That’s How the Light Gets In

Let the games begin, shall we?

I tried to tell myself I wouldn’t post too much holiday content before Black Friday, and to be honest, I haven’t. I know you’re thinking, “YES YOU HAVE, LIAR!” To be fair, though, that was sponsored content. I haven’t posted holiday content all on my own yet. That changes today. It needs to change today. The thing is, I’ve been bad at catching feels. All the world and the personal news filter in and out of my ears and my brain and my heart, and my processing skills aren’t always up to par. The hardest thing in the world we can do is to let people in and out of our hearts. I don’t think I’m that good at it.

And yet it happens despite my best efforts.

I’d love to tell you I’ve learned a thing or two about feeling, but the truth is that sometimes I feel too much. Or what I consider too much. Then it gets filtered into different places. It breaks into pieces, like glass shards. It seems to disappear.

Whenever I feel next to nothing, it’s only because I feel a lot.

I haven’t fully felt that Christmas spirit yet, but I’m about 75% there. And that’s probably 74% more than I felt last year so I’m rejoicing. Maybe you know the one I mean. It’s when a smell or a song or a Christmas light or a memory or a movie hits you so hard in the heart, that you could swear it’s snowing only on you and for you, the way it does when a new romantic couple kisses at the end of a Hallmark holiday movie. It can only be magic! Three years ago was the first time in my life that I spent an entire holiday season without getting hit by that feeling. Then it happened again last year. Not this time, I say.

Not on my watch.

I’m coaxing it out slowly and steadily. It’s already taken my breath away nearly full-force. We’ll be decorating this week and I have a lot of posts coming up. For now, here’s something fun. A few years ago, Dana from Kiss My List asked me holiday questions. It’s fun to bring them back and maybe inspire you to answer some yourself. On this blog or on your own or both!

1. First, finish this sentence: When I’m really old, I hope to look back on my life and know that I…

Well, that’s loaded! When my grandmother died earlier this year, I had an existential crisis about it. I felt so sad that someone who lived 100 years, without cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, & someone who lived life on her own terms and lived BIG still died. She just died. It wasn’t a movie death. It was quiet and heart-shattering. For her 100th birthday, one of the biggest realizations I had is that I want to live big, but in a different way than I thought when I was younger. I used to think it was all about glitz, glamour & money, but now I think that living big is living with big HEART, and living freely and getting out of the boxes that this world will try to shut you in. That’s it. I want to live on my own terms and with big HEART.

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2. What is your earliest holiday memory?

I can remember lighting Hanukkah candles, or maybe even unwrapping Christmas presents (both?) in my old house – my first house. We lived there until I was five, and it was in Rockaway, NJ on a hill. You could see the Twin Towers from my street.

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3. Tell me about a holiday tradition you remember from your childhood. Do you keep that tradition with Cassidy and the kids, or have you created a new one?

We haven’t created a new Christmas morning yet. We still do it with my parents and as many siblings as possible. We talk about it changing with the five of us kids all grown up and starting families, but the thought is too heart-breaking for me. As it’s always been and now, we all have a gigantic Christmas morning together. We were always allowed to open the stockings at 7:00am Then we all sit in a circle and open our presents, one at a time. Then we have a huge breakfast and a flank steak/homemade french fries dinner. Although in recent years, it’s gotten so time-consuming, that we have to break halfway through opening gifts to eat breakfast. Then we dive back in. It takes HOURS. It’s fantastic.

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4. Yes or no:

a. Eggnog – NO! Well, maybe. I haven’t had it in years. I don’t remember liking it, though.
b. Candy canes – Meh. Only if they’re fruit-flavored, and then still, I’d rather just eat fruit.
c. Fruit cake – I have never tried it! I imagine NO, though.
d. Latkes – Heck yeah! When well made, they’re exquisite. And your jacket will smell like oil for a week.

5. I know you like to watch holiday specials and movies. Tell me a few of your favorites: classics and new, cartoon and human. If you had to have one playing over and over for 24 hours straight, which would it be?

Hmm…! I tend not to like watching movies more than once. I suppose background noise is ok. I do love It’s a Wonderful Life, Love Actually and The Family Man. I think my favorite and the one to play for 24 hours straight is Scrooged.

6. I’m only asking this because your kids don’t read your blog. Do you remember when you found out the truth about Santa? Share if it’s not too traumatic.

Yes, and it’s funny because I was in the Hebrew School parking lot! I was about ten or 11 and I don’t remember it being traumatic – just honest. It’s about the spirit of the holiday anyway. It’s real and it’s spectacular.

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7. Describe what your Christmas day will look like this year. Assume you are not snowed in!

It will hopefully look a lot like what I described in question #3! I guess I got ahead of myself.

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8. Was there a gift that you REALLY wanted as a child that you didn’t get? How did you handle it? James has jokingly asked for an ATV; is Scarlet asking for something over the top?

Scarlet’s requests are all doable so far. I can’t remember anything specific that I repeatedly wanted and didn’t get. I’m certain I wanted a trip somewhere to meet Tim Curry, and why didn’t I get that one??? (Problem solved August 2017)

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9. How do I take a decent photo of a fully lit menorah or Christmas tree?

Ha! Well what are you using? I think a phone camera takes a nice one. With a dSLR, use a tripod! If you don’t have one, you can create a makeshift one by just using a table or whatnot. Use manual settings – a wide aperture but enough to get in the whole tree or menorah (read: not 1.4). Smaller numbers are better because of more light, but of course, not too much. That shouldn’t be a problem because you’re probably in a low light scenario with the tree, at least. I like a shutter speed of 250 or so to prevent hand shake blur, but hey, if you are using a tripod or a makeshift one, that shouldn’t be as big of a problem.

Am I confusing you enough yet? It really depends on so many factors..

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10. My last question is always a “Would You Rather?” So, would you rather have a nose that glows like Rudolph or pointy ears like an elf?

ha! Definitely pointy ears. Have you seen my hair? It’s thick and it covers my ears, hence why I never wear earrings. I don’t really love my nose (or even like it) so I wouldn’t want to draw more attention to it.

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Has it hit you yet?

Our Top Ten Favorite Family Holiday Traditions

This post was sponsored by Sears as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

It's officially holiday season! Here are our ten family holiday traditions - starting with Black Friday. We love to start with the Sears #WishBook! #AD #IC

Does your family have favorite holiday traditions?

The thing is, we broke one this year! And that’s ok because the essence of the tradition didn’t change at all – but it’s the “HOW.” One of our first traditions every year is to go to the local farm market the day before Thanksgiving (I know, I know) and pick out our perfect tree. Don’t worry – we don’t do anything with it yet. We just like to be early birds. We have a cathedral ceiling in our home and one year we got an 18-foot tree. We called it “Behemoth.” Cassidy said his back hurt for an entire year after handling that tree. So the next year we went more conservatively with a 13-footer. It seemed small!

It's officially holiday season! Here are our ten family holiday traditions - starting with Black Friday. We love to start with the Sears #WishBook! #AD #IC

Then, we decorate our tree on the day after Thanksgiving. That’s today! This year, we went to our local farm and we had even left them a note ahead of time that we wanted a huge one this year. Well there were no big ones! No puffy ones! So we called ahead and found a new farm and showed up first thing this morning. Guess what? They had a great tree! So today, we got a tree AND decorated our tree. So the tradition remains of getting into that holiday spirit the day after Thanksgiving.

Now we’re full force in it.

It's officially holiday season! Here are our ten family holiday traditions - starting with Black Friday. We love to start with the Sears #WishBook! #AD #IC

And so, here are our top ten favorite family holiday traditions for the holidays!

1 – We sit together and read the Sears Wish Book! The best part is that it was reinvented for 2017 – reclaiming its place as the definitive source for hundreds of gift options for your loved ones. It also offers convenient access via mobile and online to help shoppers easily find quality gifts at, as well as through the Sears app. The Wish Book is 120 pages long! We love that it showcases a variety of quality Sears products – like holiday decorations, home furnishings, kitchen essentials, games and toys, sleepwear and intimates, workshop and outdoor living items, top selling appliances, fashion favorites, home gym, and more! And it signifies a tradition in our house, and for others. Maybe you experience it.

And that’s taking time out of the holiday chaos to enjoy the process of gift giving, and appreciating every moment.

It’s about living life NOW. Speaking of now, through November 25th, Sears is hosting its first-ever Holiday Blowout month-long promotion. Everything is 10-50% off at Sears through November 25th. Shop Your Way Members are eligible for incredible deals such as:
50% off Tools
50% off Recliners
50% off Patio Furniture and Accessories
40% off Appliances
40% off Clothing for Her, Him and Kids
40% off Footwear
20% off Fitness Equipment and Accessories

We are most excited about the home decorations, although the kids are super excited about the toys. For me, it’s about clothing and winter wear. We’re also looking into recliners and patio furniture for the spring. Super exciting!

After the tree decoration and Sears Wish Book viewing, here are our other eight favorite traditions during the holidays:

  • Go for drives just to see the holiday lights and to yell out “yights!” like Des did when he was two.

  • We go to the local Bright Nights location to see the amazing displays.

  • Go to the local park to see Santa and his trains and to ride the Santa Train.

  • Have our annual Chanukah party and light our moose menorah at home for eight nights.

  • We have a holiday movie night with holiday pajamas and hot cocoa with whipped cream.

  • And we love to bake cookies for our loved ones.

  • We take a nap under the Christmas tree!

  • We tell our favorite holiday stories before bedtime. The kids love my stories of seeing Santa’s sleigh in the sky.

Catch up with Sears on their website, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Pinterest, and on Twitter.

What’s on your wish list?