Merry Christmas! Starbucks Card GIVEAWAY TODAY

Friday, December 19, 2014

UPDATE:  Congrats to Anna Cushingham who won the giveaway!  Enjoy your lattes!  :)

Merry Christmas!

Less than a week until the big day, and if you're like me, you could use a BOOST!  While I can't personally hug or high five each one of you, I can give you a chance to win today's giveaway - a $10 STARBUCKS CARD!  Woohoo!

Caption this silly vintage Christmas Ad below for your chance to win!  

"Beers and Bows: Holiday Staples since 1942!"
-Anna Cushingham


I'll reveal the winner on MONDAY MORNING (12/22) so you'll be caffeinated in time to stay up until midnight on Christmas Eve as you assemble that toy with a million pieces and four missing screws.  (How does that always happen!?)

Leave a caption in the comments here, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram or email me directly at

Here's to keeping our spirits merry and bright!  Have fun and Happy Holidays!

Christmas Wars: Why Everyone Needs to Chill Out About Santa vs. Jesus

Monday, December 15, 2014

We've got ten days until Christmas.  Are you feeling overwhelmed? *hug*

I don't know about you, but it seems like every day I see a new article or blog floating around the Internet about people's take on Christmas traditions:

Why we don't let our children do Elf on the Shelf.  Why we don't lie to out kids about Santa.  Why our kids only get three gifts just like the wise men gave. Why the way we celebrate Christmas is the way Jesus intended it to be celebrated. (Okay, maybe not the last one, but they all pretty much have the same subtext!)

And on and on.

People are all OVER the spectrum on the whole Santa vs. Jesus topic, and their not afraid to spill their guts out about why their approach is the most intricately considered method that will deliberately help mold their child for the better.

Well, that's all quite fine.  But, frankly, as long as you are keeping Jesus and family at the center, then I. JUST. DON'T. CARE. how you go about doing it.  Santa, no Santa.  Elf, no Elf.  Candy and presents, simple Stockings.   Gluten free fruitcake, gingerbread houses.

I'm over it.  I read these articles and I start doubting my parenting.  I get fearful I've already gone too far down the Santa path.  I get anxious I'm accidentally raising spoiled rotten heathens who will grow up to  be liars and thieves.  Am I a hypocrite for hiding the Elf and then taking my kids to church?  Geesh, you gotta be careful who you tell your approach to these days or you might be eternally judged for where you lie on the Santa spectrum!

The number of Nativities in my home makes me no more of a Christian than before.  Asking my kids what they want from Santa for Christmas makes me no less of a Christian either.  And, my kids will not grow up to be psychopaths - well, at least not because our Christmas traditions steered them down the wrong road.  Of this, I am certain.

I'm not here to defend the Elf on the Shelf or tell you that you should hop on the Santa bandwagon or even to get you to realize that (hello?) JESUS is and always will be the true reason for the season.

Choosing Christmas traditions has become just as distracting as the new Target commercials (I can not get "Marshmallow World" out of my head!) We're ALL inundated with ads for toys and deals and food that distracts us from the precious miracle of Christ.  Must we add to this dilemma by filling up the cracks with fear and doubt about how we survive this season?  Do we need to criticize each others' parenting approaches and Christmas customs as part of our Christian duty?  I'm gonna say "um, no."

Parents.  Simmer down

As a mother, I absolutely love this season of celebration with my kids.  As a consumer, I like the glitz and glam and the hubbub of finding the perfect gift for someone. As a Christian, I weep at the thought of how miraculous the true story of Jesus' birth affects me to this day.  As a future Marriage & Family Therapist, I sleep well at night knowing that Santa or Elf on the Shelf are not to blame for the corruption of children everywhere.

There are far more important battles to fight here, folks.  We've all got plenty to lay down at the feet of Jesus and lift up in prayer.  We've got burdens and worries and broken hearts aplenty.  No doubt this world is filled with enough fear and guilt as it is.  Let's let this one go.

Every Christian family celebrates the birth of Christ differently.  And as Believers, we can keep Jesus on center stage while still watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" with our kids.  We have the freedom to worship the birth of our Savior and then eat an entire plate of peppermint bark.  We can teach our kids our family traditions (from grandma's cookie recipe to Elf on the Shelf) while keeping the reality of Jesus fresh all year round.

We need no less balance this time of year than any other season in our lives.  Period.

Chill out, guys, it's gonna be okay.  Be merry.  Be bright.  If we can all team up and keep Jesus in our traditions, however that looks, then December 25th will be all the more miraculous.

Separating the Man from the Myth: Why It's Okay to Love Cliff Huxtable

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Like the rest of you, I've been shocked, saddened, and totally in denial of the allegations regarding Bill Cosby that are flooding the media everywhere.  I can't bear to pick up that new People magazine or read any more articles about the 21 (and counting) women who have come forward with horrific accounts.  It makes me sick to my stomach, and not because I know Bill Cosby at all.

But, all I desperately want is for someone to stand up and say "It's okay to still love Cliff Huxtable!" So, that's what I'm doing now.

I don't know Mr. Cosby.  I got to see him perform once, years ago, at the Orange County State Fair.  It was silly, nostalgic, and kind of surreal to see such a legend create comedy out of thin air.  But, beyond the occasional TV interview, I know nothing of the man himself.  To me, Bill Cosby is the myth - unknown, distant, and now completely unrelatable.  I don't know him.

But, I know Cliff Huxtable.  I've seen every episode of The Cosby Show multiple times, like many of you, and I vividly remember wiping tears off my cheeks when I watched the finale on TV.

Cliff Huxtable was kind, brilliant, hilarious, respectful, responsible, and would be completely disgusted at the despicable acts that Mr. Cosby is being accused of.  It would sicken him.  It would make him sit his five children down and discuss the importance of integrity in this mess-of-a-world.

Cliff Huxtable is NOT Bill Cosby.  Cliff Huxtable is the man.  A good man.  The man who brought laughter and truth into my heart and home every week of my childhood.  The man who loved his wife with humor and grace.  The man who taught his children how to make the world a better, safer place.

The Huxtable family didn't just teach me about family dynamics, it taught me about diversity and gender equality.  See, I grew up on a farm in the middle of Kansas.  I went to a high school of 98 kids and graduated with a class size of 16.  (Did I mention this was a public high school comprised of three neighboring towns?)

The reality of growing up like this is that I didn't get to know anyone who wasn't white until college.  (I know - it's even hard for me to believe.)  And almost all the moms I knew didn't work outside the home.  But, because I grew up in a home where love, equality, and integrity were held in high value, I didn't bat an eye when I welcomed the Huxtables into our living room each week.  The Huxtables weren't an "impressive African-American family with a working mother and father" - they were just a family!  They set a norm for me - and an expectation that a "healthy family" can look a lot of different ways.

These truths, these positive memories, these endearing and nostalgic attachments I hold to the television show have nothing to do with the reality of Mr. Cosby today.  Nothing can take that away from me, or you, or our children who might watch reruns with us in the future.  And while I fiercely cringe at the horrifying thought of what may have gone on behind the scenes of his personal life, I refuse to let the headlines strip me away the virtues of the Huxtable family.  You don't get to do that, Mr. Cosby, you can't take that away from us.

So, if no one else is saying it - I'm saying it:  I love Cliff Huxtable.  And when I see hoagies or crazy sweaters in the future, I'm going to smile and embrace my memories with open arms.  In the meantime, I pray justice is served for Mr. Cosby while peace and insurmountable grace be given to those women who have come forward - that's what Cliff would have wanted too.

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