Magazines, print or digital stack up in my home.  I can’t let them go until I have had time to slowing savor all the imagery and ideas that go into their marketing.  Last week as I was sifting through everything holiday I came across a recipe for a holiday Moscow Mule.  One that was garnished with a sprig of rosemary and sugared cranberries.  As I passed the recipe out via text to all those I knew would appreciate it I got to thinking.  I turned to my husband and said, “We are going to have a part this weekend” he looked at me with a, “what does she have planned now.” twinkle in his eye.

That is what the holidays are about anyway right?  Connecting and reconnecting.  Frankly I miss that connection some days.  The connection of people in the same room.  Laughing, connecting and talking.  The virtual world makes it easy to bypass those opportunities and slide into online notes of, “Hope you are having a happy holiday!” click…… send.  As I get older I am getting tired of those.  I find myself thinking of ways to carve out time to connect in a deeper way.  A big reason I am grateful for neighbors!  They make it easy.

Generally an email asking what you are doing on a friday in December comes back as, “Im busy, lets try January.”  Not neighbors though.  They show up and ours did just that.  I pulled out the twinkly candles and we celebrated friendship, future and this big full 2015.

As I was rearranging and planning I was asking myself why I stopped these gatherings years ago.  I used to have 2 a month when the kids were babies.  It is almost like I lived 2 lives.  One with great personal connection, batches of pasta on friday nights with big birthday celebrations and one with quiet weekend beginnings with just my immediate family, Dominos pizza and a bottle of wine.  The fact is life gets in the way.  Life is busy, hard and the responsibility of raising kids pushes us in all directions.  When that happens fridays welcome a little peace on earth and in our kitchens.  I guess family growth is a little ying and a little yang.  I am ok with that.

As we suit up for the remainder of this holiday season I am feeling the need for more and I a grateful that we are surrounded by people who are feeling the same way.   What a roller coaster and I feel grateful to be riding along this big, loud, vivacious, difficult and crazy family of mine.

A glimpse into our perfectly connected weekend of friends and family.

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The JOY project has become an important part of our holidays thanks to my mom (you can read about it here and here).  Although we continue to support our Samuel through Mighty Acorn Foundation.  This year we also chose a veteran.  We are so aware of all those in need around the holidays but this family of a brave veteran is extra special to us.  I love the saying, “When you know more you do more.”  I have a wonderful friend, Modie who lost her only son.  He bravely gave his life for our freedoms, our country.  Since he enlisted Modie devoted a great deal of time to the military.  She made sure her son and those who were with him knew they were missed and cared for by gathering people to assemble care packages.  Now she works to ensure the veterans struggling know someone is pulling for them.  She has educated me over the years on how under appreciated they are.  I am grateful for her and her mission.  So this year our JOY project was in honor of her and her son, Conner.

We talked about what our adopted veteran did for our country with our children.  We asked them each to write him a personal note letting him know we appreciate our freedoms that he so freely gave to us as we wrapped each gift.  It takes a village to do better and be better.  I hope our children remember that as they grow.

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As we close in on the holidays gratitude is not a strong enough word I feel for all of you, our friends and our family.  I feel lucky to be here, living and growing with all of you.

Happy Hump Day! OX  Katie