My 12 Joys Of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my friends and family gave to me…

Santa butt. Warning: Many Tyler photos lie ahead in this post. Lie ahead? Lay ahead? I’m embarrassed that I can almost never remember.

…all amazing things.

I’m sure you’re sick of Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa recaps by now. But if you’re up for one more, I can do my best to try and recap the past week. It’s been pretty good. Turns out, shutting off the computer and actually spending time with people you like in real life can be a nice little treat.

So with that I bring you, “My 12 Joys of Christmas.” And then we’ll move onto the next holiday.

Joy #1: Decorating our sweet-sized apartment with just the right amount of holiday-ish things. When you’ve got two people in a one-bedroom — plus presents waiting to be exchanged and closets filled with hoarder-esque things — there isn’t a ton of space left over for festive cheer. But we made do.

I’ve never had a Christmas tree of my own, so Brian said I could pick it out. But then, when I made my choice, he negated it. Michelle Tanner and I both say, “HOW RUDE!”

In true Ali & Brian Fashion, we waited far too long to actually do the whole decorating thing. We didn’t get our tree until December 23. Whatever.

Carrying our big guy home from the tree stand a block away. Love that NYC convenience. I also love not helping with any heavy lifting.
Brian did the lights. I did the ornaments. He put the bow at the top upon my request. And I dropped one of his glass ornaments. And it shattered into all the pieces. Apparently I’m terrible at holiday cheer and decorating.

Joy #2: Christmas cookies!!!!!!!!!! Have I eaten too many? Oh absolutely. I’m a case of diabetes waiting to happen and I’ve been running on sugar fumes for a week. But I’ve baked stuff, I’ve eaten fresh-from-the-oven melty stuff and I’ve gone back for second, third and ninth helpings. I’ve loved every bite.

I made those famous “Slutty Brownies” and at first I was like, “Meh, these are OK,” and then a minute later I was like, “OMG THESE ARE AMAZING NOW THAT I HAVE ALREADY BURNT MY TONGUE. OMG YUM. OMG BRIAN THESE SUCK, NO, YOU SHOULDN’T BOTHER EATING THEM.” And then I secretly went into the kitchen and ate them all myself. They were supposed to be gifts for our building staff. Instead they were gifts for my hips, thighs and stomach.

Joy #3: Exchanging gifts with Brian and getting utterly spoiled. We had agreed to “only do small stuff” and “keep it low-key” this year. But Brian’s kind of a dick, and he broke the rules. So I gave him some magazines and Reese’s products (delicious) and a photo book, and he gave me this…

“Every night in my dreams…I see you…I smell you…” I don’t know if this stuff smells like dog crap, but really does it even matter? IT’S A CELINE-ENDORSED PRODUCT. My heart will go on and it will smell fantastic in the process.

…and this…

The little clues confused me, because I’m not so smart, but the “Welcome to Aliful Colorado” was a giveaway that in February, we are apparently going on a ski trip to Colorado. So job, hey, I’m going to need a few days off. Bye.

Brian also gave me tickets to Jersey Boys, which I have never seen, a spa certificate for the spa at the Mandarin Oriental hotel (swanky, NBD) and a llama hat.

All very thoughtful, very awesome gifts.

Joy #4: Waking up on Saturday and walking out of the apartment to find an early surprise gift from Mom and Dad.

The New York Times Weekender subscription!!! Dreams really do come true. Keep the print industry alive, people!

I love the New York Times, and it breaks my heart (and pisses me off) when this happens right around the third day of every month:

Sorry that I like to stay informed. BUT FINE. I’ll pay to read the Social Q’s column every week. Not a problem, Times.

I spent hours and hours reading the Saturday and Sunday editions. My desire to stay informed is going to come at a very time-consuming price I think. But I also gave the crossword puzzle a pretty solid shot.

The finished product. Nailed it!

That went well.

Joy #5: Flying up to Boston and seeing my main little man. Turns out, he has no idea it’s Christmas.

He was obviously thrilled to see me. Sometimes I wonder if he thinks I’m a flat person who lives inside the computer. So I had to come up and prove that I’m a real human and I’m not afraid of a little drool. (I am, however, afraid of diapers. I still won’t go near those gnarly things.)

Joy #6: Downloading the game Bejeweled Blitz and setting the Feller Family Record. We are all addicted to this game. Brian included. It’s sick. But I’m the reigning master.


I’ve clearly had a very productive week.

Joy #7: Playing at a new gym. Lame, I know. But I like exploring gyms, and my brother hooked me up with a guest pass to his local L.A. Fitness for the days I was in town.

Every dude at the gym looked like this guy. I did not mean to take a picture of him. But tank tops, tattoos and bulging biceps were all the [‘roid] rage at this place.
The gym was huge and nice and I took my mom to her first spin class there. The spin classes were awfully disappointing, but I got a workout out of them, so it’s fine, right? Right.

Joy #8: Spending Christmas Eve at home with my parents and my grandmother (Honey) and uncle who came up from Florida and Pennsylvania, respectively. We drank our traditional “Woo Woo” drink and did not much else. We had a few visitors but it was a pretty lazy evening around the house.

Joy #9: Going for a Christmas morning run in the snow.


I haven’t been running at all lately, so it was nice to lace up and get a few (slow, I’m sure) snowy miles in before the holiday madness began.

I didn’t run in these socks, actually, but I should have. If only they had moisture-wicking powers.

The run was nothing super special, but I really liked breaking a little sweat and spending some time alone that morning. I knew the rest of the day would be nuts, so this hour was important for me.

A white Christmas in New Hampshire.

Joy #10: Getting wonderful gifts. Sure, giving is more fun than getting, but I really did like being on the receiving end of things this year. Highlights included the newspaper subscription, a steak knife set from Ryan and Michaela (everyone is excited about my knife skills), a drawing by Tyler (he’s so talented — watch your backs, baby artists of the world) and a subtle hint to stay off the roads and wheels for a while.

Soul classes > Trek Lexa. For now at least.

Joy #11: Giving gifts. My family enforced a spending limit this year, but we were allowed to “spend whatever we want” on Tyler, so long as we didn’t give him anything “physically huge.” I obliged by giving him a few of the “Llama Llama” series books…

I recommend “Llama Llama Misses Mama” if you think you can handle it. I cried hysterically the first time I read it. That book will break your damn heart.

…and outfits that I thought were adorable.

Babies love sweat, too!
THIS IS A SNOWSUIT THING DISGUISED AS A FOOTBALL. I wanted to toss him around while he wore it, but Ryan wasn’t having it.

Tyler didn’t indicate whether or not he liked them, but I think he did.

Please don’t call Child Protective Services on me. I swear I love him and I want what’s best for him. But I also want to dress him up in things that are more cute than practical.

Joy #12: Spending a ton of time with Tyler. And the rest of my family. But mostly Tyler (sorry, guys).

Brace yourselves for an influx of Tyler pictures, coming right atcha…

He obviously wasn’t super aware of the whole holiday thing going on, but Michaela’s family and our side of the family all came together at Ryan and Michaela’s house for a day of eating, present opening and giggling at Tyler.

Dude, smile. We’re posing for a photo. Get it together.
And to all a good night…
I fed him. I’m not scared to do that anymore. Do you know what’s awesome about babies? After they eat, they rip these huge, awesome burps. I was so proud of Tyler’s burping ability after I fed him. A true Feller…

All in all: A very Merry Christmas. Restful and relaxing? Not so much. But worth it?

Dad, your foot looks huge in this photo. Just so you’re aware of that. Sorry for bringing it to the world’s attention.
“Llama Llama Time to Share” — an instant classic.


MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU, TOO? If you’re a part of the Christmas-celebration-nation, tell me about your presents. What was the best thing you gave, the best thing you received and the best thing you ate?



36 Responses

  1. Brian completely showered you with gifts, despite the rules. Take it while you can and enjoy your skiing vacation. Glad you got to spend so much quality time with Tyler. I adore my little nephew, who is now four. They really get to be a lot of fun at that age, not that Tyler isn’t great now. Just wait until he starts talking though. It’s a whole different beast, not that Tyler’s a beast either.

  2. Best thing I ate: Horseradish Carrots [aka Creamy Amazing deliciousness]

    Best thing I got: a trip to Barbados from my bf!

    Best thing I gave: a GIGANTIC tv to my sis who’s been slumming it with a tv that has all these broken lines running through it

  3. You look so happy, Ali! I am so glad that you had a wonderful Christmas. And I absolutely LOVE your Santa Giraffe shirt 🙂

  4. Looks like you had a to-die-for and awesome Christmas! I had an early Christmas trip to Chiangmai (Thailand) with friends and we did the Chiangmai Marathon.

  5. First I have to say; Llama Llama Red Pajama is my favorite book to read to my littles – its SO VERY true…

    Best gift given: Omaha steak gift set to my father; he LOVES them!
    Best food eaten: Wings; I <3 wings!
    Best given gotten: TRIP TO VEGAS IN JUNE!!! AND I also got registered to the Shamrock Marathon in March.

    Merry Merry Ai!

    1. “Two hours from Denver.” I forget exactly where, but I know we fly into Denver and then “it’s a two-hour drive from there.”

  6. I really enjoyed seeing all your Christmas pictures. 🙂

    I didn’t receive any Christmas gifts (which sounds way sadder than it is, I swear), but I really loved this straw-building kit I gave a coworker. She always sips her hot drinks through straws, and I found a kit that comes with 40some straws plus a bunch of connectors so you can build an outrageous structure from your straws, and still drink through them. If only I could find a picture, but the internet is failing me right now.

  7. I loved this post. How sweet was Brian to get you all of those gifts. They’re great! I love giving gifts too, but I did receive some fun things this year that I’m excited about! My favorite gift that I gave was the iPad mini my sister and I got for my dad. My favorite gift that I received was either the medal and bib holder from my sister or the Sephora all stars collection from my mom and dad. And then my favorite thing that I ate was probably the sweet potato casserole that I made with my Grandma’s recipe. I told her that I made it and she was excited.

  8. The best thing I gave was a certificate for sky diving to my husband. I’m going with him and I am super nervous!

    The best thing I recieved was awesome combat boots from my brother’s girlfriend.

    The best thing I ate was baked scallops and crabcakes during our Christmas Eve feast of the seven fishes!

    Also, I took way too many pictures of my niece and loved being with her during her first christmas!

    1. Don’t be nervous! Skydiving is amazing, and it’s over before you even have time to get scared! You’re both going to love it — and what an amazing gift!

  9. I’m lucky that my family gave me a lot of great things this year. My current favorite is the New Kids on the Block biography from my brother (be still my six year old heart). My dad and I have a running joke about roasting marshmallows at the end of the world, so this year I gave him marshmallows. Only funny to the two of us, but his reaction was priceless.

  10. Oh, sounds like a great Christmas!!! Tyler is growing so much – Also, this is random, but your skin looks amazing!

    Best thing I gave: Harriet the spy to my little neice 🙂
    Best thing I received: Lululemon running pants!!!
    Best thing I ate: Siracha popcorn – My husband has been making it and it is mind blowing!!! Make popcorn, and in a seperate pan warm and reduce butter, olive oil, lime juice, zest, garlic, ginger and siracha….OMG amazing!! Not holidayishhhh at all, but still so good!!

  11. So glad to see that you had such a nice holiday with your family. You’re such a lucky girl to have such an awesome boyfriend- tickets to Jersey Boys, a spa certificate, a trip and more- WOW! 🙂

  12. Loved this…made me giggle. I read my little boy a book called ‘Lost and Found’ about a boy and a penguin and it is SO beautiful that I honestly choke up every time I get to the happy bit.
    The best things I gave were a flying lesson to the husband and a bike to the little boy. My best present was a camera for me. And the best thing I ate were these kind of cookie/candy things that my friend made. They were amazing.

  13. Merry Christmas. Funny you mention the muscle man at LA Fitness. I worked out at a LA Fitness at home in Minneapolis and there were soooo many grunters and muscle men. Quite entertaining… mostly entertaining. Kinda weird.

  14. That last photo of Tyler is TOO cute. I can’t stand it!! Glad you had a good and Tyler filled Christmas 🙂

    Best gift given…. fancy pantsy Lululemon yoga shorts to the boyfriend. Of course he had no idea what Lululemon was and couldn’t really appreciate it, but I told him every one else would.

    Best gift received… letter from the doctor with my blood test results. I have crazy low ferritin! Yay! Sounds like a weird thing to get excited about but I’m glad to know that I wasn’t imagining that I was exhausted 24/7. Of course my mind instantly went to crazy things like sub 3 hour marathons… what!? Obviously once I get my ferritin levels back up I’ll be unstoppable. Obviously.

    Best thing I ate… the tea cookies my aunt always makes. Gets me every time!

  15. awww looks like you had an amazing
    Christmas!! (And I’ve had Bejeweled Blitz for a while now and it’s really addicting!! I think your score blows mine out of the water though!)

  16. Merry Christmas! I still want to order one if your shirts. When will you have more in stock? And will order some onesies too! Feel free to PM me at
    Have a happy new year and wishing you continued health in the New Year. Those brownies look amazing BTW!

  17. What a great Christmas! Best thing I gave was a Paulo Coelho journal, the best thing I got was from my S.O. (a non-runner) – homemade “Number 1 Fan” gift certificates which included long run support by bike (for water carrying and entertaining duties), and cheering at a destination race of my choice. The gift of time – seriously made me cry. The best thing I ate was OREO pancakes. Ridiculous.

  18. The New York Times website pisses me off too! Actually, if you just clear your history (specifically the cookies) then it “forgets” you’ve already seen 10 articles. 🙂

  19. So fun!!! Best thing I gave was probably the Olympic Weightlifting shoes I bought my husband. He’s already PR’ed some of his lifts! And best gift I got…really hard to choose. Right now I’ll go with the LUSH bath bombs from my sister-in-law. Went home yesterday after a long day at the office to a fizzy, pink and blue bath! Yes please. Best thing I ate was hands down my mom’s pecan sticky buns. YUM.

  20. awesome!! looks like a wonderful holiday season for you. i baked some stellar banana bread on christmas eve that may have been the fav thing that i ate 🙂

  21. Looks like such a fun Christmas and Tyler is just adorable!!! I had a wonderful Christmas we celebrated a few days early with my fiance since he had to work.. Other than that we had a never ending list of Parties over the weekend which was sooo much fun, then spent Christmas day pretty low key- just me my mom and doggies!

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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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