Tag: Christmas

How I Spent My Christmas Holiday

“Ah! There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort.” 
― Jane Austen

In a word, or rather three: on the couch.

It was great!

There is something so nice about doing very little in the dead of winter. Jeff and I had a few ideas about trying to travel for Christmas but after honestly assessing our bank account and savings goals, we binned that notion and opted for a staycation instead. I thought we we would be pleasantly lazy as a result but even I was surprised at how busy we weren’t. Full disclosure, there were multiple days when we didn’t even leave the house. In a row.

It was ridiculously good for me, I haven’t been that relaxed in a very long time.

It’s easy to vilify laziness, but I’m learning how important it can be to me as a type A person. I very, very seldom manage (much less give myself the opportunity) to switch off and I’ve written before on the toll this has taken on my physical and mental health in the past; I have more than once literally worked myself sick. I’m determined not to do that this year.

Are you good at switching off or do you struggle with it like me? Lend me your best relaxation techniques in the comments and help a girl maintain her newfound chill!

A Good, Kind, Forgiving, Charitable, Pleasant Time

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,’ returned the nephew. ‘Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!” 
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Weekend Links: Good Tidings Edition

“Mistletoe,” said Luna dreamily, pointing at a large clump of white berries placed almost over Harry’s head. He jumped out from under it. 
“Good thinking,” said Luna seriously. “It’s often infested with nargles.” 
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Kittens, I don’t know about you but I hit a wall in early December. This has been an overwhelmingly positive year (especially compared to last), but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t had its challenges and rough points. My batteries are a bit drained.

As happy as I am for the holidays, I’ve had a bit of trouble mustering the Christmas spirit. The placement of the holidays this year doesn’t help either, as both Christmas and New Year fall on Mondays meaning that syncing up work weeks, time off requests, and To Do lists was a bit more complex than usual. And of course, I’m dreadful at switching off which doesn’t help the batteries metaphor.

But I’m now officially on holiday and plotting our Christmas week. Our shopping is finally done, most of our parties and events are behind us, our tree is trimmed, and I’m plotting on pie making. The elf-like gleam is creeping back into my eye.

You’ll get a couple more posts from me before the end of the year, but in the meantime, let me wish you a joyous holiday season, kittens. I’m very glad you’re along for the ride.

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Hi, I’m C., and I’m a glutton for “stop shopping” stories. Probably because I’m approaching my third annual 3-month shopping hiatus and have given myself some pretty lofty anti-consumerism goals for 2018…

This week I learned that in the 1920s, Utah proposed a bill that would ban women’s shoes with heels higher than one and a half inches and could impose fines for those who wore such scandalous footwear. Utah would have made millions off of me had it the good sense to have homed me 90 years earlier. Missed opportunity, space-time continuum!

I’m also always a reliable sucker for a, “Oh hey, we unearthed a priceless treasure that someone literally forgot or just left lying around somewhere,” story.

Bugs Bunny’s creator has passed away.

Well hey, take all my feelings.

Want to go dark, at least for web browsing? Wired has the details.


I laughed, but I also cried a bit, because 2017 is so wild that no one is talking about the UFOs, guys.

Well, hon, if you bungle your PR so badly that your company has to issue a statement clarifying that it doesn’t support Nazis… This whole situation has made me angry, both as a citizen and as a military brat. Kneeling was never about the military.

The engagement photos of Prince Harry and Ms. Markle are gorgeous. Thank god we get a nice wedding to look forward to.

Album of the week: Late Bloomer, by Malia

Spirit of the Season

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

There are a million and one think pieces about nostalgia, disenchantment, or even doldrums during the holiday season, but the truth is that I don’t really agree. I love Christmas and am 100% on board the idea of a season of the year dedicated to friends and family, giving, tradition, belief (if so inclined), and peace.

However I will admit that Christmas as an adult is certainly more effortful–it’s easy to believe in the magic of the season as a kid, but trickier as an adult. Christmas becomes and requires harder work the older I get. Jeff and I were speaking recently about how we haven’t really felt very Christmas-y this year and I’ve come to the conclusion it’s because I haven’t had to put much elbow grease into it.


In seven and a half years of marriage we’ve only done two Christmases by ourselves, the first year in London and last. Even though we were away from family, I felt downright elf-like in my enthusiasm, especially the first year. But thinking back on it, I bought a (tiny) tree, we went to Christmas services at Westminster Abbey, and I did the traditional Rodgers Family spread for Christmas Eve dinner. We went to Christmas markets, had to organize our shopping and shipping carefully instead of schlepping presents home in a suitcase, and generally expended energy to celebrate the holiday.

Tradition is my byword for the season. So much of what I love about Christmas is bound up in the traditions my family espoused, adopted, or created. From putting our shoes out for St. Nicholas to fill with candy to opening a single group present on Christmas Eve (inevitably a group game for the whole family to play together), to our usual Christmas morning breakfast (baked french toast with peaches and pecans), there are a lot of elements that go into making the holidays for me. Decorations that I recognize from childhood, albums ditto, pots of wassail bubbling away on the stove…it’s package experience.

Conversely, when we’ve done Christmas at one of our family’s the majority of our holiday efforts (and finances) revolve around making it across the Atlantic and trying to be good guests. A huge amount of the work is usually undertaken by someone else–shoutout to our mothers! The lazy side of me appreciates and enjoys this tremendously, but I’m noticing that the shine has started to come off the holiday in recent years and I think it’s a direct result of not having to put too much effort into celebrating it.

This year saw us travelling stateside a lot; the total will be three trips jointly and a fourth for Jeff. Though one of these was generously paid for unbelievably kind parents, we aren’t planning to travel stateside in 2017 as a result and, at least where the holidays are concerned, I think this might be a good thing. Not that we won’t miss family, we will, but I’m feeling the need to put effort into the season next year. I want to buy our first proper Christmas tree in nearly a decade of marriage, decorate the house a bit, maybe even throw a party for friends. I want to recreate my own family traditions and toss a few new ones into the mix (Jeff has some thoughts on a Christmas Eve breakfast as well as Christmas Day).

In short, I want to work for it a bit more.


Friday Links

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ” 
― Norman Vincent Peale

It’s the last link post of the year, kittens, so I made it an extra long one. This weekend we are packing up, deep cleaning the flat, and sending off the last of our (heinously late) Christmas presents. Then on Monday we fly out to the States for the holiday! Two of my three siblings will be there and I predict a lovely week and a half of board games, movies, and tromping about in the woods.

It’s been a hectic couple of months here, one that hopefully I’ll get the time to talk more about over the break. In the meantime, tell me what your Christmas plans are and if you’re traveling anywhere fun.

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This photo spread is everything.

Tumblr find of this week.

Tumblr find of next week. Possibly the year. (h/t Katarina)

And so it begins… (grips seat grimly and prepares for an ugly time of it until 2016).

Coming as I do from a culture that pedestal-s the role of women-as-mother, in ways I find really harmful, unhelpful, burdening, and damaging to women, this really resonated with me. Editor’s note: I do not degrade or demean motherhood in the slightest, after all I have a pretty kick-A one. But nor do I think it’s the essence of femaleness, and I find real  danger in those who try to make it such.

In women and religion this week, we’ve got two stories from opposite ends of the spectrum. In the HELL, NO corner we have this, and from the fist bump area we have this.

Oh for heaven’s sake….

Interesting short piece on how different types of relationships between men and women affected their attitudes on gender, particularly men’s.

People being fundamentally decent in the wake of tragedy.

Relevant to my holiday travel interests.

Less armored cars, more body cameras.”

NPR has been elfed!

NYT columnists share their favorite books of the year, a topic which needs a post here at SDS quite frankly because I’ve read a lot this year. Another good NYT book post is this list of notable books from the year.

Marie Antoinette has to be one of the most mis-attributed women in history, even her boobs aren’t safe

The thug life chose him.

Frightening, but important.

I’m genuinely curious (in the interest of being educated and a good ally wherever possible), are quirky takes on religious objects humorous or offensive? I know levels of orthdoxy and personal taste probably determine answers heavily, but I’d like to hear from anyone with thoughts on this one. I thought these were lighthearted and funny, but I’m prepared to revise.

Also h/t Katarina, the only ugly nail art I would ever allow.

An artist who “…realized the problem of sexual violence in India is not a legal issue but a cultural problem,” came up with an amazing graphic novel.

Striking gallery from the year in images.

Anagram anything you’d like! (Incidentally, my favorite for my own name is “Deacon, Dandle, Cow.”

I would not at all object to someone buying me this. Just saying.

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day…”

“…Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Christmas day was an adventure!

We nearly got stuck in an elevator. We live on the top floor of our building and have access to two stairwells/elevators, one of which is slightly more convenient but is the one (naturally!) that has the most problems. Lately the door has been sticking a bit on the ground floor. One morning, feeling particularly grumpy, I made Jeff burst out laughing when the door only semi opened before it got stuck and I yanked it open the rest of the way with a curse.

Christmas morning we needed to get a move on since all public transportation was closed for the day, which meant we had to walk four miles and cross the river to get to Westminster Abbey, where we had reserved places for the morning service. We made a calculated decision to take the slightly sketch elevator because it put us closer to the tube station without having to circumnavigate the building. Which of course meant that this was the morning that the door slid open a crack on the ground floor… and refused to budge further. With a combined sigh, “Of course,” Jeff set his shoulder to it and I got on my knees to pull from the bottom. It took several minutes and many attempts, but eventually we freed ourselves. Teamwork.

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The walk to the Abbey was gorgeous. There were almost no people about…except that I crossed paths with a history heroine. Dr. Lucy Worsley, the Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces was walking along the Thames with her husband. I nearly tripped over my own boots! On another day I might have accosted her, but since she’s written publicly about not liking being approached by strangers and fans – and in the spirit of the day, namely not being a jerk – I restrained myself to a bright smile and fangirling to Jeff in private.

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Neither of us are High Anglican (Jeff rather cheekily rephrased the Nicene Creed to himself during its recitation), but I still really enjoyed the service and the setting – Westminster Abbey being one of the coolest places for a British History nerd to be. Do you know how many interesting dead people hang out there?!

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When we emerged, the bells were ringing. We walked the four miles home again, made our traditional Christmas morning breakfast (at nearly two in the afternoon), talked to family via Skype, and watched holiday movie favorites. Not a bad Christmas on our own, I think!

[Christmas Eve] Dinner: A Love Story

“I trust Christmas brings to you its traditional mix of good food and violent stomach cramps.”
– Ebenezer Blackadder (‘Blackadder’s Christmas Carol,’ 1988)

I mentioned the importance of holiday traditions, and chief among them is food. I decided to attempt the entire Rodgers Clan Christmas Dinner by myself this year, in defiance of the fact that usually we have several cooks in the kitchen to help. And that in its usual form it can feed up to 15 people. But I was not to be dissuaded!

Jeff and I went to the butchers at Borough Market to pick out a roast, lots of produce, and a staggering amount of cured meats and cheeses. Because I knew once this meal, and Christmas morning breakfast was done, I wasn’t cooking again until January. Grazing and snacking would be the order of the day, intermingled with leftovers. Which, I’m happy to report, turned out to be the case.

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You would not believe how nervous I felt about this sucker, it was in every way an experimental attempt.

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Luckily, nailed it!

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And may I add, it was delicious.

Charlie Brown Inspired

 “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.”
– Linus Van Pelt, A Charlie Brown Christmas

I’m officially done being a lazy, holiday enjoying, treat gobbling, hibernating slug. Back to work, back to job apps, back to responsibility! But I want to share a bit of our holiday fun, and hear about yours. So this week I’ll be covering our first proper expat Christmas, and hoping you’ll link to or comment about your own festivities – or alternate activities if you don’t celebrate.

Basically, what have I missed in the last week and a half?

Without further ado then, ladies and gentlemen, the first proper Christmas tree we’ve ever had.


I find it absurdly cute. Normally in my family we take down our tree on Epiphany/Three Kings Day, but this guy’s already moved to the balcony. I think I’ll try to keep it alive for next year. As Jeff so lovingly put it, “Well, it’s an evergreen so maybe it will survive you.” Hope and holiday spirit springs eternal kittens!