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As I hid tucked away in a study closet, I realized one thing. This weather sure does not feel like Christmas. The moment our phones buzzed with the “tornado warning” message in sync with the tornado sirens outside, John was ready to herd Zoey and I to the downstairs “safe room”. They say over time dogs inherit the personality of their owners. I like to think it’s more situational – but on this day, I’ll admit… both the dog and I showed signs of similarity as we were corralled to the first floor closet. Sarcasm came from my mouth “there’s not even a tornado outside, I don’t see it” while befuddlement and mass confusion shook from Zoey’s hind legs as she darted from corner to corner before John finally captured the animal. Once we made it to our shelter, we locked ourselves in. After a short sixty seconds went by, the drama ended as we were relieved to hear a silence outside, the tornado alarm slowly fading away. Relief was felt for half an hour before round two.

The second tornado warning was taken more seriously. At least by me. My heart fell to my stomach as my fear level went from a mild 15% to a more appropriate for any normal person in this situation 60%. My thought process started to hinder as the idea of a tornado happening became more of a reality. I started rationalizing the tornado in my head “well, today was unusually muggy, humid and way too warm for comfort. Mid-70s on the day after Christmas? Could this be the beginning of Armageddon?” By this time, Zoey was panting loud and couldn’t keep still as the entire back half of her body was shaking in fear. John grabbed a flashlight and here we were again, this time streaming WFAA from my new pride and joy/Christmas present (thanks Dad-told you I needed it!) Luckily, we survived the theoretical Plano tornado. Others weren’t so lucky.

We’ve been involved with several events lately as the holiday season is coming to an end. The weekend before Christmas included six events – Friday night was a birthday party and ugly sweater party. Saturday, my mother and I united to engage in an annual tradition of having lunch at North Park and picking out some last minute Christmas presents. Saturday evening was my work Christmas party at a new, badass bowling ally in Plano. Sunday afternoon was spent with my little as we enjoyed a free BBBS event at Top Golf hosted by the Dallas Maverick’s Raymond Felton. And finally, Sunday evening, John’s mom took us to to see the Trans-Siberian orchestra at the AAC. *takes breath after this long run on sentence*

All the hustle and bustle of researching gift ideas, ordering presents online, shopping at malls, attending parties while maintaining your normal life took it’s toll on me this year. I almost started to forget the true meaning behind Christmas.

Then there were those three days at work just before Christmas Eve. Can I just say it’s nice to not have to fight traffic commuting during the holidays? But really – these days were breathing days as I’m getting caught up and all trained up at my new job.

Christmas Eve

Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day events were not any less crazy. Christmas Eve morning I fought my way through Central Market grabbing the ingredients I needed for our lunch. I took a risk and made a Pinterest inspired ham and cheese casserole for John, John’s Dad, my Dad and I. If you know me, you know I won’t cook anything if it takes more than an hour. Very easy to follow recipe and a HIT, especially with hungry men. It’s so delicious- Hawaiian rolls filled with fresh deli maple ham and your choice of cheese topped with a butter sauce (worcestershire sauce, butter, dried onions).

We exchanged gifts with our dads (thanks dad for my present-I’m putting it to use now writing this blog 🙂 and spent time enjoying each others company, sharing stories and eating good. Good as in yummy, yummy as in carbs… the not so healthy ones. But that’s the point of the holidays right? No boundaries.

Next we shuffled our way to Southlake to spend time at my mom’s house. She had spent the entire day preparing our meal. A talent I commend her for that I did not inherit. Maybe one day 🙂 Her food is always amazing. We were served filet mignon with a mushroom sauce, four cheese potato casserole, asparagus and homemade popover rolls. So delicious. Thanks Mom!

The next event of the evening was attending the Christmas Eve candlelight service at our family church. A wonderful combination of music and scripture reminded us of the true meaning behind the season.

We ended the night unwrapping a couple of gifts. Zoey was being especially cuddly, so we had to snap a picture of my princess-angel-face for the books.

 

Christmas Day

This was my favorite day. We were served yet another fabulous meal (Mom shoutout!) for breakfast, pic below. We opened presents and ended the morning with a walk to the park with the dogs. There’s a pretty little park with a small wooded area near my mom’s house with land and horses. I love walking around that area in hopes the horses will be right up on the fence. We let Zoey off her leash so she could run around. She looked like Bambi gallopping through the meadow as she was hopping and frolicking around like she’d never been set free before. Then she stopped- a dead stand still as if someone had just frozen her in a game of freeze tag. Knees locked, ears tall & tail vertical, pointing to the sky. She found the horses.

-And that’s all that happened. There was a fence that stopped her dead in her tracks, no herding or nipping happened. Moving on!

Next, we drove out to McKinney to spend time with Johns mom and grandmother. We were so happy to be able to spend time with his grandma as she just broke her hip and had to get a hip replacement over Thanksgiving. Luckily she was home and we were able to have our Christmas with her in her own home (not the hospital). By this time we were stuffed like turkeys, but we enjoyed yet another delicious meal. We opened presents, sipped wine and everyone was very lucky this year. With a group of four and several gifts to open, it was fun to watch each present be unwrapped. Some of us who weren’t used to this tradition got a little ahead of themselves (me) but it’s okay. We enjoyed ourselves.

We ended our night at the Gaylord Texan with some good friends that John’s known since he was a kid. At first it was a mad house and we started to question which part of the world we were actually in, but after grabbing a drink, the crowds died down and we walked around, enjoying the beautiful scenery and magical Christmas decorations.

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2015 was a good year for most people, including myself. The economy is back up, more people have jobs, and a lot of people had success. I personally made some career moves that ultimately were a pretty big risk but advanced me at a faster pace. Retail was very successful this year during the holiday season as people are buying things and everyone seems comfortable.

The entire season of Christmas was very busy for my boyfriend and I and sometimes I’d question why we put ourselves through so much stress. Whether it’s attending all the events I wanted to be at or shopping for friends and family, even though it’s all fun.. I still end up ungrateful or tired or stressed or simply aloof (apparently this is a dominant trait of the aquarius-so I’ll blame my astrological sign). But that’s when I realized it’s not about me, or the things I’ll buy, or the gifts I’ll give, or the food I’ll eat, or the outfit I’ll wear to that party. It’s about giving and showing my love for the people that have been with me throughout the entire year. Spending time with family and friends is, after all, my favorite thing to do. But most importantly, it’s about the love God has for us, that he gave us his only son to save us from our sins. The worldly “us”. The girl like me that gets wrapped up in the chaos and sometimes forgets what this entire season is truly about.

The tornado that happened just the day after Christmas left me feeling sad. I had just spent two days being showered with gifts and enough food for a small country. I had just spent two days with the people I love the very most, and I could sleep knowing I’d see them again soon. After the tornado hit, I was quickly reminded how fast things can be taken away. Why do things get taken away from people? Why is it that some people end up without their family, or shelter, or food, or a job?

A lesson I learned earlier this year after losing a friend taught me how thankful I should be for my life every. single. day. Even on the bad days. My bad days don’t even compare to other people’s bad days. This season I was reminded to cherish every moment, even during the super busy and stressful times. I’m blessed beyond words for the people in my life today. My relationships with my family continues to grow and get stronger. My new family through my boyfriend has been nothing less than amazing.  Christmas to me is all about being thankful for all of your blessings and spreading love to those around you. Every day can be a struggle if I allow it to be, but God has bigger plans for those who seek to have bigger minds and hearts. So thank you God for giving us a season to get us back on track and remember what it’s all about.

I wanted to share some fun photos and memories from my very “Mary” Christmas. I also wanted to share what I gathered from this season. Thank you to anyone who made it this far down my blog post. I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

For more information on how to donate for those affected by the tornado, go to this link. 11 people didn’t survive and hundreds were left homeless. If you can’t donate, spread the word on how others can. ❤

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