So the advent season went like this: we got back from Illinois late on Sunday, Nov. 30. I spent the next few days recovering from our trip, unpacking, doing laundry and whatnot. And then all of as udden I looked at the calendar and Christmas was 3 weeks away. I had wanted to do an advent devotional each night; reading scriptures about the foretelling of the messiah and singing a hymn, but hadn’t figured out what we were going to do yet and we were already a week behind. I hadn’t started Christmas shopping, baking, Christmas cards, or decorating. We needed to buy our tree, the kids had all kinds of rehearsals coming up for school and church concerts and plays. Karis and Gloria both had reports I had to help them with. I needed to get things in the mail quick, organize a picture-taking time for a family picture, bake for Grandparents, teachers, and neighbors. All three older kids had school Christmas parties that we needed to make food for, as well as a work Christmas party. To top it off, Chris had a project going on that kept him working late many nights and even one Saturday. Furthermore, the toddlers got sick with a stomach flu, fever, diarrhea thing a few days before Christmas. Isaiah had a temperature of 104 on Christmas Eve.
Let’s just say, it felt a bit hectic. Then there was the night that we needed to leave the house for Gloria’s school concert at 4:45, but when I went to get the baby up from her nap a few minutes before, she was covered in diarrhea; literally covered. It was in her socks and up to her chin. Gloria was supposed to be there by 5:15 because the concert started at 5:30. I think we slipped her in about 5:25. At least she made it.
I did end up pulling everything off in the end, somehow, accept for what I felt like was the most important thing of all, the advent devotional. When push came to shove, that was the thing that got left out, with the exception of maybe two or three nights where we did manage to get the family together to sing and read.
While the season is still fresh in my mind, I am coming up with a battle plan for next year. I am not going to let Christmas get the best of me! In hindsight, it is quite ridiculous to try to accomplish everything in 3 weeks and wonder why I felt overwhelmed and relieved when it was over. Not next year! I am absolutely determined that next season things are going to be so well planned, that even if people are sick for most of the month of December, I will still not become harried. Plus, we will be traveling to Illinois, so it will be especially important that I am organized and make time to pack. Here’s the plan:
1) Christmas cards:
My goal is that before Thanksgiving I’d like to have my letter written (didn’t do one this year), the picture taken, notes written in cards and all the envelopes addressed, stamped and ready to go. I will probably hold off on mailing them as I think it’s fun to receive them closer to Christmas. It’s insane to think that I will have time for any of that in the 3 ½ weeks between Christmas and Thanksgiving. There’s so much I can’t do ahead of time, like attend all those school/church plays, that the things that CAN be done ahead of time, must be.
Before Thanksgiving, I’d like to have a list of everyone I need to buy for and what I intend to get them, along with half of the gifts purchased and wrapped. The reason I say half and not all is that for some, I am waiting for sales and I do want to have at least one Saturday where I go shopping with Mom and sisters. This year about 90% of my gifts were purchased online anyway, which takes almost no time, so I don’t feel the need to have absolutely everything done ahead of time. Anything I’m going to get from Amazon I do think I’ll do ahead of time, because they don’t have sales, their prices are just always low and they always have free shipping, so no point in waiting. Other sites that offer discounts and free shipping close to Christmas, I might wait on.
This is what I had the hardest time finding time for this year. I think what I’m going to try to do next year is bake some cookies and fudge in November, wrap it really well, and try to freeze until the middle of December. If I could get some of the gingerbread men and sugar cookie cutouts done ahead of time, that would mean I could just pull them out and decorate them as needed. This would be a huge help when it comes time for gifts for grandmothers, teachers and neighbors.
4) Mark that calendar:
In November, I am going to go through my calendar and set aside a whole day where I am going to do nothing but put up Christmas decorations. This year it went like this: I had a few minutes one day so started pulling out boxes from the attic, about 1/5th of the decorations got put up before it was time to start making dinner. After dinner a few more got put up and the next day a few more. There were half-opened boxes lying around the living room for days; along with packing peanuts everywhere that the babies were constantly getting into. Ornaments were lying around but I need to get those Christmas lights on the tree first. The lights never did get put up outside. Chaos would be a good word but I’m determined not to have chaos next year. Buying the Christmas tree was hurriedly squeezed in one afternoon between play practice and visiting my folks in Monument. One problem this year was that we did not have one single Saturday that wasn’t completely filled up. Next year, I am determined to find time somewhere to dedicate solely to getting the tree as a family; another time, for getting the decorations up in a leisurely, enjoyable fashion. Anything that tries to come up during that time we’ll have to decline. The same will have to go for laundry and packing days for our trip.
If anyone else has some tips on making the season more relaxed, I welcome them!