Decapitation and Detectives

Maybe it’s because I keep watching True Blood right before bed. Maybe it’s because I saw Sherlock Holmes on New Year’s Eve and haven’t been able to NOT think about Robert Downey Jr. – or Jude Law for that matter – since. Maybe the Weight Watchers Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream has drugs in it. Maybe all this insomnia is finally getting to me.

Whatever it is, it is giving me some CRAZ-AY dreams. Yes, I realize that is not how the word is spelled, but, ya’ll, the “A” is for emphasis (even though it should be “E” for emphasis…).

I’m thisclose to giving a notebook and pen a permanent home on my nightstand so I can write this crap down the second I wake up, otherwise it tends to get a little fuzzy and I forget.

Recently, though, two of my dreams were so random and one was so seriously messed up, that I still remember a good portion of them, or at least the important points.

First one was right after Christmas, even though it wasn’t Christmas-y AT ALL. I don’t remember how it happened or why, but in the dream, I had been decapitated.

Let that sink in for a minute or two. De.cap.i.tat.ed. As in MY HEAD HAD BEEN CUT OFF, kids.

Not only that, but somehow, miraculously, I woke up (in the dream) in the hospital, where they had apparently succeeded in re-attaching my head. No one else was in the dream – that I can remember – except me and whoever the doctor was. And then, this guy came in my hospital room with a flier for an event. That he wanted me to make sure GOT PUT IN THE NEWSPAPER. And I was like, “Um, my head just got cut off and re-attached. I don’t have time for typing things up right now.”

The other one I can still remember happened over the weekend. On Dec. 31, I saw Sherlock Holmes – great movie, you should see it, if not for the amazingness that is RDJ and Jude Law, at least go for some awesome previews. A couple days later, Robert Downey Jr. was in my dream. I don’t remember how the dream started, or really what all was going on.

All I know is I was in the parking lot of my church and RDJ was running around inside the church. And for some reason, we weren’t allowed to go in and get him. The middle of the dream is fuzzy, but I do remember that he came back outside at the end. After that, I woke up.

Second one is a lot less crazy than the first, and trust me, I’ve looked up what it means to dream about decapitation. It was interesting. As was what it means to dream about celebrities and the church. Apparently there are different interpretations depending on if you saw the church from the inside or the outside.

I couldn’t find anywhere where it said what it means to dream about Robert Downey Jr. Guess it just means I’ll have to go see Sherlock Holmes again. Darn.

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24. Christmas Eve

Today is ALMOST the big day. But it could be argued that today is just as big, couldn’t it?

I mean, how many of us celebrate on this day as well? Some years, this is the day my family gets together at my grandma’s house and exchanges gifts with her. Some have their big meal today and open presents tonight. Or at least one. I have a friend who gets to open one gift Christmas Eve and it’s always pajamas for Christmas Day.

Tonight, for me, is church and one of my favorite Christmas traditions. You see, several years ago – I really don’t know when it started – those of us at church that had gone through youth group together and come back for the holidays gathered together before the final service of the night to eat snacks and catch up. Originially, my family and I had to be there for all three services Christmas Eve, someone was either playing an instrument, singing or reading at the first two (or in my case, working in the nursery) and then we attended the latest one.

Well, most of my friends from the youth group had the same thing going on. My family and I don’t do a big meal Christmas Eve and for a while it consisted of picking up some snacks from the gas station right by church on our way back from my grandma’s. Well, when the other church kids and I – we all still keep in touch and hang out when we can – realized we’d all be there all night and weren’t gonna get real food, decided to make it a potluck of stuff and eat together between the second and third services.

Sara – who lives in Montana now but always comes back for Christmas – always makes taco dip, someone always brings a dessert, and we raid the church kitchen for silverware, plates and cups. Three pastors have come down to snack with us at some point or another, even if just stopping by to get a bite of taco dip. Last year, our interim pastor even mentioned the little tradition during the service.

It’s a great time for us to catch up and spend time together and it’s a tradition I look forward to every year. Last year, one in our group showed up to the makeshift dinner to tell us she’d gotten engaged that day.

The church service is my other favorite part about today. In my church, we have a candlelight service. At the end of the service, we all get candles and pass the flame like we do the offering plate until everyone’s candles are lit. Then the lights are dimmed/turned off and we sing Silent Night together. It’s beautiful. Last year, our interim pastor changed it up a bit and had everyone make a circle around the entire sanctuary so we could all see each other as we sang.

At the end, we all sat there for a second, just taking in our surroundings and what we felt that night. It was so amazing I teared up a little. Maybe I cried, I dunno. Deal with it. Then he went into the middle, raised his candle and said “Merry Christmas” and blew it out. It really was a beautiful end to a beautiful service.

Tonight, we’ll get together around 8:30 and eat taco dip and other snacks while we are there between services. And at the last service, we’ll hold our candles and sing Silent Night together and think about what this holiday is really about.

Whatever your traditions, whatever you do today, or tomorrow, I hope you and your families have the merriest of Christmases.

23. Anticipation

The whole month of December is one big build-up to a one-day(ish) payoff. Starting the day after Thanksgiving – earlier than that even, for some – all people are concerned with are getting ready for Christmas, which is the reason I’m going to shop online next year.

Think about it though. All people are worried about are getting this done by Christmas or before Christmas or whatever. Then the actual day comes and it’s over so quick.

But there’s something about the anticipation, especially today, the 23rd. It’s so close to Christmas, but there’s still two days. Places are still open, because it’s not yet Christmas Eve. But it’s also time to wrap presents, because there’s stuff to do tomorrow and the day after that is Christmas. I’m excited to get presents, of course, but I’m more excited to give them. I look most forward to my family opening the presents I bought for them and seeing if they like them. I think I did a pretty good job this year.

I like the anticipation. I like getting ready for Christmas Eve and Christmas. I’m excited for church tomorrow night – I LOVE LOVE LOVE our candlelight service at 10:30 and before the service starts when my friends and fellow old school youth group-ers meet downstairs for snacks/dinner. But more on that tomorrow. Tonight, there’s stuff to be done. And stuff to be excited about. Because TOMORROW’S CHRISTMAS EVE!

And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown

This past weekend, my youngest sister and I helped my other sister teach her Sunday School class of four- and five-year-olds. There was only one little kid in there – a little boy named Will – and he talks like a grown-up. She tells us all the time how smart all the kids in there are and how they retain everything they talk about in the Sunday School class, sometimes even bringing part of the previous week’s lesson into the activity they do during a story.

Long story short, this week they were supposed to make stars, to symbolize what the wise men saw on the night Jesus was born. It was stars cut out of cardstock, covered in glitter and hung up by a string. Will made his and we passed him upstairs when he was talking to his mom as we were leaving church.

Will’s mom: “You made a star? Is it to hang on our tree?”
Will: “No, it’s for the Wise Men to follow!”

6. Christmas music

Tonight at church was our Advent Program, where all the musical groups in the church perform some different songs and the congregation also sings some carols. It comes after a big dinner and our church’s “Night In Bethlehem” program, where families can go through our makeshift versions of streets of the town where Jesus was born.

I love the Advent Program, because we get to hear all the Christmas music and it just sounds so cool for everyone to sing together like that. And for the next couple of weeks at church, we’ll be singing those songs during the service. Silent Night has become my second favorite song of this season – O Holy Night is the first – because of the tradition our church has Christmas Eve night (but more about that when we get to #24).

We have a few Christmas CDs my family listens to every Christmas morning. Those songs will forever remind me of early mornings, presents, time with my parents, sisters and grandparents and the smell of a really, really awesome breakfast cooking upstairs. I have included a couple of those songs and a few other of my favorites below in my own “Ultimate Christmas Playlist.” Please enjoy – and download. You won’t be disappointed.

Laura’s Ultimate Christmas Playlist

All I Want For Christmas is You –Mariah Carey
We Wish You A Merry Christmas – Muppets and John Denver
So This Is Christmas –John Lennon
The Most Wonderful Time of The Year – Andy Williams
White Christmas – Irving Berlin (the one from Home Alone)
Carol of the Bells – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow – Michael Buble
O Tannenbaum – A Charlie Brown Christmas
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – A Charlie Brown Christmas
O Holy Night – pretty much any version because it’s my favorite of all the Christmas songs, but some good ones are Josh Groban, Celine Dion and NSYNC (don’t judge that last one).
Christmas Time – Christina Aguilera
Silent Night – sung in Irish by Enya, so pretty

Thankful for Thanksgiving

Things I am thankful for (in no particular order):

Family
Friends
Green bean casserole
Grandma’s home-made dumplings
My church
Tv on DVD
CKR
The new apartment
Chubby babies
Planners
Lists
Compliments
PYC and YUM and Young Adults Group
The beach
Christmas decorations
Target
Hot chocolate
Michael C. Hall
Churchill Downs
Google Reader
Blogs
Vacations

and You.
Whoever reads this – whether it’s regularly, every once in a while, or just once.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.