Jennifer tagged me, so here goes:
1. It's just not Christmas until I listen to John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. Seriously. Rowlph's rendition of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is my favorite version of my favorite secular holiday song. (It had never even occurred to me that a video of this could be on YouTube until I saw Wade's random list. Well, DUH!)
2. Like several people I know, we've always had an artificial tree. Growing up, we had allergy and pet issues that made fake trees the way to go. Now that we have a prelit, easy-to-assemble one, I can't imagine going through the hassle of buying a real tree! (In fact, it's hard to imagine going back to the torture of stringing lights on an artificial one, either!)
3. I can't wait until we have a bigger house so I can have more than one Christmas tree! I'd love to have one in every room, and in the past, we've had a kids' tree on the piano or in Katie's bedroom. Lately, though, it's just been the one big tree.
4. One year, probably my last Christmas before we got married, I had a Longhorn Christmas tree. (Not surprising, huh?) It was decorated with orange lights and had a wide assortment of UT ornaments. Greatness.
5. I spent the Christmas of '83 in Hawaii with my high school band. We performed at the Aloha Bowl that year and had a phenomenal time. It was really weird to have PB&J sandwiches and steamed rice from the U of H dorm cafeteria for Christmas dinner, but it was the trip of a lifetime. Besides, my folks tagged along as sponsors, so I still got to spend Christmas with them. I absolutely refuse to believe it's been 24 years since that trip! I can still remember the leis we wore all fall during our fundraising campaign, and I can still see us forming a giant Christmas tree while we played "Mele Kalikimaka." (We played "Only Time Will Tell," too. Anybody remember Asia? There's some great '80s music right there!) I also have a special attachment to the songs on the plane's piped-in music, too: "Major Tom" especially--a great song to hear while you're flying high above the Pacific! ("Earth below us, drifting, falling...")
6. We spend Christmas at our house, and it's WONDERFUL! We had to drive through a horrendous ice storm in Arkansas one year, and after surviving that terrifying trip, we were done with the Christmas traveling. We love having Memaw spend Christmas Eve with us and being home to leave cookies for Santa--and see what he brought us! After opening presents, Brett and I cook an enormous feast for the five of us. As much as we'd love to spend the day with more of our family, it's just so special to have that time together--just us in our cozy home!
7. I love the fact that Ryan and Katie count down the days until Christmas with our DecemBear calendar...
8. ...and with their chocolate Adventkalendars...
9. ...even if we keep missing several days in a row and the kids end up eating mounds of chocolate in one sitting just to get caught up!
10. The days right before Christmas get me a little panicky because I worry that I've forgotten something--a present, a dinner ingredient, toilet paper--and all the stores will be closed and we'll have to live (all of 12 hours) without it! I'm always super-relieved once we get through that "black-out period" and everything's open again--as it should be.
11. White Christmas. Oh, WHITE CHRISTMAS! I have to watch this every year. Back in my post-UT, pre-marriage days, I even went to the theater by myself to see White Christmas on the big screen. Love, love, love that movie and all the songs. Bing and Danny Kaye are just so much fun, and I've listened to Rosemary Clooney's DVD commentary enough to know plenty of the backstory while I watch, too. And I cry EVERY SINGLE TIME when they open those big barn doors at the end.
12. I cry a lot at Christmas, period. A good Christmas carol on the radio, a sweet (or even sappy) commercial on TV... It all gets me. I've always been the sentimental sort, but since '93, I've had to spend Christmas without my Daddy. I see Ryan and Katie opening presents and just wish, wish, wish that Daddy could share that with us. Katie will sing a carol or Ryan will read a story to us, and I just dissolve in tears because I am so, so blessed. But I'm sad, too. His absence hits me other times, too, but wow, are the holidays hard! Even though we've had some amazing Christmases since Daddy died, especially with R&K around, my mom and I just miss him so much. And always will.
I tag Brett because he's a great storyteller, and there's no telling what 12 things he'll come up with!