Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

xmas13This year, I couldn’t wait to get the tree up, so on Thanksgiving Day, while the ham was still roasting in the oven, I put the tree up, decorated it, and began putting together the Advent gifts.

In November, I did all of the Christmas shopping I needed to do.  I was done long before Black Friday hit.

This is the second year I’ve joined in the Frosty’s Friends program.  This program is sponsored by Jersey Cares.  People that sign up get a letter from a child with their Christmas toy wishes.  This year, the kids asked for a lot of expensive gifts from Xboxes to DS2s to bikes, to not 1 Monsters High doll but 5 dolls, plus a Barbie and her car!  I almost had a heart attack when I got the letters because I sponsored five children and they were all demanding really high ticket items including the now sold out Elsa’s Castle from Frozen.

Because I believe that children should have at least one amazing Christmas in their lifetime, I went ahead and bought them what they asked for…except for the Xbox One and the bike.  I can’t ship bikes and the Xbox was out of the question.  He asked for a DS too, so he got that instead.

I know a lot of people say I go above and beyond for these kids, but I believe that every child should have a Christmas, no matter how horrible their circumstances are.  For these kids to be in the Frosty program, it means they wouldn’t have a Christmas if it weren’t for these gifts.

xmas11I will say this, I’m only going to sponsor one child next year.  They are just asking for too much these days.  This year’s gifts topped 4 figures between all 5 kids.  I will say that shopping for all of them the second I got the letters actually helped me to score all of their coveted gifts long before they were sold out, including that now sold out everywhere Elsa Castle.  I just hope the kids get their gifts and love them.

Part of me wishes I was there to see them open up their gifts, just to see their faces light up when they see that Frosty got them what they had been wishing for.  To me, that look of joy and excitement on a child’s face…that’s what makes Christmas a happier day for me.

As for other charitable works this season, I ended up sending a Christmas box for the troops.

My brother is currently deployed, so he’ll be missing Christmas this year.  We usually spend it together.  With him away, that means we’ll both be spending this time without family.

He left Afghanistan a few weeks ago.  I have no idea where he’s stationed now because they’ve been very secretive with each of the locations.  He can’t tell me where he’s stationed until after he’s left each country.

We still stay connected on Skype via text messages.  In those messages, he updates me on what he needs/wants while he’s out serving his country.  His last message to me was that there apparently was no laundry detergent where he’s currently stationed.  He asked me to send him some laundry pods.  It was really fun discussing with the post office lady what was in the box I had to send through customs.  She asked me, “What?  They don’t have laundry detergent in the country he’s stationed in?”

Apparently not, because that was an emergency text he sent me.

The day after I shipped the Tide pods, I shipped out a huge box filled with goodies for him and his squadron.  His only request was Ramen and Sriracha.  He’s a huge gummy lover, so I made sure to fill it up with plenty of candy, too.

xmas8He just by chance mentioned that he didn’t have a bowl for the Ramen, so I ordered a bowl from Crate & Barrel with chopsticks so he could have his Ramen soup.  What’s great is that Dollar Tree was selling all of this food for $1 each. A 5-pack of Ramen is $1.  That beats what you pay at the grocery store these days.

I also found a few Thai microwavable products.  I have no idea what it tastes like, but I’m sure he’s missing some good ole Pad Thai by now.

When I told him I shipped out the boxes and that there was more than enough for him to share with his colleagues, he responded that what I did was a good thing.  I was supporting the troops.

It’s funny how he worded it, because he knows me.  I don’t support war.  I think our troops would be better off protecting us back at home.

This was the first time I’ve ever sent a care package to the troops.  I think I felt more of that Scrooge spirit disappear after I mailed off the box.

xmas6 xmas7 xmas3As for trying to bring the Christmas spirit into my own home, I’ve been opening up a new Advent box every day.

A couple of years ago, I started doing Advent projects.  The first year it was all about connecting to the spirit of Christmas.  I had spent so many years not celebrating the holiday, that I decided to get reacquainted with the true meaning of Christmas.

I made sure to have plenty of Christmaslike activities planned from reading Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol,” to watching holiday movies, to learning all about the story of how Santa Claus came into being…that was my first year of Advent.

Last year, I opened up a bag with a new ornament for each day of Advent.

xmas10This year, it’s all about boxes.  Each Advent gift had to be in a box with an activity for the day.  This year, there were a lot of baking moments from cookies to pancakes for dinner.

Tonight, I’m having peppermint hot cocoa while watching a holiday movie.  And yes, when I’m not at a hockey game, I’m watching holiday movies.  On the weekends, ABC Family is on all day as they host their 25 days of Christmas movies.

With my latest addition to the family, Matthew Lucifer, around, I have had to put the tree and presents up on the kitchen table so he he won’t get into them.  He’s super bad.  Here are a few of his outtakes so far this season…

xmas9 xmas5 xmas4 xmas1 xmas2From trying to sneak out with the boxes to the post office, to standing on the charity gifts while I’m wrapping them, to laying on top of the boxes to be shipped out (which happen to be right next to the Christmas stockings), to getting into the decorations, to sitting on the charity presents…he’s been a handful.

That last picture…that gift…he ended up trying to rip open. Trust me, he’s been doing a lot of things he’s not supposed to be doing at Christmas.  He gravitates between the naughty and nice list every single day.  Naughty more times than nice.

This will be our first Christmas together, so I’ve already purchased his itty bitty toys.  I had to give him a new Eeyore, because the other one he had he completely shredded.  I still have to find a new harness for him and a few sweaters.  Although, if worse comes to worse…we may stick to just bow ties because they’re much easier to get on him.  {I learned he is a medium sized dog in clothes.  Small is too small for him. He has a very large chest.}

xmas12All in all, I thought at first I was nuts for putting the tree up on Thanksgiving Day, but it ended up being a smart thing to do.  Ends up Christmas started a little earlier for me this year.  I needed to ship out everyone’s gifts weeks before Christmas.  Thank goodness I finished shopping for everyone back in November.

Since my brother really can’t get any real gifts this Christmas, because he’d have to lug it from country to country for the next however many months, I decided to prepare for a bigger and better Christmas next year since he is missing Christmas this year.

This year is going to be a bit of a dry run.  This is the first year I’ve done a Christmas tree.  I plan on upping the ante for next year, including more incredible gifts than he got last year (because we are making up for a missed Christmas) and prepping the home to make it friendlier for his visits.

My brother is a gamer, so I ordered a new video game system, got a bigger, smarter TV, and now he can’t ask me about why I don’t do Blu Ray.  In other words, this should be a big surprise for him.  The last time I got a new flat screen, he showed up and looked at it and said, “Who got this for you?”  I responded, “I did.”

“I mean…who helped you with this?”

“No one.  I bought it by myself.”

I’m known to play dumb when it comes to technology, that’s why he gets all of my electronics for me.  So doing this without him…I’m hoping he’ll be surprised when he shows up next Christmas.

As for this Christmas, I plan on keeping it low key, opening up gifts and then watching movies at home with some take out Thai food.  Technically, that’s what my brother and I would have done anyway if he was home for Christmas.

I still have the Food Pantry to drop off items to before Christmas so my days of charitable giving are not yet complete.  That means, more shopping to do.

I just want to end this with one last note on giving…for me, I don’t really need presents for myself because I buy what I want when I want it.  I’m never truly in want of anything.  But I realize that God gave me such an amazing life, career, and has taken care of me very well over the years.  I have to share the wealth of what God has given to me.  That means I donate to charities every month (St. Jude’s, Soles for Souls, World Wildlife Foundation and ASPCA).  Once a year, I donate gifts to children in need.  Every season I donate clothes and other items to the Vietnam Veterans of America.  When I do a food order, I order extra items to donate to the food pantry.  It’s an ongoing cycle of giving, because when you give to those who need, the universe returns the favor and provides you with the things you need.  That is why I share the wealth God has given to me.

Giving is not just a one time deal around Christmas, it’s an ongoing thing.  Yes, I am used to donating all of the time.  It’s not a big deal anymore like it was when I first started donating.  It’s part of the life I live.  I know there are people looking for ways to get involved or to be giving during the holidays.  Don’t just think of donating one time a year, do it all of the time.  You’ll find that when you share your wealth with those who need help like children with cancer, animals that need protecting, or families that are hungry, you’ll find that your wealth ultimately grows substantially.

Every great financial adviser in the world will tell you that (and if they don’t, find a new one).  It’s probably the smartest thing you could ever invest in…helping others.  I go above and beyond because that’s what my heart demands.  It has nothing to do with growing my own money.  It’s just what my heart tells me to do.  When you follow your heart, that is what makes this life worth living, because our universe becomes a much more magical place on this journey we are on when we give back.

If you are constantly depleting the bank account of good fortune in life, you’ll end up using it all.  You have to constantly keep making good karmic deposits into that bank account if you want to continue living an incredible life.  It’s just the way it works.

This may be my only post this month, because I’m working on upgrading this site for 2015 and working on new and improved content.  I want to wish each and every one of you a Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!  Many, many blessings to you and your loved ones.



About Michelle Kenneth

Michelle Kenneth is the voice behind PerfectionistWannabe.com.