Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

Ever since I was little it's been customary  to get our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. And in the Cousino household that entails a family trip to the local tree farm where you spend a good 20 minutes wandering around the fields of fragrant Balsam Fir, Blue Spruce and Pine trees. And of course, every year there's the family dispute over which tree to actually select. Usually, it's the same three determining factors...

"That one's too fat." 

"That one's too short." 

"That one has a bald spot!"

But eventually, that glorious moment arises when the clouds part and a beam of Heavenly spotlight guides us to that perfect tree. The one that fits like a glove inside our little family room and is strong enough to withstand the thwapping tail and batting paws of our family pets. It's then that Dad tosses down the foam knee pad and impatiently demands either my sister or I "hold the goddamn tree straight!" while he lumber-jacks it down with an old metal saw that has, in the years passed, kissed the bark of many a Christmas tree. Within the following half-hour we're back in our house wrestling to get that picky lump of perfection through the front door and standing tall, and most importantly straight, in the metal tree stand. And the hour after that is made up entirely of Christmas songs, brightly colored twinkle lights, fragile childhood decorations made by Sonya and I, the occasional crash of a glass ornament (which is then followed my a foul string of colorful vocabulary) and so many "do you remember when's?" I couldn't even begin to count.

It made my heart grow 3 sizes today when that very same tradition that I've grown up to love and cherish (and miss SO very badly over the past 4 years) played out just as I'd remembered. Only this time, my husband was able to experience it right there with me. Today, alongside my Hubby, Mom, Dad, Sister and 'brother-in-law' I added to that memory bank, that dusty hazy bookshelf in my brain full of all the 'do you remember when?' story's. I was drunk on happiness yet I continued to soak it all in. Yes, today we went and cut our Christmas tree. But more importantly, I added another memory to that tightly packed hazy bookshelf. That's something special. A tradition intertwined with fond memories that no one can ever take away from me. Boy, I can't wait to pass that on to my children someday too.
Our special Liverpool ornaments <3


Gobble Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving!
For a variety of reasons Thanksgiving has and always will be one of my most loved holidays. 

I love how it's one of the few times of years where all of the family joins together. Enjoying each others company, sharing stories and memories, laughing (and occasionally bickering. Ha!) I love how, if even for only a couple of weeks, I slow down and actually take the time to count my blessings. Without feeling dorky or like I sap I openly voice what I'm thankful for and hug my loved ones a little tighter. I love how it's a holiday completely focused on the kitchen and dinner table - which is, of course, this chica's favorite part of the house. Ever since I was a little girl, the kitchen, food and recipes have always come hand in hand with fond memories, warm fuzzy's and the special people in my life. Add to that the opportunity to cook for all of those loved ones? Pure perfection. Something my Momma passed down to me is a love of hosting and any special occasion where I can cook for my family is my kind of a good time. And last but certainly not least, I love Thanksgiving because it signifies the beginning of the best time of year. My all time favorite. Christmas. I don't know about you, but the minute I see the Macy's Day Parade Santa wave his gentle white gloved hand and smile with his rosy cheeks, I truly swing into the holiday spirit . It's at that very moment where I'm desperately trying to muster up every ounce of self control and not run around the house screaming "Santa's coming! Santa's coming!"  like Buddy The Elf. Next year I just might give in and bust out a one-man-band of jingle bells. 
Ah, to hell with it....
Fa la la la la, la la la la!

I'm distracted. Macy's Day Parade Santa aside...this year's Thanksgiving was probably the best yet. I say this because for the first time in nearly 4 years I was on the same continent, in the same country, and in the same house as my loved ones. This year I didn't spend Thanksgiving day crying, or parade-less, or wishing Skype would function properly...instead I ate my Thanksgiving day dinner right where I belong. Right alongside my family. What's even better than that? For the first time ever, Carl was right there with us. Since 6am I've been cooking and baking and candle stick making. I burnt my fingers, tried to cook our turkey upside down and made a pumpkin pie with a collapsed crust...but really, none of that matters. Because today I also hugged my loved ones tighter, laughed a little louder, counted my blessings and savored every single one of those warm and fuzzy's that tickled my insides. Tonight I lay in bed, (about 10 pounds heavier) thanking my lucky stars for all that I have. I truly am blessed.

Over the past month you may have noticed many of the people on your Facebook posting daily 'I'm thankful for...' status'. Well, this year, for the first time ever, I was one of those people. Now, I know, I know.  It's not very original and it may not come across as very genuine to post all over Facebook the things you're thankful for. You're probably thinking: "Why the hell didn't you just say it to that persons face?" To which I say: when half of your loved ones are across the Atlantic in England it makes so much more sense to post those special messages right alongside the seemingly less-important rambles like "I hate pickles!" It felt so good to post something meaningful, heartfelt and positive. Besides, I know that by taking the time out of my day to share what and who I was thankful for, I made a positive impact on others. 

And so, sprinkled alongside all of the  photo's from today's family dinner, I give you my very own list of things I'm thankful for. 
Day's 1,2 & 3: I'm thankful for having such a wonderful relationship with my English Mama. Not only is she my sparkle and cupcake buddy, but she's the best Mother-in-law a girl could ask for :) Love you Mama Lynne xoxo
Day 4: I'm thankful for last night's bon voyage party. To walk in and find all of our nearest and dearest together in one room was truly humbling and wonderful. Carl and I had the most lovely goodbye bash ever and we want to thank all of you who made it so memorable. We are blessed with such amazing family and friends. Love you all xoxo
Day 5: I'm thankful for safe flights.
Day 6: today I am thankful for Vermont. Home sweet home. Such a beautiful state I call home.
Day 7: I'm thankful for Apple Support. Only had my iPhone for a day and already need a new one. Haaaha (trust me to get one of the duds). Nevertheless, they were informative, helpful and kind. Customer service at it's finest! Boom!
Day 8: I'm thankful for being able to drive again. 4.5 years without my car and multiple train journeys alongside smelly weirdos was a bundle of laughs, but it feels SO very good to get behind the wheel again :)
Day 9: I'm thankful for community. I didn't realize until I left Vermont how tight knit our little community is. Everyone knows everyone else, everyone asks how you've been and you're always greeted with smiling faces. It's so humbling to know I grew up in and have returned to such a supportive, friendly and loving environment. A neighborhood that has not only welcomed my hubby with open arms but will do the same for our children someday. What a beautiful thing :)
Day 10: I'm thankful for spending time with my sister again :) Tonight we're off to watch a high school performance of White Christmas. Fa la la la la
Day's 11 & 12: I am thankful for local foods and businesses. Green Mountain coffee, Switchback/Woodchuck Beer, Monument Farms milk, Cabot butter and cheese, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Dakin Farms Bacon, Happy Valley Orchard's fresh apple cider & donuts, and of course, Vermont maple syrup. Mmmmm mmmm. One thing's for sure, food "Made in Vermont" sure is tasty :)
Day 13: I am not only thankful for our new car (YAY!) but so very thankful for all of the help from Mom and Dad over the past couple of weeks. Since we've landed on US soil they've been there every step of the way to help us adjust and get settled again in Vermont. Without them, starting this next chapter in our lives would be so unbelievably difficult. I'm so very appreciative and lucky to have such a supportive family :)
Day 14: I'm thankful for my job interview this Friday! :) It's true, a positive attitude can make a world of difference :)
Day 15: I'm thankful for my car starter. Without it I'd be shivering my ass off on this cold Vermont morning waiting for the car to warm up and the windshield to de-ice. Technology is such a wonderful thing :)
Day's 16 & 17: I'm so unbelievably thankful and blessed to have such wonderful people in my life. Thank you so much to everyone who joined us last night at mine and Carl's welcome home party. Coming home to all of you has made this experience all the sweeter, and it makes me so happy to see you all welcome and comfort Carl with open arms. I love you all very much ♥ xoxo
Day 18: I'm thankful for my health. Most specifically, I'm thankful for my ability to walk and run. As a child I contracted Transverse Myelitis and was temporarily paralized. I'm so very appreciative that modern medicine helped to prevent permanent damage and that today I can sign up for a 5k alongside my Mom and Sister. That is such a blessing many of us take for granted.
Day 19: today I'm thankful for GETTING MY JOB!!!!! Ladies and gentlemen, you're looking at a Behavioral Interventionist for Special Educational Needs children :) This is the perfect stepping stone for me and I could not be more excited and grateful. Look out world, here I come! :) xoxo
Day 20: I'm thankful for my blog and all of the wonderful support I receive from friends and family who read it. I struggle to believe that what started out as a little online journal for my family to follow a year ago, has become a passion that has had nearly 50,000 page views. My blog is somewhere I go to document, remember and share my crazy life and it truly warms my heart every time someone shares with me their enjoyment in reading it. So thank you, blog readers, for all of your amazing support along the way :)
Day 21: I'm thankful for a supportive husband who always picks me up when I fall down, kisses me to sleep each night and goes out of his way to make me laugh. Love you baby xoxo

Give Thanks.