2nd Annual Jennifer the Beholder Holiday Gift Guide!

christmas shopping list template

I’m not sure if you have taken notice of the fact that I have not posted a new Guest in quite some time.  Although I loved the interview experience and being able to meet local businesses and makers, I found that the process of transcribing the interviews was just too time consuming for the payoff.  BUT, I still believe very strongly in the Guests that I have featured in the past and would like to continue to support them through my annual Holiday Gift Guide.

We all have a million and one people on our holiday shopping lists.  I have compiled some fantastic gift ideas for everyone on your list to help make this season’s shopping easier for you. From hostess gifts for holiday parties, to that impossible person to buy for, you’re sure to find something right here on the………………drumroll please………..  2nd Annual Jennifer the Beholder’s Holiday Gift Guide! (cue confetti cannon)

Happy shopping everyone!

ME! – I’m going to do a shameless plug of my new children’s book Are You a Baby Reindeer?  This makes a great gift for any little on your list.  Order yours at Amazon.com.

White & Red Works – Custom Furniture Maker – Jonathan has some beautiful custom wood cutting boards and charcuterie boards this year.  A fantastic gift for a couple or a SUPER hostess gift. –  www.whiteandredworks.com

Ocelot Brewing Co – Ocelot sells super cool 32 oz and 64 oz growlers. Drop by the brewery, order a flight and select your favorite beer to purchase to fill the growler. Makes a great gift for the craft beer lover on your list or a killer hostess gift.  They also carry an inventory of brewery merch.  Also a fun gift idea. Visit Ocelot’s brewery to purchase at 23600 Overland Dr, #180, Dulles, VA 20166. (Obviously, must be 21 years or older.)

ocelot growler

Flight of Fancy LLC – Promise yourself a renovated furniture piece for 2019.  An awesome gift to give to your home.  Visit their facebook page for inspiration and contact information.  https://www.facebook.com/flightoffancyx2/

flight of fancy pink and harlequin dresser

The Vintage Key – Super special handmade jewelry pieces. Excellent gifts for any of the ladies in your life and even the fellas. There are several choices of really cool cufflinks for the guys.  https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheVintageKeyByKama?ref=hdr_shop_menu

The vintage key spoon heart necklace

Shop Swatch Box – For the knitter or crafter on your list. Outstanding products shipped directly to you.  She often has boxes for kids too!  Choose from “knitting” themed boxes  (pictured) or “stitch” themed boxes.  Great as a one time gift, or a subscription with delivery throughout the year.  https://shopswatchbox.com/

shop swatch box 2

Elizabeth Shaffner Design –  From stocking stuffers to a grand gift, Elizabeth offers her new jewelry line and her awesome magnets for stocking stuffers, to full art pieces for a very special someone. Access her wares at https://elizabethshaffner.wixsite.com/esdesign

Pure Love Macaron – Custom gift boxes containing this very special confection makes an outstanding hostess gift or teacher gift.  Looking for something just a little bit more?  Work with Kim to custom curate a gift box of macarons carefully paired with other goodies.   Or add a sophisticated splash to any party with a macaron tower. Macarons are made with organic eggs, sugar and butter. Limited time seasonal flavors like Peppermint Candy Cane, Pistachio, and a play on the popular Ferrero Rocher, of hazelnut and chocolate, are on the menu.   https://www.facebook.com/purelovemacs/

pure love macaron holiday 2018

Sweet Pea Studios –  Congratulations to Sweet Pea Studios for 10 years in business!  To commemorate this amazing milestone, Sweet Pea will be offering Gift Certificates this holiday season.  For every $250 gift certificate purchased, Sweet Pea will gift you an extra $100.  Click the following link for details.    https://www.sweetpeastudiosva.com/northern-va-best-photographer-2018-annual-thankful-sale/?fbclid=IwAR3VmvSbte1ChLBDXoWX0AXGNmuJjpBL4-2EWcY9uJ2ePepCjN4deLZtxbs

Sweet Pea Studios holiday 2018

T’Kila Latin Kitchen and Bar – Gift cards are available for dining at this great neighborhood restaurant. An excellent gift for a family, teachers and coaches or the mailman! Drop by the restaurant to purchase: 42010 Village Center Plaza #170, Aldie, VA 20105

tekila logo

Beyond the Barn Doors – Although they don’t have an online store, you can shop their Holiday Show November 29 – December 2 at Fairfax Corner this year in collaboration with Undeniable Boutique! Find fantastic home accessories.  Great gifts for the home interiors enthusiast and teachers.  You’re also sure to find a terrific house warming gift for anyone celebrating their first Christmas in a new home.  For more details go to Beyond the Barn Doors on Facebook.

holiday beyond the barn door

BT Graphics’ Christmas book, The Other Side of Christmas – ‘AHA’ Christmas book you’ll FLIP OVER!

This  sweet book was awarded the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval, and nine other awards.  For a sneak peek, check out this 15 second video.


If you are intrigued by what you see, click the link below for more details on the book and other flip over products:  https://animotionlogos.com/collections/frontpage/products/the-other-side-of-christmas-childrens-book


Acupuncture – As a gift?  Why not!?!  Give the gift of healing and relaxation.  Want to feel like you’ve just had a glass of wine without consuming the calories, then look no further. Contact Justin at vahealthyliving@gmail.com to schedule your appointment.  It’s an amazing way to reduce stress during the holiday rush.


Kathy G Designs – Spectacular holiday home décor. Excellent gifts for anyone who loves to add holiday cheer to their home.   Also fantastic options for teacher gifts! Visit and follow her FB page for daily deals and giveaways throughout the holiday season.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1994359934113298/

kathy g wreath

Stylist Kristal Eastman – Have someone on your list who would love a fresh new do in the new year? Visit LifeTime Fitness at 5900 Trinity Pkwy, Centreville, VA 20120 to purchase a gift card in the Spa.


Catoctin Creek Distillery – Visit the distillery at 120 W Main St, Purcellville, VA 20132 to sample and purchase a super fine bottle of spirits made right here in Virginia. Or, visit their website at www.catoctincreekdistilling.com to see other locations where you can buy their outstanding whisky. Makes a perfect gift for the cocktail lover on your list. Also makes a superb hostess gift.  Must be 21 or older.

catoctin creek

Northern Virginia Style & Living Magazine – For anyone on your list who loves Northern VA and it’s fantastic culture, dining and entertainment. Go to www.nvslmag.com and order a subscription!

nvsl 1st anniversary cover

Jessica Monte Photography – One hour one-on-one field photography lessons for $99.  Or purchase a gift certificate during the holidays that can be used for headshots, family portraits, senior portraits, etc. Contact Jessica at:  https://www.facebook.com/JessicaMontePhotography/

Texas Trey’s Chips and Salsa – Don’t go to a holiday party empty handed.  And if you’re going to take chips and salsa, why not take the best chips and salsa.  You can purchase these tasty treats at Roots 657 located at 42301 Spinks Ferry Rd, Leesburg, VA 20176

Salsa Shovels Sea Salt Front

Wellness 1st – Karie is accepting new clients at her new office! Anyone mentioning Jennifer The Beholder blog will get one FREE 30 min consult session at her new office. This special deal is good thru 1/31/19. Just mention Jennifer the Beholder to receive your free consultation.  Give the gift of health and wellness to someone you love or to YOURSELF!

Wellness first offers:

  • Food Intolerance Testing – an easy blood spot test any age can do!
  • The FIT Test – a patented, multi-pathway delayed food sensitivity test using new technology to measure both IgG and Immune Complexes; the most common food-related pathways in the body. This test measures sensitivities to up to 132 different foods and additives spanning all major food groups.
  • Genomic Testing  – The most comprehensive nutrigenomics test available to validate your specific nutritional supplement needs. 

Check out Wellness 1st Cyber Monday deals and consider a wellness reset with a comprehensive program designed just for you.  2019 Goals!!

Contact Karie at: https://www.facebook.com/wellness1stnutrition/

Full Out Fitness –  Give yourself the gift of fun and fitness with a SMASH UP class!  A unique blend of cardio kickboxing and dance fitness.  And while you’re at it, take a friend!  Beat the holiday stress by sweating it out at Full Out Fitness.  Newly located inside: Club Ed in Sterling, Va.
21680 Ridgetop Circle St 100 Sterling, Va


Tuesday 7:00-8:15pm SMASH UP

Thursday 7:00-8:15pm SMASH UP

Sunday- 11- Noon SMASH UP

$5 a class. No registration necessary.
Monthly unlimited memberships for $30.

Nikki pic with logo


Kira Luca – Original artwork is a very special gift and now you can get it at reasonable prices.  Visit the shop at https://www.kiraluca.com/shop/ to pick out something spectacular that will wow anyone on your list.

Kira holding painting

Roots 657 – Need a respite from your holiday shopping at the Outlets?  Visit Roots 657 at 42301 Spinks Ferry Rd, Leesburg, VA, for a delicious bite.  While there, peruse the market for all kinds of goodies just perfect to bring to a party, or create your own soiree.  Need a special dessert too?  Pick up a house made dessert to round out your trip.  This might just be one stop shopping.  Visit www.roots657.com to preorder Thanksgiving goodies or arrange for your holiday party catering.

roots657 - building exterior

Inn at Westwood – Give the gift of a get away.  Contact the innkeepers to purchase a weekend package or gift card for a great mini vacation in the scenic Orange, VA.  You’re welcome!  😉 http://innatwestwoodfarm.com/


Lou Lou Boutique / Zest Clothing & Co. – This is a no brainer.  Spectacular clothing and accessories for all of the ladies on your list.  Visit https://loulouboutiques.com/ and https://www.zestclothingandco.com/ for shop locations or to shop online.  And don’t forget to treat yourself to a special outfit for your busy holiday social scene.  My personal favorite place to shop for party dresses.

Creme de la Creme – And for the lover of European home decor, pay a visit to one of the Creme de la Creme shops for something unique and lovely.  Great pieces for anyone on your list or fantastic hostess gift ideas.  Visit http://www.shopcremedelacreme.com/ for shop locations.

creme de la creme logo

Énergie Goods – Clothing and workout gear – Loads of opportunities to shop and save with Énergie!

Here are the holiday deals for Énergie Goods:

  • Anyone who purchases during November will receive a $30 off purchase of $100 or more coupon to be used online only in December
  • Every Friday there will be a featured outfit at a discounted rate with VERY limited quantities.  November – December
  • Black Friday 11/23- All studio locations @pulseinferno @studiobepilates @dancingmindva will have a 30% off sale for anyone who takes a class that day.
  • Cyber Monday– Surprise details!  Hop online and visit http://energiegoods.com/

engerie holiday

DIY Scent Studio – Located at 4007 University Drive in Fairfax, Va, this sweet studio allows you to make custom bottles of perfume.  Concoct a scent that draws to mind a recent trip, or wonderful memory, or create something truly new and unique.  Experts are on staff to assist and guide you.  Gift cards are available.  Or fill one of the long days of the winter break from school with your friends.  It’s a sweet smelling way to spend time together.  Visit http://www.diyscentstudio.com/ to make reservation or inquiries.

DIY Scent Studio - perfume counter

Candy Drawer Confectionary – Well when isn’t candy a good gift?  Get sweet treats for everyone on your list.  Great stocking stuffers, hostess and teacher gifts!  Peruse their website for all of their to-die-for confections. (Pssst.  My personal favorites are the Chocolate covered Roasted Sugar Marshmallows.  Just sayin’.) https://www.candydrawerconfectionary.com/

candy drawer confectionary holiday

Maison Warehouse – Home and holiday decor – Join Maison’s mailing list for event details and specials.  This shop has gobs of holiday gift options for the home interior lover.  Check out the gorgeous holiday tree displays in the shop at 21558 Stonetree Ct, Sterling, VA 20166

In-Store Holiday Event:  November 15 – 18 & November 24 – 25 – Chicks Picks by Hillary

Maison Warehouse Chicks Picks

Rhythm and Arts Center – Bring a friend to a free performance of The Nutcracker!  Sunday, December 9th at 3 pm at South Lakes High School:  11400 South Lakes Dr, Reston , VA 20191

Or how about the gift of dance lessons!!??  Go to www.rhythmandartscenter.com for details.  First trial class is free!

Also, see the Rhythm and Arts Center Dance Company perform in the Reston Town Center Winter Wonderland Parade on Friday, November 23.

Rythmn and Arts Center - Nutcracker 2017

2018 reston town center holiday parade

Cancer is Ruff – The Holidays can be a rough time of the year for some people, particularly those battling cancer.  Consider this sweet picture book that helps to lighten the mood with endearing pictures of dogs exhibiting the difficult symptoms of cancer treatment.  Written by cancer survivor, Kathy Kupka, this book delivers light hearted acknowledgement of the fight.  Purchase your copy on www.cancerisruff.com.

cancer is ruff cover

Kathy Kupka Photography – Want a sweet holiday photo of your pup?  Kathy Kupka is offering photo sessions until November 24.  Book yours today.  For more information visit www.kathykupka.com.

kupka 2018 christmas photo session

River-Sea Chocolates – The most delicious single origin chocolate!  Made with love right here in Northern Virginia.  These spectacular chocolate bars make excellent stocking stuffers or purchase a tasting collection for a terrific hostess gift.  I bought a bunch of bars to give as teacher gifts this year!  As a special holiday offering, River-Sea is putting together two bar present bundles. These bars are something really special that you can taste in the very first bite.  Purchase yours at https://www.riverseachocolates.com/

river-sea christmas 2018

Linda Hendrickson – Want a super special gift for someone on your gift giving list?  Consider a gorgeous piece of art.  Contact Linda at https://www.facebook.com/LindaHendrickson.Artist/

Linda Hendrickson Barn Raising

Java Jen’s Coffee Roasters LLC – Did someone say single origin coffee?!  Coffee is an amazingly versatile gift.  Great as a stocking stuffer, a hostess gift, teacher or coach gifts, the list goes on.  Give bags of beans or grounds, your pick.  And while you’re out shopping in Loudoun County, VA, keep your eyes peeled for their coffee truck and grab yourself a fabulously warm cup to stay off the chill.  Contact Java Jen’s at https://www.facebook.com/JavaJensCoffeeRoasters/

java jens christmas 2018

Voilà – Get help with your holiday decor or arrange to spruce up your home after you’ve packed away your holiday decorations.  You choose, but don’t pass up this great deal!  As a holiday promotion, Voilà is offering 20% off your first booking up to 5 hours. (Standard fee is $75/hr).  Contact Jodi at https://www.facebook.com/voilastyling/ to set up your session.

Jodi Cali pic 1

I hope that you have found this guide to be helpful.  Please be sure to drop a line in the comments when you find that perfect gift at one of my Guest locations or online stores.  Enjoy your shopping experience during the most festive time of the year.  And a little piece of advice….wrap as you go.  You’ll thank me later.  😉


Hey Mom! Look What I Can Do!

hey mom look beach

You know when you’re a kid and you’re constantly telling your mom, “Look, Mom! Look what I can do!” “Hey Mom, LOOK!” “Mom watch me!” Although I may not actually remember doing this, I’m sure I did as I continue to live through three children saying, “Hey, Mom, watch this!”

When we are children, we usually have a very exaggerated opinion of our gifts and talents. But gift and talents, even in their infancy are just that; gifts and talents. We are so eager to show off our skills that it is sometimes a constant verbal assault upon….well…Mom (or whomever happens to be in the audience).

hey mom im a unicorn

At some point in my life, I outgrew this phase and almost to the point of pulling a 180. That’s not to say that I was no longer proud of my gifts and talents, but I think I became aware of their true value in the context of just hanging with my mom. I think there also entered the ugly fear of failure and what failure actually feels like. The less attention I drew to myself, the less chance that someone will see that I can fail, will fail, or might fail. But again, I might have outgrown this phase, at least enough to be brave for this moment.

I’ve written in the past about my journey into blogging and writing. I still have NO idea why I thought this would be a good idea. I just knew that I wanted to do something. Something that would engage my brain and give me a sense of productivity that no load of laundry or evening meal prep could ever fill. My walk into this “career” has moved swiftly, but not too fast that I couldn’t keep up. I have been able to take each progressive step as they presented themselves and with little or no anxiety.  Winning!

one step at a time

Part of being a writer involves a lot of self promotion. I can no longer do my thing under the cover of nightfall. I must invite others into my professional world if I want to keep working in this capacity. It is a foreign process….self promotion, but a necessary “evil”.

So I have come full circle back to, “Hey Mom! Look at me!” It started with the blog. If I want readers, subscribers and followers, I have to be all…”Hey you! Look over here and read THIS!” It then moved to NVSL Magazine. Now, I was not only promoting myself, but a whole publication. This was easier! I was just a small part of a larger project, so…so, easier!

logo and mag collage

It was during an interview with the editor of NVSL Magazine that I went public with my desire to publish a book. This was a bold, BOLD move for me. I declared to the world (‘cause the whole world was reading this article….well, my whole world) that I had a goal for the year that I intended to reach. Uh oh.

Talk about scared. Now in fairness, the editor asked if she could share the information and I said, “Yes!” No one was more shocked than I. I was now accountable to all who read that article to make good on my goal intention. It became the center part of my professional life; birthing this little book.

hoping selfie

Well, I am proud to say, that for the very first time in my life, I set a professional goal and actually achieved it! Keep in mind that this is a very different goal…not one for a promotion, or to win an account, or to achieve some quota, where someone above me determines my success or worth. This was creating something from nothing and following through to production.

It has been the very best professional experience of my lifetime. I created something….I developed it, and honed it, and grew it into something that was marketable; all while staying accountable to the public via social media. Good or bad, this thing is DONE! I couldn’t be more excited.

I’m excited to follow the process. I’m excited for my inaugural holiday season with this new little book and I look forward to planning a full marketing strategy for the 2019 holiday season. (Uh oh, did I just make another public pronouncement?!  ACK!)

Just in time for Thanksgiving and during this season of gratitude, I want to thank all of the amazing people who supported me along the way. I want to thank every single person who didn’t laugh or mock my idea to complete this project, every single person who encouraged me along the way, and all of my beloved cheerleaders. Although this was a solo idea, it was in no way a solo experience. I have met the most amazing talent along the way, who I lovingly call my dream team, and I cannot wait to work with these women again.


I look forward to watching to see how this sweet book progresses and I’m already penning my next story! So for posterity’s sake, “Hey Mom! Look what I can do!”

are you a baby reindeer look what I can do

Purchase your copy today on Amazon.com.

Perspective – The Holidays

The holidays image

The Holidays are upon us!  Whether we like to admit it or not, they are coming.  Some greet this time of year with excitement and verve and some approach with apprehension and dread.

I’ve asked 7 women to share their thoughts on this topic (7 because I am #8!  I always want to play too.)  I polled one representative from each age decade to see how they weighed in. Are we more alike or are we polar opposites?  Come with me to find out.

spookley the square pumpkin

“I think holidays give you something to be excited for.  Like for example, especially when you’re a kid and you go to school, it’s AWESOME when school gets canceled because of the holiday.  But not just for that, also most holidays you get to spend time with your family and that means a lot to me.  Like you can have fun with your cousins, get to see your aunts, uncles, and grandparents and it’s just awesome.”  ~ Caroline 10’s


“Whenever the holidays are mentioned, I feel what is most often shared are fond memories, traditions, or the rush to get everything done. While all of those things hold value for me – I have fond memories of time spent with family, I do love traditions new and old, and I, the true procrastinator, am that person rushing to wrap presents the minute before my husband opens them despite vowing to get ahead of the game each year.

What I actually love most about the Holidays is all of the anticipation and excitement leading up before. For me, the holidays are an entire season spanning from October until after Christmas/New Years. I love all of the preparation, decoration, and planning that comes with each holiday. From costume planning for Halloween, to table-setting and food preparation at Thanksgiving, to gift shopping for Christmas. I love it all.

I love the whole change of tone the holidays bring. Everyone seems happy and excited. The whole city looks and feels different and I love it. It’s a hard feeling to describe but I think one that everyone shares. It feels like magic. Like butterflies in my stomach. Like something so exciting is coming but you don’t know what. I think it’s the time of year that you can actually feel happiness in the air.  I think that’s the best way to describe it. While this feeling is probably due to a culmination of all of the reasons people love the holidays – the traditions, time with family, memories, the rush – it is this feeling I love the most. ”     ~ Cristina 20s (Blog: https://www.spatialdwelling.com/)

air supply christmas album

“Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I love the hustle and bustle leading up to it, the decorations, the sparkle, traditions, the anticipation. I’d go so far as to say that I love the time leading up to Christmas more than Christmas Day.

After losing my dad in 2014, Christmas lost a little bit of its sparkle. He loved Christmas as much as I do and I miss the traditions that we used to do together as a family.

I’m looking forward to experiencing Christmas as a parent this year. My son was born just 4 days before Christmas 2017 so I am looking forward to seeing the sparkle of Christmas through his eyes this year and for many years to come.”  ~ Jackie 30s

new year's eve 1978

“In preparation for this “assignment” over the past few days, I noticed that just thinking about the Christmas season makes me happy, and it’s not even here yet!  We were sitting in the movie theater and saw a preview of the new Grinch movie and it was an immediate warm and fuzzy feeling trigger for me.

I would definitely describe myself as Christmas-obsessed, in fact, I ordered another tree for our dining room just last week because, 1. my Christmas ornament collection is getting too much for the TWO trees we already have (one that is 9 feet tall!) and 2. I want us to be able to look at it during our Christmas dinner!

While I truly do love Thanksgiving, it is just a warm up to the season that immediately follows, and that is my very favorite time of year. (On a side note, one of the more non-traditional things we do as a family on Thanksgiving is have steak for dinner.  We realized years ago that we are not huge fans of turkey, so we, instead, have our own traditional Thanksgiving steak dinner which everyone loves.)  I love everything about Christmas; the decorations that take forever to put up but are so worth it when they are, the music – again, triggers my happy feelings (even in the commercials on TV!), and the gift buying – thinking of just the right gift for every person on my list and starting months before the big day, squirreling away gifts in the back of my closet.

I love the Holiday specials on TV, many of which we look forward to watching as a family. Every year I get another “family ornament” with our names on it along with a family photo ornament to hang on the tree.  We love looking at the ornaments as we decorate the tree, drinking hot cocoa and showing them to each other and saying, “Oh!  Remember this one!” as we take them out of the box. We make Christmas cookies in the days before Christmas and bake an apple pie, which is a family favorite.

I love looking forward to the Christmas break from school, when everyone is home and can relax and just be together. We go to church on Christmas Eve and then out to dinner, which has become a recent tradition. I love making our home and the holidays special for my family, having created the traditions that we now have and enjoy every year.  I hope my kids look back on these as special memories that they will always have in their hearts. To me, holidays mean family and there is nothing that gives me the warm and fuzzy feelings more than my family!” ~Jen 40s

the great pumpkin

“To me, “the Holidays” begin with Halloween.  We go all out in our household (at least on the inside of the house.)  I love creating a festive atmosphere for my family from the decorations and treats, down to the candles that I burn for each season, and the holiday themed shows and movies.  It kicks off my favorite time of the year where the emphasis is on giving to others and thinking of others.  I love the giant spark of creativity generated for Halloween in concocting fun costumes and decorations.

Thanksgiving.  Poor Thanksgiving.  It may as well be called First Christmas.  I mean, the commercials for Christmas start before Halloween.  And I for one, start my Christmas shopping in October for sure (Goal: Done by December One!).  I do enjoy Thanksgiving for it’s intent.  A time for everyone to take a whole day of gratitude.  To be thankful for all of the many gifts we have been given.  I find it remarkable that we live in a country that places value on that…well, at least once a year.  But is that how we actually celebrate it? I’m not quite sure.  The host jumps through hoops to create an extravagant meal that would actually feed the entire neighborhood, resulting in tons of leftovers or waste and loads of dirty dishes and clean up.  I find that there’s less focus on gratitude and more attention to football.  It definitely is lovely to spend the day with family and friends, but I’m just not sure I get it, even after all of these years.

The Mac Daddy for me is Christmas.  I loooooovvve the preparation for Christmas.  I love the shopping, the decorations, the music, the food, the sparkle, and the kindness that people tend to extend this time of year.  I love when people wish other “Merry Christmas”.  I love the anticipation of it all which, at church, we refer to as Advent.  It’s just a cozy time of the year and despite the frigid temperatures outside, the season warms me.  However, I really don’t like Christmas day that much.  All of the fanfare is over and we are left with a pile of scraps of wrapping paper, crushed up boxes, and big black trash bags.  The once festive house now resembles that cruddy black snow that we get the day after a beautiful snowfall.  And in my home, we have several family members that once they open their gifts, never touch them again.  It seems….sad.  But all good things must come to an end.  We need to spend the next 365 days gearing up for next year!

Lastly there is New Year’s Eve.  I have never been a fan.  I find it overwhelming to try to have the night of your life and the resolutions are always a disappointment.  I used to have an actual fear of the new year.  After my first child was born with a heart issue, and my father’s health, and my brother inlaw’s health began to decline, I began wanting to desperately hang on to the year we were in because we were all still together.  My father and my brother inlaw have since passed on, which forced me to face my fear of the new year.  January 1st is just another day.  No need for dread and it is quite nice to celebrate things, so I try to face the unknown year with a little less fear and a little more curiosity.

Overall, I adore the holidays.  My wish is for you to find joy in each holiday.  To have fun and make time to spend with those that mean the most to you.”~Jennifer 50’s ish (I’ll be 50 in January 🙂 )


Holidays! Hallmark anyone? I just finished watching the first of many Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. It’s October 26th!!

I am a holiday junky!  The time from Halloween to Christmas is my favorite time of year. Living in Florida, holidays help mark the seasons.  My memories of these holidays are precious. Each of these holidays, back in my day, you had to wait for.

The childhood freedom on Halloween! Trick-or-treating with pillowcases and blocks of houses; parent free. Thanksgiving! Just family, and gratefulness, and Macy’s parade. You didn’t start decorating, or thinking of Christmas, until Santa came down that New York Street.

Traditions and my faith filled my childhood with happy memories (back then we could even sing Christmas carols in public schools).  Traditions and my faith bound our family together.  I have had to learn not to hold on too tightly to traditions. In the 1980s, I got married and added my husband’s traditions to my own. When my daughter was born in 1989, the 90’s brought our own rituals and expectations. And once my daughter got married, and had her own daughter, once again we found ourselves adding new and lovely memories and traditions to experience.

I still embrace the holidays through the eyes of children. Being a primary teacher for 31 years helped me to keep a youthful heart. I love the expectations of each holiday and try to keep it simple and people focused. So, as I watch The Great Pumpkin to A Christmas Carol, sappy but loving Hallmark movies, and listen to Christmas music, I am grateful for my memories, my family get together‘s, and the anticipation of new memories and new traditions to come into my blessed life.” ~ Barbara 60s

its a wonderful life movie poster

“I am looking back at my favorite holidays with my husband and our four children. Starting with Easter; dying hard boiled eggs and hiding them the night before Easter. Making Russian Easter Bread called Buska. On Easter morning the kids would look for their Easter Baskets. The most important part was going to mass and thanking Jesus for dying on the cross.

The 4th of July: Celebrating the freedom we have in this great country. Honoring the people who died for this country. Going to North Dakota to celebrate the holiday with family and friends. Going to the 4th of July parade and watching fireworks.

Halloween. The kids getting all excited about going trick or treating. When we lived in St. Louis, the kids had to tell a joke and the person handing out candy tried to come up with the answer to the joke. My husband would go out with the kids and I would give out candy at our house. Halloween reminding us of All Saints Day on Nov. 1st and All Souls Day on Nov. 2nd.

Thanksgiving. Reminding us to thank God and the colonists who started this holiday. Getting the turkey and stuffing ready, and all the good side dishes, and of course pumpkin and pecan pies. We always had a relish tray and that was our appetizer. Playing cards and other games with the kids and watching football on TV. Needless to say we were  all stuffed at day’s end.

Christmas, the best holiday of all. Decorating the house, Getting a live tree and trimming it. Making Christmas cookies. Wrapping gifts and putting them under the tree. When we were at a Christmas party the kids decided to unwrap and rewrap their gifts. (Found that out years later.) We went to mass on Christmas Eve. The kids set the table for breakfast before they went to sleep. We opened our gifts early in the morning and the kids had fun with their new toys. Such good memories.”  ~Peggy 70’s

new years eve 1936

“When thinking about the holidays so much comes to mind…Holidays of the past, present and those that are almost forgotten. I won’t even tackle the new holidays I don’t understand.

My past holidays bring to focus the big four, Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Easter. As years go by the most popular, according to retail, go back and forth between Halloween and Christmas. Thanksgiving has always been smothered between the big H and the big C.

Some less important holidays are Valentines Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, May Day, and all the prominent presidents and civic and religious leaders. Each one is popular as it usually gives most people a day off from work. My favorite as a child and the mother of my young family has always been Christmas with all its many traditions. I’ve even been guilty of making up a few new ones. I’m sorry about that.

For me, marching in the Memorial Day parade with my classmates, the Macy’s parade, and the rival football games at Thanksgiving are memorable from my youth.

Today, all of that has changed.  The death of my husband and having children scattered all over with their own traditions have created mixed emotions for me. Many people feel extremely sad with the holidays because of past experiences or a loss.  Hallmark fills an empty space in my soul and brings back, in a corny way, all of the traditions I hold dear.

I will always find great solitude in celebrating the true meaning of each one of the holidays I have celebrated throughout my life with those I love.”  ~Temple 80s


In reading the responses from each participant, it is abundantly clear that the holidays bring about warm feelings for, and the desire to spend them with family.  If you are paying attention to the ages of each of the above participants, it is interesting to note the shift of the here and now, to the focus on the past and fond memories.  And it also seemed apparent that as the years advanced, there was also more focus on faith.

Although many agreed that the concentration of “The Holidays” is between Halloween and New Years, it is abundantly clear that Christmas is the the clear favorite.  I found it interesting that most loved the lead up to each holiday as opposed the actual holiday and was delighted that not one single person mentioned the receipt of gifts at all.  But the loss of loved ones seems to universally impact our impressions of the holidays.

The Holidays can truly be a magical time of year if you allow yourself to get caught up in the current of warmth, love, and happiness.  I wish this for all of you.  May you all find something to warm your heart this holiday season.