Tuesday, December 31, 2013

For Auld Lang Syne, My Friends

For ["long long ago," "days gone by," "old times" or "the sake of old times"] (Wikipedia)

This time last year, my husband and I were living in Scotland, listening to bagpipes, wearing tartan scarves and dunking shortbread in hot cocoa. I'm feeling pretty nostalgic of the wonderful experiences and the friends we made there. Sometimes, I wish we could go back, build our lives there and have our family and friends with us too. But alas, we relish on good memories and strive to make new ones where we are, wherever we are. For "Auld Lang Syne." 

Scotland sparked an interest in me to find the significance of "Auld Lang Syne." "For old time's sake." That's what it means. The Scots sing it at the close of the year as they reminisce the year with loved ones, and look forward to memories they'll build together in the coming year.

Over the years, I've traveled to a few different places and made great friends along the way. I've tried to keep in contact with those I met, but it's not always the easiest thing to do for anyone, really. Life happens: job, school, events, marriage, internships, child birth, child raising, etc. But when I have some free time, I often think of those good times shared with friends and family, and I long for their return. The sweetness I felt in those little individual moments is forever imprinted on my heart, and the wonderful memories live on. 

For me, good friends are one of the most valuable assets in my life - most of them are like family to me. Good friends are so valuable. Nothing can replace those moments of laughter, tears, encouragement, celebration, honesty, working through rifts, and growing together. They are little angels to help us on our way. So let's hold on to those good friends and remember that we can always be a better friend. I was so blessed to be able to talk to some of them this season and hopefully even more throughout this coming year. 

We feel so fortunate that Baby Boston has so many grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins all over the world that love him. 

May peace, love and laughter fill your lives, for auld lang syne especially during this season. As you reflect upon this year, I hope you'll find lots of good tidings, joy, and blessings and look forward to more in the coming year. In this new year, may we improve relationships with loved ones and new friends, and remember the good times. Look for the positives in life and thrive on them. Make it a new year's resolution to BE HAPPY!

Happy New Year, dear friends!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Family Christmas Traditions

Since we were married, something my husband and I looked forward to was holiday traditions -- customs our kids could get excited for each year. Hopefully it would provide them with wonderful memories in years to come. We went over the Christmas traditions that our families already have, wrote down others that came to us, and we'll continue to add to them each year. This year was extra special with the addition of our little Boston and here is what we have so far:

Listening to and singing lots of Christmas music together to get into the Christmas spirit, putting up the tree a day or two after Black Friday (and all of our shopping), putting up Christmas decorations and stockings, and writing to Santa Claus.

Christmas Movies: We selected 12 Christmas movies to watch with our family in the month of December
  1. Polar Express
  2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  4. Frosty the Snowman
  5. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  6. Elf
  7. A Charlie Brown Christmas
  8. The Little Drummer Boy
  9. It’s a Wonderful Life
  10. White Christmas
  11. A Christmas Story
  12. The Nativity
Ornaments: We each picked out a new ornament for our tree. It seems we've been going with a Disney theme so far. It would be super nice if this continued. This year, I chose Merida from Brave in honor of our time in Scotland. AJ picked out Crash the sea turtle and his son from "Finding Nemo" to represent him and little Boston. We chose an original Winnie the Pooh on a rocking horse for little Boston. Holly chose the special bell from the movie, "Polar Express." She was so excited!

Christmas Market: When we lived in Europe Christmas markets were so popular and we just loved them. We were super excited to take Boston to Provo City's first ever Christmas market this year with lots of fun artisan booths and even entertainment such as jazz music and llamas! It was super chilly but we bundled up super well. Boston was a little trooper. We even found a very cute hand made newsie hat for Boston. We hope we'll be able to find a Christmas market wherever we decide to call our home.

Temple Square Lights: Our family took the front runner train up to Salt Lake City to see the LDS Temple lights. It was a very beautiful sight. There were nativity sets from different cultures, including my favorite one of Japanese characters. There were lanterns with silhouettes from different scenes from the Bible. My favorite is the reflection pond in front of the temple with the statue of the Nativity in the middle of it, surrounded by beautiful candle balls. It was just perfect.

Family Christmas Party: There is usually a Christmas party with the Huntingtons that centers around the children's talent show. This year, Holly played, "When Joseph went to Bethlehem" on her violin. It was great considering she began lessons in August. I couldn't think of any talent besides my little Boston. jk It was wonderful and so adorable. We have some very cute little cousins!

Cookies and notes: We baked a lot of goodies such as shortbread and snicker doodle cookies to give to dear friends as gifts along with hand written notes. This one we count as serving others and thinking beyond ourselves, hopefully lifting up their spirits for the season.

Pajamas on Christmas Eve: AJ's parents usually give each of us a set of pajamas to open up on Christmas Eve so we're all dressed in them for Christmas morning.

Pictures: We took our annual family photo in front of the Christmas tree and just pictures period.

 Foods: My favorite part is the FOOD! We're coming up with a few Christmas staples. Rabanada (Brazilian style French toast) for breakfast. Christmas coxinhas (Brazilian savory treat with chicken inside). Pastel de Nata (a sweet treat from Portugal, my fav was pastel de BelĂ©m in Lisboa). Scones (or scuns in Scotland). YUM! As our main course this year, Dad made Beef Wellington, which was mighty delicious! I'll have some recipes up later.

Homemade gift: Every year, Grandpapa and Lola should expect a cute little craft from their grand baby  made especially for them.

Reconnection: Christmas always brings a bout of reflection and reconnection. This year, we were able to talk with people we love but aren't able to talk to. Some being my host family in Brazil and my little brother, Anthony who is serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Cambodia. It was so, so good to talk them and made it a little easier to be so far away from them. Thank goodness for technology!

Santa Claus; Santa is real. We tracked his venture on Norad. He visited and gave the only unwrapped gift as well as filled our stockings. This year, Holly received her very own American doll, Rebecca and she is a beauty. We've already welcomed her to the family as Boston's cousin :) We added books as well because of the value of reading is beyond measure. Boston received lots of books so we'll be reading quite a bit this coming year [and many, many years to come]. And Boston, as expected, didn't know what was going on, but was just living life, enjoying some fun times staring at his feet and eating his hands.

The reason for the season: We attended our neighborhood Christmas party (our LDS ward party), had some great soup options, visited with new friends and old friends, sang Christmas carols, listened to the story of the birth of Christ and his life, saw the Nativity scene depicted, and reflected on the sacrifice the Savior made for each one of us.

I am so grateful for this time to celebrate Him and to be reminded of all the great blessings He has provided me -- mainly my family and friends. This priceless knowledge of Him alone brings joy to my life each and everyday. Whether or not you believe in Christ, I hope that you will find lots of good cheer and love from this season. May you spend lots of time with those you love and enjoy many moments of laughter. If you have any other traditions, please share them below. Merry Christmas!