I know, I know. It’s November, not December. Thanksgiving first then Christmas. I get it. I agree … or at least I did until recently. A few days ago , I read this blog post and completely changed my mind about all the early shoppers, department store Christmas music, and the fully red and green store fronts popping up in November.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not decorating my house yet or rushing out to buy a Christmas tree. Those totes will stay put in the garage for several more weeks, and I will continue to drive past the tree lots for even longer, but usually I boycott all forms of Christmas in November. No shopping, no planning, no holiday card-browsing. NO Christmas! Then as soon as Thanksgiving dinner is cleared and stowed in Tupperware, I pull out the aforementioned totes and begin the Christmas RUSH. I decorate, I shop, I wrap and sing. I plan and attend parties. I cram in the special Christmas movies. I stuff every tradition and fun thing possible into those four weeks! It’s amazing!
Well, it’s mostly amazing, but it’s not without its drawbacks. Last year, for the first time EVER, my kids didn’t want to string popcorn for the Christmas tree. Every year we sit around the tree with a giant bowl of popcorn and string and string and string, and last year it just seemed like one more thing we had to do.
I never sent out Christmas cards either. I bought them. I had pictures, but I just couldn’t find the time to sit down with the cards, address a few envelopes, and write a few “I love and miss you’s” inside. It still makes me sad to think about today.
And honestly, every year by the time the big day arrives I am sick of all the red and green. I am sick of the tree I have forgotten to water for days. I am sick of stores and shopping and presents. My hands are cramped from wrapping it all, and I cram decorations back into the Christmas totes with nearly as much glee as when I pulled them out just weeks before.
But not this year. This year I’ve decided to employ a few new strategies that I hope will make Christmas better for me and for my whole family, who have for so many years dutifully trudged behind me in all my Christmas crazy.
- I’m starting early. The kids will be writing their letters to Santa this weekend, and Santa and I will begin our yearly pow-wow immediately. I plan to be done with all of that by early December. I also have a card ready to be printed as soon as I figure out how many I need. That list is what I’ll be doing while the kids are letter writing.
- I’m cutting back on the shopping and wrapping. This year we are trying a version of this … less gifts with more meaning.
- I’m also choosing our traditions and fun more carefully. I’m already in the process of working up a list of all the fun things we have done in the past and things we’ve heard of here that we’d like to try … and then I’m going to start cutting that list like I’m Edward Scissorhands. I think we need to apply the less is more strategy to our activities as well as our gift giving.
- I want to spend more time giving to others. I found a toy drive for the girls and I to work at, and I’m planning a food drive for a group I belong to. Yes, I’m adding more activities into the schedule by doing this, but I hope that these activities will lend meaning and perspective to the others.
- Finally, I’m going to try to sloooow myself down on the decorating. This will be the hardest one because I do love decorating, and I look forward to having a real tree like … well … like a kid on Christmas morning! But I also put a lot of pressure on myself for things to be perfect and done right away and more! And more! And MORE! This year I’m giving myself a pass and trying to focus on the enjoying the process at least as much as the final product.
So I guess my strategy in a nutshell is less “stuff,” more time. A little more Christmas now, for a lot less stressful Christmas later, and a little less crazy run-run in exchange for a LOT more happy family! I’m not saying it will be easy or perfect, but at the very least, it definitely seems worth it.