Life Is Your Choice

In recent times I have noticed that much of modern life is spent trying to move it along faster and climb the ladder of society until you can make it to the top and find your happiness. The problem I see with this is that while chasing this ever elusive “happiness” you waste away your chance to make a difference.

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Too many people wait to get their “life” started until they feel happy. Happy with themselves as a person, happy with their circumstances, happy with their finances, happy with their social status. But what tragically happens because of this is that they waste so much time that they can’t get back waiting around to be happy. As one of my inspirations, Lindsey Stirling, beautifully states, “Why postpone happiness? Why not find joy in the journey of life? We need to find joy in the simple, ordinary events that make up the everyday because that’s what we get the most of.” If you wait around to begin your life until you feel happy and content, you’ll be waiting for much too long. Waiting taks time, and time is one of the most precious things you have.

Don’t strive to feel happy, strive to feel alive. Happiness can depend on your circumstances, but life is a choice. Choose what makes you feel on fire. Choose to do the things that make you feel like you’re doing more than just breathing. That’s not true life, that’s just existing.

Life in the truest sense is doing small things greatly, challenging yourself daily, loving passionately, and making a difference even if it’s only in a small way. Life is believing that there’s something greater than yourself and knowing that you, individually, have a purpose to exist and a reason to be here.

Living isn’t just waking up, going to school, working a job, going about your day, and then going to sleep again at night. Living is being present in every moment and seeing an opportunity for greatness and beauty in everything. Even in the bad. If you wait around to get your life started until you feel happy, you will be waiting for too long.

Anyone can exist, but few people truly live.

 

 

Valentine’s Day

I may be wrong but the way I see it, Valentine’s Day is kind of a controversial holiday. People are divided as to whether it is just a cash grab by card companies who are dedicated to make singles feel bad that they don’t have a significant other, or if it’s a great holiday to celebrate love and romance and the important people in your life.

Since I am writing a blog post about it, you can probably guess that I’m on the side of the latter in this issue πŸ˜‰ And so on this day of romance, I would like to celebrate my first love…literature.

Not what you were expecting, huh? πŸ˜‰ No, I’m not here to talk about a special man in my life or what romance means to me (though they’re all well and good), but as for myself I feel the need to announce to everyone how much I love the written word.

But rather than trying to insufficiently express this love through my words, I’ll leave it up to a few people who were much better at that than I am…

 

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In all seriousness though, I joke about books being my first love and I’m not lying, I love literature. But I also want to recognize the important people in my life who I love. My family that I was born into made up of my parents and siblings, as well as the family I chose for myself that is made up of my friends. You all mean the world to me.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ways To Beat Sadness

No matter how positive of a person you are, we all get those days where we are just…sad. Not depressed, not angry, but just sad. Maybe something happened (or didn’t happen) or maybe you just woke up wrong and nothing will go your way. I have found that the hardest thing about days like this is trying to pull yourself out of it.Β However, I have compiled here for you a few ways to pull yourself out of your sadness and help you be positive again.

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Tip 1: Don’t listen to sad music.

Honestly, I never understood the people who listen to sad music when they’re sad. Sad music doesn’t do anything besides pull you in deeper. Personally, I like listening to upbeat music or a movie soundtrack.Β Good upbeat music would be Skillet orΒ Lindsey Stirling. And a good movie soundtrack is Hugo or Merlin (the BBC series).Β Or maybe you just want to block out your own thoughts and rest some. I’ve got you covered there too. My favorite white noise to listen to is rain and thunder so I would highly recommend that. Rain on dry leaves is one of my favorites.

Tip 2: Have breakfast.

There’s a reason why everyone loves breakfast; it’s comfort food. Whether you want to go all out and have biscuits, gravy, bacon, eggs, and orange juice or if you want to go simple with a bowl of cereal, I cannot suggest this one enough. There’s something nice about making yourself a nice meal and sitting down to enjoy itΒ and forgetting everything you’re worrying about.Β Also, tea washes down everything nicely too, so I would suggest a good cup of earl gray.

Tip 3: Light a candle.

Seriously though, have you ever caught yourself zoning out while staring at fire? Just me? Well…I always knew I was weird… Anyway, a candle is super relaxing and it helps if you pick a scent you really enjoy (as if you would pick one you hate…). My favorite is vanilla or pumpkin. But if you want to feel energized and happy, pick a citrus scent.

Tip 4: Take a shower.

I suggest this for everything, but that’s because a shower can cure anything. Suffering from boredom? Shower. Just broke up? Shower. Broke your leg? Shower…at the hospital. Taking a shower or bath helps reset your mood and clear your head. And it makes you clean and you smell good after so…how is this a bad plan?

Tip 5: Get out of the house.

Failing all else, go somewhere. Even if you walk or drive to the middle of nowhere, get out and get some fresh air. Much like the shower, this helps you refocus and relax. Find someplace that you’ve never been before and explore some. Maybe try walking around a store and people watching or visiting a park.

 

Tip 6: Find a friend or phone one.

Good friends are there for you when you need them most. They have the power to make you smile when you are sad and they can cheer you up when you can’t imagine laughing. A friend is the ear you can rant to and can provide you a new way of looking at things since they aren’t directly involved in the situation. Friends are a great source of comfort and are really the best for pulling you out of a bout of sadness. And remember this favor for when your friend needs you to be there for them next time.

 

Tip 7: Rant about it.

Now, I don’t mean rant about it on Facebook or call everyone you know and hash everything out. What this means is get a paper and write everything out or just stand in your room and rant to the wall. Even if you aren’t sure why you feel the way you do, just start talking and eventually you will stumble on the thing that is making you sad. This is especially helpful if you are a person like me who sometimes can’t figure out your feelings for days.

 

I hope these help some. I have personally tried all of these and I can vouch for their effectiveness. So, whether you are going through a sad spell at the moment, or there is someone you know who is, try these tips to help you get back on your feet.

Rewind of 2016

It’s funny how simultaneously a year can feel so long and yet so short. 2016 has been one heck of a year, in good ways and bad. It’s been a busy, crazy, interesting, adventure filled year. I thought it would be a fun idea to do a rewind over each month and tell you about some of the best moments and fun times I had in 2016 πŸ™‚ I hope you enjoy! Let me know in the comments what was one thing about 2016 that you really liked!

 

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January:

A brand new and fresh start again. I started 2016 with a list of goals for the year (as I try to do every year) but what set this year apart was that I actually accomplished some of them! I didn’t do all of what I wanted to do, but since I’ve never actually stuck to my goals before, I’d say I did pretty good πŸ™‚ The goals I accomplished were: Get my driver’s license, graduate high school when I’m supposed to, make new friends, and post to Girl on Fire more regularly.

I got my driver’s license at the end of June which isn’t when I had wanted to get it by, but hey, at least I got it. This was a big and necessary step in beating my procrastination, as it’s only been two years since I finished driver’s ed…but like I said in 19 Lessons in 19 years, “you don’t have to be the best, you only have to be better than you were yesterday.”

I graduated homeschool high school in July and I only have to do some additional studying before I take the SAT and ACT tests because my math skills leave a lot to be desired. However, it was a success for me as if further cemented the fact that I am, indeed, and adult when I didn’t have to go back to school like my siblings did in September.

I made a lot of new friends in 2016 which is probably the biggest milestone yet. It’s not particularly easy for me to make friends because of my introvertedness and awkward tendencies. But you’ll hear more about this accomplishment when we get to talking about June/July.

I started posting to Girl on Fire weekly (three times a week if I did really good) and it became super fun. Not that it was ever not fun, but I really enjoyed putting together a fun or interesting post and seeing what my readers thought of it. I haven’t had the chance to post as often as I wanted towards the end of the year but Blogmas (which just ended and you will hear about later) was a huge success and a ton of fun. Hopefully 2017 is full of more good posts from me and on a more frequent schedule. πŸ™‚

 

February:

February was fun because my family and I got to volunteer with Compassion International and serve at the Rock & Worship Roadshow in Boise. Rock & Worship Roadshow (if you don’t know) is a concert of seven Christian bands preforming for only $10. My family got to go for free because of Compassion and we had a great time, not only because of the concert, but also because we got to see firsthand how God can use people to be his hands and feet and help others. I believe the number of sponsored children that night was over 600! And we also got to watch the concert which included Family Force 5 and Newsboys.

 

March:

In March, not a whole lot happened. However I did do a piano festival for the third year in a row. For the festival I memorize two pieces for the piano and play them for a judge who ranks me on a scale of 1 to 5. Five points is a superior rating and I got a superior rating for the third year in a row, which earned me a trophy. Honestly, this year of festival was my poorest performance that I’ve ever done but somehow, the judge still thought I did well enough for a superior rating πŸ™‚

 

April:

April was a lot of fun. I participated in a piano recital for the festival that I talked about previously. It was a lot of fun and unlike the festival performance, I think that was the best performance I’ve done.

Also, once again we (my mom and a few of my siblings and I) volunteered for Compassion International at a for King & Country concert. It was a pretty small venue and we got to once again pass out the Compassion packets and help people sponsor the children. In addition to that, we got to talk to the boy’s mom and she was a super nice lady πŸ™‚ Not to mention this month started the beginning of my obsession with for King & Country πŸ˜„

 

May:

May was fun because of Mother’s day. I took mom to Boise (well, she drove but I helped πŸ™‚ and we went to lunch at The Cheesecake Factory and then we did some shopping. Later on that night we went to see the documentary The Abolitionist in the theater and there was a huge crowd of people there with signs protesting human trafficking. The show was completely sold out which was so amazing. It was a really cool experience to see so any people there with the same passion I have and who want to put an end to slavery in the 21st century.

 

June:

In June I took Dad out for a day in Boise as well and after a lunch at Red Lobster we went to see the second Independence Day in the theater. It was nice to have a day for just me and dad as I felt like we got to talk about a lot of good things that we didn’t normally talk about and catch up with each other.

Also at the end of June, in addition to getting my driver’s license, my family decided to try out a new church in town. It had been almost a year since we had been kicked out of our old church and I guess we were ready to try again. I’m so glad that we did because I ended up making some of the best friends I’ve had in my lifetime and they are the source of many of the best moments the rest of 2016. πŸ™‚

 

July :

July was the month that I quit my two year job, which was a little disappointing and a little freeing at the same time. I also celebrated Forever Day with my very best friend of 4 years on the 7th of this month. In a nutshell, Forever Day comes from the saying “Best friends forever.” Forever Day for me and Bella is formally known as the “start of our ‘forever” as it marks the day she wrote her first letter to me as a reply to a pen pal add I had put in a newsletter we both subscribed to. 2016 marked our four year anniversary of being friends πŸ™‚ (you’re awesome Bella! πŸ™‚

 

August:

August had one highlight that I can remember and that would be the camping trip that me and my brother went on with our youth group at the new church we became a part of. It was such a great two days! We didn’t do anything super special but we got to spend some time with our new friends (who by now felt like we had known them forever) and it was the first camping trip that I had been on in at least a year (and the only camping trip I’ve been on since). It was super fun and I would love to do it again πŸ™‚

 

September:

September brings me to what I call “the best weekend of my life so far.” I’m talking about the Women’s Retreat that I was able to go on with the ladies of The Rock (our church.) It was up at a super nice retreat center near McCall and it was surrounded by lots of trees and hiking trails (which I was out walking on every day of the three days I was there). I got to know some of the girls a lot better than I did and both nights I stayed up super late talking to a few of them. I did a lot of great studying and I got to know the girls and Christ on a deeper level that I had before.I also got to go zip lining while I was there and that was so awesome πŸ™‚Β  Of course, the next day after I got back, I got my wisdom teeth taken out which put a dampener on the whole thing πŸ˜„ But it wasn’t terrible πŸ™‚

 

October:

October brought news of our impending move which I was not excited about in the least. It felt like I had just gotten to know all these wonderful people and now I was going to have to move across the country away from them for a long time (well, not so long now πŸ˜‰ ) But there were many highlights in this month πŸ™‚

I got tickets to go see Lindsey Stirling’s Brave Enough tour which came to Boise! I got a ticket for myself and Caleb and I happened to get an extra one so I was able to take a friend too. We didn’t know it at the time, but some of our other friends were going too and so we had a small group who went together. Lindsey Stirling is just as amazing live as she is on her albums and in her music videos! It was a great night, except that it was so cold!

I also had a super early birthday party/sleepover with my friends because I wouldn’t be there for my actual birthday. After having some homemade pizza we all went out to our camper where I presented everyone with some gifts I had made (which turned out way better than I thought they would) and some fair trade chocolate πŸ™‚ We then played some games and Caleb and the two others who could stay the night stayed up until 6 in the morning. I wasn’t that brave however and went to bed at three instead πŸ™‚ Then the next day we all met up at a park in town with a group of other friends andΒ  had an epic battle of foam, pvc pipe, and duct tape weapons. It was really great πŸ™‚

Now on to the best day of the year for me: the corn maze. For many reasons, this day was one of the best I’ve had. It would be super boring if I went over everything that I did, but it was awesome to spend time with good friends and have fun getting lost in a maze πŸ™‚

 

November:

November was hard as it landed smack in the middle of a move. But we did have some good times as Caleb and I were able to fly back to visit everyone for a last time and go to a Disney Murder Mystery party that one of our friends held. She did an amazing job and everything looked great. I had been compiling my costume since she told me about the party (my character was the Evil Queen from Snow White) and as you can imagine, I tried to go all out with the evil theme. Everyone else looked amazing and did a great job of dressing as their character.

Also in November, I turned 19! Honestly, I don’t feel any different than I had before but it was still an interesting experience πŸ™‚ I hope to put my newfound maturity to good use in the coming year though πŸ˜‰

 

December:

December wasn’t the best month as far as the whole year goes. There were a lot of big changes for me and a lot of challenges.

I took on the challenge of once again doing three blog posts a week for “The 12 Days Of Blogmas” here on Girl on Fire. I was intending to write them ahead of time, but I didn’t get around to it so I usually had to write them the day before or the day that they were to be posted. But for the most part, I think Blogmas was a success and I’m already looking forward to doing it again next year. πŸ™‚

Christmas was good, but a little different than what I’m used to. But it wasn’t bad in the least. We had a lot of extended family over on Christmas Eve which was nice as I hadn’t seen a lot of them in quite a while. The best part of Christmas for me though was the chance to gather gifts for my family and all my friends. It’s my favorite thing to do and I often spend all year choosing things to get or make for everyone. I was a little behind this year though because of the move and everything, but I hope I will have a better grasp on it next year.

 

 

So, that was pretty much all the good moments and fun times I had in 2016 and I am excited to see what 2017 will have for me. 2016 wasn’t all good, but the good moments outweighed the bad. I’m excited to see the fresh challenges of 2017 as well as how I will grow as a person. Thanks for supporting Girl on Fire by reading about all the randomness I post and I hope you will stick with me for another year πŸ™‚

Happy new year, readers!

Bethany

Blogmas Day 12: The Final Post

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Blogmas has now come to a close as this is the twelfth and final post. I hope you enjoyed reading my odd Christmas ramblings; I had a lot of fun writing them πŸ™‚

What now? What kinds of posts would you like to see from me in the coming year? Should I do Blogmas again next year?

I hope your Christmas is amazing and full of joy and good times with your family πŸ™‚ And I hope your New Year gets off to a great start!

 

Until next time,

Bethany

Blogmas Day 11: Winter Photos

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As the bright sun shines through the sparse clouds and lands on the green grass of our yard that happens to be completely devoid of snow, it’s hard to remind myself that the calendar states, “First day of Winter!” It certainly doesn’t feel that way. And so if you’re in a similar predicament as me and would like a little snow, here are some winter pictures for you πŸ™‚

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Hope you enjoy and that now you’re in a little more of a wintry mood πŸ™‚ All these pictures were taken by be a few years ago.

 

Blogmas Day 10: Hosting a Holiday Tea

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Tea parties are one of my all time favorite things to do and I love hosting them. So what could be better than combining my favorite activity with my favorite holiday? My mom and us girls hosted a few Christmas teas in our time and though it’s been a while, I still think I have the hosting down πŸ™‚ Here I will give you a list of things you can do to host a great party. I hope you enjoy!

Themes are important for the tea as they provide a good guideline for the kind of decorations to use, food to serve, and activities to include. And around Christmas there are so many different and interesting ideas to go with. If you don’t really fancy any of the suggestions I have here, try going to a craft store like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s and look at their craft and party stuff to get ideas. Th ideas I’ll lay out here are: Gingerbread, Christmas Trees, Snow, Candy Canes (or Peppermint), and a Fancy Victorian Tea.

 

Decorations:

Gingerbread:

Gingerbread is one of the easiest themes to do, at least as far as table decorations go. What we did when we hosted it was take a few gingerbread house kits and put up (undecorated) a day before. Then you can use them as the centerpieces for the tables along with the decorating icing and any decoration candies of your choice. Then your guests can decorate the one at their table and at the end of a party, a judge chooses the best and the table wins a prize.

Christmas Trees:

You can use much the same idea for this one. Get a couple of the small trees at the store and use them as the centerpiece of the tables along with some small garland and ornaments. The prettiest one wins the table a prize.

Snow:

Snow is fun because you can just play off the silver and white theme of snow in general White lights and simple things like cranberries and pine cones can be used as a centerpiece, or you can fill a candle holder with Epsom salts and a red candle to make a pretty piece for the tables. And of course, paper snowflakes are a must for the decorations.

Peppermint:

Red and white (of course). This one is simple and pretty and can be taken care of with a trip to the craft store. Lights are nice when used as a border around the tables but you might want to try the battery powered ones as they are easier to deal with and don’t get as hot as the other ones do.

Fancy Victorian Tea:

The theme for this one is all about Victorian elegance and classic Victorian Christmas decorations are a must. Candles in place of string lights, paper snowflakes, and more nature inspired centerpieces.

 

Tea:

Gingerbread theme:

Gingerbread tea is an okay choice but in my experience, it isn’t the best tasting stuff. Also it might be a little too much on top of the gingerbread cookies and such that you’re serving. However, that is your choice. But as for myself I would probably opt for a hot chocolate instead.

Christmas Trees:

This theme leaves the tea paring up to the imagination. Something Christmasy would be perfect and I love the Twinnings Christmas Tea Blend for this time of year.

Snow:

Once again, I would go for hot chocolate on this one because I think it suits the theme of snow so well. Additionally you could pair a white tea instead to go along with the white theme of everything.

Peppermint:

Need I say this one? Of course, plain peppermint tea is nice but I would suggest you try Celestial Seasoning’s Candy Cane Lane tea. It’s slightly sweeter than the normal peppermint and much more festive.

Fancy Victorian:

I would say for this one to go with the Christmas Tea fro Twinnings again, or try a nice Vanilla Chai.

 

This is a little less detailed than I would’ve liked but hopefully next time I will have pictures πŸ™‚ Look for another post on Wednesday!

Blogmas Day 9: Holiday Wrapping

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I love wrapping presents almost as much as I love finding them for people. To me, if I went to the trouble to find the right gift, I should make it look pretty. Most of what I do is about the ribbon (as you will be able to see in these pictures) but I also like to find nice paper too. Also, these are actual gifts I have gotten for people so if you open a package and recognize one, now you know why : )

 

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This is a bit of an underwhelming post but I will have a more exciting post for you on Monday:) It’s weird to think that we’re approaching the end of Blogmas 2016! It’s been super fun so far and I’m looking forward to planning the posts for next year! Have a great weekend!

Blogmas Day 8: Holiday Traditions

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Being the sentimental time that it is,often during Christmas we find ourselves doing things that don’t necessarily make sense or we can’t remember how they got started. Here are a few of these things with their origins explained, so now you can impress your friends and family with your newfound knowledge πŸ™‚

 

Advent:

Advent is a season of preparation. It’s a time to make yourself ready for Christ and Christmas. Advent is celebrated on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas and is represented with 5 candles. Traditionally there are three purple, one pink, and one white. The candles are usually placed in a wreath with the white in the center. The first Sunday you light the first purple candle. It is known as the Prophesy candle or the Candle of Hope. The second Sunday of Advent you light the first candle again as well as the second purple candle which is known as the Bethlehem Candle. The third Sunday, light the first two candles as well at the pink candle which is known as the Candle of Joy or the Shepherd Candle. The fourth Sunday light the first three and the last purple candle which is called the Angel Candle or the Candle of Love. Finally on Christmas Eve, light all 5 candles with the white candle being the Christ Candle.

 

Stockings:

The idea of hanging out stockings comes out of a famous story of the real St. Nicholas. It was said that there were three daughters of a poor family who had no dowry for their marriage, so they couldn’t marry. Nicholas heard of this and in the middle of the night, threw bags of gold coins down their chimney. The bags landed in the girls stockings, which they had hung out to dry and paid the girl’s dowry and saved them from slavery.

 

Boxing Day: In England it was customary for churches to open their alms boxes to the poor on the first workday after Christmas in an attempt to cheer up those who couldn’t afford a merry Christmas. It evolved into what is now known at Boxing Day, on which service people would collect money or other gifts from their employers.

 

Holly:Β 

Holly is renown as a seasonal decoration as much for its beauty as its symbolism. The leaves that stay green all year serve as a reminder of out everlasting life with Christ, while the red berries remind us of the blood spilled for out salvation. Holly begun as a decoration in Celtic cultures where it was used as a sign of hospitality and kindness because they believed that fairies and other small beings would come and use the holly leaves as shelter from the snow (as weird as this sounds, I’m not making this up!). As Christianity became more popular, Christians adopted the tradition of using holly as a decoration and they made the connection and symbolism with the story of Christ.

 

Christmas Caroling:

The word “Carol” means a song or dance of joy. Because of this, it makes perfect sense that “Caroling” would take place at Christmas time when we are celebrating the joyful arrival of our Savior. The singing of these joyful songs was pretty rare until about 1223 when St. Frances of Assisi started his Nativity Plays in Italy. The characters in the plays would sing carols which told stories of what was happening. These songs were occasionally in Latin but most were sung in the native language of the audience so that they could join in. Fast forward to the Victorian period and we come to official groups of carolers called “Waits” because they preformed publicly on Christmas Eve (also known as waitnight or watchnight) at celebrations. Now carolers go door to door singing these traditional songs of joy and celebration all through the Christmas season πŸ™‚

Blogmas Day 7: Holiday Bucket List

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Ok, disclaimer; this isn’t actually a bucket list, at least not in the traditional sense. But here is a short list of a few things that I like to do in December that make the holiday special for me.

 

Baking: Where on earth would the holidays be without baking?! I’ve already done a post on a few recipes that my family uses every Christmas so if you would like some ideas, feel free to go to that post! Baking for me is an all day activity that usually involves making a huge mess. But it’s one of my favorite things to do when I have the house to myself πŸ™‚

 

Ice Skating: I’ve only ever done this one twice but it was so much fun an if I had the opportunity to, I would do it every Christmas. It’s a little like rollerblading but somewhat different as you aren’t using wheels. In my opinion it’s actually a little easier than normal skating.

 

Decorating: Decorating for Christmas is what I look forward to every year. The day after Thanksgiving is the time for me to get out the lights and garland and staple them all around the hallway ceiling, the living room, around the stair rails, all around the fireplace and mantle, and sometimes around the front door and dining room. For me, the more lights the better πŸ™‚

 

Gifting: There is actually nothing I like better than looking for a gift for someone I love. Gift giving is probably my favorite part of Christmas and I usually spend the whole year looking for gifts for people. And when I find one it’s so hard to wait until Christmas to give it to them πŸ™‚

 

Wrapping: As a fairly crafty person, wrapping presents is how I can use my artistic abilities to make the gift even better. I’m not super detailed in what I do, but I’ll be doing a post on that next time.

 

Playing Christmas Music: CD’s or on the piano, Christmas songs are awesome because they’re pretty easy to figure out and everyone knows them. I haven’t actually played for anyone much, but we’ll see if I can get over my nervousness and try it πŸ™‚

 

 

So, there we go; a few things that make Christmas special to me. Let me know in the comments what you love doing for Christmas!