Sunday, December 21, 2014

I was in a flash mob once

Sort of.

If you count twelve people meeting up at Basha's in Taylor and singing Christmas carols in the candy aisle a flash mob.

It was awesome!

By which I mean: the experience was awesome. (We, the singers... not so much. We sucked, actually. ... What I'm saying is, twelve people who've never practiced together have NO BUSINESS trying to sing O' Holy Night a capella. All the verses. In public.)

But the USAF Band? ... Geeze. They ROCK the flash mob. (The percussion at the 3 minute mark? Be still my beating heart!) Clearly, they practiced this before they did it in public.

Enjoy!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

I'll be home for Christmas.

I will.

I'll be home.

Today.

Hopefully, by noon.

And, when I get there, I will eat candy until I'm sick and sing until I'm hoarse. And then, tonight, I'll sleep so both my belly and my throat can recover, and then I'll do it all over again tomorrow.

There's nowhere else I'd rather be. (Even if the weather is better here.)

All season, this song's been making me cry. (Who's kidding who? It always does. And when my girl Karen is the one singing it, I'm even more prone to get all sappy and emotional. I so love her!)

When I'd hear this song in early November, I'd have to change the channel, because it was too hard to hear this song that I love talk about doing this thing that I love that I didn't think I was going to get to do this year.

I know, that's so silly. But it's also so true. (Also, holy-run-on-followed-by-fragmented-sentences, Batman!)

I've always loved this song, but this year, I think I love it more than I ever have before. This year, I've felt it in a different way, and I am grateful for that.

I'm so (SO!) incredibly grateful for the time I've been given. It has been such a gift, that I've been able to enjoy the holiday season with my family and my friends, that I get to go home for Christmas this year, where I can eat fudge and sugar cookies and tamales and microwave popcorn and little boxes of sugar cereal and all of the other things that are Christmas to me.

In a world where it can be easy to let the cloud of a dirty scan overshadow all that is good and light in life, getting a 6-8 week reprieve on starting cancer treatments has been the best gift I've ever been given.

I'll be home for Christmas.

Today.

I freaking love my life!

Friday, December 19, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

This...

This is my song.

This song. This recording. The girls in the office actually refer to this as "Laurie's Song". For real.

Why?

Because, while I am a sing-a-long FOOL with just about anything on the work radio these days, this version of this song is my very tippy-top-cream-of-the-crop favorite.

It doesn't matter what I'm doing, who I'm talking to (my own self, a co-worker or even on the phone with a customer... yes, it's happened), I will break mid-conversation at approximately 2:08 to laugh/sing along with my boy Perry.



I'm telling you, I loooooooove this song!

Because it's cheerful. Because it makes me merry. And because, people, it really IS beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

This Year's Santa Baby

Okay, so... have you ever heard this song?

All praise to the mighty gods of Sirius radio for bringing me this little gem this year:



"Please help out my pet charity. ... You see, naturally, that's me."

Oh my gosh, I laughed OUT LOUD when I heard this song for the first time last week. I cannot believe that I'm 40 years old (and am a die hard fan of the Eartha Kitt Santa Baby!), and I had NEVER heard this before.

Love, love, love, love, love!

Apparently, Ms. Kitt released this beauty in 1954, as a follow up to her Santa Baby smashing  hit of 1953. (Isn't Christmas music trivia the most fun, ever? I love it! ... Now, that's a board game I could actually get behind. Hmmm... maybe next year I'll come up with something along those lines.)

Anyhoo, I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. (Totally played it twice, just while I was typing this up. Ha!)


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

White Christmas



Tonight, I got to see White Christmas on the big screen.

Again.

Last year, I went with some single friends, and it was a good time.

This year, I took Cili with me. And it was... well... perfect.

I so love that kid!

C's such a funny, sassy, musical-loving kid. When I saw that White Christmas was the classic movie for this week, I knew she's who I should see it with this year. And I'm so glad that I did.

She was suitably impressed that I know the movie well enough to talk along with the dialogue...

"When what's left of you gets around to what's left to be gotten, what's left to be gotten won't be worth getting whatever it is you've got left."

And the ever popular,

"Well, I like that. Without so much as a 'kiss my foot!' or 'have an apple!'".

Also, 

"In some ways, you're far superior to my cocker spaniel."

But I digress.

Towards the end of the movie, as I was basking in the glory that is White Christmas (it was the final scene when they do the dinner and everyone's in uniform), I had a memory rush in of the year that Santa brought the VHS tape and a giant bag of Cheetos. (I think I was 15.) After everyone else went back to bed, my mom and I sat down on the brown couch in the family room, with the bag of Cheetos between us, and cried and sang and laughed and cried our way through the movie. (Those dang general scenes make me cry. Both in the beginning and at the end. Every time. For over 25 years.)

We'd been watching White Christmas for years, but only when it was on TV. We didn't own a copy of the movie until that year, and being able to sit down and watch it from beginning to end without commercials, just the two of us, with an unlimited supply of crunchy Cheetos... I remember that Christmas morning better than I remember most of them, because of the trifecta of awesomeness.

That Christmas morning was perfect.

Tonight, I took a 10 year old to see a movie with me. We had a giant tub of buttered popcorn to share (my one true love... even Cheetos have to take a backseat to buttered theater popcorn), more candy than any two girls should ever have access to at one time and two 32 oz Cokes. I quoted the movie, and sang my little heart out (and did a little chair dancing, as I am sometimes wont to do). C sat there next to me, sometimes laughing, sometimes staring straight ahead (I'm pretty sure my wild arm gestures to "Choreography" took her aback), and sometimes singing along (she knew every word to "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" - most impressive).

Just before Bing headed to NY to be on the Ed Harrison show, C leaned over and said she was going to fall asleep. (It was after 8:00 and she is a girl after my own heart, with her early bedtimes.) For maybe 5 minutes, she was drowsy... but then I whispered/sang my own special version of "Love", and she perked up.

By the beginning of that final scene, she was wide awake and happily singing along to the "Gee, I Wish I Was Back in The Army" song. We laughed and we sang, and I chair danced a little. And then, while Bing and Rosemary and Danny and Vera Ellen and Cili sang "White Christmas" and they threw the barn door open so everyone could see the snow, I just... sat there. Watching the movie, listening to my little ten year old friend sing along, and I realized... I was having a totally perfect moment.

Watching White Christmas.

Again.

But, this time, I was on the other end of that generational gap. Tonight, I was the grown up who was sharing a movie and some snacks with a kid that meant the world to her.

I love my life.

I do.

I love it.

I may not have children of my own to brainwash, but I do have children in my life. Cili's not my 10 year old, but tonight, I got to have a generational bonding experience with her.

I've always been grateful that Dean and Jo live so close, that I have so much access to them, to their family. 

But tonight, I'm grateful on an entirely different level.

At this point in my life, the reality is that I know that I will never have my own biological children. ... Mind you, I'm not giving up hope that someday I'll marry a fabulous man who'll buy me some babies from an orphanage in a foreign country where they'll never think to check my health history before they release some kids to my care. I am not giving up on the dream of being a mom and raising kids. But the reality is that I live in a body that grows cancer, not babies. That ship has sailed... around the world, actually. Twice. ... But tonight, I had a flash of focus where I could actually see that I had passed on something I love to another generation.

I'm so grateful for that gift, for this sudden awareness that I have given Cili some of the same things that Judy gave me. 

I'm so grateful that the Woods can see beyond all the potential damage I could do to their children, and they let me have an active role in their children's lives.

Tonight, I am grateful; for a movie I love, for the woman who taught me to love it, and for my friend who shares her children with me.

This may not be the circle of life that I expected, but it is the circle that I have... and I am infinitely grateful for what (and whom) I do have.

I'm grateful: For the perfect moments in my life, for movie musicals, and for the people I get to share both of those things with.

Happy Holiday!

OH. MY. GOSH.

I loooooooooooove this song!

I can't ever decide which I love the most, that he starts and finishes with "Happy Holiday" (it's so one of my favorite songs ever, from one of my favorite movies ever - "Ooooooh, Linda Mason." - 10,000 Classic Movie Points to the first person to cite the reference) or the "Whoop-dee-do and dickory-dock and don't forget to hang up your sock" part of the Holiday Season part of the song.

Either way, I love it.

So much.


To quote my good friend Andy, "Merry Christmas, everybody!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Two-fer Tuesday

A couple weeks ago, I was driving around town with Jo's girls, radio blasting Christmas carols as we took speed bumps at 30 mph. (Listen, I am a country girl who grew up on a dirt road. I know how to party in a car. Hard.)

The girls did NOT disappoint with how well they knew the words to All I Want for Christmas is You, but when Mele Kalikimaka came on, they were stunned silent. (And, I'm pretty proud to say, impressed that I knew how to say (by which I mean: sing) "Merry Christmas" in Hawaiian.)

Anyhoo... I've been thinking that not enough people know this song. So, listen. Learn.

Okay, maybe you don't have to learn it, but I do hope you enjoy it. (This version makes me lol, and it's very much a two-for-the-price-of-one Christmas classic. Woot!)



Monday, December 15, 2014

We Need a Little Christmas

Any song that starts with the words "haul out the holly" speaks to my soul.



Man alive, I love this song!

Have I grown a little leaner? Nope, I sure haven't! But I have grown a little older, and could always go for a little Christmas. NOW!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

We Three Kings

Many, many, moons ago, I was a sweet young thing, living in Provo and attending a BYU Ward.

Okay, fine. I wasn't such a sweet thing, but I was young. (Like I said, it has been many moons.)

I remember, the Sunday before the semester break, we had a musical Sacrament Meeting and three boys in the ward (Arden Anderson, Craig Woll and Terry Anderson, as I recall) sang We Three Kings a capella. ... It was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever heard in my live-long life.

Even now, whenever I hear this song, I hearken back to that Sunday in the Sky Room. I can feel my red velvet seat give beneath me as I lean forward to listen with my whole heart, and I can hear the boys singing a song I'd never truly listened to before that day. It was a beautiful, and life-changing, experience.

It's been almost 20 years since that December Sunday, but I've thought of that musical program every time I've heard this song over the years. I don't know that I'll ever be able to tell those boys what that song did for me back then, but I can tell the original 13 readers of the blog (and anyone else who may have hopped on board for the Christmas song-fest this year).

I love this song. 

I love this song, because the language and the harmonies are beautiful. But I also love this song because it reminds me of three young, but wise, men I knew once upon a time who stood up to sing without accompaniment in front of a room full of people. I literally thank God, every year, for what those men did for my relationship with this song. And for everything else they did that blessed my life - and the lives of countless others - in the mid 90's. (My life has been awesome. I've known so many incredible people, and those three men are some of the cream of the crop.)

This isn't the best version of the song. It's short - only one verse. But it's men singing, a capella. Which is how I think this song sounds the best.

Enjoy!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things

I bet I just freaked you out a little bit with that title.

I bet you thought, "Oh, no! Laurie's one of those people who think that's a Christmas song?!"

Well, I'm not.

As much as I do love me some raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, those are NOT Christmas wishes. That is NOT a Christmas song.

Nah, I'm just sitting on my couch, looking around my apartment, and thinking... "Man alive, I love this place. I love this holiday. I love all the memories I have, of Christmases here, and everywhere else I've ever been."

People, I have some sweet (SWEET!) memories.

Some of my favorite memories are here, some are in the blue - and then the pink - house with Julie and the Bens (we named our trees Ben, because they were big and strapping, like Brother #2 in Seven Brides... true story), some are in Taylor, some are in St. George, some are in Provo at my grandparents' house. I mean, really, they're everywhere. Every Christmas has been awesome, in its own way. I so love this time of the year!

I lead a charmed life, every day of the year. But there's something special about being a person who loves Christmas, because I am gifted with some pretty spectacular stuff by people who know and love me.

I know that sounds cheesy and ridiculous, but it's true. One of my favorite things about decorating for Christmas is all the people I think of as I pull ornaments and decorations out of my storage bins. As I look at my tree, and as I look around this tiny little apartment that I call home, I am reminded of so many other Christmases, and it makes my heart happy.

For the fun of it, and because sometimes I like to use my little corner of the www to catalog my most sentimental belongings, I'm gonna go ahead and show you a few of my favorite things around here.

How great is this ornament? It's from my friend Colette. Circa (and I'm guessing here, but I'm pretty sure I'm right) 1996. The ornament is actually a box, and when she gave it to me, it had the sweetest little poem about being a box full of love tucked inside. ... Sadly, the poem's been gone since the last house I lived in when I was in Provo. But the box remains, and it goes on my tree every year. I love it. It reminds me of my noodle-haired friend who sings like Barbara Streisand and has the Midas touch in the kitchen.

I love her. I love the memories I have with/of her. And I love that I have this small, tangible, thing that reminds me of her. Every year.


Ahhhh.... This little beauty is from my friend Christine. If memory serves, she gave me this ornament the Christmas of 2004. (I know it was after she moved to the valley. I was still living in Taylor, and I also know it wasn't the Christmas before I moved down to Mesa.)

I  love it! I love that Ch'chine knows me - has always known me - well enough to gift me with something that's a perfect match to the rest of my decorations. The colors, the shape of the ornament, the gold filigree. I love it, because it's beautiful. But mostly, I love it because of who it came from.


Oh, and these snowflakes. I LOVE THEM.

My friend Jen gave me these ornaments, I think, the second year I was in Taylor for Christmas. So... 2001? Maybe 2002. I love them!

They were the very first snowflake ornaments on my tree. Now, I have silver beaded snowflakes and crocheted snowflakes in the mix, but these are my favorite. I love them. I love them because the glass is clear and the light shines right through them, I love them because they have these gorgeous sheer red or green ribbons tied at the top of the string they hang from. I love them because they're beautiful and classy, and I love them because they remind me of my friend who is one of the most beautiful and classy women I have ever known.

I think of Jennifer every year as I take them out of the little Santa box she gave them to me in, and I think of her throughout December as I look over at my tree and see the proof that she has been part of my life for so many years. Ya might have to dig deep to find the parts of me that are classy and refined, but I like to think that they're in there - and what I know is that the reason they're there is because I have been friends with Jennifer O.



Oh, yeah. And THIS. I LOVE THIS THING!

The first Christmas I lived here, Jo came over with my Christmas present and told me that Rook (her son who is now 13... he was 5 at the time) had seen this in the dollar store and had insisted that they buy it for me.

According to five year old Rook, this hideous little jingle bell snowflake had my name written all over it.

Awh, man. It's such an ugly little ornament. But I love it! I love that it is ALL jingle bells. It's too big for my tree (also, did you notice the purple bells in the center... they wouldn't match a dang thing on the actual tree), so it's been tied to the door knob on my front door every year since 2006. Yup. Tied to the door with that same piece of red yarn. For eight Christmases in a row. (One year, it was there ALL YEAR LONG, because I forgot to take it down and by the time I realized my door was still jingling, it was May. I figured, what was seven months more?)

Anyway, I love it. I'll never know what went through that child's mind when he saw it in the store (let's be real... I don't know that I want to know what he thought about ME, for this to be something that reminded him of me), but I love that he had to buy it for me. I love that it's bright and cheery and jingles every time the door opens or closes.



The star Kirk made me when he was in High School wood shop.

Kirkey made me this star for either Ben #1 (in the blue house) or Ben #2 (in the pink house), I'm not sure. 

What I do remember for sure about Ben #1 was Jule and I got it into our sick little heads that we wanted to have a homemade, old-fashioned, tree, complete with old wooden spools tied with red ribbon and homemade gingerbread men.

Not a wise choice, in a house full of mice. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Okay, no it isn't. Because to not tell the tale of the mice sliding the cookies across the kitchen counter as they cooled and dumping them behind the stove would be a crime. As would not bringing up how they'd chase each other up and down the tree, fighting over cookies and wooden spools, all month long.

For someone who's creeped out BIG TIME by vermin, it's shocking that the mice didn't make me want to move right out of that old house. (Well, sort of, they did. But as long as we had a tree up, they were more amusing than they were horrifying.)

Oh my gosh... and with Ben #2, we somehow angered a van full of angry men (it wasn't me, Julie was driving) and we got chased all the way from the tree lot to Greg and Doug's house. ... Because if you're two irrational women running from something/someone, it makes perfect sense to drive straight to your boy cousins' house and walk right in like you own the place. Am I right?

Anyway... memories. My life is chock full of them. As is this star. It's been on every tree, in every house, for twenty years. I love it!



And while I'm looking up at that picture of the star, I'd like to draw your attention to the Christmas clock on the wall in my kitchen. I love it! ... It sings a different Christmas carol on the hour, every hour. I've had it for, like, twenty years. I think I paid $10 at Smith's in Provo for that thing. When I moved home in 2000, I hung it in my parents' living room and the music made my dad want to scream. Ha!

See the big Santa pic? My friend Lana sketched that. Isn't it awesome? I bought that print from her for $10 in 2005. I've hung it every year since then. A lot of people have commented/complimented me on it over the years. I super duper love it, and not JUST because that's a pretty close mock-up of the Coca Cola Santa.

And the Noel wall hanging. Oh my gosh, I love that thing. My mom made a bunch of those as Christmas gifts for family when I was a little girl. We had that one hanging in our living room my entire childhood. When I came home from St. George, I was so happy to see it that I'm pretty sure I cried. When I moved to Provo 18 months later, I took it with me.

See below. I grew up with this Christmas decoration, both literally and metaphorically. No matter how simple Christmas is/was, this little felt beauty has always been a part of it. I love it!





The year Julie and I lived in the pink house, I couldn't go home for Christmas. Around Thanksgiving, I got a package from my mom. In it was the very last scrap of the red and white checked flannel she'd used to make our stockings, some white flannel to piece a stocking with, her embroidery floss and needle book, and some patterns I could use to make myself my own stocking.

Fun Fact #1: The candy canes are the very first pattern I ever embroidered. When I was in 5th grade, I decided to make everyone in my class a present, and Judy taught me how to embroider. I made candy canes and daffodils. I'm pretty sure they were a disaster... but I have always loved these criss-crossed candy canes, so they were a given for the toe of the stocking. (My brother Brett has them on his stocking that Mom made him when he was a baby.)

Fun Fact #2: I made this stocking with my own bare hands, and never noticed that it hangs the wrong way. It took Jule and me throwing our annual Christmas Festival for our cousins' roommate, Rustin, to see it and ask if I had made it. I was so proud, because I had, indeed, made it. His reply was classic, "I figured. ... Did you realize it hangs backwards?" Uh, no. No, I had NOT realized it was backwards. And I had used all of the flannel my momma had sent me, so there was no redoing it. Awh, well. I love it, anyway. And I sort of love it even more with the toe pointing the wrong way.



I love this little 3 person nativity.

It's from Jo. (Of course it is. She's always wanting me to remember the reason for the season. ... I kid. ... Sort of.) She gave it to me the first year I lived in this apartment (2006), and it's been front and center every year since.

I love the colors, the height, that it's just the three of them, that it's all one piece.

I love that it's from Jo. 

I love that I'm still friends with my best friend since Jr High. It's more than a little mind blowing that we've known each other for almost 30 years, that we've lived 3 miles apart (again) for the last nine of those, that we've had Sunday dinner every week, every year, that we've texted and called and often seen each other during the week outside of Sundays, and we have never run out of things to say.

I'm lucky. We're lucky. Who gets a real, life-long, friendship, besides us? I love her and I'm so grateful that we live close enough that we get to see each other often. No one else would let me screw their kids up the way she does. I'm so glad I have her. She cuts up watermelons for me in the summer and buys me stuff like for Christmas. I'm the luckiest girl in the world!



Ahhhhh... Dorothy's slipper.

AKA: The Wicked Witch of the East's slipper.

Tomato/tomahto.

Kathy U. bought this for me, and shipped it to me, when she was on her honeymoon, as I recall. I love it! It's the sparkliest thing on my tree, so it always goes in the middle of the tree, where the glitter can catch and reflect maximum lightage.

Isn't it lovely?

I've known Kathy the Younger since she was a kid, and she never ceases to surprise and delight me. I love her as much as I love red glitter and all things sparkly. Which is to say: as much as I love life itself.



This is a new one.

My brother Brett made it. Dude blows glass, and this year he thought he'd try his hand at Christmas balls.

Isn't it awesome? Clear green glass with a polka dot pattern. This shot was taken from above the ornament, but I wish you could see how it glitters and throws the lights.

Brett and Karen brought a box of ornaments home with them for Thanksgiving and let Katie and me pick what we wanted, before they hit the market. Kate took the big green ball, and I took the little one. It makes my heart happy that my sister and I have matchy-matchy-green-squared ornaments that our brother made.


My life is rich with memories. (Honestly, I think I have more good memories than my fair share, but man alive... do I love them!) I'm grateful for the people in my life, for the amazing people who have always blessed my life, for the trails they've left in my past and for the trinkets I have to remember them by.

Sitting here, in my little house, surrounded by things that I love brings me joy. I love it here, all the time. But especially at Christmas.

Life is good, peeps. It's good without a flocked tree, but I'm not going to lie... it's even better with one!

Man alive, I love Christmas! I love the sights and the smells and the music and the food. I love it all! But, mostly, I love the people who've helped me enjoy Christmas over the years. Thank you for sharing my life and making me merry, for reading my blog and for keeping up with what's happening in my world. I wouldn't be who I am without you, and I love ya more than I can say.

Happy Christmas! Be Merry!