Monthly Archives: December 2010
Here is this year’s Christmas letter. Enjoy!
Dear Family and Friends,
Just the other day I thought, “It can’t possibly be the end of the year. It just started.” The year 2010 was jam packed in my neck of the woods, and if you ask me, it started off with a bang…on the 7th day of the year. January 7th, 2010 was the day Alabama won our 13th National Championship in football. Granted, it was the efforts and pursuits put forth during the fall of 2009 that led to that auspicious occasion, but nevertheless, my letter from last year was written prior to the final game, so that is where we begin this year’s review.
Following the victory, the University planned a Championship Celebration on campus at the stadium. I decided I had to go, and through some very strategic planning with a friend from college, Ti Keshia, who lives in Charlotte, NC, we were Bama bound. It was a whirlwind 48 hours that included an impromptu tour of the football offices where we met coaches, players, and staff, taking pictures with both RB Mark Ingram’s Heisman and the BCS National Championship Trophy, a Coach Nick Saban sighting, attending a gymnastics meet, and standing in the cold and rain with our fellow fans and alums to partake in the victory celebration.
In February, Northern Virginia experienced a once in a lifetime snowfall. It was dubbed Snowmaggedon by the media, and I’m still not entirely certain of the total accumulation. At my house I had almost three feet over two days. I felt snowed in the entire month even after I could leave the house. I think it was nearly April before every last bit of that snow was melted and gone, but I have to say, because of the shoveling, my arms have never been so toned.
In March, the Alabama football team came to DC. During their visit, they stopped for a tour of the Capitol. I intercepted their tour along with some lovely ladies from one of the Alabama Senators’ offices. Our reward: meeting Coach Nick Saban, QB Greg McElroy, and CB Javier Arenas. And just to settle something, Coach Saban is not as scary in person as you might think. He’s actually quite nice. It was a true pleasure to meet and personally thank them for their dedication to our team and university. To finish out the month, Mom flew up and I took her to her very first Bon Jovi concert. Yep, you read that right. I converted her into a fan several years ago, and when I found myself with an extra ticket, I figured everyone should see Bon Jovi LIVE once in their lifetime. It certainly wasn’t the Elvis concerts she remembered from her younger days, but she had so much fun seeing them live, and she came away with most of her hearing still intact.
In April, Mom, Dad, Andy, Janet, and Lincoln took what seems to have become their annual spring break trip to North Carolina. Lincoln enjoyed his time at Dan Nicholas Park in Salisbury and visiting with his new pal, Uncle Charlie Peacock.
In May, my friend Jessica and I went on an honest to goodness Florida vacation. Jessica had never been to Disney World, and being the kind of person who loves to take adults to Disney who have never been, I said I could make that happen. We spent part of our time with family, but also managed to squeeze in a trip to the beach, multiple trips to Sonic, some pool time, visits to the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, and relaxing massages. Jessica only requested that she get to meet Winnie the Pooh, so we had lunch with him and his Hundred Acre Wood friends, but I still made her ride Space Mountain and the Tower of Terror. No trip to Disney is complete without that. It blew her mind how incredibly “happy” all the Disney employees were, but it’s not called the “happiest place on earth” for nothing.
During the summer, Mom and Dad took Lincoln to several Tampa Bay Rays baseball games where, occasionally, they let the kids run the bases after a game. He’s really gotten into it and can’t wait to get out there. It made such an impression on him that when he, Andy, Janet, and Malinda (Janet’s mom) came to visit me in July, he saw the domed roof on the Jefferson Memorial and said, “There’s the ballpark where I run the bases.” (The Tampa Bay Rays ballpark is a dome.) Mom and Dad also visited in July and happened to be here the week the Rays were playing the Orioles, so we went to the game that Matt Garza was pitching because he’s one of my favorites. Sadly, the Rays lost that game, but they did manage to win their division over the Yankees.
In August, my annual conference for work took me to Atlanta, GA. Despite the heat, I was really excited about this trip because it gave me an opportunity to spend some time with my college roommate Stefanie and her beautiful family. We had such a wonderful time, and they helped me celebrate my 32nd birthday while I was there. It had been at least 10 years since we’d seen each other, but the two of us just picked up right where we left off. We even caught a glimpse of our future selves in these two little old ladies at the movie theater. Her husband Mike was quite the trooper listening to our constant talking and laughing all weekend.
In September, we gathered to celebrate Lincoln’s 3rd birthday at Chuck E Cheese’s. Lincoln started attending preschool three days a week at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran School. He seems to really love it and even had a little birthday party with his class (of all girls and him) that included cupcakes and popcorn. Since starting school there he has been in an Oktoberfest presentation, a Halloween parade (he was a frog), and a Christmas program. Also in September, Alabama played Duke in Durham, NC, so I drove down and met up with some fellow Bama alums to attend the game. It was actually my first Alabama away game, and as much as it pains this Tar Heel fan to say it, the Duke folks treated us very well and were very kind. I’m sure it had something to do with the amount of money they were making from our visit. Their gameday traffic plan was a bit flawed, but no one can really prepare for Alabama fans.
Over Thanksgiving, I was able to attend a couple of USF Women’s basketball games where Andy continues on staff as the Director of Basketball Operations. One game was against Auburn, which USF won easily and made this Bama girl smile when the student section started chanting “Roll Tide.” Janet continues to teach at Tomlin Middle School and has jumped right into the PTA at Lincoln’s school. Mom and Dad, at this point, are probably wondering why they didn’t do retirement first they’re loving it so much.
As we close the year 2010, I hope each of you have enjoyed this year as much as I have. May you feel the love and warmth of the season even though it is 28° outside as I write this. Look out 2011…here we come.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
P.S. One final message on behalf of Bama Nation: GO DUCKS! Here’s hoping Oregon is celebrating its own National Championship on the 10th day of 2011.
I had every intention of putting this playlist together before Christmas, but procrastination got the better of me, and it got postponed until now. However, there’s a New Year’s song on the list, so I figure it all comes out in the wash. One of my twitter friends (@jtw3) created a 2010 Christmas playlist and inspired me to think about the songs that I just can’t do without come the holidays. He had simple rules: don’t pick too many songs, and pick songs you like but only one song by any one particular artist. While his playlist consisted of songs for 2010, my playlist is actually my all time favorite holiday songs by the specific artist that I prefer singing the song. It’s not that I don’t like listening to a different artist singing the song if it is a traditional, much recorded song, it’s just that I prefer these. Also, my version of WordPress doesn’t allow me to publish a widget of the playlist in a post, so I’ve created the playlist on Grooveshark (with the exception of two songs that were not available on their site) and have provided the link to that playlist below if you care to have a listen. The Playlist is in alphabetical order to save myself from having to order my favorites…you know like picking which child you like more. Enjoy!
- Belleau Wood by Garth Brooks – This song isn’t actually on Garth’s Christmas Album, but it’s a song about a Christmas truce during World War I. Garth took some artistic license with it as there was actually a battle at Belleau Wood during WWI, but not during Christmas. It’s still one of the most beautiful and powerful holiday songs I’ve ever heard.
- Do You Hear What I Hear? by Vince Gill – This is one of a few songs on this list that I love the entire album, but I have to only pick one song. The album is Let There Be Peace On Earth, which is also a lovely song as is One Bright Star, but when Vince starts singing, “Said the night wind to the little lamb…” my heart melts.
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan – Sure it’s a song that you always seemed to find yourself singing in church during the holidays, but when you throw the Barenaked Ladies together with Ms. Sarah’s beautiful voice you create a musical masterpiece that you’ll crazily want to listen to year round…and why not.
- Grown-Up Christmas List by Michael Buble – Don’t you ever wish you could actually tell Santa what you’d REALLY like. When I look around at this world and see so many areas that need help and feel helpless because I can’t do it all, I wish I could call the North Pole and say HELP! Pair that with Michael’s voice and who wouldn’t want to do more?!
- I’ll Be Home For Christmas by Rascal Flatts – I heard this song on the radio one day on my way home from work. It’s always been a favorite of mine, but when I heard Rascal Flatts sing it a cappella, it tugged at my heart strings for every person who can’t be home for Christmas and made me want to jump on a plane that second. Their voices have always been in perfect harmony, but on this song, they just shine.
- It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas by Perry Como – Perry Como is one of the signature voices of the holiday season and whenever I hear this song, I’m transported in my mind to walking through a mall at Christmas time and hearing it played over the mall sound system.
- Jingle Bells by Barbra Streisand – Sure everyone can sing Jingle Bells…heck I’m sure all of us could probably play it on the piano without a single lesson. But Ms. Barbra will make you forget every version of Jingle Bells you’ve ever heard with this one. It’s my opinion that this is the way Jingle Bells was meant to be sung.
- Mary, Did You Know? by Kathy Mattea – This song leaves me with tears streaming down my face every time I hear it. I think in all the hustle and bustle of the season we absolutely forget why there is a Christmas at all. And on top of that, I think we forget that the Savior’s birth was just the beginning of His destiny here on Earth. This baby was born to die for our sins, and when I listen to this song, I imagine Mary rocking her newborn son, and I wonder if as she looked into His eyes she actually thought about what He would do for all of us.
- My Christmas Prayer by BeBe Winans and Rob Thomas – A few years ago BeBe Winans released a Christmas album that I believe was only sold at Starbucks, but he appeared on Oprah to promote the album (I think). This song is similar to Grown-Up Christmas List, but speaks more specifically of how we treat each other. The pairing of BeBe and Rob’s voices seems odd on the surface, but it really works.
- O Little Town Of Bethlehem by Sawyer Brown – Not available on Grooveshark, you can click on the title to see a YouTube video of the song. Sawyer Brown’s Christmas album “Hallelujah He Is Born” is another of my favorite Christmas albums and much like Barbra Streisand’s Jingle Bells this is the way O Little Town Of Bethlehem was meant to be sung. We should celebrate the birth of the savior. It should be spirited and joyful. Though He was sent to eventually be crucified for our sins, none of that is possible without first His birth.
- O Holy Night by Martina McBride – One of my all time absolute favorite songs period…not just Christmas songs…ALL songs. I bought Martina’s Christmas album solely for this song (you know before iTunes existed and you could buy just one song). Just as Mary, Did You Know? leaves me in tears, this song…this version leaves me breathless.
- Santa Claus (I Still Believe In You) by Alabama – This is another song from an album that I love all the songs but could only pick one. I can remember loading up the car and heading for Orange Park to see my uncles and then on to North Carolina to be with my mother’s family and this is the album my dad would put in the tape player…yes, I said tape player. Not just that, I had this album on…wait for it…8 track. I have owned this album on 8 track, cassette, and now CD. It’s the first album I want to listen to when the Christmas season arrives. It starts and ends with two of the greatest Christmas songs ever written. Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the Alabama Christmas album.
- Silent Night by Sara Ramirez – This is one of the songs that wasn’t available on Grooveshark, but if you click on the title it’ll take you to a YouTube video of it. This was played during last year’s (2009) Grey’s Anatomy Christmas episode. Sara Ramirez, for those who don’t know, plays Callie and in the final scene of the episode, everyone is gathered around at Meredith’s house for Christmas dinner. In the background you hear one magnificent voice begin to sing Silent Night and that voice is the only instrument you hear. It was so wonderfully received by Grey’s fans that ABC released it as a single to iTunes. As I imagine it, this is what it sounded like when Mary sang to baby Jesus.
- Sleigh Ride by Johnny Mathis – Who doesn’t LOVE Johnny Mathis, especially at Christmas?! Like Perry Como, his voice defines the season. I love the part where he says “Pump…Kin pie” and all the background noises like the pop, pop, pop and the crack of the whip. I could pick a million Johnny Mathis songs to have on this playlist, but this one is my favorite.
- The Chipmunk Song by Alvin and The Chipmunks – I triple dog dare you not to start swaying your head back and forth when you listen to this song. It’s another in a long line of Christmas songs that defines my childhood. Seriously, doesn’t it make you want a hula hoop?
- The World That He Sees by Trans-Siberian Orchestra – I know, I know…you’re asking yourself how on earth I can pick one TSO song. Trust me…it was hard. I could have gone with everyone’s favorite Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24 or one of my other faves Christmas Canon but I thought I’d go with the more obscure. Just listen to it…every bit of what TSO tries to bring to the table is in that song…but then again it’s in all of their songs, isn’t it?!
- We Need A Little Christmas by The Radio City Rockettes – Ok…so the playlist is actually Percy Faith’s Orchestra, but it sounds the exact same way when the Radio City Rockettes sing it in their Christmas Spectacular. It’s the “It’s Christmas darn it, cheer up” song.
- What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? by Harry Connick, Jr. – There is no other song on this list that I look forward to hearing more than this one, but that’s not to say it is my favorite on this playlist. It’s just that I adore the lyrics and the melody and the whole entire package of this song so very much. It’s romantic, sweet, beautiful, silly, and fun. It’s like a Hallmark card wrapped up in a song. The first time I heard this song Harry sang it with Carol Burnett on a Christmas Special for his When My Heart Finds Christmas album. She was her trademark scrub maid and he played the piano as they sang it together.
- When Christmas Comes To Town by Matthew Hall and Meagan Moore – The Polar Express and Yes, Virginia There Really Is A Santa Claus are my two favorite Christmas children’s stories. They’re about believing in the magic of Christmas…about seeing the season through a child’s eyes…and honestly…a little bit about faith because it takes faith to believe in Santa Claus and to believe that Jesus was born to die so that we might live?! I have a million and a half Christmas items or decorations in my house that simply say “Believe.” Heck, I even have a tattoo that says it. Just believe people…life is more enjoyable and magical that way.
- White Christmas by Bing Crosby – I couldn’t find a version of the song that includes the original Beverly Hills introduction, but you can read it at that link. I grew up in Florida, so really dreaming of white Christmases was all I had. I didn’t see snow until I was 14 years old and as luck would have it…it was Christmas when I saw it. It was light and just a dusting, but it was snow nonetheless. Since then, I’ve experienced Snowmaggeddon here in Virginia with upwards of almost 3 feet, but even still, I don’t think I’ll ever get my fill. It’s one of nature’s masterpieces and the only thing I think of when I see a blanket of snow is peace.
And Honorable Mention: