Monday, December 20, 2010

Getting into the spirit of things

I’m really picky about my holiday music. For the most part, my holiday music collection consists of CDs my parents own: Harry Connick Jr., Bob Rivers, Natalie Cole, Home Alone Christmas, and some various artist mixes. Oh, and let’s not forget my mother’s favorite: Christmas Portrait from The Carpenters (it doesn’t begin to feel like Christmas until I play the CD through at least once). However, I did recently discover Sarah McLachlan’s Wintersong album and absolutely love it. Seriously.

I don’t know why I’m so picky, but I am. But this post isn’t about least favorites—that would be negative of me and not reflective of the season at all. So that’s why I’m listing my favorites from the holiday season.

Mary’s Top 5 Holiday Songs

5. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

4. Christmas Time is Here

3. Carol of the Bells

2. Merry Christmas Darling

1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Honorable Mentions: Happy Xmas (War is Over), Ave Maria, O Holy Night, Cool Yule, What Child is This?, Sweet Little Jesus Boy, and Who Would Imagine a King. (Okay, so maybe I'll not picky--just unusual in my choices.)

Mary’s Top 5 Holiday Movies

**Numbers 4 and 5 were actually tough to come up with. I have my staple movies and I’m lucky if I see them once a year. So I dug deep and searched for some movies I enjoy and that were a part of my childhood. No, they aren’t classics. (It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t on here because I grew up thinking it was the longest movie ever—I’ll have to give it another go.) However, movies you watched as a child always hold a special place in your heart. So don’t judge me and I won’t judge you on your love for those terrible claymation movies they made me watch in school.

5. Home Alone 2 – That’s right. Number 2. Thanks to my grandparents’ annual Christmas (large) box, we were gifted with a Macaulay Culkin classic. I’ve probably seen the first film two or three times, whereas I watched Home Alone 2 faithfully every Christmas. And it includes this great scene.

4. Miracle on 34th Street (1994) – I’ve never actually seen the 1947 original film. I heard it’s very good. But my family owned this movie, and my sister and I watched it at least twice each December. It’s a great, feel-good movie that asks you one question: “Do you believe?”

3. Meet Me in St. Louis – It’s not technically a Christmas movie since it covers all seasons. However, I consider it so because of the classic scene with Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” This is one of my favorite musicals and why the aforementioned song is my number one Christmas song. When you put the song in context, you realize what it’s really about. It’s sung to a little girl who really doesn’t move away from her childhood home—a situation I know oh so well. It's one of the few songs/scenes pretty much guaranteed to make me cry.

2. A Christmas Story – This should be on everyone’s list. How can you not feel for Ralphie and his plight? (“C+!”) Plus, my nephew is Ralphie. I tried to be like Aunt Clara, but they were sold out…and expensive.

1. A Muppet Christmas Carol – If you’re questioning this choice, go watch it again. Just for Sam the Eagle. “It is the American way!...It is the British way!” Love it. Family staple.

I hope you all get into the spirit of the season, and treasure your favorites as well as the people near and dear to you. After all, "Wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas!"

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be

Did you know that nostalgia was once considered an illness? If so, then consider me deathly ill.

The summer of 2009 was quite possibly the best summer of my life. The only other contender is the summer of 2008—but that’s another story...that you may never hear here.

Those four months were a rough period in my life. I was going through a couple different struggles. And I cut ties with two very, very close friends. I was struggling internally with many emotions and frustrations that I didn’t know how to handle and am still feeling the effects of.

However, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I realized that though I was going through these trials, I was so completely blessed. I thought God had stopped blessing me because of my actions and thoughts, but I now understand that He was doing the opposite (as He usually does). He sent me a wonderful support system to help me through that time. The friends I made that summer often distracted me from the things I was dealing with and made it easier to make it through the summer. Though I had severed ties with two friends, I had gained friendships and memories with half a dozen more. It took me over a year to get that—to see that God was blessing me in my time of need with people who I consider the best friends I’ve ever made in college.

I would repeat that summer in a heartbeat in spite of the hardships I went through. Though most of those friends have moved on (and it pains me to see them do so), I keep the memories near and dear to my heart. And they all hold a special place there too.