That’s Christmas to Me

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is upon us, and in full swing. I hope you’re having a great holiday, and spending time with someone you love. Here are some little things I love about Christmas – and try to remember in order to make stressful holidays more enjoyable.

 

1.The Smell of Fresh Pine

image1

Every year my family gets a real tree, and the aroma of the fresh pine fills our house – both with holiday joy and lots of sneezing! Plus how cute is Sophie?

 

2. Hot Tea

FullSizeRender-1.jpg

I am a tea person, as coffee gives me a migraine. There is nothing better than drinking a cup of warm tea when it’s cold outside. My favorites are green, chai, and citrus.

 

3. Pentatonix

614skdrtml-_ss500

If loving Pentatonix Christmas albums makes me basic – then so be it 🙂 I have seen them in concert, and they are such talented individuals. My favorite songs are White Winter Hymnal, That’s Christmas to Me, and Hallelujah.  Listening to them always puts me in a cheery and festive mood!

 

4. Dessert Galore

My mom is an amazing baker and cook. The rest of my extended family – not so much. Since that’s the case, my mom makes all the desserts for the holidays. Everything from pie to cookies, and fudge has been made over the years, and it’s always delicious. Calories don’t count at the holidays, right?

 

5. Christmas Movies

images-2

It doesn’t matter how cringey it is, if it’s Christmas related, I’ll probably watch it. We watch “A Christmas Story” every Christmas Eve, which is my favorite holiday themed movie. I also really enjoy Elf, Christmas with the Kranks, and the animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

730955875-Grinch.jpg

6. Family Time

It doesn’t matter how crazy they drive me – I will always love my family. At the end of day I am grateful for everyone of my family members and the time I get to spend with them. Not everyone has a great family support system behind them, and while I can’t imagine how that must feel, I know those people will meet others who will love and appreciate them forever.  I don’t think blood makes family; unconditional love does.

 

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Chuanakah. Let me know how your holiday has been/ is going!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Advertisements

Happy Holigays?

I live in Texas, which I feel like I’ve made that abundantly clear, but if you didn’t know, now you do. Unfortunately this means the majority of my family is super conservative, and I’m going to have to see them at Christmas.

We normally spend two days at my Grandmother’s house on Christmas, but now that both my parents work full time, we will only be going on Christmas morning and leaving that afternoon. I love my family, but I don’t have a lot in common with them, and my extended family doesn’t know I’m gay.

It’s not that I’m too scared to tell them or don’t want them to know, I just don’t want to hear their responses. I think most of them would be too shocked to say anything, but at least one of my uncles would probably be rude about it. All my “coming out” experiences have been positive so far, and I really don’t want that to change. I know that at some point I’m going to have someone reprimand me for my sexuality, or a random person on the street yell at me when I hold a girls hand, but for now I’ve only experienced love and kindness.

Of course I won’t wait till I get engaged and then drop the bomb on them, but I have no plans to do it anytime soon. They probably wouldn’t come to my future wedding anyway.  I’ve told my mom that she can tell whoever she wants, but I don’t think she feels ready to tell other people herself. The only bad thing about not telling them is I feel like I can’t be myself around any of them, and it’s exhausting.

At Thanksgiving it took all of ten minutes for my least favorite uncle to say something racist. Ten Minutes. I am very opinionated and have a spit-fire attitude a lot of the time, so being around them is hard for me. It isn’t only the fact that I’m gay, its also that I am WAY more progressive than all of them, identify as a feminist, and generally can’t stand their bigotry. I mostly just don’t speak a whole lot at family functions , or I ask other people about their lives. Every single time either one of my aunts or my Grandmother will ask me if I  have a boyfriend. No, and I never will.

My immediate family is so supportive, and for that I will forever be grateful. Many people have terrible coming out experiences, and I cannot imagine the pain that must come with that. This holiday season, spend time with the people you love, and those who love you back. Just because someone is related to you, doesn’t mean you owe them anything. Family can have so many different definitions, and if those people aren’t the same people as your biological family, thats okay. Holidays can be hard when your relationship with your family is rough, but know there are other people like me out there who will love and accept you.

Lots of Love This Holiday Season,

Alyssa

12 Deeds of Christmas

We’ve all heard the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” composed by Fredric Austin. Every Christmas for as along as I can remember my family has done something we call, “The Twelve Deeds of Christmas,” in which we do 12+ things, big or small, in order to help someone else or bring a little bit of joy during the holiday season. I’m not sharing this to boast, but rather to hopefully inspire some of you to start this tradition.

Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa, are approaching fast, but there is still time to help others before the big days arrive. A “deed” does not have to be big, or expensive to count. I thought I would compose a list of suggestions for ways/places to donate this year.

  1. Johnson & Johnson Donate a Photo

If you download the free “Donate a Photo” app, you can upload a photo daily and choose a specific cause for Johnson and Johnson to donate a dollar to. This is completely free, and only takes a few seconds each day. Some things I have donated to through the app are GLSEN, Girl Up, The Trevor Project, Nyumbani, and The American Diabetes Foundation.

2. Bake cookies!

Making cookies is fairly inexpensive and a great way to spread some festive cheer. Giving them to neighbors, friends, firefighters, or anyone in your community is always a great act of kindness.

3. Donate Old Clothes/Household Items

We all have old clothes and things we don’t need or use laying around our house or in the back of our closets. Get ahead on your spring cleaning and get rid of clothes that don’t fit or you don’t wear anymore. Donate them to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other local resale shop.

4. Donate Pet Food/ Toys to your local animal shelter

Cat litter, dry dog/cat food, and canned dog/cat food are all pretty cheap depending on the brand you buy. A selfish motive for me is always getting to look at all the cute cats, and dogs up for adoption, but the donation defiantly helps them out 🙂

5. Buy a Child a Christmas Present

Foundations like Toys for Tots take toy donations around Christmas/ Chanukah to give to family in need. They don’t have to be big elaborate toys, just a little something to help brighten a Childs holiday season. Churches also often take donations for church members  and others in the community who could use it, so if you can’t find a Toys for Tots location to drop off, a church might be a good option.

6. Go Caroling at a Nursing Home

Elderly people love hearing people sing Christmas carols. Plus staying around afterword to talk to them really makes their day. Lots of people who live in nursing homes don’t get many visitors, and life can be lonely. Having someone to talk to can really change things for them, and who knows maybe you’ll make a connection and go back to talk to them again!

7. Make Christmas Cards for Children in the Hospital/ Soldiers

It may be too late to send cards to soldiers for this Christmas, but you can always do it next year. However it’s not too late to make Christmas cards for children in the hospital this holiday season. Also donating blankets and stuffed animals can bring a little joy to children who are sick.

8. Donate your time

It doesn’t matter where you donate time, its the fact that you do it. Nursing homes, local resale shops, and homeless shelters, are great locations to help out at. Donating your time won’t cost you anything, and it can be a big help to organizations that depend on volunteers to keep them alive.

9. Skip out on a Holiday gift and ask for a donation in your name

If you like this idea here are some causes I support and think you should donate to

10. Make a donation yourself to an organization you support. Here are some more good foundations if you don’t know who do donate to.

11. Pay it forward

When you’re in line at Starbucks, or a fast food restaurant, pay for the person behind you. This is an easy way to bring unexpected joy to someones day.

12. Donate Food to your local Food Pantry

Many Food Pantries across America try to make Christmas extra special for people in need. They can’t give someone the ingredients to a great Holiday meal without your help. Call the food pantry and ask what they are most in need of, and then make a grocery run! It’s easy if you are really busy this year, because everyone goes to the grocery store.

 

I hope this list gave you some good ideas of how to help others this Holiday season. I tried to make most of them fairly inexpensive because I know the holidays are costly. Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, or if you don’t celebrate anything this time of year I hope you have a great day, and do something fun.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

 

 

 

 

False Hope and Flares

If your chronic illness is anything like my chronic migraines, abdominal migraines, and whatever else is going on in my crazy body, then you go through cycles. A lot of people refer to this cycle of going in and out of having terrible pain days…weeks…months, as having a “flare up.”

Most of my flares last 1-2 months, with around 3-4 weeks of them being absolutely terrible. Right now I have cycled out of a flared up as of about two weeks ago. Granted I never feel great, but I feel considerably better than I do during one of my dark times. The only problem I have with “cycling out,” is that I know I’m going to go back to being in a ton of pain soon. These cycles tend to give me the false hope that I may actually be getting better for real this time, but so far that’s never been true.

Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful for the times that I do feel alright, because I know some people don’t ever feel even okay. Chronic illness is a sick game of false hope. You’re promised by doctors that “this will be the fix you’re looking for,”  only to get worse or just not improve at all. I always to try to get lots of things done while I’m feeling well, but it’s balancing act because doing too much will send me into a flare.

My fear is that I’m going to cycle into a terrible pain episode right before Christmas. I absolutely love Christmas. The candle lit church services, the hot beverages, the pretty wrapping paper; I could go on. I have spent too many holidays feeling poorly, and I just don’t want this to be another one. I am trying my best to be, as I like to say, “cautiously optimistic,” that I will feel at least okay this Christmas .

I hope all of you are having a great holiday season, and have fun celebrating any holiday this December. I’d love to hear your favorite things about Christmas time, or best holiday memory!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa