Merry Christmas from our family to yours

Merry Christmas from our family to yours

This year has been full. We are abundantly thankful for the blessings we have received and for the time spent enjoying life with family and friends.

As we look ahead to the excitement next year is sure to bring, Justin and I want to take some time to reflect on the moments that made 2016 special.

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Stocking stuffers for him

Stockings are possibly my most favorite part of Christmas morning. It doesn’t matter how old I get, I look forward to rummaging through that oversized sock more than anything else — slowly reaching my hand all the way to the bottom to reveal all sorts of prized knickknacks I probably do not need.

I don’t just love getting a stocking, though, I cherish stuffing Justin’s stocking, too. And yes, the 13-year-old that lives inside of me is fighting the urge to make an inappropriate joke out of that statement. I’ll spare you, though.

Even during the Christmases that Justin and I were already struggling to put food on the table each day, we still managed to fill our stockings with small trinkets in an attempt to keep this holiday tradition alive.

So, believe me when I say that Christmas stockings are my thing and I believe that I have mastered the fine art of filling them — sometimes even over filling them — with goodies. I take the time each year to find a variety of items for my fella’s stocking — from toys and games to candy and coffees and CDs and socks and beyond.

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Updated motherless daughter thoughts on the holidays

Updated motherless daughter thoughts on the holidays

For the first time in a long time, I am truly excited about Christmas.

When you are dealing with grief from parent loss, even years after your parent is gone, the holidays are an especially difficult time.

For the last 8 years or so, I feel as if I have gone through the motions and celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas because that’s what everyone else around me was doing. Underneath the surface, though, there was a large part of me that wanted to just get through the holiday season and into the new year as quickly as possible.

This year is different. I am actually looking forward to decorating, Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, baking cookies, visiting family, doing generous things for others, and simply enjoying the spirit of the season.

I don’t know exactly what changed this year because I still miss my mom very much — the desire to have her here is a feeling that will forever be present in my life.

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What to get the NC craft beer lover on your holiday shopping list

What to get the NC craft beer lover on your holiday shopping list

I am a lover of craft beer, especially when it is made in my home state of North Carolina. I know I am not the only human in Cackalacky who avidly supports the more than 180 homegrown breweries and brewpubs of our state.

North Carolina is home to the largest number of craft breweries in the American South. The industry has an annual economic impact of $1.2 billion on the state and provides roughly 10,000 jobs paying $300 million in annual wages (North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild).

Wow. That’s huge.

With that being said, here are five gift ideas for the NC craft beer lover on your shopping list.

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