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Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

There, I said it

I’m going to put something out there this holiday season that may be a little controversial:

Despite the fact that I just like liking things, I can’t STAND the movie “A Christmas Story.”

I don’t like it. I won’t watch it. And I think it’s a shame that TBS wastes an all-day Christmas marathon on that movie when there are so many better ones out there.

And if I never hear, “you’ll shoot your eye out,” again, it’ll be too soon.

I don’t care that it’s supposedly a classic – it’s overrated.

Husband, of course, loves the movie and can’t understand why I would rather watch anything else. And I can’t really explain it. The closest I can come is to say it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me.

Maybe it’s the contrarian in me – I hate it because everyone else loves it.

Maybe I’m bitter that it gets so much air time when I’d much rather be watching “The Muppet Christmas Carol” or “Miracle on 34th Street” (the original, thank you very much) or “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” (which I found out last year you can watch fully on YouTube).

miracle-on-34th-street-2

Maybe it’s really just not as good as everyone thinks it is.

Or maybe I’m just a grump who needs more from her Christmas movies than a BB gun and a pink bunny suit.

muppetchristmascarol

And I embrace that.

What’s your favorite Christmas or holiday movie?

No, “Die Hard” doesn’t count.

But I’d still rather watch that than “A Christmas Story.”

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Literally.

This past Tuesday was Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, and it might as well have been a battle.

The festival traditionally involves throwing water balloons (and baggies of water) and then smearing colored powder on one another. I may not have been around for past years’ celebrations, but this year I think it’s fair to say that we took this festival to a whole new level. Just look at our prep work.

balloons

Leading up to Holi, the kids had been doing a bit of trash talking. “I get you, Sister!” “I get you with MANY balloons!” And that, combined with the constant miming of a water balloon to the face (and the occasional stray actual balloon) made all the volunteers want to be prepared.

So we plotted.

We were up before dawn, waiting to attack the poor kids who had been assigned to pick up milk from the volunteer house that morning. Members of each of the five children’s homes came. All of them left drenched from either water balloons or a simple bucket of water. And this was all before 7am.

After the dawn attack, we, the volunteers, armed ourselves and prepared to attack house by house, before the final group battle. We had strategized the night before, and the first couple assaults went smoothly.

And then we were ambushed.

While attacking the third house – which was proving to be a formidable opponent – the boys of the first house joined the fray and penned us in. We fought our way out, but there were casualties – such as a point blank water balloon to the face and the loss of a bucket, a key battle tool.

After regrouping and rearming at the volunteer house, we were ready for the final stand. Until this point, we hadn’t used any of our colored dye, and neither had the other houses. But that all changed.

Holi2

The final battle took place in the playground of one of the houses. At times, it truly felt like a war. The kids came armed with dye, balloons, and deadly aim. And when all else failed, they stole our balloons and buckets. Sometimes right out of our hands. (They may be kids, but a lot of them are very strong.)

The nicer kids came up to me with color on their hands, and gently rubbed it on my face while saying, “Happy Holi, Sister!” The more enthusiastic ones went for the sneak attack, which often resulted in ingesting the colored powder. Throughout the course of the day I was spitting in pink, blue, yellow, and green.

By the time the battle was over – the balloons were gone, the water had run out, and we’d given as good as we’d gotten –  no one had emerged unscathed. Just as it should be.

Holi1

There’s nothing quite like attacking children to bond a group of volunteers. And there’s nothing quite like covering someone’s face in dye to bond you with your kids.

I don’t even mind that my hair is still slightly pink and purple.

 

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I predicted that 2012 would be a very good year, but it wasn’t a hard prediction to make. There was a lot to be excited about.

Graduation, marrying the love of my life, and a Hawaiian honeymoon, to name a few things.

GWGraduation!

Wedding - afterparty

Snorkeling

But this past year was also about more than the big things.

It was about battling old demons, learning new things, pushing myself, embracing the ugly, and starting new traditions. Plus a million other little things in between.

What I said for 2011 holds true, too, for 2012: this year has once again exceeded my expectations.

(Minus my Philly teams imploding, of course. Though, one could argue that I should have expected that, too.)

Regardless, 2012 was fantastic, but I know that 2013 will offer up its own adventures.

And I can’t wait to embrace them.

Cheers!

new_years_toast

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I’ve never gotten my own Christmas tree.

When I lived in the studio, I didn’t think there was room (and didn’t want to deal with it by myself). I set out advent calendars and other holiday decorations, but no tree.

When I moved in with Husband two years ago, December was the time for finals, holiday parties, going to Puerto Rico, and then up to Philly for Christmas. And we didn’t make time for a tree.

Last year we were in Argentina for Christmas.

But this year there’s time.

This year, we got a tree and a menorah to celebrate our interfaith-ness, and I realized that I’d forgotten just how much fun it can be to pick out a tree together. (It was fun to get the menorah, too, but Target only had one option, so there wasn’t so much choice involved.)

photo 1

Carrying the tree to the car. We tied it down, but I still held on through the sun roof.

Saturday was spent stringing lights, hanging ornaments, and lighting candles – and standing back to admire our very first tree and menorah together.

lightsandornaments

lituptree

I wanted blue and white lights, but the white were sold out.

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Yes, that’s my nativity scene right in front of the menorah.

I know the menorah will make it all eight nights, but I can only hope that the tree lasts through Christmas.

I have a terrible track record at keeping things watered.

Bonus video for anyone who, like me, loves holiday a cappella and mashups:

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I have just over two months to complete my birthday list and, as usual, I seem to be letting things get down to the wire. So this past Easter weekend, in between celebrating, I checked two more things off my list.

1) I changed a tire! (Last year I learned to check the oil.)

Now, to be fair, I didn’t put the spare on – I just practiced taking off the current tire and putting it back on. That proved to be the hardest part, though, lining up the tire so I could reattach it.

BNF and my brother were coaching me along the whole way (with BNF also taking the photos), and then my parents came out to add their two cents as well. An audience of four isn’t quite the same as having to do this on the side of a busy highway, but it’s a start. And it’s more than I knew how to do before.

It’s safe to say that I was pretty proud of myself.

BNF told me to look tough. I tried, then couldn't help but laugh, resulting in the odd face in the photo.

2) I made empanadas!

When I try them again, there are a few things I’ll do differently, starting with finding (or making) a different dough. Due to lack of options I used Pillsbury, and it just wasn’t the same.

But once I got the baking time right, they were delicious!

Still not quite like my future mother-in-law’s, but I have plenty of time to practice.

I’m sure BNF won’t mind taste testing.

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From December 2010:

“2010 seems hard to beat, but I think 2011 is up to the challenge.

Next year will see more marathons (or, at least one); the halfway point of my grad school career; five weddings within a three month period (plus another one over Labor Day); hopefully the completion of my birthday list; and a potential trip to Buenos Aires.

I can’t wait to see what else 2011 has up its sleeve.”

  • That potential trip to Buenos Aires turned out to be a beautiful reality. It was relaxing, warm, and amazing to meet so much of BNF’s family and friends. And my Spanish was passable, so I’ll count that part a success.

  • I didn’t fully complete my birthday list, but I did come up with a new one for 26 that I’m slowly working my way through.
  • The weddings were fantastic. We danced and ate and celebrated fairly consistently from March through June (and then in September).

  • At this point, I only have one semester left of grad school, and this past semester was the best one so far.
  • And as for the marathons…well, I grossly underestimated how many I’d be doing in 2011.

  • But the best surprise of all of 2011 was the proposal. Talk about having something up your sleeve!

2010 was a hard act to follow, but 2011 did just fine. And 2012 has a clear advantage, because how could I not be excited about the year in which I get married and get my M.A.?

I love making resolutions, mostly because I love making to-do lists, but at the same time I haven’t really made any these past few years, and things seems to be falling nicely into place. So I think I’ll stick with that method.

No resolutions, just happy years.

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I’m still in finals crunch mode, but this semester, this is the video that’s been an ever-so-welcome study break. I don’t know if it’s as funny if you don’t watch Community, but really, why wouldn’t you be watching?

So, if you either need a study break, are tired of the traditional Christmas songs, or, in fact, want to “take down the holidays from within,” then this one’s for you.

And, yes, I’m still listening to it on repeat.

If only there were a full-length version.

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My semester is almost over.

In fact, I have just 13 pages left to write, for 2 papers, over the course of the next 4 days.

If you remember, last year I celebrated the end of fall semester finals with a trip to Puerto Rico. Admittedly, that would be hard to top. We left the morning after my last final, and spent just over a week relaxing on the beach.

This year, we’re leaving approximately seven hours after I turn my papers in and going to Argentina for two weeks!

Not only will it be warm – think low 80s – but I’ll also be able to check a few more things off my list: reading for pleasure, traveling abroad, and hablando español. Plus, I’ll get to meet more of BNF’s family!

When I went to Buenos Aires with Cla, we had a blast. We played tourist, shopped, ate, saw tango shows – and we did it all using my high school Spanish and a college friend we had down there.

We took a photo outside our favorite heladeria, so we'd remember where it was.

It was a learning experience.

This time, not only have I been practicing, but I also have BNF and his family to translate – or to at least repeat phrases a little bit slower.

If nothing else, I know that I can shop and order food on my own.

That has to count for something.

Now, just a few more days…

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Black Friday used to be a noble tradition.

You would scour the circulars leading up to Thanksgiving so you had a game plan. Play the odds and plan a route. Forget Risk (which I never played); Black Friday could be its very own strategic board game.

Getting out the door by 4am was a challenge. You had to really want it. Because, sure, the easy option would be to sleep off Thanksgiving dinner, but if you wanted to be a hero, you got your butt up early and were back in time for brunch.

(And maybe you left your bags in the car so your dad wouldn’t see exactly how much money you’d actually saved by buying so much on sale.)

Regardless, these were the rules of engagement.

And now the rules have changed.

It’s like a whole new world out there. I thought it was crazy two years ago, when stores opened at midnight. Only a couple hours to digest all that turkey? And what about all the wine that’s still in my system? Now we need to plan a DD for Black Friday?

I didn’t love it, but I did it.

This year? I refuse to participate.

Black Friday now officially starts on Thursday – on Thanksgiving, with several stores opening at 10pm. It’s too much.

There’s a piece in the LA Times that quotes a retail industry analyst: “Retailers recognize the importance of being convenient, and one of those conveniences is opening earlier so people don’t have to wait in line at 4 in the morning in the cold.

Here’s some advice: don’t be a baby. And bring some gloves.

The waiting, the freezing, the pushing, the getting separated from your mother and lost in Circuit City surrounded by crazy people just so you can get your brother a flash drive that he never uses – that’s all part of the Black Friday charm. It’s part of the challenge, part of the thrill.

And so, in protest (that I’m so sure will be noticed), I’ll sit this one out. It was a good run. Black Friday has been good to me. And it’s been a hell of a bonding time with Mama.

But I refuse to play by these new rules.

Thanks a lot, Wal-Mart.*

*And everyone else who changed the game.

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Freshman year of college some friends and I were pre-gaming a frat party (naturally), when one of the girls took a call from her mom. As they talked, the rest of us continued to drink, and I, trying to be thoughtful, kept an eye on Jules. I figured she wouldn’t want her mom to know she’d been drinking, and I didn’t want her to give herself away.

Everything was going swimmingly when all of a sudden I heard Jules say, “Happy New Year!” and I snapped to attention.

No one else noticed.

Crap! I thought. Her mom’s totally going to know! It’s only September – not even close to the new year! Seriously, how drunk is she?

As soon as she got off the phone I asked her about it, wondering if her mom was upset.

Elizabeth,” she said, “it’s okay. You know I’m Jewish, right? And that Rosh Hashanah starts tonight? As in…the Jewish New Year?

No, no, and yes.

Color me embarrassed.

But, since that night, I’ve paid much closer attention to all religious holidays – out of both genuine interest and a desire to not get caught off guard.

So, in that spirit, learn from my past ignorance and don’t be confused if you hear wishes of a happy new year today and tomorrow.

Trust me: no one’s that drunk.

L’shanah tovah!

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