I cannot believe that the holidays are approaching. For those that celebrate Hannukah, the first night is December 10th with Christmas just a few weeks later. I don’t know about you, but my mailbox, both email and actual mailbox, is filled with catalogs and discount coupons. Black Friday deals are out earlier than they have ever been and the shopping season has begun.
For the past four years, my business partner and I have run the blog HaveUHeard. Its premise is that College Is Complicated. We set out to provide insider information from current students and parents; a been there, done that approach from trusted sources so that other parents would have this virtual village all in one location. If I learned one thing over the past four years (trust me, I learned a lot more than one thing) is that it truly does take a village.
My first awareness of a do-good brand supporting a social issue was Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. I was too young to be impressed with anything other than their amazing ice cream but since their onset, they have adhered to their mission while still making amazing ice cream. Today, I am keenly aware of the social issues that brands get behind.
I came across a quote recently that encapsulates my life’s goals; “I’d rather have a passport full of stamps, than a house full of stuff.” Tbh, I did not even own a passport until six years ago having only traveled domestically. Truthfully, I was fortunate enough to be raised by parents who loaded all four of us girls in the car every summer and we went on driving trips in the U.S. Of course, and I do believe this was to keep us quiet and occupied, we were each assigned a state and decided what places we would visit in that state.
We are approaching what is considered to be the happiest time of the year...Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, other holidays, New Year’s… for many of us, it is a time of joy, reflection, and family. Holidays can also be a very difficult time for those who are alone and those who have lost someone. I was raised in a family that always welcomed friends to share in our family holiday time so now to be facing the holidays while trying to balance protecting our matriarchs in the family, is forcing us to redefine how we celebrate.
My first trip to Europe was in London. We chose this destination for several reasons including the fact that we would not have a language barrier. My younger daughter and I planned out most of the trip including must-see visits to London’s iconic sites. I ran it by a friend who is from London to see if we were trying to pack in too much in five short days. Just last year, on a trip with my sister to Israel, we had a layover in London. We decided to spend two days in London and then travel on and had the most amazing time so I have included some spots we went to on this trip as well.
“What’s it like being a twin?” I always find this to be such an odd question because I don’t know what it’s like not being a twin. Oftentimes, I want to ask, “what’s it like being a solo child.” But, because multiples seem to be so interesting to people, I try to put my sassiness aside. If I were to think about the best part of being a twin is that you never feel alone. You always have someone that has your back.
When we dropped our daughter off at college, her dad and I and her younger sister drove away, tears streaming down our faces (well not her sister’s face). We’d return home as a family of three which took on a whole new personality. This was the first of many life shifts I came to understand. It took some time for us to adjust to the empty chair at the dinner table and to cooking for three and only having to chauffeur one child around. It was different. Not good different, not bad different … just different.
This was my first Hallmark experience so I had no idea they had a whole arsenal of movies. There were winter-themed movies, Valentine’s Day, of course, Spring, Summer, Wedding, Fall Harvest, and then the anticipated 7 night Thanksgiving event leading up to Christmas. I could now spend the entire year sucked into the Vortex of Hallmark.
In case you did not already know, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year even in Florida. Sure there is no fall foliage minus the brown palm fronds that seem to drop this time of year and, in my 48 years of living down here, the weather typically is in the high 70’s or low 80’s. Even with the lack of fall colors everywhere, the holiday still holds a special place in my heart. Throughout my entire life, my mom has always hosted Thanksgiving dinner. We were welcome to include friends that did not have a place to celebrate. My mom would find a way to make tables fit even if it meant moving furniture out of the way (that’s a whole other story).