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Christmas

Ramblings About Winter Break

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It’s been quite an interesting break. I’ve had a month of hanging out with friends (including meeting some new ones and catching up with some old ones, as well as the usual suspects like Jen, Allie, and Tori), spending time with family, having a bonfire, and seeing lots of good movies (I went to see seven or eight). I also had lots of new experiences (like going clubbing at Have A Nice Day Cafe on New Year’s Eve) and learned valuable lessons (such as to not put myself out on the line as much when it comes to girls in general, but particularly this girl I really, really like (who is pretty much amazing, has a terrific personality, has a lot in common with me, and seemed like a great match), because I ended up getting hurt in the end, I guess because of my own lack of knowledge of women and knowing how to accurately judge whether or not a girl truly likes me back as much as, or in the same way that, I like them).

A month is a long time in the Winter. It seems like Christmas was forever ago, when in reality it wasn’t that long ago at all. It’s one thing when it’s Summer and you can do stuff outside and there’s just generally more going on, but I would have been happy with two or three weeks. After New Year’s, everything just kinda drops off. I’ve been out most every night doing something or another, but some of the nights it seemed like there was just nothing to do. I spent many a night driving around aimlessly, blasting (and singing to of course) XM, but even that, after a while, starts to get old. It’s amazing how, despite being very commercially-populated, there’s nothing to do in Short Pump (and the traffic, wow- I have a post about that coming up soon). I guess that’s why me and my friends have ended up downtown a lot of nights. But even that’s lacking the luster it had at the beginning of break. I guess what I’m saying is I’m just ready for a routine to set back in (yeah, I know, that will probably change a week into classes).

One thing I wanted to touch on that came to me recently (and please comment and let me know if you’ve experienced this, too) is how freaking difficult it is to make plans with friends sometimes. First off, as I alluded to in a previous post last week, I have a very diverse group of friends, spanning college and high school and from all walks of life. It’s very interesting to see how they mesh well together sometimes, but other times they won’t even give each other a chance. I’ve had many a night’s plan fall through because certain people don’t want to hang out with other people, sometimes when they haven’t even met before. Nothing ever turns out like you think it will, either. One person can be ten minutes late meeting you somewhere and before you know it the whole night’s gone awry and someone’s angry.

Anyway, as break comes to a close and I start my second semester at VCU, I look forward to some quieter nights and want to solely focus on school (in some ways I put it second or third last semester and that’s not ever going to happen again because I’ve come to some realizations and now I’m completely self-motivated to do well this semester). It’s back to classes, long nights in the library, and lunch and dinner at Shafer with Jen.

By the way, Jen, if you’re reading this, I know I say stuff like this all the time, but sometimes I don’t know where I’d be without you. You’re more than my best friend, you’re the staple that holds my day together sometimes. Not only have I had days when you’re the only good thing that happens to me, but it’s just the fact that you’re pretty much the only constant in my life. People come and go and things change, but you’re always there to talk and laugh with, and you give me a swift kick in the pants and straighten me out when I need it. For all that, I truly love you more than you know.

Well, I think I’ve rambled enough. It’s two in the morning, anyway. Overall it’s been a good break, and now I’m ready to work hard and achieve all that I know I’m capable of.

Short Pump Town Center To Get Hotel

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You’ve probably seen that huge crane overshadowing Short Pump Town Center (on the back side adjacent to Dick’s Sporting Goods) for a week or two now and might have wondered what’s going on. I did a little digging and found out that a six-story Hotel Sierra is being constructed. I guess mall management wasn’t lying when they said this is a regional mall that draws from all over the state; so much so that people will stay overnight after shopping. It seems a little out of place, but looks very nice architecturally. Kudos to the construction crews for starting work the week before Christmas, by the way. Half of the back entrance parking is blocked off by concrete barricades and chain-link fencing and the already overflowing parking lot that time of year was twice as horrendous. You’d think they’d just wait until around now, after holiday traffic has subsided.

Hotel Sierra (who recently changed their name from Sierra Suites to their current one) is a small chain of hotels priding themselves on “comfortable luxury, inspired design, and fresh service.” The hotel is scheduled to open in Spring 2009. I’ll be interested to see how they do at the mall.

What My Bonfire Taught Me About Life

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So I had another one of my bonfires last night. The idea for these things started when I had the idea to have a Christmas Party last year. I wanted to have a bunch of people over, but didn’t want to deal with having them all in the house and whatnot. So I decided to have it outside. It was cold, so I got some wood and put out the fire pit. I also set up a projector and made a screen of sorts from some fabric and stretched it between two trees to show a movie. It was a big hit. I had about thirty people, a great amount. I did it again for my graduation party, at which about seventy-five people came.

Banking on the popularity and success of the previous gatherings, I decided to try it again this past summer. It was pretty much a flop. It was basically the victim of poor planning on my part. I invited everyone about a week before and had it on the weekend most people were headed off to college. Smooth.

Well, I did it again last night. I originally was going to have the thing before Christmas, but found myself broke and realized that too many people had prior commitments with it being a little more than a week before Christmas and all. So it turned out alright last night I guess. It wasn’t an amazing turnout, but twelve or thirteen isn’t anything to complain about either.

Jen and Allie were there from the beginning, and were pretty much the staples that held the thing together. With the exception of two others, the rest of the guests were high school friends. Just worked out that way. Now I may be quick with a joke or humorous one-liner here and there, but for the most part I’m just not one to be able to keep a party going (I was busy enough doing that with the fire anyway). I guess I figured I was like an air traffic controller or something in the sense that I thought I would get the plane (or in this case the party) started and on the right course and then the thing would naturally take off as people started to talk to each other. Well, it just didn’t really happen. I think the biggest problem is I have so many different groups of friends in a lot of different places, from all walks of life. It’s the same thing when I hang out with people. There’s always some sort of conflict or difference between the groups that prevents things from going as planned.

So anyway it wasn’t any sort of catastrophic failure or anything, I just don’t think I’m going to try and do the whole bonfire thing again. There’s just too much of an assortment of people that don’t seem to mix well together for some reason. I think I’ll stick to my close-knit group of friends when it comes to these types of gatherings in the future.

So after five paragraphs you’re probably wondering when the revolutionary stuff the title of this post hints at is going to show itself. Well, it’s nothing revolutionary or anything. Pretty basic. I think this whole thing has shown me that I’ve kind of moved on. See, living at home while in college thus far has caused me to straddle myself between Deep Run and VCU, at least friend-wise. There are a lot of Seniors I’m still friends with, and at the same time I have my college friends as well. The only ones I really keep up with lately are Winston, Jenn, and Lizzy. Me and them do lunch/dinner and stuff from time to time, but for the most part with everyone else I guess I’ve just moved on. It can be expected I guess. I guess you can get this mental picture of what your life looks like and then you see it physically (like last night) and you realize it’s completely shifted in a different direction and changed a lot.

I think I need to get a place to truly feel like I’m in college. It just sort of feels like I’m taking some classes right now doing the whole commuting thing. It’s time I get into this thing all the way.

Anyway, I think another thing this bonfire taught me about life is that we never think things are as good as the first time we do them. We never think Christmas, for the most part, is as special or magical as when we were kids. It’s all because we have this idea in our heads about what we think the perfect event, holiday, etc. is supposed to be like based on past events. Things change. That’s life. It’s tough to do sometimes, but we need to realize that change is a part of life and new traditions can be formed even if the old ones don’t work out anymore. This is another thing that happened at my party (having so many people come before) and it’s just something that really says a lot about life in general.

Who knew a simple gathering with friends could be a metaphor for so many things in life?

The Cure For The Post-Christmas Letdown

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I love Christmas, and am let down every year after the holidays when the lights come down and things go back to normal. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here’s an excellent article from one of my favorite websites, dumblittleman.com (It’s a great site, check it out sometime). These ten tips will leave you feeling like it’s Christmas year ’round.

Does Christmas Have to End Today?

The buildup to Christmas and all the year end holidays is so long and so pervasive that when Christmas finally comes and then goes, for many people a kind of post-Christmas slump sets in. If this happens to you, I have very good news. You can keep the delightful elements of Christmas alive throughout the year. You can feel the joy of Christmas all year. Here’s how you can incorporate the special aspects of Christmas into your life.

1. Kindness. Who says we have to stop wishing each other a happy day just because the holidays are over. There’s something to celebrate every day. Seek that out and wish those around you a happy day similar to how you wish them happy holidays at Christmas. Today I rolled down the window of my car to wish a neighbor “Merry Christmas.” It made me feel good, and I thought, ” Why do I only take the extra 10 seconds to greet neighbors during the holidays? I’m going to try to do this all year.”

2. Time with Family and Friends. This is the real magic of Christmas. Why not have a family & friends dinner once a month or once a season? A pot luck or a simple dinner is a nice way to keep this element of Christmas in your life all year long. Have some music, get out the board games that never get used, and have some fun.

3. The Tree. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to keep a Christmas tree in your house all year long, but you can certainly bring more plants into your home to bring the freshness of nature indoors. Bring in a new plant once a season and breathe in the fresh oxygen!

4. The Smells. The smells of Christmas are so special from evergreen to candy canes. You can bring these smells back anytime with some scented candles. Try a new scented candle every few months to celebrate each season of the year.

5. You’ve Got Mail. How nice is it to get real mail in your mailbox? Why not share that goodness a few more times during the year with other seasonal cards to a select few friends to say that you are thinking of them. When you print out your Christmas labels, print out a few extra copies so that sending out “thinking of you” cards will be easy. Send a few every other month or so. Who knows, maybe you’ll start a new trend amongst your friends.

6. Giving. You can incorporate the spirit of giving throughout the year quite easily. The first way is through charity. When you give, make the act more of a ritual by taking a few moments to meditate on a sending a special intention along with your gift as well as feeling gratitude for the good fortune to be able to give to others. The other way to give during the year is when you come across a little something that you know a friend would love, go ahead and get it for them. Imagine how good you and that friend will feel. A third way you can give is with your time. This may be the best gift of all. Think about who could use that gift and then find a way to schedule it into your life.

7. Anticipation. The big countdown to Christmas is definitely half the fun. You can create this in your everyday life by scheduling fun activities or making plans to attend special shows, movies, or events. You can create the anticipation by making a simple countdown calendar.

8. Lights. Who doesn’t love Christmas lights? It brightens up our world during the short winter days, unless of course if you are living “down under” where holiday lights are a nice summer time bonus. Who says you can’t keep some light element alive all year long? If this is something that brings you a lot of joy then, by all means, find ways to keep lights a part of your home and world during the year.

9. Seasonal Stories, Singing, and Food. Find ways to celebrate each season of the year through different seasonal stories, songs, and food. We don’t have to wait around for next winter to keep singing, telling special stories, and enjoying seasonal recipies. How do you make sure all these things happen? Schedule them into your calendar, just like Christmas!

10. Nature. The romance of a white Christmas is something many of us hope for. Enjoy the romance that each season in nature brings. Celebrate it with a special seasonal walk with friends and family where the point of the walk is to experience, enjoy, and be grateful for the goodness of that season.

Make celebrating all year long a priority and you’ll never have to feel the post-Christmas slump again!

Have A Very Merry Christmas!

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I just wanted to take a moment to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas! I hope you take the time to slow down and enjoy the company of all of your family and friends. I am definitely looking forward to tomorrow. Each year Christmastime gets crazier and busier for me, and this year that has proven to be true on an exponential level. But somehow on Christmas Eve everything is put back into prospective. Tonight and tomorrow are the only times the whole year that haven’t and probably won’t ever change for me. I have something come over me every year unlike anything else. It’s a sense of peace and happiness I can’t describe. I hope Christmas is the same for you. God bless each and every one of you, and thanks for your reading loyalty throughout the year!

The True Meaning Of Christmas

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With just a couple days left until Christmas, and the hecticness that brings, it’s important to remember the true meaning of Christmas: that God sent his one and only son to save us all from our sinful ways. In lieu of the Song Of The Week, watch this powerful video of a little boy named Logan calling into a Christian radio station who reminds us of the real reason for the season.

Shopping = DEATH!

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So our family friend from Charlottesville, Sue, stayed with us last night and the night before after coming down for our Christmas party. As you could imagine, there’s not a whole lot of places to shop in Charlottesville. It’s not the boondocks, but there’s a lot more places in Short Pump. So naturally, Sue wanted to do some Christmas shopping while she was down here. Her and my mom were going to go, but I decided to go along too because I really hadn’t bought much of anything for the people I planned on buying for this year.

As a side note, it’s important to realize that guys don’t shop. We hunt, we gather, we buy. If we must enter the doors of a retail building, we are there on a mission and know exactly what we want. We’re not there to leisurely browse through aisle after aisle looking for “cute shoes” or a “trendy top.” Don’t get in our way because we’re making a beeline for the thing we want to purchase and then we’re getting out and going forth with our lives.

Anyway, I could almost feel my soul being sucked right out of my body after hours of this thing they call shopping. I think it’s some kind of natural reaction you hear about from caveman days where your body just shuts itself down as a preventative measure when you are exposed to such preposterous things as “buy one get one free” sales and “blue light specials.”

Where did we go? Well, here’s the complete rundown: Ben Franklin, Grapevine II for lunch, Men’s Wearhouse, CompUSA, Kohl’s, Dollar Tree, Barnes & Noble, Hallmark, H&M, American Eagle, New York & Company, Urban Outfitters, Firebird’s for dinner, Circuit City, and Starbucks.

Yes, I made the best of it and got a good amount of stuff for friends and family, and yes, it was good to see Sue and spend the day with her and my mom, but I was worn out by the end of the day. I do feel good that I actually put some time and thought into my gifts this year and didn’t opt for the typical present of gift cards that I often get.

Merry Tossmas!

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Retailers send out all sorts of “holiday” catalogs and have numerous “holiday” displays, but few if any have anything to say about Christmas. Over 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas, and I don’t think the other 10% would be offended. The only group retailers are offending is the vast majority that celebrate Christmas. Stuart Shepard shows us in this video the special holiday he’s created in his household just for the retailers.