Somehow it has gotten to be December 16 and I have no idea how! This just might be the farthest I have ever been behind in getting ready for all the Christmas festivities. My dad used to always say that Christmas comes around on the very same day each year. He never seemed to understand how folks would feel hassled, stressed and overwhelmed over an event that comes on the same day and at the same time year after year. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that he was old school and barely lifted one finger to make sure all the holiday happenings got done. My mother, on the other hand, began preparing months in advance.
When I say she loved Christmas I think that is a HUGE understatement. She loved everything about it and she loved displaying and showing it in a very, very large way. I mean she was 1980’s showy before there was such a thing! She did all the baking herself – lots and lots of baking. We had ribbon wrapped jars lining the kitchen counter with all sorts of different treats ready to be tasted. She did have a little help in preparing in advance the meals, casseroles and sides for the table. However, she also decided on a new handmade type of tree decoration most years and began making those well before most folks even thought of the word Christmas. Another thing she did herself was to wrap and make by hand the bows for gifts. I honestly don’t think a store bought bow ever entered our house. Just typing all this out makes my eye begin to twitch and makes me feel a failure. So, I remind myself that she did not work outside of the home and was fortunate to have outside help in her home.
For myself, as much as I would LOVE to be that organized and together, I have finally learned what things I can let go during the Holidays or busy times and what things I consider non-negotiable. And let me preface by saying that those non-negotiables likely don’t mean a hill of beans to anyone else, but somehow are important to me.
Last year I wrestled about whether to send a Christmas card. We got squeezed for time, didn’t have a picture of the boys or family and it just got to be a stressful thing. So, after agonizing over it, I just let it go and did not send one. And, guess what? The sky did not fall. Christmas still came, and my friends did not shun me.
I often have grand ideas about hosting Christmas some event or another,whether it be a party for my boys, a drop in, a work celebration or a New Year’s party, and was in the midst of that this year. Well, I had to just let that go. Due to some travel, boys’ schedules and just plain life, it just was going to add to the stress and take away from the joy. I let it go and I’m absolutely okay with it.
This year, there are some decorations that haven’t made their way up from the basement. I do have my collection of Nativity sets out that I adore. I scaled down on some of the ornaments on the tree and did not put up those that we really don’t like. I did put up another smaller tree filled with some of my mother’s favorite ornaments. After putting up our family tree I lingered over the extra work for the extra tree. That extra effort initially was a little painful, but so worth it to me.
I used to be one of those that did all the shopping early and was wrapped and ready to go by this time. One thing I did discover when I did that, though, was that I’d forget what I had bought and then buy too much OR I would hide gifts from myself only to have to re-buy and the hidden ones appear come July. Sigh. I just began wrapping a gift or two this week. And that brings me to one of my Non-negotiables. I LOVE wrapping presents. I love putting some thought into the wrapping and the person receiving. I love the look of homemade bows, so that’s something I spend extra time on. Believe me, sometimes when it’s midnight and I still have a pile to wrap it can get tempting to skip this step, but it’s worth the effort to me. Again, likely doesn’t mean a hill of beans to anyone else though!
As far as cooking, one of our traditions is lasagna on Christmas Eve. I’m not even sure where this began but I love making it completely from scratch. Okay, I don’t make the noodles, so I guess it’s not completely from scratch, but you know what I mean! It can be labor intensive and it is a delicious, decadent labor of love. That’s something I won’t give away on . . .so far. There’s also a wonderful Ceasar Salad with homemade dressing and homemade croutons that goes along with this lasagna, and there’s just no way I could scrimp on that. Since one of my sons is not a huge lasagna fan I’ve begun doing a little fondu and meatballs in the fondu. Sometimes those meatballs are homemade but this year, I’ve already decided that I just don’t have the time to mix, roll by hand and bake myself. I’m thinking that unless you tell, no one will know. I can let the homemade meatballs go and be okay with that.
All this is a long way of saying, that your personal health, stress and feelings of peace are just as important as getting most things done this time of year. It is okay to pick what really matters to you and let other things go. Christmas will still come. That one last gift will not be missed. Your friends will still be your friends and your family will still love you. Choose those things that you love doing for others, or yourself, and that make you feel like you are sharing the love of the Season. Find the peace in letting other things go.
Enjoy Your Day!
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