Thankful Things Thursday: The Magic Of The Holiday Season

It’s been an emotional few days, huh?

In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, I can’t decide if it feels trite to put on a peppy, thankful face (let’s be honest, my “thankful things” are hardly deep thoughts and are usually simple, silly things), or if that’s exactly what I should be doing right now. But as I wrote the other day, it seems like there’s a fine line between right and wrong in this situation, and I’m leaning more toward the “Be Thankful, Feel Better, If Only Temporarily” side of the emotional spectrum.

So if you’re up for joining me, here are a few of the things I’m feeling grateful for today on Thankful Things Thursday.

I’m thankful for the safety and well-being of my friends and family members. That’s obvious. When I heard about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, one of my first thoughts was, “I want to go hug Tyler.”

That little face makes me melt. I’m putting you in a bubble, Tyler, where you will live until you are very old. You’ll be safe there. I’ll bring brownies to the bubble, don’t worry.

I’m not a parent, of course, so I don’t feel the same emotions many of you with children must be feeling. But having a nephew gives me perhaps a tiny glimpse of what that may be like and I want to protect him at all times. I hate being a few hours away from my little guy, and I can’t wait to see my whole family in a few days. Be prepared for hugs, Fellers. They’re coming.

I’m thankful that, amidst the sadness of the past week, there have been little moments of laughter and glimmers of happiness. I hope nothing I’m writing is in any way downplaying what happened in Newtown. I’m having a hard time writing about it I think because I’m worried about what to say and I don’t want to offend anyone. But after watching the news nonstop all weekend, Brian and I took a bit of time Sunday night to turn it off, unwind a little and make ourselves laugh.

This worked:

Elf Yourself, Brian. Sweet moves.
Obviously we chose the routine with the most frequent jazz hand appearances.
This move is not unlike one I tend to do in real life, actually. It’s called the “step hop” and it goes well with most Britney songs and a third glass of wine.

It felt good to do something stupid and just stop crying for a little while.

I’m thankful all the “I Heart Sweat” shirts you ordered are out of the apartment. Brian and I spent hours folding, labeling, printing, stamping and stuffing those things.

Check out my piles. Neat, right? Also check out the little snowball candles on the TV stand. My dad thinks they’re “dumb.” I think they’re AMAZING. And I will never tell him how much they cost…

This is the project that always tests our relationship nicely. We start out thinking, “This will be fun! Let’s make hot chocolate while we do this!” And then, inevitably, I start getting frustrated trying to make piles that tip over, without fail, every time. And then I get cranky, and Brian stops talking to me, and then we spend the next few hours in silence, breaking the quiet only to complain about the postage scale not working or the printer needing new ink. It’s a really great task to get us in the holiday spirit.

We rented a postage scale this time around to avoid the post office during the holiday season. That was the smartest thing Brian has ever done. Also dating me. That was smart of him. Because I have knife skills.

I’m glad the bulk of them are gone — we do still have plenty left, though! — and I can say with conviction that I will never do this project again. Seriously. It’s so much work and it gets to be really stressful. So if you want a shirt, or think you might ever want one in your lifetime, or maybe your future grandchild will be a proponent of sweat, I suggest you get your hands on a shirt now. Because then that’s it.

Piles. So many piles. I haven’t seen the floor of our apartment in days.

I’m thankful for Brian’s help with the shirts. Just had to have that out there in public in case he’s reading this and still pondering ending our love life over the Sunday night shirt debacle.

I’m thankful my holiday shopping is done.

I’m thankful my gift wrapping is done. It’s shamefully sloppy, but it’s done. The only things left to wrap are the presents I got for Brian that I hid in our apartment and have since forgotten where I hid them. So that’s a problem.

I’m thankful for cupcake deliveries at work. I’m lucky to do business with some really wonderful, generous people who know the exact way to my heart, hips and thighs.

Baked by Melissa cupcakes are amazing. They’re teeny tiny miniature things, which means you can eat about 400 of them. I think a serving size is, in fact, 400 cupcakes. If that’s not true, please don’t tell me.

I’m thankful De La Vega hit up my neighborhood just when I needed him. I love when he gets his chalky hands on the Upper East Side.

These curbside reminders always make me smile. And then think deep thoughts.

I’m thankful for New York City during the holidays. It’s a pretty magical place to be. Almost other-worldly. I love going to The Shops at Columbus Circle and standing there in awe, year after year, watching the snowflakes dance to the music and change color.

Color Scheme #1
Color Scheme #2
Color Scheme #3

Best of all, last night I took in my favorite holiday tradition: a trip to Lincoln Center, my favorite place in the world…

Lincoln Center is spectacular. Just ask Jody Sawyer.

…for an evening showing of New York City Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. It’s my favorite. I dressed the part with a big bun and lots of sparkles, hoping I’d finally get my shot onstage…

A little kid on the bus asked his babysitter if she “could make a bun perfect, like that girl’s.” I was flattered. I smiled at him. He looked away.

…but Dewdrop, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Marie all made it safely into the spotlight. No need for Ali backup. Such a letdown. The show, as always, was amazing, and I took Brian with me and he liked “the part where it snowed.” So I guess he’s a fan, too.

And then, before we left, Brian waited patiently while I did grande jetes around the fountain.

I definitely would have fit into the Sugar Plum Fairy costume. I could’ve rocked that pas de deux. Or I could have at least been a mouse.

I’m thankful my office is closed next week. Instead of a holiday party, my company gave us the week off between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Fair trade? Um, yes. The week off has meant that this week has been off-the-charts crazy busy, but the hard work is worth it. Thanks, job!

I’m thankful for my ability to run. Slowly. I ran today and I didn’t enjoy it. That’s because my stomach was all shaken up and I had to make multiple stops. Nothing Crohnsy or worth a worry, just a messy stomach. And I just didn’t feel like being out there. The cold didn’t bother me. It was more the fact that I had so much fun not running last week, and now running seems to have lost a little bit of its luster for me. I’m thinking I might need some more time off from it. We’ll see. I’m chill about it. You know. Chill Ali. She’s the coolest.

At the end of my run, I do push-ups by the Reservoir. And by “do push-ups,” I mostly mean “I catch my breath and take pictures.”

But I had a point: I may not be OMG in love with running right now, but I’m glad I can physically get out there if I do want to. That wasn’t the case for so much of this year. I feel lucky my health has been cooperative for these past few months.

I’m thankful for swear words. Yeah, I know. Classy. But I wish swearing wasn’t so…whatever. I think swear words can be very effective. And I know swearing isn’t polite or ladylike, and sometimes I sound downright crass. I’ve heard people say (you are judgers, all of you) that you shouldn’t need to swear. “Use your words,” they’ll say. Well guess what? Sometimes those four-lettered gems are my words. Deal with it. My vocabulary may be limited, but when someone shoves me on the sidewalk or elbows her way onto the subway, squishing me up against Mr. “Haven’t Showered In A Week,” I like to think I have plenty of verbal ways to express how I’m feeling.

And for the record, I was not allowed to swear when I was growing up. Maybe that’s why I like it so much now. My parents wouldn’t even let me say “shut up.” And for my 21st birthday, my parents granted me permission to finally say “fart.” Instead of “toot.” We used to have to say “toot.”

Another too-good-to-be-true photo from my pal Lauren. Amazing, right?

Let me end this on a much nicer, gentler note…

I’m thankful for the good in people. The #26Acts project is so cool and I’ve really been inspired following along on Twitter. I can’t say I’ve hit 26 good deeds yet, but I’m trying.

I made my notebook list as soon as I found out about the #26Acts project. I’ve only filled in…four so far.

Yesterday I got an email from a wonderful girl named Erin who told me about The Snowflake Project. Erin grew up near Newtown and is trying to spread the word about a very sweet initiative. So I thought I’d share in case you want to get involved:

A building has been designated (Chalk Hill Middle School) for the children of Sandy Hook Elementary. They are in the process of transporting desks, chairs, supplies and so forth to this location. The Newtown PTA wants to make the children comforted upon their return to school. Please join us in the “Snowflake Project.”

We are asking students to make and decorate a snowflake. They will be hung in the hallways of their new school. Please no words. We want just a cheerful, happy (glitter & sparkles) environment for the students when entering their new building.

When sending your snowflakes, please include a note to tell us where they are from (school, class, town, state) to display along with your snowflakes. Please send to the CT PTSA in Hamden, CT.

Great, right? I love it.

This just seemed like a nice photo to use at the end here. A simple white candle. I liked it.

That’s all I’ve got, kids.

I’M SURE YOU HAVE MORE: What are you thankful for today? Friends? Family? Fart words?



41 Responses

  1. I am thankful that I am done Christmas shopping AND only have to wrap 4 more things.

    I have those snowball candles and obviously they are NOT dumb. I got mine at Crate and Barrell they are half price right now… in case you want more.

  2. 1. I’m thankful that my I <3 Sweat shirts came in yesterday! I wanted to wear one today but I'm a teacher and had a parent/teacher conference and thought it would be inappropriate to be wearing a shirt that says "I <3 Sweat" while talking about her child. Now I'm happy on the couch wearing the awesomeness.
    2. My students helped make glitter snowflakes today to send to Sandy Hook. Love glitter.
    3. I'm so thankful that school is done for the day and I'm on holiday vacation until the new year!

  3. I had heard about the snowflake project through other teachers and today my high schoolers made snowflakes after they finished extremely hard tests (photosynthesis or circular motion anyone?!?!?) I almost broke down explaining the project to my first hour…it is a great idea to show the students of Sandy Hook how much the country loves them and is thinking about them!

  4. I’m a graduate student and last night I had a meeting with my mentor to go over my data. After a VERY long and difficult 4.5 years, I’m so incredibly thankful this Christmas to be doing the last of the experiments I need to graduate. I still have 3 weeks of hard work ahead of me, but knowing the end is just around the corner will make an 8 hour day in the lab a little bit easier to get through. This is seriously the best Christmas gift I have ever received.

  5. I love both that book and the dancing elves. Like, a lot. Totally feel where you are coming from with being an aunt; I’ve just wanted to be with my own nieces and nephews. And hug all the teachers out there.

  6. I’m thankful for “Tang Yuan” (Winter Solstice) today (21 Dec) because this means Chinese New Year is just around the corner (2 months). Have a Merry Xmas and Happy New Year everyone!

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever been so thankful for my students. I walked into school on Monday, and it took everything I had not to grab them all and sob in their faces (they’re 13. That would probably freak them out a bit). They make my job worthwhile and fun and rewarding and I adore them.

  8. It’s an interesting challenge, isn’t it – getting on with normal life after a tragedy without seeming callous. You don’t seem callous, I think we’re all struggling to find that fine line.

    I love you being prepared to be a snowflake at the ballet. When I was 12 I went to see Miss Saigon having learned all the words to all the songs in case they needed any help from a non-Asian, very uncool, audience member! I was so disappointed they didn’t.
    I’m thankful for your blog too – I had no idea postage scales could be rented until just now. Christmas 2013 is going to be dead easy!!!!

  9. we weren’t allowed to swear either! it definitely explains my love of swears today. also, instead of “toot” we were forced to use “wizzpop.” talk about socially-questionable…

    1. I’m thankful to see all the words and actions of support and kindness since last week. I still can’t grasp all that has happened and am still constantly reduced to tears, but in the darkness it’s warming to see acts of kindness.

      1. HAHAHAHAHA. I just lost my shit (swearing!) at “wizzpop.” I want to start using that. It’s amazing. I adore your family.

  10. Ali, Today I am thankful for your blog for many reasons. One being that it ALWAYS brings smile/laugh to my day while reading at work. Thanks for that! 🙂
    xox Bri

  11. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who’s not totally psyched to return to running! I’ve been on the DL for the past 6-7 weeks with a hip issue/injury/no-idea-because-i-won’t-see-a-doctor. At first I was really frustrated. Then a few weeks went by and I started going to yoga 3 times a week. I’ve run once or twice in the past week, but more because it was because I felt like I ought to, not because I was dying to get back out there. Hoping the bug strikes me soon again… until then, I’m guessing I’ll just get out there when doing so doesn’t seem totally dreadful.

    On another note, in my opinion your post was in now way offensive. I’m sure you’ve wavered on what to say, what not to say… and figuring out the answer is impossible. But for what it’s worth, I think your post was just the right amount of everything. Hope you have a great holiday and enjoy squeezing the cheeks of the little man!!! Safe travels!

  12. First of all, I love the Center Stage reference. Today I am thankful for my family. We are extremely close knit and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  13. I’m thankful for that new spin studio that opened right near my house. I don’t live in a city and there aren’t spin studios where I live. I also don’t belong to a gym so if I wanted to take a class I would have to go to the rec center. Spin classes fill up there 45 minutes BEFORE the class even starts. This new studio opened last weekend and you reserve your bike before you go – it’s genius really. My first class was last night and the teacher knew I was new to spinning and made me feel so comfortable – he was watching me like a hawk to make sure I was doing good and then he made the whole class (full of real cyclists) clap for ME at the end. WHAT!?

    Also, starting tomorrow at 5:00pm my office is closed until January 2nd! Yes!!!

  14. Kitchen scales can weigh mail (and they’re like $25). So depending on how much it costs to rent that thing, you might think about just buying a kitchen scale. xo.

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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