.
  34. Make mom’s hot chocolate.
  35. Read Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.
  36. Color Christmas pictures with Virginia.
  37. Leave goodies for the mailman in the mailbox.
  38. Have a cozy, do next-to-nothing day by the Christmas tree.

See my autumn list, and notice how I didn’t get it all done.

Songs for Christmas

I mentioned before that I was working on curated playlists for just the right moods and moments. And, I finished! The playlists can be found on my Spotify by searching SarahThigpen, or by clicking this link. I made a total of three. One big, ultimate, has-it-all playlist. One playlist for Christmas cheer, which is a good, hearty dose of the classics. The third is a playlist meant for slow mornings, and peaceful evenings. I’m working to put them on Apple Music and have 2/3 listed there. Find them on Apple Music here. Go have a listen!

Mini Gift Guide: His Edition

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.

  1. A fun sweatshirt and t-shirt. I love everything that Bitter Southerner does. Their apparel is perfect for the cool southerners in your life.
  2. 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.
  3. An educational book about cocktails. I think cookbooks are also always appropriate.
  4. A very, very fun flask.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.


Gift Guide (BFF Edition)

Scroll over the photos for links.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.


Songs for Christmas Cheer

I have vivid memories of listening to my mom’s old cassette tapes when we would pull out the Christmas decorations. They were recordings of scratchy, vinyl Christmas records, which made it even more special. I remember how it felt ritualistic to bring them out every year, and we always put them in a safe place so that we would be able to find them. They were the classics, nothing new and fancy. I remember “Nuttin’ for Christmas”, the 1955 version with six year old Barry Gordon was always my top favorite. But, I loved the songs like “Patapan”, “Good King Wenceslas”, and “I Saw Three Ships” because they were nothing like anything I had heard anywhere else, any other time of year. To this day, those are all some of my favorite Christmas carols, but my list has gotten much, much longer.

I decided to create a few playlists that I know are going to be perfect for this holiday season. I’m carefully curating them based on different activities, because this time of year, nothing tangles my tinsel more than trying to screw a Christmas tree base into the trunk of a Christmas tree (and keep it straight) while having a song playing in the background that makes the situation even more frustrating than it already is. Because let’s face it, that’s always the worst part of putting the tree up. Just imagine “Jing-A-Ling, Jing-A-Ling” by the Andrews Sisters playing while you do that. Nope. I think even a merry old gal like me would pick that 6ft. tree up, throw it over my shoulder, and toss that ish straight out the window. My point is that curated playlists are important this time of year, and so here we go. This is the first of several. Some songs may show up on more than just one list, because “Marshmallow World” is a perfect song for wrapping presents when it is sung by Dean Martin, but when it is sung by Darlene Love, it is perfect for a kitchen dance party while the smell of gingerbread fills the air.

Songs for Christmas Cheer:

Listen to this playlist when you need a dose of the Christmas classics to get you in the spirit of the season. When I listen to this, I imagine myself in a high-waisted midi-skirt, with a lightweight turtleneck tucked into it, a thick belt, red lipstick and my bangs bangin’, nothing but nylon on my feet since I just slipped off my heels. I’d have just finished a full day of being out in the chilly air, buying Christmas gifts and evergreen wreaths, so I’d listen to this as I sipped a winter cocktail and decorated my home with the treats I found in town. My husband would be sipping his cocktail, alternating between playing with our floppy-eared, shaggy pup, and holding tacks for me while I stood on a chair to reach just the right spot to hang the garland, and he’d give me a twirl anytime I dashed by.

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“I’m gonna tick, tick, tickle him on the tummy because he laughs so funny. He’s so jolly and so fine when he comes around on Christmas time.”  –  Brenda Lee

Mood Board

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).