I am not on top of this holiday season. Wait, do I say this every year? I don’t think I’m usually this far below my own expectations.
And here’s the thing: I’ve lowered my expectations. Like, significantly. In years past, I’ve organized a neighborhood Christmas caroling party, I’ve hosted what I called Crafty Girl Parties, I’ve made my own wreath every year for years, and I often volunteered at a crafting event at my church and at the very least made some food to take to the church party. This year I’ve skipped all of those activities, and I still feel swamped. It’s discouraging, really.
Part of my problem was the late/busy Thanksgiving. Usually Thanksgiving is pretty easy: I bring a cheeseball and some wine to someone’s house, and I’m done. This year we did more cooking and hosted Grandma & Grandpa for a week. So it was a bit tough to plan for anything beyond Thanksgiving. And we spent that weekend doing more traveling, which was wonderful, but not super-productive in terms of holiday readiness.
My other massive miscalculation was allowing my children in on the decorating process too early. The girls, J especially, get so excited about pulling out all of our holiday decor, and in past years, I’ve controlled the process a little bit more. First, I’d use it as a motivator to clean, saying that I could only pull out more stuff once all the other stuff was put away. Second, I’d go through the items while the kids were out of the house so that delicate items wouldn’t get broken and no Christmas magic would get spoiled. This year I was behind on pulling out the decorations, and with the kids older and more aware of the need to be careful, I let them help me from the start. That was a big mistake. We pulled out stuff just over a week ago and the tree skirt is still missing. I have no idea where it is. It’s always in the box with mitten rug and the stockings, and I have all that, but the tree skirt is AWOL. Which is especially a bummer because every year, after we’ve decorated the tree, J curls up on the tree skirt under the tree before getting sent up to bed. Or it was every year, until this one. I was hunting for it again last night and I found other items that we usually haul out that were still in boxes. I mean, it’s a mess. You should see my basement. No, you shouldn’t see my basement. Just, trust me, it is chaos. And there’s still plenty of chaos upstairs, too. So that is making it difficult for me to sleep in heavenly peace at night.
And the presents! Argh. The girls are at an age when they are pretty much over toys, and they have fairly strong opinions about clothes. Over the years I’ve noticed that the craft kits often never get crafted and the earrings rarely get worn after the first day. So coming up with ideas is tough. I want to nag my sisters for ideas for gifts for their kids, but since I’ve got no intel to share with them, I feel like I have to wait until I’ve got some decent suggestions for them, too.
It’s all making me a teensy bit grouchy.
Given my slightly overwhelmed state, I decided that I just need to prioritize–what do we really value most about the holidays, anyway? One thing is decorating the tree. It’s almost like planning a party, but just for us. There’s a lot of cooking and baking and organizing ahead of time, and then it’s all nothing but fun. So that was planned for Sunday. Before that, I chatted with the girls about the Crafty Girl Party and getting our tree. M was opposed to the Crafty Girl Party. With middle school, now, her circle of friends has widened, and inviting them all for an ambitious craft would be too much, but choosing a small group would lead to Drama. J was reticent on the issue. We also thought that we might just buy a tree somewhere, as opposed to schlepping to a tree farm. Again, everyone said, “Okay, whatever.” Helpful input, ladies.
I trust M to state her loud and clear opinions, but J is much more likely to just go with the flow. So I tried a new tack, “I have a question, J,” I said. “What are your very favorite parts of Christmas?” She looked at me, then after a pause, she said, “Well, are we allowed to say something that we’ve already decided that we’re not doing?” At this point I refrained from rolling my eyes and just told her “Yes! What is it? The Crafty Girl?” No, she wanted to cut down the tree. Well, then cut down a tree we shall! No matter that last year there was a Forgotten Mitten Incident that led to tears, anger, and recrimination. Apparently that memory had faded for J. So we started Sunday with a trip to Bob’s Trees.
By Sunday night, we had the music and the ornaments and plenty of food for our decorating party.
At least I’m getting some stuff right this year!
How’s everyone else doing with your preparations this year? Is anyone else suffering from Late Thanksgiving Syndrome?