Wishing everyone a very Happy Holidays with this Jaunty sparkly post! This Bird is in full Christmas mode, listening to Burl Ives' Holly Jolly Christmas, along with my whole playlist of seasonal music that as a rule, I only bust out as of December 1st. Take that, retailers who are decking the halls in October! 

This year, I made it a point to not go completely off the rails for the holidays, taking on too many projects and not getting a chance to really enjoy the season. I wasn't burning the midnight oil on workstuff, I took time to visit with friends and see people I hadn't seen in forever. You get to the point where the holidays aren't about stuff wrapped in boxes and tied with bows, you want the gift of time, to reconnect and let the people in your life know how much they mean to you, whether it's over coffee, dinner or a cocktail or three. Martinis are full of love, don't you know? 

And a new tradition of breaking tradition continued into this year -- last year I was so busy, I didn't have time to put up a tree. It broke my heart a little, as I always felt like it wasn't Christmas without a tree, but I was exhausted. The holidays were still plenty special and it was yet another reminder that the holidays are a state of mind.  I didn't decorate a tree again this year. I knew if I didn't have that thing up by the first week of December, it wasn't going to happen. But I was going to be okay with that because I didn't need one tree, I had all the trees of Seattle and her surrounding cities. I made it a point to visit and admire as many decorated trees around the area as possible. The multiple trees of Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, downtown Bellevue's many trees in all their main squares, Kirkland's brightly-lit (and carol-singing) tree along the waterfront, Seattle's many trees in Westlake Center and Pike Place Market, even a beautifully chic Tiffany and Co tree decorated in just what Eartha Kitt purred about in Santa Baby

And along the way of admiring trees, I didn't skimp on the extras -- the madness of the nightly marching band of Snowflake Lane, gingerbread villages in Seattle and Bellevue, holiday shopping through Pike Market's specialty shops, even a peppermint mocha with whipped cream and sprinkles. I'm redefining what Christmas means to me as an adult, which is less things, more experiences and immersing oneself in the sights, smells and yummy flavors of this festive time of year. We'll regret all those Chia Pets, Snuggies and Pajama Jeans six months from now, but enjoying a decorated town square on a chilly winter night will never lose its luster, at least not in my eyes. 

And so this is my Christmas post -- it's what the holiday means to me, along with taking time when I have it. So in honor of that promise to myself, I'll leave this up from now until the new year. Because even a blogger needs a winter holiday, right? But fear not, the Magpie is all ready to return bright-eyed for 2013. Until then, please take the time to spend with your loved ones. The holidays are the one time of year where it feels a little easier to tell someone they're important to you, that you love them, and how thankful you are to have them in your life. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Jaunty Fine Print: Photos by Denise Sakaki

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