Friday, December 30, 2011

Friends of HKS: Guest Blogger Series

Simon is 5 foot 11 and a half, 170 pounds (of mostly hamburgers and fries), has a big beard to keep him warm, and can sometimes be found dancing shirtless in his apartment to Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeroes. He loves egg nog, 90's comedy films, and watching his son explore life. 
Simons Top 10 Holiday Traditions
I love the Christmas holidays.  It's my favorite time of year. The ugly christmas sweaters, the decorations, the snow, the gingerbread houses, and of course...Santa. I like how just once a year a culture that is so fast paced and is in such a rush all the time slows down just for awhile. 
 For me, It usually starts in mid November when I start planning our family's December activity checklist for holiday fun.  I have made a list of my ten favorite holiday traditions to help you fully immerse yourself in such a wonderful time of year.

1. Christmas Movies
Starting December 1st I like to plan a schedule of one Christmas movie a day until the 25th. My schedule isn't random but rather a well devised plan of the least favorite to most favorite movies as the month goes on. In the early stages I like to watch films like a Christmas Story, Disney's a Christmas Carol, Bad Santa, the cartoon rudolf one and so on. These films are a good way to slowly get you into the Christmas spirit and prepare you for mid december when the real heart melters start. 
After December 15th it's on like donkey kong. Elf, Scrooged, Home Alone (both 1 and 2), The Santa Claus, and of course the holy grail; National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. 
Christmas movies are vital in the process of getting into full Christmas spirit mode. 
Note: You will need cozy blankets and any candy or treats that have been colored green and red for the holidays to fully appreciate this activity.

2. Christmas Carols

All day, every day starting December 1. (except of course when you are watching your Christmas movies) Christmas carols are some of the best songs in the world. They are joyous but often carry a sadness that make you reflect about your life. I have always had a hard time finding the right Christmas albums so this year I found out that you can just stream them from the web for free. North pole radio is one of my favorites. By streaming your carols you get a good variation of artists and versions and are bound to get some of the ones you love.  
Ps.. Get sweet speakers! Never, in my opinion, should music be listened from laptop speakers. It kills the sound. My recommendation is to get some good quality speakers with a nice amplifier. It makes all the difference. And if you are really feeling adventurous learn a carol or two on the piano or guitar and have your whole family sing it. Old school.

3. Kids

I  have yet to find an emotion inside of me that compares to the feeling I got as a child on Christmas eve. I can still remember me, my bro and my sis all sleeping in the same room on christmas eve so we could wake each other up on Christmas morning. So exciting! And then at five in the morning we would tip toe down the old wooden stairs anticipating our stockings being filled with toys. What a wonderful feeling that was. Anyways, my point is this: go spend Christmas wherever there are kids. Kids bring the magic back to adults at Christmas. Usually we spend Christmas at the farm (my wife's family) and every year I make sure to wake up before the kids so I can see them open their stockings.  Its great. don't like socks! (sorry grandma, I still love you)

4. Road Hockey
photo credit: Megan Ward
You don't need to know how to play hockey nor do you even really need to like hockey to have fun playing road hockey. Anyone can play, including kids. All you need is some sticks, a ball, and a couple of nets. Call up all your old friends and have them out so you can see everyone over the holidays at least once. I guarantee a good time. Ps..a little friendly trash talk never hurts to bring out the competitive spirit in your friends and family.

5. Food!

Pull out all the stops. Eat everything you can. I literally drank an entire quart of egg nog on Christmas eve this year. Our strategy is to just cook a bunch of finger foods, put it out on the table and just graze all day. It's so wonderful. (except I usually get stuck with dishes at the in laws which is kind of like jabbing a fork in my own eye but it's all worth it on the holidays)

6.  Nothingness

I have been doing a lot of reading on Buddhism and Taoism lately. It really puts into picture how life moves too fast and that we should really just take in the moment and enjoy the present.  My recommendation for the holidays is to do nothing whenever you can.  Watch a movie during the day, sleep in, read in the bath. You work too hard in this crazy culture. You need a break. 
As the Buddha says... "all things will pass".

7. Tobogganing

So I know I just recommended doing nothing over the holidays but if you are feeling ambitious and have done your  meditations in the morning, go tobogganing! It's not just for kids. Go at night, bring beer, invite friends. I assure you it will be good for some laughs. Especially if you go with my brother in law Brian: it's like watching a cat in water. Guaranteed hilariousness.

8. Snowball Fight

I love friendly competition. And throwing snowballs at my 10 year old nephew is just the thing to fulfill that need. Get your snow pants on (yes, the ones with the plastic overalls) find a good size yard with no yellow snow, and have a team battle snow ball fight. 
You can build forts, make an attack plan, and wage war! Its a lot of fun.

9. Hot Cocoa
Enough said. Delicious.

10. Love, love, love

I know... This one sounds a bit cheesy, but now that I'm a dad I'm allowed to be dorky right? anyhoo, for some reason I always have a great time with my family and friends at Xmas. It's full of laughs and good times. And in my old age it's becoming less about the presents and more about the good times during the holidays. (my twelve year old self would kill me for saying that) 
...but alas, my final advice for the holidays is to make sure to spend as much time with your friends and family as you can. 
It really is what it's all about.

Happy Holidays!

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