Christmas is my favorite time of year, not only because of all the pretty lights and delicious cookies, but also because it’s the time of year when people feel the most generosity of spirit… you know, the way things should be all year round! I love to shop and more importantly I love to shop for gifts that I think will make my loved ones happy. There is nothing better than receiving a gift from someone that says “I heard you, I saw you, I love you”! I know this to be true from personal experience… last year my best buddy Mary-Alice bought me a waffle iron for Christmas, and I cried. Yes I know, who cries over a waffle iron, I do. But, in actuality, it wasn’t the waffle iron at all that made me cry, it was the simple fact that she heard me. When we went to Chicago we stayed at a hotel that had these fantastic waffle irons where you made your own waffles. We were enamored by this machine and the delicious waffles it produced, we talked about it for weeks, and I repeatedly said “I want a waffle iron! I’ve always wanted a waffle iron!” I say things like that all the time in passing “I want a Land Rover, I want a European vacation, blah, blah, blah” LOL but I don’t say these things thinking people are going to run out and fetch them for me. So, when Christmas rolled around and Mary-Alice was so excited to give me my gift that she had shopped for hours to find I thought “ok, what could it be?” When I finally got to open the package it was the most beautiful waffle iron I had ever seen, and not because waffle irons are particularly beautiful, but the sentiment behind it was quite lovely. I cried because I felt like she had heard me, she had listened, she had noticed something in passing and thought enough of me to remember it and make it happen just to make me happy. I felt the same great feeling a few years before when my other best friend Lori bought me David Cook’s debut album. I’m pretty sure she didn’t buy it because I wrote it on a list or told her I wanted it, she bought it because she knew I would love it. Or she just wanted me to shut up about American Idol and the hot dude that had won that year, we’ll go with the former rather than the latter:) I think it’s the best gift she ever gave me and I have spun it enough to prove just that! Even when my friend Torey gave me a gift card to Home Depot last year it was special because he wrote a note  that said “this is for your future home” he had listened, he knew that I wanted a house and had kept that in mind while buying my gift, the thought behind it made even a gift card special! My mom has always been great at buying thoughtful gifts, I guess I learned this from her, because you can say in March “Gosh, I love/want XYZ” and I store it away somewhere in my head. Then randomly one day in August at TJ Maxx I’ll see just that and think “oh, I’ll get this for ____” and then boom 4 months later you’re wish is granted (ok so it’s a bit of a lengthy process). Long story short, things can make you happy for a short time, but the thought that someone puts into the things they buy for you, that feeling lasts forever.

    It is with that spirit of the season that I am hosting my very first “12 Days of Christmas” blog. Everyday starting

December 14th – December 25th I will give away a gift that I find particularly enjoyable. I have racked my brain over the past few weeks compiling a list of the “things” I most enjoy, my favorite things (within financial reason of course, sorry, as badly as I wish I could, there will be no “you get a car! you get a car! you get a car!” featured in this blog:)). Since I can’t pick out a special gift with each of you in mind I thought I would share the things I love most and hope you enjoy them as well. Here’s what you have to do to enter:

    1.) Go to Facebook and “Like” Amanda Duke Photography or follow @amduke25 via Twitter (I will be posting info and

         winners here).

    2.) In the spirit of the thirty30 blog leave a comment or tweet including one item that’s on your personal bucket list.

    3.) If you do not have Facebook or wish to forward this link via email to someone who does not have Facebook or if you

         you simply wish to keep your bucket list private email your entries to amduke25@yahoo.com.

    Entries will be accepted December 1st – December 13th so get those comments/tweets rolling in before it’s to late! I would like to get as many people involved as possible so spread the Christmas cheer and forward the links to all your friends! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and if I missed anyone Happy Holidays!