18 November 2011

Heading into the holidays: feeling good or crunched? Talk amongst yourselves.

Photo credit: Flickr/John Brooks

Photo credit: Flickr/John Brooks

Sometimes it feels right to veer off the hack-posting schedule and just hang out with you. When I'm feeling the pull toward conversation, I know it's a good time to check in.

How y'all doing?

Lots of good and great things around here. Much to share with you about people I've met, places I've been, and of course, all of your great hacks. I'm not complaining, but I'm also not doing the greatest job of juggling. I'm buried in details and everything looks a bit blurry.

Guess what? My organization system isn't as bulletproof as it seemed in September! A good reminder that "getting organized" is a process, not a destination. And -- feeling a little sheepish here -- that life tosses you a surprise or two when you get smug about how well you're handling it all.

How about you? Feeling good as we head into the holiday season? Or feeling crunched? I'd love to hear how you're doing.

Related: Many, many hacks for getting organized, including tips specific to Thanksgiving.

Your comments

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Even in the best of years, I dislike the holidays.

I'm hoping to keep my head down and steer clear of everything but time with friends and family. The shopping, the crowds, the pressure, the decisions. Just give me a couple nice evenings playing games and telling funny stories, good food, and a couple clear evenings to look at the lights and the stars in a clear winter sky.

Finally, this year I feel good. As mom, I know it's on me to make the magic happen. Some years, I just pray for it to come to an end - starting around December 2. This year, I worked hard during the summer so that I can have a better handle on the holidays so that our entire family (including me!!) can enjoy them.

First, the shopping and wrapping is done. Each kid gets 3 gifts from mom and dad, a Santa present, and a stocking. I make gifts for our extended family and I did them in July. Wrapped them last month. I'll need to stick bows on the gifts but, other than that, boxes that need sent are packed and labeled, and everything else is stowed away. Last year we attended 3 Christmas events that required white elephant gifts, so I have a few of those wrapped, too. That is a major stress reliever for me.

I made my holiday lesson plans (we homeschool our 3 kids) last month and we 'finished' our major subjects for this calendar year last week. This past week we deep cleaned and we'll put out decorations at the beginning of next week so that we don't have to rush to get it done after Thanksgiving. We had the kids choose the items that they wanted to pay for from our World Vision catalog and mom and dad match their earnings. I even made a list of the silly things our Elf on the Shelf will be doing. That way mom or dad doesn't have to come up with something on the fly.

I made the dishes I'll be taking for Thanksgiving (sweet potatoes & a pie) this week and stuck them in the freezer. I'll need to cook potatoes Thanksgiving morning for mashing, too. We give our seasonal gifts then. Kids get their Christmas book and/or clothes. Adults get seasonal gifts only if they are in need. In past years, I've gotten and given things like holiday serving trays, silver,table runners, etc. That way they can be used for the season and not opened on Christmas day, only to be packed away until the next year. Our Elf on the Shelf also tends to make his grand appearance on Thanksgiving. We've made Christmas ornaments, knitted hats, and stuff like that and given it for Thanksmas, too.

Most importantly, for my own sanity, I've made a meal plan for December. Nothing can cause my little world to come crashing down faster than not being ready to cook dinner because I don't have what I need. Which includes frozen pizza.

Finally, I updated the "gift box." It's just a blandly wrapped box that I keep all the supplies for unwrapping gifts. Scissors, a sharp knife, garbage bags, wire cutters, small screwdrivers and (here's the update) batteries. I set it out when we have any gift event and it blends in and everything we need is close at hand.

It's the first time since after having more than 1 kid that I'm looking forward to the holidays. We'll see. I obviously a nut!!!

Adrienne: Yes, yes yes.

Bryssy! You should be so, so proud of yourself for all of the work and thought all that advance-planning represents! Absolutely amazing what one can do with forethought. Congrats to you, and be sure to schedule in time to sit back and enjoy the relaxation that comes from having stuff done.

To the rest of us: I can already hear people beating themselves up over not even approaching Bryssy's level of planning. No, no, no! Planning ahead is ONE way to enjoy the holidays, but simplifying and floating through is another perfectly valid option. Cards instead of teacher gifts. Mix of store-bought and homemade meals. Home instead of travel. Donations instead of presents (for the adults, at least). Fewer presents in general. Small dinners instead of big parties.

I have a toddler and a newborn so I'm mentally preparing myself to miss out on some things and be okay with it. (I usually have FOMO aka Fear of Missing Out syndrome). I'm also planning some more kid friendly things for our little family to do on our own in place of some of the other things that would be stressful to drag little kids along with us. Example: instead of attending Christmas concerts and performances, we'll be walking around looking at Christmas lights.

Hey, Barb! Nice to hear from you! So smart to reorient what's realistic with little kids.

There was a time a few years ago when going to restaurants with my son just didn't work...and he was 8 or 9 at the time. I kept fighting it, listening to the "but he should be able to do this at this age" voice. But once I accepted the reality that it was a no-go, it made everything so much EASIER and I could actually enjoy the options that DID work. Now we all love to go out to dinner as a family. Everyone's timelines are different!

BTW, you're not alone in your "fear of missing out." FOMO is an epidemic now that everyone's lives are so "reported." I know quite a few people who avoid Facebook for that very reason.

Seriously, I think you're right- "unplugging" is a really good cure for FOMO. :)

Here in Australia, being Summer, Christmas is a lot more wrapped up with the end of the school year.

Most Companies cease business between Christmas and New Year, so there are rounds of "end-of-year" work parties too.

School finishes for 6 weeks on the 22nd of December, so there will be end of year concerts to go to as well, and all the after school activities (for our family that means swimming, tennis and Taekwondo) will have "break-up" parties.

I'm already overwhelmed by what December looks like.

On the plus side, Christmas is very much associated with trips to the beach and my husband will be home for about 10 days, while his office closes up until the midway through the first week of January. After all the craziness, we will get to relax for a little while, as we enjoy leftover ham with salads for lunches, and lounge around in the heat.

Claire: We Americans have not yet gotten the hang of the true holiday break (or the summer break, for that matter), when everything stops for a while so people can actually rest and relax. How nice to be able to do that in the warmth and sunshine!

I'm already overwhelmed by what December looks like.

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