Tag Archives: Christmas

10 Things I Love About Christmas

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It would be easy this year to say, “Bah, humbug,” about Christmas.

Traffic has never been worse. There’s been crazy weather around the country. The malls are a mess.

Not to mention I’ve had quite a tumultuously 2013, which is only ending with a stress fracture in my right leg and news that someone was racking up thousands of dollars of charges on my credit card in France.

Still, that hasn’t dampened my Christmas spirit, amazingly.

I still love this time of the year, when the weather in Hawaii has a little chill in it that makes it harder to get out of bed with two snuggling dogs.

So here are the 10 things I love about Christmas — and I hope it reminds you to look at something other than the stack of cars in front of you:

1. Decorated houses and trees: I’m a sucker for Christmas decorations. You got a house decked in lights, I will stop and marvel. I love that people take the time to climb ladders to wrap LED lights around plumeria trees and and edges of roofs — and really for no other reason than celebrating the season.

2. Winter surf: This is going to sound strange, but I love that the North Shore is getting the surf right now. For one, if you’ve ever seen the monster swells out there, it’s mind-blowing. I can see why thousands of people trek to the North Shore — and sit in traffic for hours on Kamehameha Highway — to see it. But the surf out there clears out the breaks on the south shore, and there’s nothing better than a little out-of-season south swell or west wrap to make up for the flat days in Waikiki. Trust me.

3. Weather: I realize all of my far-flung friends will groan when I say this, but I love the (relatively) cold weather during the winter months. It’s nice to bundle up, to use three blankets, to put T-shirts on my dogs. I love it.

4. New releases: There’s always a slew of great movies that get pushed out toward the end of the year to make the Oscar run. If you can find the time between Christmas shopping and wrapping gifts, you can see some of the year’s most-anticipated movies, like “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “August: Osage County” and “Frozen.” Or, if you’re like me, all you want to see are the season’s sequels: “Thor: The Dark World,” “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” and, of course, “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”

5. Movie traditions: Speaking of movies, this is the time of the year when it makes sense to watch movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Elf.” Not that you can’t watch these Christmas flicks in June, but they’re so much better in December. Two of my favorites to catch before Christmas: “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and “The Sound of Music.”

6. Cookies: I love baking — in fact, baking got me through 2013 — but it’s so much more fun to bake for a purpose. For the past three years, I’ve been participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, where I’ve met a lot of cool bloggers who love to bake/cook like me. (And I’ve eaten some pretty interesting cookies, too.) And baking during the holidays has long been a tradition in my family. My mom’s kitchen is always filled with the smells of freshly baked bread, sugar cookies and fruit pies, especially this time of the year. And whenever I can score free baked goodies from her, it’s all good!

7. Christmas shopping: I know, I know. This might top the list of Things I Hate About the Holidays. But as sick as this sounds, I enjoy walking around the malls when it’s packed with shoppers, armed with lists and credit cards. You feel like you’re part of something big, like you’re witnessing the Olympic Games of Christmas Shopping. It’s competitive, it’s stressful, I love it. (Mind you, I do all of my shopping online. LOL)

8. Christmas songs 24-7: This is really the only time of the year when listening to “White Christmas” and “Jingle Bell Rock” is not only appropriate but entirely tolerated.

9. Christmas Eve: This is, hands down, my favorite day of the year. Always has been. When I was a kid, my family would go to an annual Christmas party made up of my dad’s classmates and their families. These people are really family to me, too, and this is the only time of the year we get to see everyone. But I think, too, I love Christmas Eve because Christmas hasn’t arrived yet. The anticipation is far greater than the anticlimactic let-down the following day, when Christmas is over by 10 a.m.

10. Excuse to see people I love: We’re all busy, I get that. But we tend to make time during the holidays — sometimes after Christmas, and that’s OK — to see the people we care about. Screw gifts, I’d rather just spend an evening chatting with my friends or hanging with my family over a stellar spread of food. And to me, that’s the best part of this, and really any, holiday.

Got your reasons for the season? Share them here!

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What’s with the bah humbug?

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The other day I asked friend on my Facebook page what Christmas song was their most and least favorite.

And the vast majority just answered that second part.

And with passion, too.

Here were some responses:

“There is not a single Christmas song that I would like to hear.”

I run screaming out of the stores when I hear them…I have to wear my kicker headphones from now on.

I try to avoid going shopping in December. I’m very thankful for Amazon.

Wow, when did we all lose our Christmas spirit?

I don’t know what’s going on this holiday — maybe it’s the biting cold weather hitting parts of the U.S. — but people seem to be in a solid “bah humbug” mood. My girlfriends who are usually finished with their Christmas shopping in November haven’t even started yet. My dad is worried the gifts he ordered — and late — aren’t going to arrive by Dec. 25. And I haven’t received a single can of cookies yet.

What’s going on?

See, I love Christmas. Or maybe I love what Christmas used to be. It reminds of me the final weeks of school, when teachers were in good moods and classmates brought sugar cookies and small gifts to school. You counted down the days ’til Christmas break and then spent those two weeks hanging out at home, baking cookies and wrapping gifts with my mom. I loved every single awesome minute.

And yes, I listened to Christmas music every chance I got.

Now, though, as an adult, we don’t have the luxury of two-week vacations. We are still checking emails and wrapping up projects. Santa doesn’t bring us gifts anymore, either; that responsibility falls to us, and we barely have time to finish our laundry much less buy presents for everyone on our list.

We have to fight crowds, sit in traffic, spend money, bake cookies, wrap gifts. It’s not as fun as it was when we were kids.

But still, I love the spirit of the season. I love that Christmas is about giving and sharing and spending time with our friends and families.

But clearly, not everyone feels the same.

So where are you this holiday season — loving it or hating every stressful moment?

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It’s officially time to freak out

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Today is Nov. 25.

That means it’s exactly one month until Christmas.

Yes, you may scream now.

So when did that happen? When did it suddenly become Christmas? I remember seeing decorated trees and holiday gift packs on display right around Halloween and thinking, “Uh, hello, Christmas isn’t for another two months.”

Then, bam. It’s here.

Normally, I’m done with my Christmas shopping by November. (Yes, I’m one of those.) But this year, I don’t know what happened. It’s not like I’ve been busier than usual — though if you follow me on Instagram, you might disagree. But maybe I’ve just kept thinking that Christmas was still a ways off.

Now it’s right around the proverbial corner.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t bought a single gift yet. Not one. I’ve written out my gift list and planned a couple of Christmas parties — poorly, I might add — but that’s about it.

I had major anxiety last night about it, too. I got up at around 2 a.m., staring at the ceiling fan and wondering, “What am I going to do?” In my mind, it’s already too late to order gifts online — not true — and I’m a huge Christmas failure — that’s debatable. Now I’ll have to brave the crowds at the mall, buying more gifts than I probably need and spending way too much money.

Am I alone in this — or are you freaking out, too?

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Re-gifting: do or don’t?

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Yesterday I posed the question to my Facebook friends:

OK, let’s be honest, is re-gifting not cool or a form of recycling?

And the vast majority of people who responded said yes — but you have to do it responsibly.

My friend, Melinda, said it’s OK “only if done honestly.” For example, you should say, “Hey, I got this for Christmas but it doesn’t fit/not my color and I thought it would look great on you.”

Pal Titus agreed: “If you really don’t want it, and you give it to someone who really does, it’s a form of paying it forward.”

And my classmate, Brian, called re-gifting a form of recycling: “If you feel it’s a better fit for someone else then why not.”

Turns out, most Americans feel the same way — and they don’t even mind getting a recycled gift, either.

According to a recent survey, 83 percent of responders said they don’t mind receiving a re-gifted present. And half of them said they suspected they had received one in the past.

But get this: only 35 percent said they had, themselves, re-gifted something.

I’m not sure if I believe that.

My guess is we’ve all, in some way, have re-gifted something. Like that box of See’s Candies you decided to share with your favorite secretary. Or that third blender you handed off to your little sister who left for college. I feel like we’ve all done that.

But true re-gifting — the practice of passing on a present to someone else as a present — is a little trickier.

For starters, you can’t re-gift everything. Monogrammed towels, for example, aren’t appropriate to pass on. And you have to be careful you don’t give away something to someone who might have ties to the original giver. It would be entirely awkward seeing a gift from your boss on the desk of a co-worker.

So I’m throwing it out there: you think re-gifting is appropriate? And when is it not? I’d love to hear your stories!

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Cat’s Gift Guide 2012

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It seems like every year, Christmas creeps up on us. We look up from our computer screens or stacks of dirty dishes and realize, “OMG, it’s Dec. 17!”

You frantically draft a list of people you need to buy gifts for and run around the mall, looking for that perfect gift.

Trust me, you’ll never find it.

I’ve been looking for The Perfect Gift my entire life. It doesn’t exist. You can only find The Almost Perfect Gift — or, in my case, The Perfect Gift That Doesn’t Blow My Budget.

So this year, instead of posting a gift idea a day, I gathered the best 15 gift ideas I could come up with this year — all of which you can buy locally. (Meaning, you can wait until the last minute to buy these gifts.)

Each gift is specific to a kind of person — the gardener, the eco-conscious, the foodie. You’ll be surprised, when you take a break and really look around, you’ll find something — maybe not The Perfect Gift — for everyone on your list. Promise.

Baxter of California Shave Kit

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Guys aren't easy to shop for. (Trust me, I have a brother and husband.) They like what they like — and what they really like is usually really expensive. But I was surprised how much my bro and hubby have taken to this: a conventional wet shaving kit, this one by Baxter of California. Nothing beats the luxury or close shave. $70, Mojo Barbershop, 1157 Bethel St.

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