Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Spirit of Giving

To those of you who would normally be receiving something from us this Christmas – whether it be a card, a plate of home-baked goodies, a gift in the mail, or a trip to see you, we are sorry. This year we chose to do something a little different with our Christmas money, as I alluded to previously.

Neurotic as I am, I constantly worry about what-ifs and this year there seem to be quite a few people sharing my concerns. We have friends and family members with depleted retirement funds wondering what will happen if the market doesn’t come back. We have coworkers and acquaintances wondering what will happen if their company can no longer afford to pay wages. We know people with children on the way that are wondering what they will do when the bills come in the mail next month.

Suffering is everywhere, all the time. This year it took the form of a recession to let us know that none of us are immune to the ebbs and flows of the economic environment. In years past we have chosen angels off of Christmas trees, and contributed to company fundraisers. We have served food to the homeless, and tutored underprivileged youths. But this year it seemed important to Corey and I to help someone a little closer to home.

I will acknowledge that our adopt-a-family project didn’t go exactly as we had planned. After a deep breath we decided that there was a reason we were compelled to go down this path and we were going to do everything in our earthly power to make sure that someone else’s Christmas was a little merrier because we were involved.

So, we are happy to tell you that in lieu of the things I mentioned above, there is a family in our community that has warm coats for their children, Christmas presents under the tree, and some necessities that will hopefully take a bit of spending burden off of their shoulders in times to come.

Unfortunately we were not in the position to grant miracles, and I wish that there was more that we could do, and for more people. However, we really feel like each gift is wrapped with the thought behind it and we hope that when we deliver our packages tonight, on Christmas Eve, the family feels the joy and love that we have to spare in our family.

On Christmas morning when we are opening our gifts we will also make sure to spend a few moments thinking about the family, and about the two children in the Philippines that will be opening (technically they will have already opened due to the time difference) our Operation Christmas Child boxes and ask that they are blessed in the many ways our family is, none of which have to do with wealth or tactile prosperity.

I want to thank all of you for graciously accepting (whether consciously or unknowingly) the sacrifices we have made on your behalf to make these things happen for other people. I also want to note that while it is a little more stressful, shopping for Christmas presents on a budget creates a unique opportunity that I daresay I enjoyed. Chagrined, I think I spent about 20% of what I spent on Corey last year, and I am happy to note that there will be no discernible lack of presents or the Spirit of Christmas in our living room tomorrow morning.

We hope that all of you have a beautiful day tomorrow and that the spirit of the season extends long after the sun has set on Christmas 2008.

With Love,
Corey and Christina

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Gift of Christmas

It’s been hard to get into the Christmas season this year. Wedding plans have taken over all free space in my brain, and the boy has been working a longer schedule with classes on top of that so he’s not exactly running around the house in a Santa costume (although that would be cute, yet slightly strange and creepy). By this time last year we had a beautiful sparkling Christmas tree in the living room, most of our presents purchased and wrapped away in the guest rooms, and I was baking cookies like the food network iron chef judges were about to peek in my Christmas tins.

So far this year I’ve hung a wreath on the front door. And you know what? I was damn proud of that wreath last Saturday when I finally managed to perch it over our 12 foot tall front door.

Since my family is actually celebrating Christmas in Pinetop the weekend before the traditional holiday, Corey and I will be home on Christmas Day. Thinking this would be a great opportunity to give back to some less fortunate people in our community we began calling soup kitchens and homeless shelters and offering our volunteer services. Unfortunately, the karma train has a lot of people worried right now so everywhere we called was full of volunteers. Dejected, I thought about spending a quiet Christmas at home alone with Corey.

That sounds awful, but I’m not sure how to word it differently. What I mean is we were so excited about giving back this holiday season. Back in my single days when I had more time I volunteered quite a bit more than I do now and I miss it. I also felt like this was really our chance to show people that there are still some of us out there who care about how our neighbors and fellow men are doing - especially now when layoffs can happen to anyone, even those that have been very fortunate in recent years. Not willing to take ‘no help needed’ as an answer, Corey and I brainstormed a bit and decided to enlist the help of a man Corey works with and who does quite a bit of volunteer work on his own. Fifteen minutes in his office was productive enough to get in touch with a school guidance counselor and ask him to find us a family that could use a little help making their Christmas bright this year. Wish granted. This week we are going to be matched up with a family and we have the opportunity to make their lives a little better, even if just for a little while.

I can’t express to you how excited we are to be ‘adopting’ a family for Christmas. I find myself walking through stores wondering how many kids our family will have and what kind of presents they will like. Is there a little girl that needs these adorable pink winter gloves? Maybe a boy who is tired of wearing a hand me down jacket and dreams of a new one (probably a Dallas Cowboys jacket if I imagine hard enough)? I’m sure there will be a mom who will be able to use the bags of groceries to make a feast for Christmas dinner.

Our resources aren’t unlimited, but we’ve budgeted the amount we’re allowed to spend on each other (which usually gets ridiculous and needed to be reigned in anyway) and with a few savings techniques that we’ve picked up over the last few months, I hope we’ll be able to provide a family with a day to be thankful for. And in doing that, this family will have provided us with the opportunity to do a good thing and to remind ourselves that how rich we are has nothing to do with money in the bank or items under the tree. On Christmas Day I will be safe and warm wrapped up with the one I love on our couch watching “A Christmas Story” over and over. How can I even begin to ask for more than that?

If you have been like me this year and have found it a little hard to get into the swing of things, I urge you to volunteer your time or resources somewhere to someone in need. Something as small as a can of food in a donation bin can bring food to a family that wouldn’t have it otherwise. Please try to remember that when we are all sitting around Christmas trees with our families opening presents of abundance, there are those that are cold and hungry. And selfishly, making a difference in someone else’s life is the best feeling ever.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The curse of the SunDrop

It’s almost too unbearable to write about, but I feel I must share this with the world to perhaps spare some other poor soul from the torment: The body is physically unable to process SunDrop without a gall bladder.

Sad, but an undeniable fact.

To those of you that are unaware of the existence of said soft drink, apparently you’re missing out. I first learned of this liquid gold from an old friend from Wisconsin. He spoke of SunDrop like a Costa Rican speaks of coffee, or the Swiss speak of chocolate. While acknowledging the existence of other highly caffeinated and sugar injected lemon-lime thirst quenchers, our Mountain Dew and Mello Yello simply have nothin’ on this stuff (so the addicts say). I’ve heard it mixes well with Jack Daniels, allows you to stay up studying for three days without sleep, and cures cancer (although no claims have been proven). So, as a birthday present, I had a case of the stuff shipped out from Wisconsin. And because I made such a gesture I was allowed to taste the product of my intense google searches. To me it tastes like a sweeter (if you can believe it) and less carbonated Mountain Dew. Unfortunately for me, I said so. Immediately I was shunned by the group of Wisconsin-ites and I learned to never again speak of my true feelings towards the elixir.

Cut to a year later when I met Mr. Confederate. Early on in our relationship (so early he hadn’t yet seen me without makeup or with my hair in a ponytail) he mentioned something about missing home and especially missing a drink he could get in Tennessee. So for the second time in as many years I was subjected to a monologue on the virtues of the drink of the gods – also known as SunDrop. This time however, my heart began to race. I’d already wooed Corey with my lasagna, banana bread, and inside-out German chocolate cake, but this would seal the deal for sure. I raced home to place my order and 72 hours (and $80 in shipping costs later) I approached his door with what felt like 100 pounds of aluminum cans under my arms.

To this day I’m convinced that is the exact moment he fell in love with me.

It has been a while since I’ve ordered the stuff – partly because it has approximately 800 calories per can and partly because I’m pretty sure I have the guy wrapped up (at least I’m honest), but I knew that when we traveled back to Tennessee for Thanksgiving he was sure to fall off the wagon once again. Sure enough, the first stop when we entered his parent’s house was the refrigerator. I had personally been worried about his digestion and this trip for months, mostly because they deep fry their butter in Tennessee before serving it. Little did I know the real culprit would come from a glass.

I’ll save you all the gory details but apparently the absence of a gall bladder does not affect the ability to digest deep fried chicken parts, pizza, nachos, cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese, corn pie, fried turkey, French fries, country ham, or fried pie. SunDrop is however, completely indigestible. Order was not restored to the world until we reached a cruising altitude of 42,000 feet somewhere over Arkansas.

Let this be a warning to those of you who may be considering consuming the liquid crack. Back away from the can and instead have a glass of what the health freaks drink in Tennessee – sweet tea.