Home for the Holidays

Christmas 2020 looked very different this year for many families. My mom and dad both have three siblings, so our family Christmas celebrations have always been large and so much fun: Christmas Eve with my Mom’s side and Christmas Day with my Dad’s. The sadness I felt over not being able to spend time with my extended family this year over the holidays was real~literally made my heart hurt. However, we made the best of it, and I know that the memories we created this year will be cherished. I also know that next year when we can celebrate together again it will be even more special than ever! I set an intention for myself this year to remember that and stay more connected to my HOPE than my sadness.

We kicked off our Christmas festivities by driving through Veterans United Home Loans light show. These photos do not even begin to do it justice. It was truly magical, and I am so grateful that the company shared this amazing and free experience with our community this year!

Jonathan built a fire pit during the summer months that I knew would come in handy this fall and winter, and it definitely has. It allowed us to have a unique socially distanced, outdoor Christmas celebration with my Mom and step-Dad. I took some of my indoor decorations outside, we ate Arris’ Pizza, opened gifts, and had a great time.

For some reason we chose the coldest and windiest night of the year to drive around and look at Christmas lights. There were definitely some impressive ones to see. However, I feel like my small hometown always had the best Christmas lights around. I have so many great memories of going to Christmas Eve communion at our church and then driving around town to look at lights. We finished our light viewing this year at a local church that has an amazing Magic Tree. Although, quite honestly, I didn’t really even have much of a chance to look at it up close this year because we were just trying to get a quick and decent photo in before I ran back to the car. The last thing I said to J before he snapped this pic is, “Please hurry. My teeth are cold.”

Our Christmas Eve celebration consisted of just the two of us and our pups. We ate lots of appetizers, played Score Four and Yahtzee, danced to Christmas music in the kitchen, and opened gifts. It was simple and full of love.

I decided this year would be a good time to begin a few new Christmas traditions since we would be missing some of our old ones. One of those traditions we chose to begin this year was filling our stockings. Christmas morning we woke up, had coffee, and opened our stocking gifts. We followed that with the new tradition of a cinnamon roll and sausage breakfast on Christmas morning. This recipe from Sugar-Free Mom was absolutely delicious! https://rb.gy/8cd0ly Really, I don’t think anyone would know it wasn’t loaded with sugar or carbs. Give it a try! I followed the original recipe exactly except I used a large muffin pan to cook them separately. I recommend doing it this way to keep them nice and soft. I also prepared them the day before, so I only had to make the cream cheese icing and put them in the oven to cook Christmas morning.

Christmas 2020 will definitely be one to remember. My biggest Christmas wish is that we all stay connected to our HOPE for the New Year.

2020 Holiday Decor & Joyful Holiday Playlist

When I was a kid, we had a flocked Christmas tree. Our living room was peach and baby blue (anyone remember the 1980s peach and blue country decor?), and our Christmas tree matched. I did not grow up having red and green Christmas decorations, and I still don’t use the traditional colors in my holiday decor. I will always and forever love a flocked Christmas tree. My Christmas decorating style, overall, is modern and minimal. When I realized this Christmas would look a little different, and we probably wouldn’t be spending a few nights at my Mom’s house for Christmas as usual, I decided I wanted to purchase a new flocked Christmas tree and go all out with ribbons and decorations to enjoy while staying home. I found the perfect tree at Hobby Lobby. The branches are a little different than most other Christmas trees. It is heavily flocked, and I was drawn to how unique it was. It reminds me of an actual snow covered tree in the wild. I was also grateful to find that there was minimal shedding from the flocking. https://rb.gy/0b0vxg

While my mom is gifted at all things decorating, I know what I like, but I’m not always able to create it myself. I have good decorating vision but little actual crafting skill. My talented mother made the bows for the top of this tree. There are two-one on the front and one on the back, but I decorated the rest of it myself. After finding an inspiration tree on pinterest and watching a few Youtube tutorials on how to put ribbon on a tree, I successfully finished decorating the tree. Ribbon is quite simple to add and can create a dramatic effect.

This year, more than ever, I’m finding a deeper appreciation for holiday decorations and the joy and cozy ambiance they can bring to a home. Here’s a look at some of the other decorations we have this year.

Along with the decor, we have been enjoying holiday music more this year as well. With the help of recommendations from friends on facebook, I created a 2020 Joyful Holiday playlist from Apple Music. If you are an Apple music user, you can click the link here for the playlist: https://music.apple.com/us/playlist/leslies-joyful-holiday-playlist/pl.u-aZb0gB5uPVBdgx

If you don’t have access to Apple music, here is a list of all the songs:

All I want for Christmas by Maria Carey

Run, Rudolph, Run by Jane Krakowski

White Christmas (Duet with Shania Twain) Michael Buble’

Santa Baby by Calista Flockhart

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer by Jack Johnson

Here Comes Santa Claus by Elvis Presley

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by Jane Krakowski

Little Drummer Boy by Pink Martini

Winter Wonderland/Don’t Worry Be Happy by Pentatonix

O Tannenbaum by Vince Guaraldi Trio

Underneath the Tree by Kelly Clarkson

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Lea Michele

Frosty the Snowman by Brenda Lee

Jingle Bells by Gwen Stefani

My Favorite Things by Kelly Clarkson

O Holy Night by Celine Dion

Winter Wonderland by Leona Lewis

Silent Night (Feat. Reba mcEntire & Trisha Yearwood) by Kelly Clarkson

Feliz Navidad by Celine Dion

Jingle Bells (Glee Cast Version) by Glee Cast

Hallelujah by Pentatonix

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! by Dean Martin

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas by Michael Buble’

Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Pentatonix

We Need a Little Christmas (Glee Cat Versino) by Glee Cast

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (feat. Frank Sanatra) by Kylie Minogue

Last Christmas by Arian Grande

Mistletow by Justin Bieber

Sleigh Ride by Idina Menzel

Merry, Merry Christmas by Koko Taylor

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by NSYNC

Cozy Little Christmas by Katy Perry

Santa’s Coming For Us by Sia

Christmas Every Day by David Archuleta

Winter Things by Ariana Grande

This Christmas by Pink Sweat$ & Donny Hathaway

Deck the Rooftop (Glee Cast Version) by Glee Cast

Holly Jolly Christmas by Michael Buble’

Skating by Vince Guaraldi trio

It’s the Most Wonderful Tie of the Year by Harry Connick, Jr.

Have Yourself A merry Little Christmas by Meghan Trainor

All I Want for Christmas is You by Michael Buble’

Boogie Woogie Santa Claus by Charle Brown

Sleigh Ride by The Ronettes

Holidays (feat. Earth, Wind, & Fire) by Meghan Trainor

Baby, It’s Cold Outside (feat. Meghan Trainor)

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas by Gayla Peevey

Donde Esta Santa Claus by Augie Rios

White Christmas (feat. Christina Perry) by Ingid Michaelson

Mary, Did You Know by Pentatonix

O Holy Night (A Cappella) by NSYNC

Dominick the Donkey by Lou Monte

May your holiday season be filled with peace, love, joy, music, and an appreciation of simple pleasures. The holidays may be different this year, but the magic of Christmas always exists.