Monday, November 24, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

With everything else going on, the holidays have really snuck up on us this year. I actually saw something this morning that taunted me with “31 days until Christmas” and I laughed like crazy until I consulted my calendar and realized that it was telling me the truth. A month? That’s all I have?

Because we’re so far behind we almost missed out on something we’ve been excited to do for months: participate in Operation Christmas Child. I’m not sure how I first became aware of the program, but after reading the website and watching the videos I was in tears and knew it was something we had to do. To sum it all up, people all over the world in countries like the US, Canada, UK (traditionally more privileged nations) donate and collect shoe boxes full of Christmas presents for children who otherwise would probably not receive anything for the holidays. We won’t know if our Christmas boxes are headed for El Salvador or South Africa, but in a month there will be a child somewhere who will sit with our Christmas shoebox in his lap and wait with his friends until the volunteer signals them to rip open their packages. Inside he will find Matchbox trucks, bouncy balls, crayons and coloring books, a stuffed frog, and other various toys along with toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap. In many cases, this will be the first time the child has ever owned a toothbrush. As I sit here and check my 401k with concern it’s hard to wrap my brain around the fact that there are children without access to clean water, medicine, and even more heartbreaking, without love. They may be orphans living in a state hospital, or working in a sweat shop to help provide food for their 14 member families. I have no idea what hardship is compared to these poor kids. But it’s nice to feel that for a few minutes on Christmas they will know that someone cares enough to send them a present.

We had a blast shopping for our shoeboxes. With my baby fever running rampant anyway I was able to go crazy in the toy aisles and purchase as many girlie trinkets as I could fit into my old (but newly wrapped) Bini shoebox. I picture in my mind a little 5 year old girl prancing around on Christmas, her shoulders draped with a pink and purple boa, tiara gleaming in the sunlight as she adjusts her lipgloss in her shiny makeup mirror. She might share her bracelets with her friends, but the cashmere soft teddy bear is all hers.

I know that our Christmas boxes are not going to change the heartbreak that these kids have in their lives every day. New lipgloss is not going to feed families, and toothpaste, while necessary, is not going to save any lives. But Christmas isn’t about saving lives for any of us. It’s about putting smiles on people’s faces, and letting them know that on that morning, along with so many other mornings, you’re thinking of them and praying that God takes care of them. It’s about celebrating the good and letting go of the bad, even if just for a morning. And if we can give one boy and one girl a morning without tears just ONE day this year, I feel like our Christmas will be more special than any other.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Of monograms and house guests

With wedding planning fully underway, we took a break this weekend as my parents were coming down to be our first official house guests. We deep cleaned the house, ironed linens, and set up the guest bath (which rarely gets much attention) with cute little soaps and towels. It was nice to actually have some noise in the house as we are usually asleep when we are home.

My dad's business charity is UCP and every 6 months when Nascar is in town we grill hamburgers and hot dogs at the race track. I myself am not a Nascar fan, but I am a fan of helping worthy causes, so nine times out of ten I am spending race weekend pulling apart hot dog buns and directing rednecks to the relish dispenser. Corey spent much of his days as the parking lot police (equipped with a safety orange vest and badge) chasing away offenders parking in front of gas pumps. It was a rebel girl's birthday dream.

As a combination birthday dinner/wedding reception scouting trip we headed to the restaurant and ordered three times too much food (all in the interest of 'tasting' of course), and made most of the decisions as to what will be on our wedding menu. My parents also gifted me with an arty nouveau spice rack that I've been coveting and some super fuzzy pink lounge pants that scream my name from a mile away. The boy is not as good at keeping gifts a secret so in the past few weeks I had already opened my gifts of the new Sleeping Beauty release as well as a gorgeous pair of Gucci sunglasses I had been lusting after. On my birthday he presented me with a spa certificate so I will be spending next Saturday getting massaged, pedicured, facialed, fed and made-up at Dolce. Sigh.

Wedding planning is just as stressful as I was afraid it would be. At least we're doing it extremely short notice so I only have five months of running around like a crazy woman instead of the year and a half that I fear I really need. So far all I've done is book the locations and get monogram samples from my graphic designer. Three checkmarks and 250 items left on the list!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Keeping up

It's been a busy week for sure, for everyone. Personally I was disappointed with the Presidential outcome, and that had little to do with Obama's victory. I was, am, and will always be a Republican. I myself share core values with Republicans. However, I also feel that I have no right to tell other people how to live their lives. I personally would never entertain the option of abortion, but who am I to push my beliefs on other people? I have been brought up to feel one way about gays and lesbians, but I feel I have absolutely no right to decide who can and who can't love each other. In this situation I respect and admire everything about John McCain. If he hasn't proven to the American public that he puts his country before himself then I don't know who has. So, my disappointment stems more from his loss than Obama's win. I have faith that Obama will bring thoughts and ideas to the White House that have never been heard before. But, he hasn't been tested before and that makes me a little nervous. I hope that he turns out to be the President that 53% of the country wants him to be.

On the personal front I've been dealing with a cold that just won't go away on top of my daily health problems which has made wedding planning stressful and daunting. However, the good news is that I have a dress, a ceremony site booked and a reception site booked. I thought those last two alone were going to be impossible, but when all else fails march down to the event coordinators office and demand they see you. It worked for me! :)

To my evident chagrin, this weekend is my twenty-somethingth birthday. If you'd asked me at 18 where I saw myself in years I would have definitely said married with kids. So, I'm a bit behind the curve, but at least headed in the right direction. Too bad birthday celebrations just don't mean as much in your 20s as it did when you were in the single digits.

Gone are the simple days of Cabbage Patch dolls and Rainbow Brite cakes. No more inviting every kid in the neighborhood over and having them sit in a circle around you while you unwrap every single present and parade it in front of their faces. And definitely no more eating 1800 calories worth of icing with little repercussions besides a distinct sugar high and a frosting moustache.

Oh to be a kid again.