1- Get the Grinch Out. The past few years I've made a huge effort to get my spirit in shape long before the holidays are in full swing. Basically I feel like if I'm too grumpy to smile at store clerks or to allow other cars to merge in front of me, I might as well stay home. I am convinced that putting your interior thoughts and spiritual self in order is THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP in having a terrific holiday season.
2- Get Organized! This week sit down and make a list of the people you're buying gifts for and brainstorm ideas, schedule a date for a family photo if you're doing a Christmas card, and double check your calendar for holiday parties and travel dates so you know what is coming. As part of my own get organized plan, I'm picking a room each day to weed through cupboards, closets and drawers. This is perhaps not the best time of year to de-junk, but it has come to my attention that most of the drawers in my house look like the kitchen "junk drawer." And in my universe there's no holiday cheer happening when you are finding little girl headbands in with the measuring spoons, and scotch tape in my make up drawer!
4- Online shop and ship as many of your gifts as possible. If you're seeing family members for Thanksgiving that you will not be seeing at Christmas time, try to purchase and wrap gifts ahead of time and pass the gifts off on turkey day, rather than standing in line at the post office.
5- For the first ten years of our marriage Jeremy and I spent the first couple of weeks in December slaving over the stove and making a million batches of fudge/cookies/treats to wrap in individual packages and disperse to Jeremy's co-workers. The hard part was deciding who to include and we always worried we might overlook someone who was desperately in need of holiday fudge. Finally we pulled our heads out and determined a new strategy. Last year I bought a lovely red platter and heaped on it all types of homemade Christmas yummies. Jeremy took the platter to work and sent an office email to everyone inviting them to enjoy it in the break room. Problem solved. It only took ten years.
6- Decorate. If you feel like your decorations are meager and your "decorate the house for the holidays" budget isn't forthcoming, make decorations. Hang snow flakes from your ceiling, give your kids a blank canvas and some holiday colored paint and let them go to town, or just spend a lazy evening on pinterest where you're sure to get more ideas than you ever wanted. If your home looks festive, it will help you to feel more festive.
7- Decide to make your own fun. Don't let other people's travel plans or lack thereof, or their negative attitudes dictate your experience. You can have a wonderful holiday season with or without your Uncle Ernie. So, move forward with your plans and don't look back!
8- Simmer cinnamon sticks, orange peels and cloves in water on your stove. IT SMELLS SO GOOD!
10- This past week my mom came to stay with me. It was so fun to have her around for our Halloween festivities and for our baby blessing at church yesterday. But I was taken back by her deteriorating health. Her memory isn't what it used to be, she doesn't sleep well at night, and both my parents complain of creaky bones. Despite these issues my mom was a busy bee working in my kitchen and helping with my kids all day long, but I couldn't help but notice that she's getting older. At one point in her visit we found ourselves debating some of the unpleasant events in our family history and I finally said, "Look mom, if you're aging as quickly as you claim, then we don't have any time to lose on looking backward. Let's look forward. Let's enjoy each other and make new memories to replace the hard ones." The moment those words were out of my mouth I felt the truth of them. We don't have any time to lose, any of us. Make the resolution to look forward instead of dwelling on the hard things of the past and make this holiday season extraordinary!