When I Think of Summer 2018…

My summer’s almost come to an end–it’s almost time for workshops, writing, lesson planning, grading, meetings, readings, etc. It’s almost time for my second year of grad school to commence.

Oh man. I’m so excited for the upcoming semester.

And while I’m excited for what’s ahead, I wanted to write a little post about this summer, about the little moments that have become memories.

So. When I think of the summer of 2018–

I’ll think of purchasing bubbles for a dollar and sitting in the backyard nightly, blowing bubbles for Ellie (my pup) to chase.

I’ll think of reading so much and learning so much for my craft. This summer I truly discovered the complex joy that is literary fiction.

I’ll think of large Diet Cokes with vanilla from Sonic, purchased almost every single day during happy hour.

I’ll think of the week I spent with my best friend up in South Dakota and Iowa, in which we talked and drove and talked and bid on pies and ate s’mores and went on a wagon ride to which I said, “It’s like Kilimanjaro Safaris of South Dakota!”

I’ll also think of the soundtrack Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and miles and miles of corn fields.

I’ll think of finally seeing Waitress after more than a year of obsessing over the soundtrack and the story. Sweet smells (that lobby, though!), sweet pie, sweet experience.

Side note: when can I see another musical?!

I’ll think of trekking to the local library almost every day to write fiction (hopefully the start of my thesis…ahh!) among the books, huge wireless pink headphones spitting the newest Carousel revival soundtrack into my ears, the songs “Mister Snow” and “If I Loved You” always on repeat. So soothing. So nuanced. So great.

I’ll think of finally writing more for this blog after months of being stuck.

I’ll think of The Handmaid’s Tale and Mad Men, the two shows I watched religiously over the summer. Elisabeth Moss is a master, and the characters she portrays are incredible.

Side note: from now on, whenever I’m feeling a little glum/not confident when it comes to my work, I’ll ask myself, “What would Peggy Olson do?” She’s amazing. 

I’ll think of the sleep I lost because I stayed up late watching The Handmaid’s Tale and Mad Men. 

(Ha. I love television, don’t you?)

I’ll think of my re-discovering the gloriousness that is Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food (is that how you spell it?!) ice cream.

I’ll think of barn swallow nests and bird watching.

And, finally, I’ll think of spending time with the people I love most.

It was a good summer, indeed.

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“Let There Be Magic in the Merry”

This quote adorns a green-glittered sign that hangs above the mantel in the home I grew up in, and it just about sums up the reason I love Christmas.

It’s  magical. When I was a little kid, Christmas was truly the most amazing season. Everywhere you went there was sparkles and music and Santa and snowflakes and glitter and red and green and peppermint. Waitresses at the Waffle House would ask me if Santa was coming to my house–I would shyly nod, delighted in the fact that everyone was preparing for that mysterious journey the jolly man in the red suit makes. Christmas Eve was a time for shopping with my grandparents, Bo and Lille, and laughing and giggling as Bo would discuss his “journey” as “Bo Claus” with the waiter as we ate lunch to recharge for our last-minute excursions. The waiter would usually go along with Bo’s shenanigans, and my sister and I would be red-cheeked from embarrassment, laughter, and just pure happiness. I miss you, Bo.

Now that I’m a “grown-up” (sort-of), Christmas is still the most magical time of year. We still go shopping on Christmas Eve with Lille, we still sit upon Santa’s lap and tell him what we want for Christmas, and everything is still sparkly and red and green and sweet. Santa and Bo Claus still come to my house–Santa leaves goodies unwrapped and under the tree, and Bo Claus leaves “one rabbit” on the front porch. That was always my grandpa’s schtick– we would sit on his football-battered knees and he would ask us what we wanted for the upcoming holiday. We would tell him everything and anything our little hearts could conjure, because we knew the inevitable response–“You get one rabbit!”

I never knew the reasoning behind the rabbits, but I wouldn’t trade my bunnies for the world.

I think that’s what makes Christmas so magical–the little things your family does to make every moment special. I don’t remember the school programs (the ones in which you were forced to sing obscure Christmas songs in front of the entire school) or the Christmas cards we hardly ever posed for. These things might be special to some, but for our family, the most random, yet magical, moments are near and dear to our hearts.

My mom has an obsession with Christmas With the Kranks, that movie with Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen. She insists on watching it as much as possible during the holidays. For the rest of my life, I’ll always remember the moments we share watching and re-watching that movie, laughing at the Botox and tanning scenes, and crying (sometimes bawling) over the scene where Luther gives up his beloved cruise for a couple who really could use some time away. This is what I’ll remember–I could care less if the presents under the tree are wrapped “just so” or if the hot coco is overflowing with an Instagram-worthy amount of marshmallows. I’ll always remember watching those silly Kranks with my momma.

Often, my mom asks me if I can remember the best gift I’ve ever received for Christmas. I can never really answer.

I guess you could say that the memories–the stuff loaded with the true magic–are the most authentic gifts of Christmas. It’s not the bunnies on the front porch, but the people who give them (eccentrically and lovingly) to you. That’s how you put the real “magic in the merry”–you cherish the moments with the people you love. You remember the random, silly things you do together.

I hope everyone has a merry and truly magical Christmas.