Amazon Delivered!

I was excited about getting home today after work. I had been waiting for an order from Amazon to show up. I have been eagerly awaiting since I ordered the items a couple of days ago. Today’s delivery was arriving just as I got home. I saw the truck up the street and knew it was going to head my way. And it did!

Most folks would not be excited to get what I got. But with my latest hobby- I am thrilled at what arrived for me. More tufting cloth is most important. I also got an equal amount of backing fabric with anti-slip. I got a roller to help flatten and smooth out the glue between the fabric pieces. My favorite item though is the yarn winder.

When I unboxed it, even my 16 year old son asked if it was from the 70’s. It truly looks like it is. Honestly, it’s one of those things that works exactly as it was meant to- it doesn’t need to be changed. I swear it looks like the one my mother had from… the 70’s! I remember playing with it as a kid. Or was I winding yarn for my mother? Either way- this thing looks like I could’ve dug it out of grandma’s attic.

This weekend I plan on winding some of my “pound of yarn” skeins into more manageable sized skeins. It will also allow me to not need double skeins of yarn in colours I don’t use as often.

Getting excited over mundane items feels wrong and right at the same time. I’m glad the items showed up and cannot wait to play some more with my yarn and rug making.

Chilling Out In A Hot Bath

I have been trying to take a relaxing bath for a few weeks now. I end up get caught up with the hectic life activities and run out of time before bed. Today I got lucky. I cancelled a plan for my evening and had a quiet night at home.

I had taken my son to bowling for a group activity with his speed skating club. I ended up bowling a set and just stayed there the extra hour or so before heading home. Then, I squeezed in some quality video game time with my wife before dinner. All things I wasn’t planning to do, but was happy that I did.

But bowling was the last bit that did me in. My back, arms, neck and legs were sore. I really needed to relax in the tub and rejuvenate. My family was content to have me disappear for a while. I was a tad bit grumpy and rundown. I needed some “me time”.

And I feel better for it. I needed a hot bath with a fizzy bath bomb. It was relaxing. I nice way to spend a Friday night.

Travel For Skating

Over the weekend, my son and wife were in Fort St. John for a Long Track Speed Skating meet. Just like Calgary, I was able to watch from afar on YouTube. Ah technology!

Seeing my son grow into a young man is pretty awesome. He has developed some good habits and strengthened his muscles over the past year alone. Watching him skate makes me really proud. That’s because of his focus and determination in doing the best he can while on the ice.

Even though he skates maybe a few times each day, I have enjoyed watching his progress in person as well. Having been to Fort St. John with them in the past, I remember what the rink is like and that the people are always welcoming.

But I do miss them when they are away. I always look forward to when they get home. My wife loves to track me on the Find My iPhone app. Today she wasn’t sure if I’d get to the airport first or they would be waiting. Turns out we arrived pretty much at the same time. I was only about five minutes in the parking lot, but could have easily arrived at the airport pick up location just as they stepped out.

I do hope our son appreciates the time and money we put into these competitions. Actually I know he does. He works hard each time and it shows.

Another Tufter In The Making

Every weekend, I have been making rugs. I have been really enjoying this hobby. Last weekend, our youngest wanted to make one of his own- so he made an 8-Ball. Today our middle child wanted to make their own rug. I went through the process of how to do it, guiding them along.

Darwin traced the image and we discussed the colors to use. I only helped with a couple of stitches, but the rest was all them. (I snuck in another soot sprite in the blank space when we had the black and white yarn set up.) I sat by Darwin’s side and continued to offer advice as well as encouraged the work being done.

The image Darwin chose is the moon from the anime- “Soul Eater”. This was a family favorite a few years ago. In fact, we did a family dress up for Halloween as the characters from the show- and then went trick or treating in Disneyland. It was a lot of fun.

Darwin wants this rug for their bedroom floor for when bedtime comes around. Tomorrow afternoon, we will finish the rug. A bit of me is selfishly enjoying the quality time that my kids wanted with me. Spending time with our kids is worth every moment of making these rugs.

How many rugs is too many rugs when I get to spend time with my growing adult kids doing something we both enjoy?

There’s never going to be enough. I’m lucky they want to do this with me.

Terrific Tuesday

A coworker of mine came in to the office today full of joy and laughter. He said to everyone, “Today is Terrific Tuesday. Blue Monday is behind us!”

I honestly could not agree more. Sharing positive energy and thoughts is a wonderful way to spread kindness throughout the world. Tell a joke, have a laugh, share a smile, say something kind- whatever it takes.

I want you all to have a Terrific Tuesday. I also want you to share and make sure those around you have a Terrific Tuesday as well! If we all do this, tomorrow will be “Wonderful Wednesday!”

Third Monday Of The Year

Hey folks. Welcome to the third Monday of the year. Also known as “Blue Monday” the most depressing day of the year.

Hey, at least we get it out of the way at the start of the year, am I right? Emotions are drained from a busy Holiday season, so the “Feeling Tank” is running on empty. Getting past this feeling can be challenging.

It also doesn’t really help as those bills from Christmas spending are now arriving. Hopefully you didn’t overdo it trying to people please last year. That can be tough, especially when you have children. If you’re like me- you just want the best for them. If you’re also like me, paying bills is a fact of life.

But once we get through today, it all gets better. More sun is on the way to brighten our days. Perhaps a pay raise or new job is on the horizon. Now that we are going into recharge mode, seeing friends and family only periodically will be healthy. The feeling of rushing around should be gone.

We’re all in this together. So let’s get passed Blue Monday for a brighter tomorrow.

Nice Vans.

A few weeks ago we did some shoe shopping. I needed new work boots- so we went to the Red Wing store. The lady was extremely knowledgeable and also remembered me being there in the summer buying boots for my son. That same day, my wife and I went out and bought new Skechers for casual hiking.

Both of those sets of shoes have been slowly broken in since the purchase. Something about new shoes can either make your feet hurt or feel really good. There’s no in between. Except when it comes to Vans. There’s something different about those shoes.

The day before buying my work boots and hiking shoes, we hit the mall for our son to buy some shoes with his Christmas gift card. He loves Vans, so naturally his older sibling got him a gift card for the store. On a whim, I bought a pair for myself (my wife did as well… Huh- seems our son is the shoe influencer). It has been about 25 years since I last owned a skate shoe like these. I used to wear Vans and Converse all the time as a teenager.

They were the perfect shoe for hackysack. The abuse that my shoes went through as a teenager far surpassed the life expectancy of them each time. Yet I stopped buying them in exchange for cushioned soles and comfortable tread.

Tonight I put on my new Vans for the first time. They were neither comfortable or uncomfortable. They were just an extension of who I am and who I once was. When I got home, they went back into their box. I’m not sure I want to wear them all the time. Much like my son- I do plan on taking better care of these Vans compared to my youth. Yes, our son loves his shoes and is meticulous about keeping them nice. A very different teenage boy than I was.

So I’m going to be following his lead and take better care of my footwear.

Nice Vans.

A few weeks ago we did some shoe shopping. I needed new work boots- so we went to the Red Wing store. The lady was extremely knowledgeable and also remembered me being there in the summer buying boots for my son. That same day, my wife and I went out and bought new Sketchers for casual hiking.

Both of those sets of shoes have been slowly broken in since the purchase. Something about new shoes can either make your feet hurt or feel really good. There’s no in between. Except when it comes to Vans. There’s something different about those shoes.

The day before buying my work boots and hiking shoes, we hit the mall for our son to buy some shoes with his Christmas gift card. He loves Vans, so naturally his older sibling got him a gift card for the store. On a whim, I bought a pair for myself (my wife did as well… Huh- seems our son is the shoe influencer). It has been about 25 years since I last owned a skate shoe like these. I used to wear Vans and Converse all the time as a teenager.

They were the perfect shoe for hackysack. The abuse that my shoes went through as a teenager far surpassed the life expectancy of them each time. Yet I stopped buying them in exchange for cushioned soles and comfortable tread.

Tonight I put on my new Vans for the first time. They were neither comfortable or uncomfortable. They were just an extension of who I am and who I once was. When I got home, they went back into their box. I’m not sure I want to wear them all the time. Much like my son- I do plan on taking better care of these Vans compared to my youth. Yes, our son loves his shoes and is meticulous about keeping them nice. A very different teenage boy than I was.

So I’m going to be following his lead and take better care of my footwear.

Stereophonic

I love listening to music. It’s often playing as background auditory sensory input in my life. Usually I have a Bluetooth speaker connected to my phone and just let it play. In that form, it just plays from one speaker location.

Lately, I have wanted to experience music the way it was intended- in stereophonic. My wife recently got two Bluetooth speakers that connect together and create a stereo sound of left and right. Tonight I tested them out while I relaxed in the tub. They worked really well and I enjoyed the sound they produced. A gentle sound that wasn’t too bassy or treble heavy.

My favorite headphones.

I do have a pair of amazing noise canceling headphones made by Panasonic. I’ve had them for a over a year, but tend to forget about them. Mostly because when I do use them, I don’t tend to have much time alone to really immerse myself in the sound they create. I am hoping to get more use out of them as I work on my new hobby. I will be in search of music that echoes from ear to ear more regularly. I found that not all music utilizes this.

Perhaps that’s because most folks just use one earbud or a single speaker like I do usually. There is no real point in artists experimenting like they once did. I’m not saying they don’t anymore, it’s just not the same as it once was when stereo first became prevalent.

Music is great and I want to enjoy it more frequently the way it was written and recorded. Time for more stereophonic listening.

Sea To Sky By Rail

This afternoon I took advantage of the sunny day and hopped on with a train crew that was leaving North Vancouver and heading into Squamish. A part of my role as a supervisor is to take train rides and focus on safety. The crew I was with was great and we had many in depth discussions throughout the afternoon.

I like to get out in the field and do these rides. Normally, I just stay in the yard with our switch crews, so it was good for me to get out on our mainline. The Squamish Subdivision is one of the most beautiful in North America. With views of mountains, lakes and the ocean as you travel by rail.

Rocky Mountaineer

Lucky for those of us who work here, we get the opportunity to appreciate it. If you ever want to experience it in more luxurious style, check out The Rocky Mountaineer: Rainforest to Goldrush. This is by far one of the best series of views that you could imagine seeing some of the nicest parts of British Columbia.

For me, it’s moments like today that I really appreciate my job and the experiences I have gotten to enjoy because of it. Not every day is a good one mind you- work is work. But getting out there and being personable with the crews is great way to keep up with the professional relationships between us. Specifically when it comes to safety.

Those beautiful views are not so bad either.

Recaptured 80’s

I love nostalgia. It’s the one thing that I am often thinking about. I always share stories of my youth and seek out ways to relive those memories.

I follow a fantastic Instagram account that really taps into my 80’s desires. Recaptured 80’s. I love that there is new images added daily along with videos and polls. Following along has sparked memories I didn’t even know I had until I saw them once more.

My 80’s PJ top with iconic cartoon characters.

I’m just a big kid who loves his 80’s. From cartoons to movies; toys to video games; books to candy- it all brings me joy. Sometimes I put on some old cartoons in the background, like GI Joe or Transformers and enjoy the sounds as I live my life. In our pool I’ll play some 80’s favorites and rediscover some lost classics.

Our kids have also grown a love for 80’s films. So much so that they both bought rather expensive Lego sets for themselves with some of their Christmas money. The Delorean and Ecto-1. Both iconic cars from a couple of great 80’s films.

I’m glad that my passions have become my kids’ passions as well. They have even taken to loving music my wife loves. Our middle has taken over my wife’s records and has a love of the same music as my wife. Not to mention that our kids also steal our sense of amazing clothes and wardrobe style.

Have you passed on what you love to your kids? I know I’ve seen some pictures and stories from a few of you. I love it all.

Recaptured 80’s

I love nostalgia. It’s the one thing that I am often thinking about. I always share stories of my youth and seek out ways to relive those memories.

I follow a fantastic Instagram account that really taps into my 80’s desires. Recaptured 80’s. I love that there is new images added daily along with videos and polls. Following along has sparked memories I didn’t even know I had until I saw them once more.

My 80’s PJ top with iconic cartoon characters.

I’m just a big kid who loves his 80’s. From cartoons to movies; toys to video games; books to candy- it all brings me joy. Sometimes I put on some old cartoons in the background, like GI Joe or Transformers and enjoy the sounds as I live my life. In our pool I’ll play some 80’s favorites and rediscover some lost classics.

Our kids have also grown a love for 80’s films. So much so that they both bought rather expensive Lego sets for themselves with some of their Christmas money. The Delorean and Ecto-1. Both iconic cars from a couple of great 80’s films.

I’m glad that my passions have become my kids’ passions as well. They have even taken to loving music my wife loves. Our middle has taken over my wife’s records and has a love of the same music as my wife. Not to mention that our kids also steal our sense of amazing clothes and wardrobe style.

Have you passed on what you love to your kids? I know I’ve seen some pictures and stories from a few of you. I love it all.

January 3rd

Just another day it seems. Work is work. Family back to their routines. Now much going on to report. No real progress on my new hobby as I don’t have a lot of time to work on it today.

But life is good. And I kind of like that it’s just passing by periodically without much action. Not every day needs to be momentous or exciting. Some days have to be just another day. That way you can appreciate those “out of the ordinary” days.

I enjoyed my quiet time at home for my Christmas Vacation. The food was good, not rushing around was pleasant, and just relaxing with my family is what I needed. A few days back to work and my mental health battery is still recharged. That’s good. Only one more work day and then some time to myself while the rest of the family does their thing.

I’m feeling good. Life is good.

How are you doing post holidays? Is your battery level okay?

End Of 2022

This year was another relatively good year for me. It had ups and downs, but mostly positive vibes. I don’t think I will change anything for 2023.

I am ending my year with a quiet evening with my wife, my kids, my sister and my niece. Even though we were invited out to a couple events, I honestly feel that spending tonight with the family who is here matters the most. I do appreciate and love my friends for always thinking of us and inviting us out. Sometimes I just need to know how loved we are with those invites.

Real plans for 2023? I am continuing my journey to be alcohol free. Which has not been easy. But since the end of November, I have done darned good at it. It feels as though it is never a good time to quit drinking. There is always celebrations, frustrations, or casual moments that a drink would feel fitting. Seeing friends share pictures, memes, or videos has made it difficult at times for me. A bit of FOMO happens. But I needed to do this for myself again.

My last length of time without drinking was only 300 days. I couldn’t even make a whole year. It started as just an occasional drink, but then I felt like I was becoming dependent on booze. Yes, I have shared numerous experiences drinking, having fun, and supporting small breweries. But I also have a tough time calling it quits each time. It was never just one drink. There were moments that I’d drink whatever I found in the house as well once I was out of beer. Like a scavenger hunting for scraps.

Feels True

As well, my body was not enjoying the years of abuse. Nearly three decades worth of drinking. I now feel more pains in my body than I remember. But my breathing and guts feel better after the last 30 days of sobriety. So I’m focusing on each day and doing my best to distract myself from the urge to drink.

That is my hardship. My Achilles heel. My crutch. Normally I just share positive stories in my blog. But today was about being truthful with myself and those who follow me.

2023 will be filled with courage to overcome more obstacles and set out on new adventures. Reconnecting with friends. Controlling my destiny. That’s my 2023.

Hand-To-Hand Wombat

I supported a Kickstarter campaign a few months ago for a new board game. I received the game back in September, but kept it aside for Christmas. Last night we played it as a family. Welcome to Hand-To-Hand Wombat.

Mortal Wombat!

Because I backed the Kickstarter from the beginning, I got a bunch of extras for the game. Like a timed stopper, blindfolds,fuzzy cards, wooden wombats, and a neat fanny pack to carry those in.

The game is pretty easy. At the start you are dealt out a card. Only one person will be the bad wombat. All the rest are good. There are four pyramids to build that are six levels high. Everyone has their eyes covered and we all reach into the box and attempt to build the structures- except the evil wombat. They are also blindfolded and try to stop the structures before the timer ends. No one knows who the evil wombat is, so after each round a vote occurs. Unanimous vote means a person goes out. Even if they weren’t the evil wombat!

Talking is allowed to try and communicate while blindfolded. After each round you can try and convince each other who to vote for. Not until one of the teams gets to three points do you reveal your team card.

This game got pretty intense and we played only three matches. But it was chaotic fun! I recommend this game to those who like quick rounds. Plus it can be played with younger to older people without much difficulty.

Pick your copy up at Indigo and have a great time yelling at everyone!

Boxing Day With My Sweetheart

Post Christmas Day in Canada is Boxing Day. My wife and I opted to not do any shopping this year. We are going out later in the week, but not for any big sales. Just a few essentials for the home.

Instead of shopping- my wife and I are having a day of just the two of us. Our kids are doing their own thing- watching tv and playing video games, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to have some quality time together. We put our phones into their new matching cases and headed out into the world.

We went for a Five Kilometer walk in our neighborhood. Most of the snow is gone now and the temperature was almost in the double digits at 9°C. A lovely afternoon together getting some fresh air.

For the balance of the afternoon, we are going to eat some leftovers for a late lunch followed by some video games together. My wife has requested that we play a classic for our family- Skylanders Giants. We are going to start the story from the beginning on our Wii-U.

Chances are we will play pretty steady for the next few days. I’m excited to re-play this game series as it was a ton of fun ten years ago! Let’s see if it holds up.

I hope you are all enjoying your holidays and time with family.

Christmas Eve 2022

Christmas Eve was a nice evening spent with my wife and kids. We had a lovely dinner where my son spent a few minutes trying to set up the perfect photo. He discovered it’s not as easy to get everyone to cooperate as he thought.

The kids did sit still for a quick picture after dinner. That’s because they were receiving their annual Christmas pajamas. After opening the gifts, they got changed and came back downstairs in their new wares.

When they arrived, we “watched” our traditional Christmas film- A Christmas Story. Our kids were more on their phones than paying attention, but hey- we were all in the same room together. Then it was bedtime.

Santa showed up immediately after they went to bed and laid out gifts for the family. The evening ended peacefully. My wife and I went to bed exhausted, hoping that the kids would let us sleep in.

Merry Christmas Everyone! I hope your day is as wonderful as ever.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 12-FAMILY

What better way to round off my 12 Days Of Appreciation than with FAMILY.

I love the time I have spent with my family over the last 40+ Christmases. From being a child and unwrapping gifts to watching my own children do the same. Christmas is the one time of year that I have the fondest memories of family time.

As a child, it was the time that I can recall my father being his most jovial and pleasant. He would sit with us on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas Morning. He would share stories, laugh at our innocence over believing him, and genuinely allow a more emotional fellow to come out. When he smiled, it really lit up the place.

As a father myself, I always do my best to make sure our kids were getting extra quality time at Christmas. If they want me around for playtime, movies or video games- I am there. Their enjoyment of the season is paramount every year. I always share numerous stories and memories of my children. They are the best gift I have ever received, as cliché as that might sound, it is true.

Spending time with the family you love is important. It’s a time to set aside differences and do your best to share the happy stories of years past, as well as live in the moment so you can talk about it in the future. I have had difficult moments in the past with my parents and sister, but somehow we always get through it and work on being better.

As I finish my 12 Days of Appreciation, I want to wish everybody a safe a joyous season!

Lots of love, from your Daily Blogger, Josef.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 11-FRIENDS

How could I not mention how much I appreciate my friends in my appreciation posts? That would be silly and unheard of- especially for me. I love my friends tremendously!

Over the years I have made hundreds of friends. A few of whom have lasted for decades now. Those who I rarely speak with or see in person, I still try and interact with via various social medias. Everyone I have accepted as a friend has played a significant role in my life. Some are like “The Butterfly Effect” where it was a small encounter, but made a big impression. Other people have gone by the wayside and just moved on, the same with me.

I can honestly say that my friends have been there for me when I needed them most. Through losses, parenting woes, work, depression, or even celebrations, birthdays, and adventures- having friends there for me has made all the difference in the world.

Solstice 2022

Opening our home to friends has always made me happy. I love having them mingle and just relax in a warm and loving environment. As busy as life can get, I love that my friends are there for me when I need them; even for a quick text or call.

I’ll always be there for them as well. I have a special spot in my heart for each and every one of them. I wish all my friends the Merriest of Christmas! Thank you for being there for me over the years! We have had such great times and made wonderful memories.

If you have a memory of me you’d like to share, please do! I can only scroll through so many thousands of pictures to add to my blog. If you aren’t pictured, do not worry, I still care about you!

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 10-MEMORIES

For whatever reason, Christmas is one of those times every year that I look back on previous years with fondness. I appreciate all of the memories of Christmas past. If you follow me on a regular basis, you know that I love to share my memories. I am a sucker for nostalgia.

Reliving the Christmas years from my childhood is a blast. I will always remember those years of Lego sets and video games. Being that I was four years older than my sister, I was also tasked with putting together her Barbie accessories. Not much changed when I had my own kids. I sat with them and assembled their toys.

I have so many great memories of Christmas. Most of them are over the last couple of decades with my own family. From silly times and fun gifts- Christmas always made me smile. Somewhere between my childhood Christmas and my children’s Christmas was memories of Christmas Day being just another day.

When I was in my late teens/ early twenties hanging at my parent’s home on Christmas Day didn’t overly happen. I spent time with other friends just hanging out. Honestly, as depressing as it was- looking back, those few years were calm and nice in their own way. No pressures, no big hoopla, a few gifts exchanged and maybe a quick visit to mom and dad to load up on food. As short lived as that span of Christmas was, I am glad that I had those ones as well. It really made me appreciate the ones before that time and the ones I have experienced since.

Unpacking Christmas decorations and going through old pictures always make me smile. Sometimes my eyes fill with tears of the moments I should of had or could have had if things were different. Losing my father before he became a grandfather is still an emotional struggle at times. Losing a few years as a young adult when I could have made amends with him also sting.

But most of my memories are pleasant ones. And photos at Christmas are hard to choose my favorites to share.

How are your memories of Christmas? Was your childhood filled with joy? Or perhaps being a parent now is joyous. Let me know in the comments.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 9-HOME

My life is incredibly blessed with everything that we have worked towards over the years. My biggest appreciation of all of our possessions is our home.

We wouldn’t be here without hard work and help from our parents. They helped us out financially, and we paid them back after years of struggling. Almost 20 years of homeownership I can honestly say that I am so happy with where we have gotten to.

The biggest thing for me is to open up our home for friends and family. Tonight being the winter solstice, we have some close friends coming over for laughs, food, and general good times. That’s what having a home is for. To open up your doors to the ones you love.

Every Christmas I have spent in my home. Even growing up- traveling or going away at Christmas never happened. Christmas was a time to just appreciate what you have and stay warm throughout the winter season.

I appreciate our home and all those who are invited in to share our space. I hope that over the holidays your home is as warm and wonderful as ours.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 8-HEALTH

From food to gift giving, being healthy at Christmas is another thing I appreciate.

I have not been the healthiest of people since pretty much my birth. I had an upper lobectomy on my left lung when I was two. I have had some severe asthmatic attacks and have always struggled with high endurance activities causing stress on my lungs. Because of a compromised respiratory system- every year I get the flu shot.

80’s Toy set.

As a child I often had ear infections and caught colds quite easily. I recall one Christmas morning in the early 80’s where I had a stomach bug. I was throwing up all day long. But as a child, it didn’t hinder my play time. But I do remember my mother making my play in the kitchen with some of my new toys, so that if I threw up, it would be on the linoleum. I have memories of peanut butter barf and The Dukes of Hazard toy set.

In the year 2000, my future wife and I were about to celebrate our first New Years together. I had the luxury of catching the flu. I’m not going into detail about how I caught it, but let’s just say I am an idiot and my wife can tell you the story of you ask. Needless to say, I was bed ridden that night. So we played numerous Disney DVDs that I owned followed by “Flesh Gordon and the Cosmic Cheerleaders.” I’m not sure if it was the hallucinations from the flu, or if this movie is really that odd.

I believe it was 2009 when I got hit with H1N1 and was laid out for three weeks in November of that year. I was better by Christmas, but damn if it didn’t feel like I was on my deathbed. Again, I was having fever dreams and tripping balls as for days on end.

November of 2017, I went to the doctor because I was having some difficulty swallowing food. I ended up getting a barrage of tests done. By Christmas, I had a diagnosis and was given two options. Take some pills or go through the rigamarole of testing if I have food allergies. Naturally I chose the pills and have been better ever since.

When Covid arrived, my paranoia kicked into full gear (I’m sure some of you did as well). I avoided people as much as I could. I have gotten every booster shot as soon as I could. Having suffered the Swine Flu, I never wanted to get hit hard with Covid. Especially since I am down half a lung.

I mentioned all of this because I am happy to be as healthy as I am. I’m not in perfect health, but I am very conscious about my limitations. I appreciate what the doctors have done for me over the years. I still see my family doctor as required. Even if I don’t deem it necessary (finger in the bum time is overdue.) But I appreciate my health, it allows me to spend Christmas with my loved ones every year.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 6-GIFTS

I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that GIFTS are a big part of Christmas. Of course I appreciate getting gifts, but more importantly- I enjoy gift giving.

Christmas morning was the one time that I can always remember my father with a smile on his face as we opened presents. That same sensation came over me as my children unwrapped their gifts. Supplying all their dreams of merchandise coming true. Not every gift was a toy or video game. Most new clothes arrived under the tree as well.

I can’t forget about the stockings either. They were stuffed full of treats like deodorant, toothpaste, hair ties and the occasional chocolate. We always start with stockings before unwrapping anything else. It’s a great teaser prior to getting started into the fun stuff.

You might be thinking that we spoil our children. Perhaps you are right. However, we rarely buy and give anything to them throughout the year. We tend to stockpile our gifts until Christmas Day. That means that a game or toy was saved until that morning to be gifted to them. Same with specific clothing items. As our kids become adults, we are listening to what they desire throughout the year as well and do our best to help in making their lives easier.

I do enjoy unwrapping gifts as well. Especially the ones my kids have given me over the years. The joy when they hand it to me to unwrap and the explanation of why they bought it or how to use it has been extremely fun. The smile on my face is genuine as I do my best to see who I am through my kids’ eyes and why they got the gift they did for me.

Over the years we also gifted experiences to the family. A trip to Tokyo, concert tickets, etc… sometimes those fall flat at first, but when the event arrives, it’s pretty spectacular. It’s sometimes hard to feel joy when you don’t have a physical item to hold. Especially at a young age. But those memories last a lifetime.

Do you enjoy gift giving? Or do you prefer getting surprised at Christmas? Let me know in the comments.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 5-MOVIES

Christmas isn’t Christmas without holiday films. Like most folks, I have a few that are personal favorites that are a must watch every year. I even have specific dates for a couple of them. Now, we can all agree that most of the Christmas movies out there are filler and cliche- especially those Hallmark ones. Sometimes those are good as background noise where you look up from your phone periodically.

But the ones that hit home- right in the nostalgia senses- are the ones I appreciate most. I do love “Gremlins” and “Die Hard” plus a handful of other films. But these are the ones I want to address today. (Sorry Wiggles, you guys are only for decorating the tree and not quite a film in the broad sense.) As well, those 60 minute or less cartoons aren’t a part of this list because they are always a part of Christmas viewing for nearly everyone.

Every year, on the first weekend of my kid’s winter break from school- we watch “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”. This has got to be the best way to start off the Christmas season. A father trying his damnedest to make the best Christmas for his entire family. Not an easy task when things are going wrong constantly. Some of my favorite Christmas quotes come from this film. “I don’t know Margo!”

“Elf” and “Dr Seuss How The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” both have a soft spot in my family’s hearts. I much prefer the live action Grinch over Elf. But I do find certain scenes amusing in Elf. Both films have great watchability for all ages and are kind of timeless still.

“Scrooged” with Bill Murray is a fantastic adaptation of Charles Dickens immortal classic, Scrooge. (See what I did there? Quoted the movie directly). This film hits me in the feels with a toaster. It influenced me to not want to climb a corporate ladder as you will miss out and push aside people who care about you and people you care about. It is on the verge of not holding up because of being set in a television studio, but I love it so.

My absolute favorite film is “A Christmas Story”. Back in the early 90’s a tv station called TBS played this film nonstop for 24 hours from Christmas Eve into Christmas Day. I had a tv in my bedroom and remembered for a few years in a row that I would let it play and lull me to sleep. I love the story telling in this film and it remains unrivaled to this day. It is relatable to all generations at all times. I still watch this film on Christmas Eve as a way to end the night before Christmas Morning.

What are some of your favorite Christmas movies? Let me know if you like the ones I enjoy.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 2-Decorations

I love decorating for Christmas. I am one of those people who start decorating on November 1st and finish around now. This has always been my favorite part of the transition from Halloween to Christmas. It’s a slow and gradual season change for our home.

I have always loved putting up decorations. As a child, I would put up handmade snowflakes in my room and I even made winter scenes for my toys on display. With the use of craft paper and white cotton batting- my toys enjoyed a winter wonderland. As I grew older, I continued to make my own decorations and put them out. Sometimes I even made decorations and gave them away to specific folks.

Over the years, my wife and I have changed our styles of decorating. For a while it was whatever hand-me-downs and handmade decorations and ornaments we had. Now it’s still some of our own handmade decorations, yet the new ones have become more elegant and comforting.

Soon there will be a time when some of our decorations will be given to our kids. They have been given ornaments over the years that they will take as they start their own decorating and traditions. At that time, I wonder if our home and trees will feel emptier.

A favorite picture of me after decorating.

But for now, I love seeing our home decorated for the festive season. I also enjoy being inspired by others and how they decorate their homes. Christmas decorations bring me joy and really get me energized for Christmas.