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Six Reasons to Smile December 2017

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Annual trek to an Olivenhain neighborhood to see their Christmas lights display

December is, usually, the easiest month to come up with six reasons to smile because there’s so much going on with the holidays, my birthday, parties, etc., and this December was no different.

The first reason to smile was good news from the doctor.  I started out the first day of December with news that the abnormal cyst found in October at a routine visit had dissolved.  I think I started to cry a bit from relief.  Not only could I stop worrying about my health but I could finally focus on Christmas (not that I did, but I could. Huge distinction).

My second reason to smile was Madison coming home from college for Christmas break just in time to help me celebrate my birthday.  I miss her so much when she’s gone even though I know she’s where she needs to be.

In an odd twist, Devon also came home in December.  Her roommate decided to attend graduate school so Devon no longer had someone to help with the rent.  Coincidentally, Devon also decided what she wanted to be when she grew up (sometimes it takes some of us longer than others–*points finger at self), so this was a bonus smile in December.  Devon is going back to school to pursue her interest in marketing!

I’ve known my neighbors almost 20 years.  20 years!  In my first 20 years of life, I believe I moved about 24 times so for me to stay in one house for 20 years is insane.  I’m not saying that I don’t want to move (I do) but for now, this’ll work.  A family moved into the rental house on the cul-de-sac and revitalized the neighborhood.  So many families have come and gone from that rental and sometimes we knew the people pretty well but mostly we didn’t, but Anita and Jared—it’s like they’ve always been there.  Anita and Jared have brought our little neck of the woods back to life and one way they did this is by starting an annual tradition of a Progressive Dinner.  Although the progressive dinner caused me considerable stress and eight hours of cleaning for an hour and a half event where everyone was outside and not witnessing my filthy floors, I love it and look forward to the party.  This year’s dinner was the second annual and I can’t wait for the third annual.  Maybe I’ll even seek to perfect a recipe to share for next December.

Many of the Christmas traditions gave me a reason to smile.  Madison insisted that we do all of the traditions while she’s home, so we did all the stuff we do to celebrate the fun side of Christmas.  We made peanut blossoms, Magic Bars, and homemade fudge.  We put up Christmas lights outside.  We all went out to find the tree despite the fact that we never agree on which tree.  We also made and decorated Christmas cookies.  We had a Christmas Eve dinner that included one of my favorite dishes that is so easy to make, and after Christmas Eve dinner, we went to a neighborhood where they go all out with Christmas lights.  Christmas dinner is also somewhat of a tradition in that it’s a meat dish.  This year it was tri-tip from the Cardiff Seaside Market where the tri-tip is lovingly (and somewhat alarmingly) called ‘Cardiff Crack‘ because it’s that good.  My Christmas dinner turned out perfectly–this made me smile because I wasn’t sure I could make a good tri-tip.  My last one was a disaster.  2017’s tri-tip was sooooooooo good, so that certainly made me smile.

Finally, I attended a New Year’s Eve party at a neighbor’s house that had a casino theme.  We played Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, and the host had an amazing VR system.  We had to volunteer to work the tables so that was certainly fun.  Scott, one of the neighbors, was very quick witted, and kept the Blackjack table laughing.  I got to hold a neighbor’s baby for a long time and give the parents a break.  It’s good to be needed.  At a few minutes past midnight, we sang Happy Birthday to the dad.  There’s nothing like 40-50 people singing a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday while semi/fully intoxicated!

Bonus: Devon got ahold of dog hair clippers and took Brody from looking like a bear to looking like a naked mole rat.  I asked her why she didn’t stop when she saw that her skills were lacking, but I don’t think she had an answer.  All the money Devon saved on grooming, we spent on sweaters for poor, shivering Brody!

So those were a few reasons to smile in December.  What made you smile?  Share them in the comments below.

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