25 Movies to Watch at Christmastime

Red bows. Christmas trees. Garland. Reindeer. Ornaments and lights. Music. Joy. Stockings. Snow. Elves. Giving. Family. Cookies.

Doesn’t that list bring a smile to your face?

Me too.

The holiday season is here, and in our home, we celebrate Christmas. Like. Really celebrate. We deck our halls to the extreme.

One thing that I love to do during the holiday season (besides make holiday scrapbook cards … blog post to come about that) is watch an abundance of Christmas movies. Yes, I have a schedule that I follow. It’s fine. I’m fine.

To have some fun, I wanted to share 25 of my favorite Christmas movies with you just in case you need some ideas throughout the month. And, I want to hear yours! Anyway, here goes:

The Polar Express

A Christmas Carol

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

A Christmas Story

The Year Without a Santa Claus

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Home Alone

Home Alone 2

Little Women

Jack Frost

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

The Santa Clause

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

The Holiday

The First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas Snow

Frosty the Snowman

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Rudolph’s Shiny New Year

Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey

Frosty’s Winter Wonderland

Eloise at Christmastime

Love Actually

29 Truths … As I turn 29

Today is my 29th birthday. My last year in my 20s!

It’s interesting. Someone recently asked me if I was dreading entering my 30s next year, and the answer is no! I think it is a privilege to age, and with our little one coming in February, and more babes to come (hopefully), my 30s will be my most challenging and rewarding years yet.

So, as I ring in another trip around the sun, here are 29 truths that I’d like to share:

  1. Make your bed every day — even if it’s right before you get in it.
  2. Set boundaries. Get comfortable saying “no.” If the person you are setting boundaries with does not respect you, tell them.
  3. Your family doesn’t get a free pass for toxic behavior.
  4. That being said, you choose your own family and circle. Sometimes your friends are more loyal to you than your own family. Embrace that. Welcome them in.
  5. If you can’t find something, clean up the clutter.
  6. Be proud of your body. It protects you, nourishes you, and keeps you safe. Love yourself.
  7. Your health comes first. It comes before any job, any person, family or friend. Take care of yourself and put yourself first.
  8. It is more than OK to watch the same movies and TV shows over and over again if it brings you joy.
  9. The book is, in many cases, always better than the movie.
  10. Write down what you are grateful for each day.
  11. Read lots of books. You’ll love it. And start that book blog and bookstagram! You’ll make some lifelong friends there.
  12. Know your worth.
  13. If you recognize that someone needs help, reach out to them. Don’t put it off until the next day.
  14. Travel when you can — even if it’s within your own state.
  15. Success is not measured by material things.
  16. Fight for the things you believe in.
  17. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  18. If you are with loved ones, put the damn phone away and be present.
  19. Try new foods!
  20. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. And, remember, failing isn’t always a negative thing.
  21. Don’t Google things when you are pregnant. Just call your doctor.
  22. Basic human rights is not something you can, or should, “agree to disagree” on.
  23. Eat that slice of cake.
  24. Trust your doctors — not a random man on YouTube or articles you find on Facebook.
  25. Recognize your triumphs. Never be afraid to toot your own horn.
  26. Have those tough conversations. They are uncomfortable, but you will feel free.
  27. Everyone has a story.
  28. Light a few candles when you are down … it really helps!
  29. Never forget your truths.


What are some of your truths? I want to hear them!

Practicing Gratitude

In a previous post, I shared that November is one of my favorite months. Now that autumn has arrived in New England, the leaves are fully peaked and the air is chilled. It’s the perfect weather to get lost in a bundle of blankets and curl up with a good book and a hot mug of tea.

November is also the perfect month to practice gratitude. For those who live in the U.S., Thanksgiving is just around the corner. And for those who went to public school, the notion of “being thankful” was drilled into our heads every November for years. I should ask my mom how many art projects I brought home every year that consisted of my hand looking like a turkey, each finger listing what I was grateful for. She probably still has them!

As an adult, I laugh at the turkey hand memory but appreciate that my teachers attempted to instill a sense of gratitude in us during this important season. I have been a bit “gratitude” obsessed for a few years now (see these blog posts from 2015 and 2016), and for good reason: keeping and cultivating a sense of gratitude is a key component to your happiness. It helps center you in the present moment as you reflect on what brings you joy in life.

Since I started therapy in 2013, I have been keeping regular gratitude journals. Before bed each night, I silently think of three things I am grateful for — whether it is a certain moment that happened in the day, a person, or a general part of my life that sparks gratitude. It helps keep me focused, and works to eliminate the negative thoughts that tend to plague me as I try to fall asleep at night.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, it felt like there wasn’t a lot to be grateful for. This pandemic has impacted the lives of so many; to think of anything positive during this time made me feel guilty. But, I had to do it. Despite the guilt, I continued to reflect on my own gratitude, listing my three items each night before I closed my eyes. I won’t say that it always kept the nightmares away; it didn’t always chase away the fear and negative thoughts. But it did help ground me in the present; it helped me be thankful for my health and the health of my loved ones.

Over the years, I have also followed Dani on Positively Present. Dani is an incredibly talented digital artist and creator, whose original blog idea turned into a brand focused on positivity and mental health. Her work is truly inspiring and I enjoy seeing her content daily on Instagram. Dani has also released books, calendars, workbooks, and other products that I have on my birthday and Christmas list this year.

Dani has also hosted a #Gratitude30 Challenge for 11 years. Through #Gratitude30, Dani posts 30 prompts and challenges you to write down what you are grateful for each day. A few examples are words, nature, health, friendship, growth, family, and kindness. I have been participating in her challenge for a few years now, and I love sitting down each morning with my special colored pens and reflecting on what brings me gratitude. It’s a wonderful practice and way to get you in the swing of practicing gratitude each day.

No matter how you practice gratitude, remember that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Even saying “thank you” to someone is a grateful act! Do you have pictures of loved ones at your desk at work or in your home office? That’s a great start, too! Take time throughout the day to reflect on what you are thankful for, and you will start to feel the difference.

How do you practice gratitude? Share some more ideas in the comments below.

Gardens

I grew up around gardens. The smell of mulch and freshly-mowed grass evokes nostalgia every time I am around it. I am transported to a time when I would lie under shady trees, breathing in the aroma of flowers and reading my favorite books in my backyard.

The yard at my childhood home was beautiful, filled with large garden beds abundant with flowers and bushes. I remember a large mulch bed filled with tall grasses and plants, and a pond that was frequented by frogs and fish. On hot summer days, I would sneak out to the pond and try to catch the frogs when my parents weren’t looking and take them inside. I recall family members and parents of friends commenting on the intricacy of our gardens, my dad beaming with pride at his work.

While I was able to enjoy the garden in my childhood yard, I never took part in planting or tending to it. My father, a landscaper, worked solo. That was his way to disconnect and reconnect with the world, and I witnessed his creations from an outside perspective, reaping from the benefits.

After moving into my own home this past year, my husband and I decided to start our own garden. We have a fairly large lot and wanted to fill up the space with beauty. We purchased garden books and started planning out our oasis.

I admit that I was hesitant going in. I did not have a good track record with indoor plants. But once I started, I couldn’t stop. We tested the pH of our soil, dug up grass and got ready for our own perfect space. I was enjoying every moment.

As someone who combats anxiety and depression, I can say that tending to the earth and watching something grow because of your attention and dedication is healing. From choosing the plants to digging, watering, and tending to it throughout the seasons, I felt a sense of calm that I never felt before. I was entranced by the rich smells of the earth, the feeling of the soil on my hands. And while I was helping these living things plant their roots, I realized that I was doing the same.

It seems fitting that my love for creating and cultivating life sprouted at the same time we found out that we were pregnant. On a warm, sunny June day, I got a call from my doctor confirming that my husband and I were expecting our first child. I immediately went outside to the garden, my hand to my stomach, taking in all the magic. As I continue to garden, I hold my belly and tell her about all of our plants and how I am taking care of them. It’s serendipitous to think that when I was mulching and digging and planting and watering a few months back, I was not alone. I had a buddy with me every step of the way.

I am excited to see her curious face as I show her around our gardens. I will walk her to the shade garden and have her feel the coral bells and trace the shapes of the creeping myrtles on the mulch ground. We will read books on the bench under the maple tree. We will pick calamint leaves and smell their beautiful aroma as we walk around our fire pit. We will pick yellow coneflowers and water our lavender plants. We will witness our lilac tree sprouting deep violet petals in April, and watch our azalea bushes bloom throughout the month of May. We will all garden together. A perfect, safe space.