The same question has been posed to me more than once in the last few weeks "Why do you do this?" It's not the first time this topic has come up. I believe there is a common misconception that I have some elf-like fondness of Christmas and long to think about it all year long. The truth of the matter is, yes, I love Christmas. Shouldn't we all? I question anyone who does not look forward to Christmas. There is something magical and inherently joyful in the season. Or at least there should be. If not, something has gone terribly wrong.
This is the exact place I found myself in several years ago when I came to the realization that I was the one responsible for making Christmas magical for my family. I accepted this responsibility with ease and felt equal to the task. But as the whirlwind of the holiday season enveloped me and I was carried off with the spending, baking, cleaning, shopping, parties, and food preparation, I realized that my attempt to make Christmas magical had made me miserable. I gladly kissed the holidays goodbye and mourned the loss of Christmas past, realizing I would never again enjoy it as I once did.
As my children continued to grow, I decided I wanted nothing more than for them to experience the holidays the way I had. More importantly, I wanted to experience the holidays WITH them. But the pace of the holiday season is not conducive to cuddling on the couch watching movies, baking goodies with, or making holiday crafts with your kids. I realized that when my children are adults, they won't remember what they got for Christmas, but they'll remember what we did together for Christmas. I also became increasingly aware that the meaning of Christmas was quickly getting lost in the busyness of the season and this was too important to ignore. I knew I wanted something to change, but I didn't know how to do it.
Then, I was introduced to the Holiday Grand Plan at Organized Christmas and I knew I had found the answer to my problem. It's a simple solution really...START EARLY! This basic concept changed my life and the holidays in our home.
It's not a plan I follow because I have too much time on my hands and not enough to do. Quite the contrary. When your schedule is jam packed in August, it will only get worse as the holidays approach. Taking a few minutes each week to plan ahead alleviates the stress and allows you to spend time doing what you love to do instead of what you have to do. It gives you the rare opportunity to focus on the important instead of dealing with the urgent.
There's no need to take a day off of work to get any of this done ahead of time. It's just a matter of reprogramming yourself to think about the holidays earlier. Let's face it, in any given week, I am at the grocery store twice and Target at least once. If, every time I went the the grocery store between August and November, I purchased one thing for our Thanksgiving meal, by the 3rd week of November, I'd have everything I needed and then some with almost no noticeable effect on our budget. If, every time I go to Target I pick up one thing I need for the holidays, even if it's only a pack of batteries for our camera, it's one less thing I have to run to the store for hours before my son's Christmas program. I make dinner at least six nights a week. If on one of those nights I double the recipe and put half in the freezer, by December I have two weeks worth of dinners prepared and ready to go in the oven for those insanely busy nights. Plus I can rest assured knowing my family is not surviving on fast food throughout the holiday season. It's not about cramming extra activities into your already busy schedule. It's about being intentional in your planning and taking advantage of what you're already doing.
No, our tree is not up. But the new decorations are ready for it when it is. Our stockings are not hung. But I've started to fill them. I'm not snacking on Christmas cookies. But I have some in the freezer. Our cards have not been sent. But they have been ordered.
Call me crazy. It won't be the first time, nor the last I dare say. But the tables will turn on the naysayers come December! As far as I'm concerned, crazy isn't buying a gift in August. Crazy is fighting angry crowds and spending too much in December to do the same thing. Christmas comes the same time every year. There's no reason for it to sneak up on you.