Top 5 Favorite Christmas Songs Countdown (Etc.). . .

IMG_7942.JPGOver the weekend, I toured Winterthur with some friends. Winterthur (pronounced “winter-tour”) is the former estate of Henry Francis du Pont, an avid and eccentric collector. I enjoyed seeing the house with its many beautiful rooms, amazing hand-painted wallpaper, period furniture, and especially several Christmas-themed vignettes with a variety of beautiful Christmas trees (some of them are pictured above).

In my last post, I described my desire to stay focused on a few key values during this Christmas season & I do feel like my “10-ish Questions” have been helping me to stay grounded. How are you feeling about the holiday–any stresses?

In this week’s post, I’m just taking some time (while sipping Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Green Tea) to compile a “Top 5 Favorite Christmas Songs” Countdown, so you can just take a little de-stressing music break if you’d like.

Sidenote: I’m refusing to put on the local radio stations that are playing Christmas music non-stop. I can’t handle, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” or “Dominick the Donkey” just yet, but I have enjoyed listening to a few select songs on my own terms.🙂 If those two are your favorites, more power to you! 


My Top 5 Favorite Christmas Songs

#5 – Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (There are many good versions of this song, but I’m sharing the Charlie Brown version because the Peanuts Christmas Special is always a fun part of my Christmas traditions.)

#4 – Silent Night (Ok, so this is a pretty country-ified version of it, but how fun is that?!😉 I’ve always really liked this song at Christmas time. Whenever I hear it, I remember singing it by candlelight at the end of Christmas Eve church services at my Grandparents’ church.)

#3 – It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (There’s not much to say about this. Just a true classic, beautifully performed.)

#2 – What Child Is This? (Hard to compete with the vocals and orchestration on this recording . . . simply beautiful.)

#1 – I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (Our church Choir performed this a few years ago, and it has been a favorite ever since. I really like the inclusion of a children’s choir, and I also love how honest the lyrics are about desiring peace on earth, especially after a year that has felt a little too frantic in many ways.)


And now it’s your turn: I’d love to hear about (and listen to) some of your favorite Christmas songs. Would you leave a comment & tell me about them?

Have a wonderfully Merry week,

❤ Nicole


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10(ish) Creative Questions to Ask Yourself This Holiday Season:

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This past weekend, I visited my Parents for a few days. I had a lovely Thanksgiving Day “feast” with extended family and spent some time catching up, relaxing, and . . . yes, a bit of shopping. I also found myself doing some thinking about the holiday season in general and what I’d like the next month of my life to look like.

Here, I have to admit my temptation to get sucked into every single possible event, decoration, craft, movie, recipe, sale, and display the Christmas season can offer – more and more. Glitter on EVERYTHING!

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I’m not saying there’s anything specifically wrong with a whole lot of Christmas merriment, but I do know that my heart is craving something different this year, and I’m having to really wrestle to listen to that craving and make different choices.

I think it’s a real exercise in creativity to ask myself how I can slide past some of the things that tend to lure my attention, finances, or spirit and tap into an experience of the holidays that’s more grounded in a few key personal values. I’m asking myself some specific questions, so I thought I’d share them with you in case you’d like to ask them too.

Note: I celebrate Christmas, but I think most of these could apply to other holiday traditions.

10(ish) Creative Questions to Ask Yourself This Holiday Season:

  • Am I doing something because I feel it will bring happiness, or just because “It’s what we do”? Will I have regrets (or hurt anyone) if I let certain things go?
  • Am I purchasing something because I think it’s worth it and useful to me or a loved one, or just because “It’s on sale” or “It’s shiny”?
  • Am I eating something because it will nurture my body or is a special/occasional treat, or am I grazing mindlessly on the seemingly endless array of cookies, cakes, and candies, pushing down stress and storing up discouragement?
  • Am I filling my time up with things that just entertain me, or am I making time to build memories and feed relationships for the future?
  • Am I giving gifts out of a truly generous spirit, or are my attitudes in any way reflecting pride or selfishness?
  • What do I really feel when I’m in a crowded, loud retail environment at the holidays? Is it excitement, fun, festivity and glee . . . or over-stimulation, frustration, disconnection or despair? Will I take the time to actually self-check?
  • When I reflect on this season come January, what will I be most glad to remember about it? What would I most wish I had done differently?
  • What can I do (that I may never have done before) that would change my holiday experience for the better?
  • Is there anything my heart is nudging me to do or try this season that I find myself afraid to embrace? If so, why? Will I push past the fear and demonstrate my courage?
  • Do I actually believe that God came to earth in the form of a human baby named Jesus? If I do, how should it shape my choices or my joy this month?

If you ask yourself any of these questions and find that the answers improve your holiday experience in any way, I’d love to hear about it . . . would you post a comment & let me know?

I’d like to leave you with a short video I watched this week that shows some young men being “selfish” in a fun, creative way:

Wishing you a lovely holiday season that really feels like the most wonderful time of the year.
❤ Nicole


Would you like to click “Follow” to be notified each time I post? I promise you’ll never be bombarded with spammy e-mails. My regular schedule is a weekly post [usually] every Monday & sometimes I add a mid-week “Collecting Creativity” post about other creative topics.

Collecting Creativity 7 – Relaxing Creative Projects 

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As a follow-up to my most recent post about Silence, I wanted to share a bonus “Collecting Creativity” post about relaxing with creative projects . . .

. . . long deep breath . . .

Creating simple art projects in silence or with soft music playing can be a meditative and/or inspiring experience. With the holiday season upon us, it’s a great time to think of small, simple things you can do to collect yourself and stay grounded.

Over the past few years, several of these types of creative relaxation activities (such as coloring and drawing zentangles) have been trending. I confess, I still find coloring more stressful than relaxing, so I think it’s good to remember that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. You can try a few different things to see what feels right for you. I really enjoy taking paints and brushes and making abstract patterns on paper or panels (one of these is featured above).

I’ve collected a couple of links with other creative suggestions and have noted one of my favorite ideas from each link, but there are many more there to explore:

20 Art Therapy Activities You Can Try at Home to Destress
“Map Out Your Heart” is one of my favorites from this list. The suggestion is to actually draw out a map breaking up different regions and spaces within your heart, filling in the spaces with either various colors or with images cut from magazines or old books.

6 Art Activities to Help Boost Self-Esteem
From this list, I most like the idea of creating a mask that represents your outer self and then one that represents your inner self. How would they be different? Don’t shy away from this if you’re sensitive to the term “self-esteem” — you might be surprised.

Would you like to give any of these a try? Do you have other favorite types of projects you find relaxing?

If you’re creating relaxation, I’d love to hear about it — or see it!

I’m going to go chill out now. Peace.😉
Nicole


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