What’s Making Me Happy In December (Christmas Edition)

Today I’m linking up with my friend Sara Letourneau for this installment in the “What’s Making Me Happy” series. Hop on over to her list when you’re done reading here! This month, I’m going with a Christmas theme.

I’m loving… our new Advent calendar.

I bought this one from an Etsy shop just before Thanksgiving. I loved the idea of a countdown to Christmas, but wanted something different than the paper calendars that disperse bible verses or pieces of chocolate, or even the “book a day” system I’ve heard about. In each drawer, I rolled up a piece of paper with a typed message from one of Santa’s elves. The messages say things like, “Wear your Santa hat to school today!” or “Take a car ride to see Christmas lights,” or “Do something kind for a loved one.” Some of the boxes also have candy in them. Edwin loves opening them every morning, and he’s been enjoying almost all of the messages. I’m taking note of the responses so I can curate for next year.

I’m also doing this in lieu of Elf on a Shelf. While it’s fun to think of hiding the elf somewhere new each day (I feel like I could get really creative with that), I don’t love the idea of using him to “threaten” my children into behaving. This Advent calendar is a way to similarly enjoy the season by focusing on positive acts rather than the threat of repercussions.

I’m devouring… Christmas cookies.

I love to bake. This year, I went a little crazy: eight different types of cookies so far. The small light brown ones are Austrian chocolate nut balls; the white balls are Russian tea cakes; the dark brown with sprinkles are peanut butter balls; the big lacy ones are cranberry-pistachio lace cookies; the ones in the middle are coconut cookies; and the ones with the M&Ms are “Rudolph eyes,” my take on traditional Hershey kiss cookies.

I’m eating two (okay, three…okay, I stopped counting!) every night with a mug of tea. Yum.

If you’d like the recipes for any of the above, I’m happy to share! Just email leannesowul(at)gmail(dot)com.

I’m listening to… Pandora.

For most of the year, I listen to music via iTunes or our Sirius XM subscription. But I’ve curated the perfect Christmas station on Pandora, and we’re listening to it every morning at breakfast. All the best classics: Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, a little Nat King Cole.

I’m appreciating… Amazon Prime.

I bought at least 75% of our gifts from Amazon this year. When you have a newborn at home, outdoor shopping opportunities are limited. Next year I hope to do more local shopping.

I’m watching… my favorite Christmas movie list:

  1. White Christmas
  2. Christmas in Connecticut
  3. Holiday Inn
  4. The Santa Clause
  5. Christmas Vacation
  6. A Christmas Story
  7. Miracle on 34th Street (the 1990s version)
  8. Love Actually

If I have time, I’ll also watch Serendipity and Little Women, which aren’t Christmas movies but part of them takes place during Christmas.

What’s making you happy this month, Christmas-themed or otherwise? What Christmas movies would you add to the list?


6 Responses to “What’s Making Me Happy In December (Christmas Edition)”

  1. Sara L. says:

    Yay for link-ups! 😀 I didn’t do a strictly Christmas theme like you did, but I did put two holiday-related items on mine.

    I love the idea of your Advent calendar and its daily messages. It combines the fun and festivities of the holidays with all kinds of positivity. And COOKIES! They used to be big in our family when my brother and I were younger. My big holiday baking thing is pumpkin breads. I make mini-loaves every year for my co-workers and the aunts I still exchange gifts with (and keep one loaf for myself, since I can’t help it).

    For some reason I can’t get into Christmas music anymore unless it’s instrumental. I don’t know why, since I have good Christmas albums by Josh Groban and Celine Dion… But I did listen to a piano / string quartet Christmas playlist on YouTube while wrapping presents recently, and that was pretty.

    Many warm wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family, Leanne. Thank you so much for your friendship and encouragement this year. (*hugs*)

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Yay! So glad we did this!
      I was going to post about our Christmas tree, too, but I had too many things. I love yours, it’s beautiful! With me being home from work this year, our tree has been on constantly. We’ve already lost one strand of lights from overuse. But it’s worth it.
      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family also, Sara! I’m grateful for our flourishing writerly relationship, and hope to see you in person sometime in 2017! (WDC, maybe?)

      • Sara L. says:

        I had a lot of things for my post, too. My plan was to limit myself to five (though I caved to a sixth one), and I’ll stick to that limit in the future. But there was so much I wanted to list this month!

        Not sure about WDC, tbh. It’s going to depend on how much money I raise for the Iceland Writers Retreat. (The Iceland trip will cost twice as much as last year’s WDC trip.) But I’m not going to make any decisions about that until the end of January / beginning of February.

  2. This is such a joyful post! It sounds like you’re making the most of the holiday season. I just made molasses sugar cookies this weekend–a holiday tradition–and I went to see An American in Paris (Broadway touring company) on stage last night with some of my friends. After hosting the family for Christmas day, I plan to take off the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I’ll use the time to reflect on 2016, make some plans for 2017, and spend some extra time reading for pleasure. Can’t wait!

    Hope you and your family enjoy a beautiful Christmas!

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Thank you, Kathy! I hope you and your family had a lovely Christmas as well.
      I’ve always wanted to see An American in Paris. I love that musical (though I’ve heard the stage version is quite different from the movie). Did you enjoy it?

      • We had a wonderful Christmas, thank you. An American in Paris was wonderful–a really beautiful performance. It’s been a long time since I saw the movie, so now I want to watch it again!

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