Friday, December 21, 2012

A Christmas Together

John Denver and The Muppets...still my most favorite Christmas album of all time. (More for the memories than for the actual album, I think.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I hate to confess that I've now had more Christmases as an adult than I did as a child. So that also means that I've traveled more Christmases too. I've loved maintaining so many great friendships back home and Christmas has always been an exciting time for reunion. Being "stuck" in Salt Lake for Christmas this year might be one of my least favorite things about 2012...and 2012 has really given me a long list to pick from.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Breakfast

The Denneys don't really do a formal Christmas Eve or Christmas Day formal dinner, but I still count on breakfast to have the same menu each year; scrambled eggs with cheese and ham, cherry pastry, wassail, and toast. 
(Seriously mom, I still expect this...every year.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Big Reveal

For as long as we lived on Cherry Way, we saw Christmas morning exactly the same way each year. All of our bedrooms were upstairs and Brett (the youngest) would bounce between our rooms encouraging us to get out of bed. My mom and dad would go downstairs (dad to start the video camera, and mom to finish elvish touches) and we would line up, by age, on the stairs. And then, we the camera man gave us our cue, we would rush down the stairs to see what had been left for us.
It has been fun in recent years to go back and watch Christmas morning after Christmas morning as we moved through our childhood. It's hilarious to see how much we've changed...and how much we've stayed the same. We were lucky that as children, we had parents who were always able to make that day pretty magical.

Monday, December 17, 2012


Our family typically attends a big blockbuster on Christmas afternoon. I don't remember exactly which movies we've seen, but I remember piling into the car together and hitting the theater. And I don't know that my favorite Christmas movie is one that we saw together, but The Elf with Will Ferrell might always be my favorite!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Company Christmas Party

So, you know what I don't miss about being employed? Having to attend a company Christmas Party. I appreciate that a lot of thought and effort is invested in these events...but maybe I never appreciated it enough. Or maybe I just worked too many hours each week to look forward to an entire evening with the people I'd just spent 60+ hours with. Or maybe this time of the year just really makes me want to nap.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gift Wrapping

I have almost always been the official family gift wrapper. I would climb down to the basement with bags of everyone's gifts and dive into my mom's collection of paper and tissue and ribbon and tags. There were even years when my mom when deliver a stack of unmarked boxes with instruction to resist the urge to peek inside and just wrap them with my name on them. 
Even recent years have found me, in the basement with a pile of items waiting. Although I kind of like the assignment, I just wasn't feeling up to it this year. Thanks to a clearance shelf in a hobby store, I'm taking major short cuts and everything is getting wrapped in christmas deco chinese take-out containers...I may never go back.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Doorstep Surprises

I remember driving home from some practice or game or rehearsal each night leading up to Christmas and being anxious to see what treat had been left by family friends or neighbors on the doorstep. There was never a shortage of goodie plates.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12 Days of Christmas

Every year out family would identify at least one other family for 12 Days of Christmas. My mom deserves most of the credit, as she purchased fun gifts and wrote original limericks. We simply did the delivery/doorbell dash portion.
The final night, Christmas Eve, we'd deliver a Christmas wreath and sing a couple carols and reveal ourselves as the sneaks. There was always a lot of laughter as we discussed near catches and strategy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Up on the Housetop...

I remember a Christmas Eve night, some time after I had learned the "magic" behind Santa's feat, when I awoke in the middle of the night and heard noise on the roof. I sat up in my bed for awhile listening...and I kid you not, I heard jingle bells. I knew better than to expect any of that, and while my parents were dutiful in their part as magician assistants, they were never that dedicated. But I stand by the memory even today, and I think the desire to believe in the things that make me happy, even when there is evidence that I should cease, continues to define me in some ways.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Lights

I remember looking forward to turning onto Cherry Way to see my home lit up in red and white.

Monday, December 10, 2012

New Tires

When I have to replace the tires on my car, it always occurs sometime between my birthday and Christmas. This year was no different and as I sat in the waiting area this afternoon I remembered a Christmas Miracle. Maybe 15 years ago, when I was making pitiful money and managing it poorly, I found myself up against Christmas break with bald tires and no money to replace them. I was going to miss Christmas with my family for the first time in my life and, I confess, I was bummed.
A few days before Christmas, after Provo had emptied of my friends and family, I received a call from a tire shop in town. The man on the phone told me that tires for my car had been purchased, and that he needed to schedule an install appointment. An anonymous donor had made arrangements for me to get the tires I needed and with enough time to drive to Denver to make it home in time for the holidays. It was incredibly humbling. The shop owner refused to reveal the name of my Santa Claus, and all I could do was sit in the waiting room and write a Thank You note and hope it was sincere enough.
The past two years have been tight, but I have been blessed again to have enough to take care of the necessities. I look forward to being well soon and paying things forward.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I started lessons over 30 years ago. I'm pretty decent for a non-professional musician, but I don't pull the violin out often. However, I can always count on dusting it off for the holiday season. Usually it's a church performance, but I can't help but test my memory each year to make sure I still know Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. It is a basic piece that, quite frankly, sounds terrible on the violin...but it's a memory that has stayed with me for a lot of years. (And if you're reading this, and we took lessons from the same teacher as a kid, you totally have that screechy song stuck in your head now too! You're welcome.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Growing up in Denver and now living in Salt Lake means that when I close my eyes and picture Christmas, Christmas is covered in snow. So when the storm kicked in tonight to lay a few inches down over the top of the lights, I cheerfully tuned the radio to the carols and gave in to the spirit of it all.
I know that Arizona and Florida still celebrate the holiday, and talk about reindeer and snowmen...but it just can't be the same when you do it in shorts and flip flops. I like the white stuff.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Grandpa Bill

Pearl Harbor Day always causes me to remember my mom's Dad, Billy Beuford Sifford. He was a Colonel in the Air Force and completely lived up to the description of an honorable former military man.

Thinking of him led me to a Christmas memory that may have been the conclusion of the Denneys going anywhere for Christmas. The station wagon was packed tight with hidden gifts for the road trip to Vegas, and the Colorado weather was typical for winter. I remember cold and dark. The rest of this gets a little foggy...we either drove to Vegas on Christmas Eve???...or home to Denver on Christmas Day??? I don't know, it was 30 years ago!!! And speaking of 30 years ago, the holidays meant that stores were closed on those days so that everyone could spend time with family. Well, all stores except 7-11. Which is where Christmas Eve/Day? dinner came from. I guess my foodie side can be credited for the vivid memory of eating soggy gas station, pre-packaged sandwich for Christmas. It was disgusting...but 30 years later, kind of funny.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Martha McMullin is the "hostess with the mostess" and has generously included our family in a night of laughter and singing for years. None of us are outstanding vocalists, but I think we were pretty fun to have show up on your porch!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Church Christmas Parties

I have surprisingly vivid memories back to an early age of attending church Christmas parties. I don't think our family ever missed a year especially since I think my mom usually had some hand in organization and my dad almost always put away chairs and vacuumed afterward.

There is one year that really sticks out to me. It was a Saturday morning at the Stake Center, I don't think my youngest brother had been born yet. I remember a really convincing Santa and Mrs. Claus and purchasing terribly cheap presents for my family in "Santa's Shop". I also remember going home with a stocking full of unshelled peanuts. I think my siblings and I were all wearing 80's style sweat suits...weird that I remember (or think I remember) all of this.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Birthday!!

If you have a December birthday, even as early as the 4th, it becomes a Birthday/Christmas memory. But I don't mind. I'm not the greatest gift receiver and in the past Christmas has been a great way to redirect the generosity of my friends. I always host my own party (I have good reasoning for everyone to do the same...but, I'm still the only believer). I loved using my birthday as an excuse to gather my friends for a casual dinner at my home and ask them to bring the cash they might have spent on a dinner or gift to spend the evening playing elf. I would identify a family or individuals with needs and we would break into groups to purchase as much as we could then bring it back to the house for a wrapping party. I loved those years!

Today was nothing like those former birthdays. It was a whirlwind of activity and friends and I can't believe how fast it flew. I'd love to return to my old tradition soon, but today was a great day of celebration. My 30-something birthday's have had a "blech" feel to them (my own bad attitude), and I used to mourn all of my missed opportunities and failed efforts. But this year is different. This year I feel lucky to be alive. I feel fortunate to be in a situation where I can hope for a better future. I am anxious to have many more it was fun to celebrate and be celebrated!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Cookies

I may have been relegated to assistant when it came to decorating, but after a few years of sitting at the counter unwrapping mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, I worked my way up to some solo kitchen assignments. Two of my favorites made an appearance in my own kitchen tonight and I smiled through the mixing, baking, and clean-up!

Sunday, December 2, 2012


I have never really decorated for the holiday. I might be decent at it, but I never really had the opportunity. My mom has great style and she knew exactly what she wanted our home to look like. However, I was a dutiful assistant. I checked and untangled lights, rehooked ornaments, held stuff. This role is so ingrained in me that when my roommate pulled out Christmas decorations, I only found myself comfortable in the assistant role. Doesn't mean I enjoy the finished product any less.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Laying Under the Tree

I made a new Christmas memory tonight with my 6 month old nephew Miles. We spent the evening chatting and laying under the Christmas tree staring up at the lights. It was pretty awesome!

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