Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Grand Experiment

For the past decade I've tried subscribing to the "get everything done in November so you can relax and enjoy the holidays" school of thought. You know - address Christmas cards, buy and wrap the presents, plan menus, bake cookies, etc. And you know what? It never worked out that way. Instead, it felt as though Christmas lasted 2 full months. The season of Noel and Ho, Ho, Ho became an albatross around my neck. By the time 25 December rolls around, I'm sick of the whole thing and can out-humbug the most Scrooge-ish Ebenezer.

So I'm being a maverick this year, folks - going rogue, as it were. I'm not doing anything for Christmas until December 15th. Yup. Nothing. My favorite Christmases were the ones I had in college, when my friends and I might wander out to find a tree when finals were at last over and done with, and then we would hitch a ride to the mall and walk around and buy goofy presents. Afterward we'd all go to someone's apartment and make hot cocoa and watch stupid TV. Those were the days - no agonizing on finding the right gift, no fussing on when or how to trim the tree, no worrying about fancy food or matching plates. Just a pleasant little respite at the darkest part of the year, a time to hang with people you love and eat fattening food and waste money on frivolous purchases...

Low expectations, people - that's what it's all about. My own little experiment in recovering my Christmas spirit is now underway. If anyone cares to join me, feel free to sign up in the comments. Maybe some tech-savvy soul can even come up with a button for the "Save Christmas for Christmas" movement. Or, at least a better slogan...

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29 comments:

  1. I have done a version of this for a long time. Better one or two long days of getting stuff done than many days.

    Enjoy being unplugged--just do the things that are truly fun.

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  2. You should kick off your non-season of Christmas by watching "What would Jesus Buy?", a hysterical yet poignant documentary about how crazy Christmas has gotten.

    I'm pretty much with you on this one, but I shop exclusively online, so I have to get the big presents for the kids pretty soon. And we're scheduled for family pics at Thanksgiving. But I'm a last minute kind of gal, so I really can't help but wait to start until mid December anyway.

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  3. What a great idea! I went a bit overboard last year and tried to make everything - right down to most of the gifts . . . what I saved financially I spent on my sanity. This year I am allowing myself to do only what I can with 3 little ones underfoot. I started today by taking the girls for a nice, long walk instead of dragging them out to start my holiday shopping.

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  4. You can completely count me in on this one!

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  5. You shop before Christmas eve? That requires organization, which is why I don't?

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  6. I would sign up if I could. Being Jewish and such doesn't really contribute to Christmas spirit. But I am totally with you on the whole philosophy. Why drag out preparations and misery for weeks? Procrastination (and giving yourself full 10 days is not real procrastination if you ask me) is the key to enjoying holidays.

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  7. We have been trying to keep ADVENT as the penetential and preparational season that it is supposed to be. We don't even put the tree up until right before Christmas. Advent Calendars and Spiritual preparation are the focus...if some other stuff gets done before the week ahead, then yippee...we make stuff so we have to do that earlier, but we try to be less frazzled about it! On the other hand, I have been known to LEAVE the CHRISTMAS stuff up for the ENTIRE Christmas season...which traditionally lasts until Candlemas (Feb 2nd)!
    Pax Christi!

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  8. subwife - I wanted to cut it down to a week, but I know that sometimes things are gone from the store shelves then. Also, I have to mail boxes to Larry's relatives. And I have to allow for sick days. Perhaps I'll try it next year.

    elizabeth - I know! But I've been finding that people are making Advent as stressful as Christmas. There are books for Advent, and the wreath to make, and the candles to light, and all sorts of activities to do with the children. Every time I open my email, there's another idea of something to do for Advent. It makes me weep.

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  9. I'm about to start shunning stores for the season myself- I don't want to hear Christmas music before Thanksgiving...! (Also, I don't want to hear 'modern' Christmas music ever. Carols are good, 'Christmas songs'--very, very bad!)

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  10. Our second child's birthday is Dec 5, so we never decorate till after that. Didn't want her special day to be over shadowed. And even though she's grown up now, we still do that. Other than buy several gifts, I haven't done anything and won't for a few more weeks.

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  11. We are, for the first time ever, skipping the holiday and going on vacation. My daughter will be finished for the school year in Australia and we are heading down for a visit and to accompany her back home. Santa will probably find something small for the kids to haul back through customs, but it won't be much. I'm looking forward to this holiday for the first time in too many years.

    Enjoy!

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  12. I love this!

    I'm going to start after Thanksgiving. I need the mail order shipping time!

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  13. Lovin' the idea. You go girl. Sometimes it's fun to do the last minute running around. SOMETIMES.

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  14. I SO WISH I could join you, but I can't. I have THREE birthdays in the next 7 weeks. THREE. My darlings are turning 13 (EEKS!), 12, and 8. So, if I want to not forget something, I have to work ahead. Really bad baby planning on my part, wouldn't you say?

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  15. I just try to keep it to what seems right. That changes from year to year. Sometimes it means starting very early (like last year, when I had gifts made well before my October due date), and sometimes it means letting things slide. (I'm pretty sure I've decided to send out Happy New Year cards this year, for example.) Sometimes it means having lots of company, and some years--like last year--it means keeping the holiday itself just for us, and opening doors to extended family on Boxing Day. I can't join you in any hard-and-fast rules, because that's just something else to remember. Instead, I had lots of fun browsing online last week, but I haven't ordered the kids' gifts yet--they're saved in my shopping carts. And rather than try to fill an Advent calendar with activities (I agree, Advent is getting rather pressure-filled, isn't it!) I'm going to focus on Christmas break, when I finally get my kids back for a little bit. (Yep, still having trouble with the school adjustment.)

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  16. Your attitude is SO healthy. I'm doing less each year to 'celebrate Christmas' and enjoy it more each year.

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  17. i've been waiting for november to come around so i can make holiday cookies. i haven't made any cookies so far. and that's all i'm doing for the holidays. cookies. uhhh... and kind of hosting thanksgiving. with cookies. cranberry drop cookies and neiman marcus cookies.

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  18. I have often said that the secret to happiness is to have low expectations. The least thing seems like a bonus!

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  19. Less is more...for sure. It's funny - I can't afford to do a darn thing this year, really, and I can't wait. We picked up pinecones to decorate the house, the kids are getting one gift each, and I might bake for my sister. It's left a whole lotta room for really thinking about WHY I do Christmas (God on EARTH - do ya believe it?!) and that really is enough.

    Wishing you much relaxation, and happy holidays!

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  20. I totally agree with your philosophy. But why be bound by a date? We'll put up our tree at some point, and carols are allowed from Thanksgiving onward. Presents will be bought at some point too. Of course it's diff here...the stores do actually put up some Christmas decorations (this is quite new) but overall, it's just not such a big deal.

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  21. I'm getting it all done by next week so I can come back from Thanksgiving and just BE and enjoy and soak it up.

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  22. I'm with you in spirit, even if not in action... right now I'm focusing on an Advent workshop I took on (planning for, executing of, and preparing to shoot myself in the foot).
    You've just inspired a post of my own. I'll link you.

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  23. If I don't start early, I miss something dear to me or my dear husband. I lay out what I need, set dates, and get on it. We also have mail issues. I've given up on "magical", and am going for "happy".

    I'm sooo trying to reach Christmas well rested for a change. I'm usually over-tired and nauseated. Not a good start to The Day.

    We've pared down the preparations to the essentials, and are trying to keep it cool. Otherwise, I'm not going to fit in the twins' birthday, Christmas, packing for our flight on the 26th, and leaving a fairly hygienic house.

    So, short answer, nope. We're still on the treadmill -- out of sheer self-defense.

    I'll be waiting to see how well you hold to The Pledge. Good Luck!!!

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  24. It gets easier to not kill yourself once the kids are all grown up. But it gets harder to enjoy the season, too. Take it easy on yourself and stick to that pledge, girl. A saner you will make everybody's life easier. ;o)


    Damama's at it again!

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  25. We're expecting a baby some time around New Years, and as a result, we're making NO Christmas plans. I'll get all my shopping done on line in the next week or so, and then plan on sitting back and enjoying my last few weeks with only one kid! I'm not commiting to making any presents, baking any cookies, cooking any big meals, a slew of holiday parties, or anything that's going to cause extra stress. Just me, and my hot chocolate, with my feet up!

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  26. Today's the day I will decorate. Soon I will hit the recipe box in search of the reincarnation of my Baba's holiday favorites. I've blogged Christmas past, shed those holiday tears, and shook it all off. Now I am ready to begin the festivities, carols and all. But I look most forward to those 'grease balls' and sharing the love of Baba. His greatest gift to me.

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