Where are you, Christmas?

Where are you, Christmas?

Where are you Christmas?  Why can’t I find you?

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of slump and I’ve been trying to cover it up with excitement, but the truth is: this year is missing some Christmas spirit for me.  I’m not sure exactly why– maybe, it’s the aftermath of a stressful finals period and now the waiting for final grades to be released or maybe, it’s the rushed feeling that has been in my home as we struggle to get everything done in time for the holiday or maybe, it’s even the distress that comes along with following politics this season.  Whatever it is, something just feels off to me.

I think admitting that we can’t feel the holiday cheer is something hard for a lot of us to do.  What is wrong with us that we don’t just feel overjoyed this season? In almost every Christmas movie, the people who don’t feel Christmas cheer are often villains or mean people. They live quite unhappy and grouchy lives until someone opens their eyes to how great Christmas can be (often by going to some small, adorable town where they find love and community). But, sometimes, not feeling the holiday spirit doesn’t mean you’re a grinch or have let the season go.  In fact, sometimes, it’s exactly the opposite: you want more than anything to be able to feel the Christmas cheer that everyone else seems to feel.

Right now, I’m at a personal struggle.  Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year and I told myself that finals were just a blip in my Christmas spirit radar.  I would spend a week unhappy, but then I could get back to happiness and excitement. I came home though and found that was not the case– no matter how many Christmas songs I listen to or movies I watch, something just feels off.  

A hard part of self-care is checking in with where you’re at emotionally and not beating yourself up if you aren’t where you want to be.  It is okay to not feel overwhelmed with excitement during Christmas, even if you wish you were. It is okay to feel sad or alone or confused.  I’ve said it before, but I think we, myself included, could all do to hear it again: it is okay to still be human during the holidays.

Despite this all, I’m still holding out hope that I can find my perfect Christmas cheer again.   Maybe, I’ve been looking in the wrong places.  Maybe, Christmas spirit doesn’t live in hundreds of cookies or fancy wrapped boxes with ribbon or pretty decorations around the house.  Maybe, every Christmas movie does have it right: it’s in the love that’s all around us every day.

 

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Even Santa Claus Gets the Blues

Even Santa Claus Gets the Blues

If you’ve read my posts lately, you know I think the holidays are a time filled with joy, cheer, and happiness.  But, the holidays can also be hard. Maybe, you lost someone you loved or maybe, life just doesn’t look the way you wanted it to.

It’s okay to be sad during the holidays.  It’s okay to struggle during the holidays.  Just because the season is beautiful doesn’t mean all your problems somehow instantly go away.

For me, the holidays always fall at the same time as finals and I have a difficult past of dealing with tests.  When I was in the second grade, I got hives every night before I would take a standardized test. This continued for the rest of my grade school and high school experience. My freshman year of college, I could not keep food down for two days before my statistics final– my nerves overwhelmed me.  This past midterm season, I worked myself so hard that I ended up crying of exhaustion on my couch at 3 AM one night. So, whenever finals season approaches in December, all the joy I have built up for the holiday season comes crashing down around me as I am filled with this test anxiety that has come to play a major role in my life.  

And, suddenly, I feel full of dread every day when I think about how Christmas is coming closer, but that also means my tests are coming closer.  Then, I beat myself up for that thought because how could I ever dread the beauty of the holiday season? How could I ever feel so many negative emotions during my favorite time of year?

It’s okay to struggle.

Giving myself the permission to struggle is so important in changing the way I view myself and my difficulties.  Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean my problems go away or I should ignore them: they are what make me human.  I have to confront them and deal through them, not hide them away and feel guilty for struggling.

Maybe, you’re a student having the problems as me this finals season or it’s your first Christmas without a loved one or your family situation has changed recently.  Whatever your situation, the message still is the same: you are allowed to struggle during the holidays. You are allowed to be sad, happy, angry, frustrated, and confused all at once.  You don’t need to hide what you’re going through or feel guilty for it. You have done nothing wrong.

This holiday season, let yourself be true.  Let yourself be real.  

Ranking My Favorite Christmas Songs

Ranking My Favorite Christmas Songs

When I lived at home, every November 1st, I would quietly change the radio station in my mom’s car from her adult pop hits station to Sirius XM’s Holly, the Christmas music station.  It would take about a few days before my mom would realize what I had done and would rant to me about how Christmas did not start until after Santa came down the road during the Thanksgiving Day Parade, to which I would always protest that Christmas music is too good to listen to only for a month.  So today, in honor of this love I hold for Christmas music, I’m ranking my favorite songs for the season:

5. What Christmas Means to Me.  This song is an underrated bop and I don’t just say that because I had all the lyrics committed to memory when my high school choir sang this for our Christmas show sophomore year.  It is such a fun and exciting song– it makes you want to dance!

 

4. Last Christmas. This song has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember.  I am a huge fan of 1980s pop, and this song has that fun vibe to it that causes me to start singing it without even meaning to.  Also, this song has the perfect amount of Christmas cheer mixed with angst that makes it IDEAL to sing along to.

 

3. Dominick the Donkey.  In my second grade music class, we had to vote for our favorite Christmas song and I still remember my teacher’s shocked expression when we all voted for this song.  It’s one of those songs you don’t want to love– you want to find it annoying and hate it, but then you find yourself going ‘la la la’ along with the song.

 

2. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.  This song is another one of my favorites for as long as I can remember but as I’ve gotten older, I have grown in my love and appreciation for it.  The original version of the song is beautiful in its anticipation for the future and honesty: life is not perfect now, but next Christmas, it will be.  Newer versions of the song have tried to make it happier, but there is something so authentic and wonderful about a song that does not sugarcoat.
1. All I want for Christmas is You.  No surprise here.  It’s a classic and is one even the biggest grinch can’t help but sing along and dance to.

Ranking my favorite Christmas movies!

Ranking my favorite Christmas movies!

From the time I was a child, the holidays have been the absolute most magical time of year to me.  One of the most magical parts of Christmas to me is the movies– there’s just no way not to feel Christmas joy when you watch ABC Family (now Freeform)’s 25 days of Christmas movie marathons. In college now, I don’t get to watch the 25 days of Christmas but during finals season when I get overwhelmed, I often take a break to watch a Christmas movie and afterwards, I always feel a bit more clarity and peace of mind.  Watching Christmas movies is my favorite holiday self-care activity.

In honor of us being exactly 20 days away from Christmas, I’m giving my ranking of my top five Christmas movies.  

  1. Love, Actually.  Recently, this movie has become the subject of much debate and unfortunately, hate, but I absolutely love it.  It has a million and one plot holes, the characters are ridiculous most of the time, but I can’t help but fall in love with this movie when Sam runs across the airport to declare his love to Joanna or the Prime Minister knocks on every door on a street in London to find the woman he loves.  It’s these truly outrageously cheesy moments that have me watching this movie at least five times every Christmas season, without fail.4099872673_2375d80dcf.jpg

 

Christmas Shoes.  This movie, I believe, is the most underappreciated Christmas movie ever.  It’s a made-for-TV movie that aired on CBS and starred Rob Lowe. It’s also based upon one of my favorite Christmas songs.  This movie makes me cry my eyes out, but reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas: love and giving. It is a movie that should not be missed.879319287_257fb71233_b.jpg

3. The Polar Express.  I remember going to see this movie in 3D in theaters when it came out and feeling so absolutely immersed– my dad can tell you, I kept reaching my hand out to try to grab the ticket.  I walked out feeling like I had just been at the North Pole and seen Santa himself. I even put one of the reindeer’s bells on my Christmas list the next year, desperately wanting to live the Polar Express.  Even today when I’m older, I feel that same type of magic for the Polar Express– it’s like I’m there at the North Pole each time I watch it.The_polar_express_logo.png

2. The Santa Clause.  In my house, this movie is the ULTIMATE classic.  It’s one of few movies that can get us to all gather up together in the living room to watch, without anyone complaining that they wanted to watch a different movie.  Tim Allen will forever be my favorite Santa Clause– he’s hysterical in his original denial of the Christmas spirit and eventual complete embrace.

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DRUM ROLL, PLEASE!
1. The Year Without a Santa Clause. They call me Heat Miser, whatever I touch starts to melt in my clutch.  Heat Miser and Snow Miser are two of my favorite Christmas characters ever and the Miser song is so great– I lowkey quote it all year.  It also features another classic Christmas song, Blue Christmas. This movie just leaves me feeling so happy at the end and I just feel like it has the warm-fuzzy feeling you expect of Christmas.  

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It’s a Wonderful Life: Finding Meaning for the Season

It’s a Wonderful Life: Finding Meaning for the Season

There is nothing I love more in this world than Christmas music… except, maybe Christmas cookies and decorations.  The entire season excites me so much and despite the shorter hours of daylight and the chillier temperatures, I can’t help but smile when I see a house decorated with lights or a wreath hanging on a door.  It’s a special time of year.

I’ll admit, all of that sounds superficial.  What difference does some twinkly lights make to our lives?  Well, I believe that all the beauty and decor that goes along with Christmas just helps to stand in for what the season really means: hope.

The holidays bring us together.  In my family, we have a tradition of baking Christmas cookies.  When I was a little girl, this would be a whole day activity with all my aunts and uncles. Today, the tradition has become just my mom and I as many of our relatives have passed away, but when we bake our family recipe of strufoli, it’s like they’re still with us.  I can hear my Aunt Loretta’s laughter in the kitchen and my Uncle Joey’s patient voice as he explains to me how you have to roll the dough. In those moments of baking, I feel so much hope that my family is still with me. My mom and I always grow closer after a day of baking, because I know she feels it too.  Our family is not lost from us, but within us. In those moments, I can’t help but feel hope that the world is a beautiful place, because my family is made of the most beautiful people and if they’re still with me in some way, life has to be spectacular.

This year, I’m trying to bring this feeling of hope I get from my family holiday traditions to everyone I know.  I’m hosting a Christmas party, I’m getting a group together to spend an afternoon decorating cookies, and I’m volunteering in my community.  Life is so stressful and hard most of the time– I want people to be able to take a moment to see it is still beautiful. I want people to feel hopeful and excited for the future.

When I look at Christmas decorations, I see so much beauty in this world.  I see people just trying to make the world a happier place, one light at a time.  When I participate in gift exchange, I feel so much care and affection. Someone took time to think of what would make me happy.  When I listen to a Christmas song, I smile because this is a season that brings people together and brings out the best in them.

This holiday season, let yourself be filled with hope that the world is still a happy and caring place.  Let yourself believe that the world is good and there’s so much more than your daily stress. That hope you feel inside when you do, that’s what Christmas is all about.  

It really is a wonderful life.

 

Gift Guide #3: Secret Santa Gifts for $20 and Under

Gift Guide #3: Secret Santa Gifts for $20 and Under

A Christmas tradition that never fails to stress everyone out is Secret Santa.  Maybe, you pulled the name of your best friend and have no idea how to get them a good enough gift in $20 or less or maybe, you pulled the name of someone you’ve never spoken two words too.  Have no fear, I’ve compiled a list of the best Secret Santa gifts for $20 or less so you can enjoy this holiday tradition, instead of stressing.

$10 and Under

Toysmith Mini Ping Pong Set: $5.62

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Tea Bag Shaped Tea Infuser: $5.95

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Cable Bite: $6.00

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Mini Double Chocolate Cocoa: $6.95

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Sugarfina x The Grinch Super Sour Hearts (or any Sugarfina candy makes for a great gift!): $8.50

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Satin Bow-Tied Hair Tie Set: $9.60

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Dash Red Mini Waffle Maker: $9.99

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Star Wars: May the Force Be With You Mug: $9.99

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George & Viv Gifting Bar Soap: $10

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$15 and Under

Acrylic 3×3 Block Picture Frame: $11.95

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Stamped & Cashed Dancing Queen Cuff: $12 but 15% off with my code PIXIEDUST until 12/20

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Keep Cool Face Mask Set: $12

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Make + Model Butter Socks: $12

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Oooh Yeah Men’s Luxury Combed Cotton Crew Socks Pizza Party Large Socks: $12

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Easy, Tiger, 12 oz Goil Foil Stackable Mug, “No”: $12

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Let It Snow Layered Cookie Mix: $12.95

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Acrylic Watch Hat: $12.99

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Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined: $13.46

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L’Occitane Shea Butter Ornament Set: $14

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Monogram Lidded Jewelry Box: $14

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$20 and Under

HoMedics Essential Oils: $14.99-$19.99

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Fredericks & Mae Paper Games: Dots & Boxes: $17.96

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Kate Spade New York What Do You Say Tumbler with Straw: $18

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Hat and Scarf: $18.99

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Coziest Throw- Space Dyed: $19

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Fleece Block Checked Large Blanket: $19.90

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Gift Guide #1: Gifts $35 and Under

Gift Guide #1: Gifts $35 and Under

The holidays are a joyous yet stressful time.  One major stressor of the season is getting all the presents you need for your friends and family.  Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be sharing my gift guides to make the season as easy as possible.  Today’s gift guide is to help you find gifts for under $35, so you can get the best possible gifts without breaking your bank.  All of these gifts are from Forever 21, Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Sephora, Urban Outfitters, and Vineyard Vines. I’ll be honest: I was really worried going into this gift guide, unsure if I would be able to find any good gifts in this price range, but I was pleasantly surprised to find so many amazing and affordable gifts.  I’m so excited to share thirty of these options with you today and make sure to let me know in the comments what gift guide you’d like to see next!

$15 and Under

Cross Pendant Chain Necklace: $3.90
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Go For It Pendant Necklace: $3.90

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Faux Fur Earmuffs: $6.90

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I Woke up Like This graphic Travel Mug: $7.90

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Ribbed Knit Gloves: $9.90

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PLAY! By Sephora: Beauty Schooled: $10

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Plaid Flannel Oblong Scarf: $14.90

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Leith Crystal Wraparound Necklace: $14.90

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Perfect Selfie Ring Light + Lens: $15

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Philosophy Comfy, Cozy, Clean: $15

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$25 and Under

 

Serefina Bow Tie Bracelet: $15.20

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Sephora Collection Experiential Masks Set: $18

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Mario Badescu Mini Must Have Winter Edition Set: $20

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Jupiter Candle: $24

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Chenille Hat & Scarf Set: $24.90

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Philosophy Warm Caramel Apple Cider Set: $25

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Illuminating Bright Eyes Gels + Silky Mask Beauty Sleep Set- Beauty Bio: $25

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Bite Four Little Bites Amuse Bouche Lipstick Set: $25

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Tarte Here Today, Gone to Maui: $25

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Weekends & Chocolate Holiday Bath Truffle Set: $25

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bh Cosmetics Crystal Quartz 12-Piece Brush Set: $25

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$35 and Under

Smashbox Cover Shot Eye Palette & Brush Duo: $26.50

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Vineyard Vines Classic Twill Baseball Hat: $28

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Benefit Cosmetics Goodie Goodie Gorgeous Gift Set: $29

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Eva NYC Mini Flat Iron: $30

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Pixi 5th Edition Ultimate Beauty Kit: $32

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Out From Under Haiden Cozy Sweater: $34
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Cozy Chunky Knit Beanie: $34

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Nubby Blanket Scarf: $34

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Lime Crime Best of Lip Reds Holiday Gift Set: $34

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Happy holiday shopping!!