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Sam Dobson Writes: December 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things...

Christmas is just days away, that means last minute shopping and holiday parties. Last night we had our holiday get together with my best friends. For the past eight or nine years, since our senior year of high school, we have done a "Secret Santa" gift exchange. Since no one is really ranking in the big bucks, it's just simply economically sound for us to buy a single gift with a cap of $30. Since we are all best friends and pretty much know everything about each other, we are all guaranteed to get something pretty cool.

For no particular reason other than to try something different, we altered our tradition this year. Sifting through Pinterest back around October, I stumbled upon a pin called "Favorite Things". It entailed information on a type of gathering where each guest brings one of their favorite things, around $5 in cost, and brings enough for each guest. For example, this favorite item could be a certain nail polish, a special scented lotion, a specific kind of candle, etc.

We decided to host a little "Favorite Things" party for just the six of us and our significant others. The men weren't included in the gift exchange and they didn't seem to mind as long as their was plenty of cold beer and delicious food. We ate, drank, played some slightly competitive games, and exchanged our favorite things.

Since this new twist on gift exchange was my idea, I took the liberty of making the bags in which the favorite items would be placed. I imagined making very festive and fancy bags, but with the days before Christmas passing by at an alarming rate and an infinite amount of presents to be wrapped, I resorted to gluing some sparkly paper on brown bags. Nevertheless, there were six bags, one for each girl. When each guest arrived, they placed their items in the bags and later when it was time to check out what was in them, we took turns pulling out the item we contributed and explained why we chose it. My item was every girl's go-to Cover Girl mascara. All in all, the girls did great and we all went home with some pretty cool loot.

The "Favorite Things" theme seemed to go off without a hitch and we had a great time celebrating Christmas with our best friends. I'm excited about this new tradition and I am excited to share it with all of you. Maybe next year, you'll adopt this idea and make it your own. Doesn't have to be a Christmas thing, you can throw a "Favorite Things" party any time of the year just because. It's a lot of fun and everyone walks away happy.

Party on and Happy Holidays!


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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Twenty-six Will Be My Year, I Can Feel It!

Well, that's it. Another birthday done and gone. Yesterday I officially turned 26...yikes! I am no longer in my early twenties and that is freaking scary. Pardon my language, but there comes a point for some of us when birthdays are no longer associated with fun and celebration. Hidden among the drinks and dance moves, there is a lingering feeling of an unfulfilled life moving along rather too quickly. 

I don't mean to bum you out on this chilly, but lovely, Tuesday morning. I assure you, this post has an uplifting end, life most of the ones I write. But as is with all things worth having, you've got to wade through the tough part (in this case, the lesson I learned) to reach the hopeful end. You see, I did celebrate the beginning of 26th year. I had dinner with family, sang some karaoke (although, not nearly enough), drank with best friends, and was swept away to the mountains for the weekend by a very thoughtful boyfriend. All in all, I had a pretty good funeral for my 25th year. It would have been proud. 

Those of you who know me on a more personal level have known that I am not too keen on getting older. With the approaching of my 22nd birthday, all the wonder and excitement of the years to come was replaced by the fleeting feeling of a life without purpose. Since then, every one of my birthdays has been received with a hint of dread. I know anyone older than I currently am is reading this and thinking that I am still very young and have plenty of time ahead of me. I know that relative to our lifespan I am young, but that doesn't mean that I don't feel the fleeting nature of it. When we are young, really young like teenagers, we have all these ideas of what our lives are going to be life and it sort of falls into place in a perfect line of progress. It just gets hard when you realize it doesn't work that way and soon you are 25 with very few of your imagined goals achieved. 

So, with this depressing explanation of why each birthday of mine comes with some disappointment and worry you may be wondering if my 26th birthday held the same stigma. While I admit that the weeks leading up to this birthday did bring some stressful thinking about my future, something was different this year. I was able to enjoy my birthday celebration with the people I love because this year I had hope. My mother gifted me my first set of business cards and I guess it was the little push I needed to stay hopeful. 

The business cards are for freelance writing. You all know that I have been job searching like crazy, to no avail. Beginning to see that there might be another path for me, one that makes me just as happy, I have been slowly accepting the possibility of doing what I love most for a living: writing. I've done my research; it's a hard career to get off the ground. Then I opened a little bag with tissue paper to find these very stylish and unique business cards. It's corny to say, but it felt like a new gust of wind had lifted my sails. I've got to make things happen for myself and this gift was concrete evidence that I can. And my 26th birthday was saved. 

Moral of the story: it's not over until you're dead. Just kidding, sort of. But seriously, keep looking forward and striving for what you want in life. On a side note, I would like to thank everyone who made this birthday a fantastic celebration: my family, my besties, and my prince charming of a boyfriend. Lastly, thank you mom and dad for having an "accident" twenty-six years and nine months ago, even though we all know I was destined to be here. Without your continued guidance and support, who knows where I'd be. 

Much love to you all and keep looking forward!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A More Rewarding Christmas

It's finally here, my favorite time of the entire year! It's not my December birthday that I am so excited about (That, I am actually dreading. Another year older, yuck!), its Christmas that makes me so chipper and jolly. I prefer to start decorating and celebrating the moment Thanksgiving is over, but some would argue that's a little hasty. So, I do my best to hold out until December 1st. Then, all bets are off. The decorations come out and the Christmas music gets tuned up. It's enough to make the Grinch or Mr. Scrooge gag with disgust. I love it!

Okay, I admit it. I busted out the decorations the week after Thanksgiving, so it was a bit before December 1st. At least I held off on the tree, which was promptly lighted and dressed on the evening of the 1st. The earlier I put it up, the longer I get to enjoy it. It's only logical. I am a true Christmas freak. I would go Griswold-style with lights if I could. If you aren't familiar with that reference, you need to brush up on your Christmas movies. 

Aside from all the festive touches of Christmas, my favorite part is gift-giving. I know, I know, Christmas isn't supposed to be about gifts. But it is, and I choose to embrace it. I love shopping for those I love, especially my young nieces, hoping to get them something that will light up their faces and make them scream with excitement. Since I'm poor, that can prove to be challenging, but I do what I can to make these people smile. That's the point of the holiday season, to spread joy. 

I have to argue that a Christmas full of gift-giving is not a bad thing. I agree that there are those who may create a selfish kind of atmosphere when there are presents to be had, but if you do it right it can be very fulfilling. Aside from family and friends, you have to spread the joy around. Do you know a neighbor or acquaintance who is having a rough time? Maybe a ham for their Christmas dinner would be a welcomed gift. I always donate to Toys for Tots and I can't forget my furry friends at the animal shelter in need of blankets to keep them warm and toys for fun. It's all about being kind and giving what you can to those who need it. 

Have kids? It's easy to start this sort of Christmas mentality early on. Have your kids sort through their mass of toys for those that can be donated to needy children. Teach them about food drives, make it fun by letting them help pick out the food. Remember to show your children what it means to be kind. Teach them that Christmas is more than Santa delivering presents on Christmas Eve. Trust me, when you have a giving kind of Christmas, the season will mean so much more. 

'Tis the season of giving!


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