Secret Ho Ho Hos – 2016 Edition

It’s that time again! A time for giving and caring and sharing!

This was our 4th Secret Santa exchange and as always, it was so much fun to see what we got one another. Our parameters were staying within a $20 limit and picking something that we think the recipient will love. We used a website to match us so we would be extra surprised (and some of us didn’t include a gift message so we’re still figuring it out!)

If you need to grab a last minute gift, maybe one of these will inspire you.

I got Kyle, and I chose a hand-thrown mug and lid for her, along with a few of my favorite teas. I struggled with choosing a mug, there were two that I thought she would like. One had a woman turning into a bird in hues of blue and aqua, and the other had lovely music notes and staff. I know her love of music and signing, so I ultimately went with the mug with notes.

Then she messaged me to say that the lid arrived ok, but that the mug had not. ūüôĀ Sooooo, I’m off to the Celestial Seasonings Factory Gift Shop, and I really hope they have another one with music notes. At least she’ll have some nice peppermint tea to keep her warm while she waits!

Knowing our newest mama chick hasn’t been doing a ton of running lately, but has been playing with her cute kiddo, I wanted to get her a gift that a new mom would appreciate. I reached out to another friend who has also recently had a baby and asked what her favorite mom swag was. As an athlete herself who is trying to get back in the swing of running and working out, her answer was no surprise. She recommended a nursing sports bra – which she touted as not only comfortable, but also easy to use and wear. I knew that while Vic hasn’t been putting the miles in lately, maybe something like this would help that transition when the time comes!

Third time’s the charm! Once again, I was paired with the fabulous Cam. I laughed out loud when I saw my match because I was Cam’s Secret Santa the first two years of the exchange. I hope I nailed it those first two years, but I wanted to do something different without repeating themes or ideas.

Knowing that Cam loves to bake, I got her two themed baking items.

I splurged on ninja cookie cutters since Cam’s Ragnar team is centered around ninjas! These things are adorable!

Cam’s second gift is also to be used in the kitchen, but apparently won’t be delivered until after Christmas. (Thanks for misleading me on that one, Amazon) so I don’t want to say what it is here. I’d rather Cam be surprised when it¬†arrives. Let me just say – it’s out of this world! And I know Cam will enjoy the force it brings to her recipes!

Obviously, the gift I chose for my Secret Santa was motivated by our upcoming Ragnar adventure.¬† I wanted Meri to have everything she needs for her night run in Pennsylvania this June.¬† I found her a stylish purple headlamp and matching blinky light to guide her way through Amish country.¬† This Ragnar has been a long time coming and I can’t wait to share it with her!¬† Happy Happy Holidays, my sweet friend!

I was paired with Jenn! She and I obviously have some good brain share going on because I sent her a mug as well, knowing that she enjoys drinking her tea. We originally met through our love of books and reading so when I saw this “banned books” mug, I knew that she would appreciate it. Jenn is a non-conformist and she doesn’t follow the rules when it comes to writing. I fully expect to see an update of this mug with a book that she’s authored¬†listed (and we’ll read it anyway because we do what we want).

I also sent her this sweet yoga top that I’ve been eyeing for awhile, just waiting for the perfect time to send to her (this was it!) and a little Whisper sign from My Favorite Sign Company, a small business with whom I work closely. Jenn’s dogs are her world and I knew that she’d be nodding her head with this message.

We hope your holidays are merry and bright. If you’d like to check out our past exchanges, click on the years below.

2013, 2014, 2015

What are your favorite gifts to give? Get? We’d love to hear about what you’re looking forward to this holiday season!

The Joy Hangover

Here’s me being honest: this time of year is a little depressing for me. I’m not sure why. Is it the Christmas decorations still hung up despite the fact that presents have been long-opened and people are crowding into airports, on their way back home after some quality cozy (or maybe crazy) time with extended family? There’s all of this anticipation, this celebration and glitter and family and presents and gratefulness and sometimes a lot of alcohol, and then it’s just¬†done. I mean, yes, it happens every year and it’s wonderful every year, but I think this is what a joy hangover feels like.

Bye, Christmas trees, you are no longer needed.

Bye, Christmas trees, you are no longer needed. (source)

And then, of course, there’s New Year’s. Let me just be honest (I’m making a habit of it) and say that nostalgia is my kryptonite. If I read a book where nostalgia is involved, or watch a movie where nostalgia is involved, or think about my¬†own¬†instances of nostalgia, I’m a goner. So a holiday where the entire point is to think about what the last year has brought you, how you’re leaving it behind, and planning for future greener pastures? Dunzo. I can’t listen to Auld Lang Syne without getting extremely weepy.

Maybe that’s why I’m feeling¬†a little¬†melancholy right now, on top of my joy hangover. The week that stretches between Christmas and New Year’s sometimes feels like a bated breath, or a pause in my life’s movie. Where I’m still living, of course (because, hello, 2-year-olds wait for no man) but at the same time stuck between the year I just lived and the year I’m about to dive headlong into.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what 2015 will bring me, with this weird mix of optimistic expectation and trepidation. 2014 was filled with a¬†lot¬†of new things: new job, new friends, and new places visited, which was a particularly big milestone for me. I never, ever thought I’d get to see Paris, because that required a 12-hour flight over the freakin’ ocean, and no thanks. Except…actually, yes please. It was amazing. Eye-opening. Weirdly liberating, to cast off a preconceived notion about myself (no, Jess, you could never¬†travel internationally. You couldn’t handle it, etc. and so forth).

Yep, I was totally here. At the Eiffel Tower.

Actually in Paris.

I am ACTUALLY. IN. PARIS in this picture.

In this week of suspension and with this tentative new bravery, with all of this change still looming in my rear view mirror, I wonder what 2015 will bring me. Good things, I hope. Probably some flip-side-of-the-coin things, because that’s life, after all.

So, as much as I hate goodbyes – man, I¬†really¬†hate goodbyes – I’m saying it to 2014: You were great, 2014. Nice knowing you. See you never again, unless time travel becomes a thing. And when January 1st comes, I’ll wake up in this new year, press the play button, and go.

How was your holiday season? Big plans for New Year’s? Do you get the Christmas week ennui too? Talk to me in the comments!¬†