santa's team

as one tends to do in this season, i've been thinking about santa claus. does he exist?

before you come to a conclusion,
i hope you've done your research and have read this.
and even better, in my opinion, is this.

and as a third evidence, i'd like to add a personal witness to this case.


quite possibly one of my favorite Christmas memories happened this year.

my young single adult ward gave Christmas to a little family in our town. i was very much privileged to be in charge of it. i found out the story of the family and plead their case to my ward members, just hoping that someone would participate.

not only did they participate, but they went the extra mile -- no, the extra few miles. people were so generous. so much that i had to double the assignments for gifts because so many were willing to give. and even then, people still donated food, extra items, and money to help the family.

it took some doing to gather and organize all the presents, including components people had volunteered for a good-sized Christmas meal. but by friday night at 9, everyone had come through and my front table was literally overflowing with gifts for this family.

after quadruple-checking my spreadsheet making sure everything was in place and properly labeled, three friends from the ward and i put everything in big plastic garbage bags. then headed out to make the delivery.

our excitement mounted (at least, i know mine did) in the chilly air as we knocked quietly on the door of the small apartment. this would be our first time meeting the mother; i had previously only talked with her on the phone.

she opened the door and we could tell she was excited. she beckoned us in and we crept quietly as to not wake the five sleeping children. we entered into a smallish living room with a sweet little tree decorated with homemade ornaments, whose lights were the only light source in the room.

i loved seeing her face as we brought in the bags for their family -- more and more bags. between the four of us, we were able to manage bringing the gifts in one trip, but there was still quite a bit.

the best part, however, was what the mother presented to us after we put down all the bags. next to the standard milk and cookies, their little family had made a Christmas card out of an entire poster board folded in half. it was heavily and wonderfully decorated. inside was six pockets, one for each child and the parents. the children had taped a picture of themselves on their respective pocket. inside the pockets were personalized letters to santa from each of them, thanking him for their Christmas. the grateful mother also wrote one as well.

on the way home, the boys in the backseat read the letters aloud. i was driving, so i couldn't look at the beautiful card quite yet, but my eyes got a little misty when i heard some of those words and realized the implications. this was more than just toys, clothing and food for them -- this was their reminder that they hadn't been forgotten. and i realized that we didn't really "give Christmas" to them at all -- they helped us find it.


some people ask if there is a santa claus.

so does he exist? absolutely. i felt him this season more than i ever have since i was young. santa exists, and like the writer in that article you were supposed to read up there, we were on his team.

as i come to understand santa's nature, i better understand the letters he writes to me throughout the years (the letters i still find next to the cookie crumbs and partial glass of milk on Christmas morning). he always makes a point to remind me that it is not him i should be celebrating, but Christ, from whom love really stems. 

because if you look in the right places, you can properly find Christmas. and if you properly find Christmas, you find Christ. and honestly, there's really no greater gift than that.


true story

i could do lots of things for a Christmas post.

but i especially liked this.

these kids obviously get it. do we?

hope your Christmas has been very merry!


see the lovely.

as i alluded in my last post, this has uncharacteristically been a really hard year for me to "feel" Christmas.

this morning, i woke up feeling a bit sick and was running extremely late to work. but as i drove, i saw a lady on the side of the road with a sign that said "tamales, $1" on it.

i thought to myself, ah, i wish i could but i'm already running so late... then i realized that i might not see her again, as i'd usually already be at work by that time. and then it struck me what that thought implied: i was in my car. was on my way to work. to sit in a comfy (and might i add, bouncy) chair in a nicely heated room in front of an expensive computer to make a decent chunk of money by designing cool-looking things.

i abruptly turned left onto a side road. i pulled over and checked my wallet. the only cash i had was my $2 bill. i felt like it would be kind of odd, giving her a $2 bill... shoot, i thought, well maybe i can get some cash and come by again when i don't work on friday....

so i pulled out to turn left to continue to work, when it donned on me -- duh, kristin. a $2 bill is still legitimate money. i turned right and pulled into the street next to where she was standing. as i approached her, she saw me and turned, putting her sign down. she was a sweet, tiny lady with a pure face.

as we greeted each other, her face honestly just completely lit up. i couldn't believe how happy she was that i was buying one little tamale. she had a happy, almost singsongy voice, with an innocent little girl quality. she spoke to me in spanish, which i understood, as i pulled out my 3 years of rusty high school spanish from the back of my brain in an attempted response. regardless, it didn't matter what language we spoke -- we didn't need to communicate with words to make each other's day. i bought my tamale, explaining that i needed no change, thanked her, and we parted.


right before i saw her, i had passed a cement barrier on the side of the road, where someone had pinned a series of pieces of paper in a line. on each paper there was a letter. the letters created the simple phrase "see the lovely."

right as i drove away, "where are you Christmas" came on the radio. yeah, it can be pretty overdone, but this time i think i heard it differently. i couldn't believe that i had tears in my eyes, but it was because that song embodied exactly just how i've been feeling this season. and then i paid attention to the last verse. and in the light of the experience i just had……



cartoon heart

this past weekend, my sanity came in the form of three very important and traditional holiday events, plus one other that was just plain fun.

friday was festivus.  saturday was muppets and nog.  sunday was caroling.  monday was tangled.

f e s t i v u s : :
"festivus for the rest of us!" you can read all about what wikipedia has to say about it here. basically, it's a made-up holiday from seinfeld (though i believe it's the only seinfeld episode i've ever seen) including a feast, a festivus pole instead of a Christmas tree, an "airing of grievances", and a "feats of strength" --where anyone can challenge anyone else to any sort of feat of strength. the party doesn't end til the host gets pinned.

a buncha "cool kids" started hosting their own festivus in high school, but i didn't know them well enough to feel like i could go.

since talisa is always one of the hostesses, i started attending festivus along with her her other parties during my college years (because we've been super close friends since we were...6 years old) and have gotten to know my old classmates in a different light, sans-high school clique. and i have come to really love and care about these people, so it makes it awesome. plus, we've gained a lot more friends along the way from all sorts of places.

the festivus bunch, 2011
f e s t i v u s    h i g h l i g h t s:
- grievances (often a highlight) -- i grieved that we didn't do festivus in sweden where talisa is. the grievance i read said "i grieve that some of you didn't dress up -- and in the presence of the festivus pole, no less!"
- everyone always looks so darn swanky.
- the inside jokes that form over the years. this round, i think about 3 people grieved over luke's mustache from last year, and he wasn't even there. so another grieved that he wasn't there this time so that they couldn't even give him grief about it.
- redeeming my dignity by winning a feats of strength of balance (after losing to britta last year...who needs to know how to blow a kazoo anyway?!....)
- so much cute offspring from my classmates! (many of whom ended up marrying each other, which is kinda fantastic)
- ...aaaand the after-party. this was honestly the best. i caught up with some friends with whom i've not really talked to for quite some time. for me, that was the best part of festivus this year. i really walked out on a high. i'm so blessed to have long-time friends!

provo high : class of '06

m u p p e t s  +  n o g .
"there's no such thing as strangers, when a stranger says hello!" when jeff lived in utah, he had a "muppet Christmas carol" and homemade eggnog party every year. since he's moved to texas, he's still been able to pull it off when he visits utah. it's cool, cuz jeff's the only common denominator between all of us. it's amazing what one person can do to glue lots of other people together. forgive me for deferring to his blog for this one, but he really sorta nailed it.

we found mark's face!
adding my two cents: this was a welcome relief to a really long and kind of disheartening day. and it really was one of my favorite muppet parties so far.

 c a r o l i n g ! 
"the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!" my family has hosted an annual caroling party for the past...21 years. give or take.

t h i s    y e a r ' s    n o r m a l i t i e s :
- met at 5pm
- everyone introduced themselves, how they knew us and how many years they've come to this tradition
- there were about 70 people this year, which was a good group (we've ranged from 25-90)
- headed out around 5:30 after gaining confidence by singing around the piano
- caroled  for about 45 minutes. and here's the cool thing -- we often carol to those who are sick, in need, or older in our neighborhood. we even have "regulars" to whom we carol :)
- when thoroughly frozen, we came back home to dethaw
- ...and ate and ate and ate. including my mom's famous cider stuff.
- and the after-party. they really are the best.

t h i s    y e a r ' s    a n o m a l i e s : 
- i decorated the tree the HOUR before it began. by myself. and i did most the lights while on the phone. boo-yah.
- it was lots of people's "first time" to caroling. ironically, many of these people i've known for multiple years (and others came who have been coming for literally more than 17 years!)
- jessicabarry (and talisa) and i were inseperable growing up and she finally made it to caroling. it was fun because after we caroled this year, jessica and i were able to talk with the older residents we caroled to and i realized how many wonderful memories i've had with these people.
- papa joe accompanied us on guitar. he and mama haynie are like my second parents. 
- the "married person" room. :D my brother kevin and his wife debbie, logan and tricia, murph and laura....what?! they were all in conversation for quite some time. for some reason, it was a little funny. weird. but cool. but weird. .......but cool.

like jeff is the glue for his party, i was the glue for caroling. i love having all my friends from different aspects of my life meet each other. gosh, it's a wonderful feeling.


i was sad not to get any pictures of the group this time around, however, i guess that's okay because we did catch the sweetest part of the night:

floyd + simon = roommates / buddies / our examples.
floyd and simon continually teach us what Christmas really is all about. as we were watching this sweet correspondence, britta leaned over and whispered, "i'm excited to see what they're like in heaven. best friends and all." and that was a lovely thought.

t a n g l e d ~
"stuck in the same place i've always been, wondering when will my life begin?" until last night, my teacher for this animation class, cynthia hogan, had never seen 'tangled'! so she very kindly invited all her classes over to her house to watch it. pizza and brownies were provided, as well as chocolate milk, so it was all sorts of guilty indulgement.

i really love hanging out with animators. there's such a vitality amidst them. and i super loved watching the movie with them -- i felt like we were all so much more into it than other groups with whom i've seen it.

c o n v e r s a t i o n    b i t :
...*SPOILER* (but honestly, if you haven't seen it by now, ...i doubt you care that this will spoil it?) -- one of my favorite parts was toward the end of the movie, when rapunzel's parents come out and see her for the first time. it was a super tender moment, but this is what made it awesome: scott commented aloud, "is it bad that all i can think of is, 'man, the rigs of those parents must be so much easier than the other characters!....' ?" we all chuckled, then cynthia retorted with, "well i'm sitting over here thinking, 'you can't marry him anyway -- he's not a prince!!" and everyone just busted up laughing. and even more so when scott responded with, "well, is he sultan or is he sultan?!!" -- quoting the end of aladdin where a similar circumstance occurs. which is extra funny, because cynthia actually animated the sultan in aladdin. the whole movie was riddled with exchanges like this between us (which honestly sometimes frustrates me, but not at all with this group -- the comments were too witty to not share).

and, um...as much as i hate to admit this, watching tangled reminds me that the little girl who really wants to be a princess and have a fairy tale story is still somewhere inside of me. i feel like it should be something that i should grow out of, but uh, as of now....nope.


oh, good times. each of these groups of people were different, and all had unique and wonderful dynamics. bottom lines...in order:

bottom line #1 -- there wasn't anything fantastic about festivus -- just an aluminum pole and some awesome people. but it was such a fantastic night. we've grown up, branched out and have experienced life since high school. and the group has gotten so much more diversified because of friends of friends of friends who come (and that whole marriage thing) -- that we're an eclectic bunch. it really is, "for the rest of us"!

bottom line #2 -- it's fascinating what or who can bring people can together, and how often we can find a new friend when we go outside of our comfort zone. it all starts with a mere "hello".

bottom line #3 -- music is (to me) so essential! it can make me feel happy or sad...or terrible, or angsty, or hopeful, or grateful, or just plain peaceful. i feel like it speaks to all emotions that can't be expressed in plain words. (by the way, i'd still love to know what you're listening to!) whether one could sing or not was completely irrelevant at caroling -- everyone sang because it made us happy, and in turn made those to whom we sang happy as well.

bottom line #4 -- life has already begun, and if we wait too long for something to happen, we'll miss it! so stop wondering and make things happen. something so cliché, but i'm still learning how to apply it.


lastly, it's easy to get mixed up in the worries of life at this time of year. even for those of us who really revere Christmas and especially Christ. i hope we take time to really remember the meaning of it all -- and especially what it means to us. i started wondering, what does it mean to me, individually? right now? and is that consistent with what i think it should mean to me? if not, i need to do something to change it. 

let's be like simon and floyd. let's be excellent. :) 


we'll go with that.

i've noticed a few things lately. i would write about them in immense detail, but i think they've been correctly summed up below:

via pinterest.


when you're still waiting for the snow to fall

i'm done with finals! .....kind of. long story; you'll hear about it soon.

for now, though, i wanted to remember that it is december: it is Christmas. and i LOVE Christmas! And the accompanying holiday music......well, when it's good. and since i've have been and continue to be caught up with finals and other such stresses, music is the one thing that reminds me that regardless of stressful things, it's still Christmas time.

mariah reminded me of this song and video, and i remembered how much i like it:

for a lot of reasons. by the way, mariah's been posting lots of Christmas music, so you should check out her picks.
speaking of which, what Christmas music are you rocking out to? i wouldn't complain if you leave a link or two in the comments. :) 


slivers become floods

i've been painting all day.

outside, mostly. because the light is better.

i've come in a few times to dethaw my toes and fingers.

and now i'm just thinking of this.

i hope i get my painting done.


everything's not lost

so....this finals week thing? you know, those two hand-drawn animations i have to complete by tuesday and that big 3.5' x 4' painting i have to finish by monday? you know, the projects that, due to many, many setbacks i kind of just started this week for real? ...i just might be able to pull it off. we'll see.

oh yeah, and the fixing my car and getting the wrong parts ordered 3 times...thing, the singing in two ensembles and performing monday immediately after my final while i'm sick...thing, and the teaching relief society tomorrow thing? i think i can do that, too.

but either way, i haven't been doing it on my own. i'm dead serious.
"God does notice us and he watches over us, but it is usually through another person that he meets our needs."
- spencer w. kimball

thank you, all of you people who have helped me get through this week. i think you know who you are. God's taking care of all of us. He's got it covered. which is, i think, a pretty cool...thing.


time on your side

"when we don't waste time, we always have enough."

someone famous said that and i wrote in my quote journal when i was maybe 15. i've always remembered it, but have never been able to successfully implement the concept.

time management is something that has always been a weakness. while making breakfast, i listened to this talk today. it was good that i woke up at 5:30 and carefully planned my day before listening; i was already pumped up to be productive.
favorite parts (but read the whole thing; i feel like these are spoilers):
As we follow the command to “cease to be idle” (D&C 88:124), we must be sure that being busy also equates to being productive.
[Regarding social media] As good as these things are, we cannot allow them to push to one side those things of greatest importance. How sad it would be if the phone and computer, with all their sophistication, drowned out the simplicity of sincere prayer to a loving Father in Heaven. Let us be as quick to kneel as we are to text.
[Regarding internet distractions] I urge each of us to take those things which rob us of precious time and determine to be their master, rather than allowing them through their addictive nature to be the master of us.
Time marches swiftly forward to the tick of the clock. Today would be a good day, while the clock of mortality ticks, to review what we are doing to prepare to meet God.
next week is finals week, and my finals are on monday and tuesday. i've had a lot of setbacks these last few weeks, but i am hereby dedicating myself to use my time doing things of most importance. it's important to remember that this isn't limited only to school, but that's part of it. i am determined to be the master of my time.

so i just signed out of gmail and changed my facebook password to make it ridiculously long so i'll think twice before logging in. my phone's on silent and i'll check it when my timer goes off. yeeeeeaah. it's go time.

what do you do to manage your distractions?


iridescent light

i've been experiencing a lot of different emotions lately.

they are emotions i've felt before, but funneled through different experiences i've never experienced, it's almost as though they become new emotions.

dealing with them has been...challenging.

for example, today i left class early because my headache was getting worse. mariah picked me up and dropped me off. i'm safe in my home now, but i still feel very...unstable. against better judgment, i would have gone for a run but my headache is almost a migraine. so, next best thing: i put on my dance clothes and danced. i have no idea what it looked like (which is usually an obvious and essential part of dance) but it felt good. i got a little bit of relief there. not as much as i usually do, because of my limited physical condition, and i only danced to one song. and sure enough, when i sat down, my headache was back with a vengeance. so now i'm sitting here, writing this all out with pounding in my head, just so i can record yet another very human moment.

i had known exactly what song i wanted to dance to; it was a song that i heard over a year ago in carnegie hall, composed by eric whitacre. there is one line in the song that explains how i often feel so perfectly, and its melody has kind of haunted me since. after hearing it live once, then replaying it in my head for over a year, i don't know why i didn't look it up until 15 minutes ago.

but that's a different story for a different time. sufficeth to say, treading unfamiliar water is always difficult and you tend to breathe in a lot of chlorine (or salt, or whatever is in the water) but breathing is a sign that at least you're still alive. and living is, well, important.