Thursday, November 16, 2006

Holidays

It's too frickin' early for Christmas carols! We haven't even had Thanksgiving and yet they're playing everywhere I go.

The playfriends are getting together this weekend for a field trip to a local holiday craft/arts fair where I hope to begin my Christmas shopping. That's right, I said begin. Anyway, this trip and the incessant barrage of holiday marketing ploys have me cringing in fear. The next six weeks are going to be hell.

When did the holiday season turn into such a maddening, hair-pulling, money-grubbing season of torturous giving? Now don't get me wrong, there's plenty of things at Christmas time that I enjoy, like spending time with my family and friends, watching my girls open presents on Christmas morning, finding that perfect gift for someone on your list. Even listening to Christmas carols is enjoyable...AFTER Thanksgiving's over.

It isn't even December and I'm already stressed. And yes, I realize if I started my shopping and planning in the middle of the summer I could probably alleviate some of this anxiety. But let's be realistic, that ain't gonna happen.

Here's my problem. Even as I rant about the fact that corporate America seems to be inching the holiday season up every year, I'm also bemoaning the fact that there's not a snowball's chance in hell that I'm gonna get everything accomplished in time.

Just the other day DH and I were trying to schedule our yearly trek up to Nashville. We take the girls to the mall so they can do their shopping (and we can finish ours while they aren't looking) and then walk over to the Opryland hotel to look at all the lights and decorations, have hot cocoa and enjoy the atmosphere. We could barely find an available weekend in our schedules.

And something sparked this brilliant idea. I thought this year the girls and I would bake candies and goodies to give to the their teachers. (my Mom's a teacher and the family always enjoys sharing in her gifts :-) Before thinking thoroughly through this idea I voiced it out loud. Both of the girls eagerly pounced. They were tickled to death at the thought of spending an entire day cooking in the kitchen, just them and Mommy. And I smacked my forehead as I started trying to fit that day into the schedule too - before their school breaks no less.

DH and I haven't even discussed when we're going to pick out our Christmas tree. This is probably one of the most important traditions to me and will most likely be relegated to a last minute effort with two hours to spare between office parties and shopping trips.

We're having Christmas at our house this year too. I don't even want to think about that....

I'm exhausted and the season hasn't even really begun. What I really want to know is where's the merry gone in Christmas because at the moment I'm not feeling too full of cheer. And that's upsetting because Christmas used to be one of my favorite times of year. And when I'm together with family and friends it always is. I always rediscover that joy.

Maybe that's the problem, I'm focusing too hard on the details right now, on the things that have to get done and not on the end result .

So, how are your holiday preparations? Any special plans this year you're looking forward to?

Instigator

And don't forget I'll be picking one commenter for our book-a-day giveaway!

P.S. Yesterday's winner was aBookworm! Please send your name and snail mail address to Playground Monitor. And congrats!

34 comments:

krissyinva said...

It seems that every year the stores start "Christmas" earlier. I can say that I have started my Christmas shopping!! My 17 year old niece is done, but that's it, one lonely present. I normally don't start until Black Friday though. I really don't even want to think about Christmas yet, I still have to get through Thanksgiving. My daughters birthday is the 6th of December so I have to plan her party(I think Chuck E Cheese, is going to clean up the mess this year). Did I mention I have 4 kids?? Yep boys ages 11 and 8 and girls ages 7(almost) and 4, Santa Has his work cut out for him!! I am pretty sure that Christmas will be only my Hubby, kids and I so it won't be as stressful. Okay I'm sure that I have whined enough, lol

Playground Monitor said...

Somehow it all manages to get done but usually the memory of how is a blur.

Wanna hear something funny? I have to go for a consult with a gastroenterologist this morning because my doctor ordered a colonoscopy. I know... TMI. But I'm looking at my calendar and thinking there's no way I can do this until after the first of the year. Between the prep and the procedure, you lose about 3-4 days of your normal routine. I have family coming for Thanksgiving and a board meeting and Christmas parties and then Christmas and New Years and well... then it's January. You're stressing over shopping and I'm stressing over my bowels. :grin:

I'm excited about Christmas with the grandbaby. I've already bought one gift for her and have another on order. She'll be 6 1/2 months at Christmas and I'm sure her eyes will light up over the tree and she'll giggle at Santa.

Maureen said...

Retailers push Christmas on us because they know the earlier we start to buy the more money we spend. I can't start shopping early anyway since no one knows what they want until we get closer to Christmas. If you are feeling overwhelmed see what your husband is able to do. One year I was whining about all I had to do and my husband said that I am always trying to do everything but he was willing to help. He ended up doing all the Christmas shopping that year.

Angel said...

Breathe!!! Just Breathe!!!

Now, I have a bit of a different take on the Christmas merchandise coming out earlier... it reminds me to get started shopping, so I end up having more time than usual to get it done. Which is funny, because I'm usually one of the pessimists in this group and feel pressure REALLY easily, especially pressure I put on myself.

The hardest part is to make a list. I know, you aren't a list maker, but just think how much brain space you'll have left if you get it all out on paper. Appointments on the calendar, gift list ready to go. That way, this weekend or whenever you get to do shopping, you can make a substantial dent in your list.

Also, Maureen is right. Pick several people from hubby's side of the family or friends or whatever (I usually give my hubby the "guys" on my list) and say, "Here, you are responsible for these." or give him a list of items and say, "Here, pick these up on your way home."

You know he'd be more than willing. And it will be something you don't have to do. One less trip to the store can mean more time for Christmas tree shopping!!!

Hugs!
Angel

Theresa N. said...

Love Christmas! Every year it's a race to the finish line. Some years I make it, some I don't make.
This year we're seaching for TMX ELMO for the grandbaby!

Problem Child said...

I've done a tiny bit of shopping... but just a tiny bit. I'd better get moving if any presents are going to make it to Scotland before Valentine's day.

Sigh.

Of course, having the house turned upside down while the new flooring is installed is not helping any.

But I do have a list!!!

and krissyinva--as much as I hate that stupid rodent, I'm with you on letting them do the work. I think from now on, all b-day parties will be held at someplace other than my house :-)

Smarty Pants said...

I worked at Hallmark in high school, where the Christmas ornament wall goes up in July and we decorate the store the first weekend in October. My schedule was kinda set by their clock. I am a stickler about details though - Santa is NOT supposed to be in the mall until the day after Thanksgiving. He rides in the Macy's Parade, then shows up at the mall the next day. That's just a rule. He showed up at our mall last week. Ugh.

80% of my shopping is done and don't hate me, but I've gift wrapped everything I've bought too. I really do this as a defense mechanism because I know time will get tight later. I don't want to be like DB - shopping christmas eve and giftwrapping by wrapping something in a towel, wedging it in a laundry basket, and putting a bow on top. Oh yeah, I got a gift like that one year.

SP

Meljprincess said...

Congrats aBookworm!
For some reason unbeknownst to me I've been singing X-mas carols around the house and I hate the holidays. As I've said in other blogs my Dad passed in February and I have NO plan to celebrate.
HUMBUG!

CrystalG said...

I have started Christmas shopping. This year I am looking forward to Christmas. Since my husband got a much better job this year, it won't drain us financially like it has in the past.
I love all the music and decorations too. I definitely have Christmas cheer this year.

Angel said...

Your post prompted me to get ready for this weekend and, OMG, I've LOST MY CHRISTMAS LIST!!!!!

Guess I know what I'll spend the day doing? Dangit!

Angel

Kathy said...

Sadly, our society is material based. Commercials flaunt gadgets, clothes, and time tables in our faces. Parties abound. There are plays, musicals to attend, donations to make. It's no wonder we feel overwhelmed.

My advice...put on some holiday music. Listen to it in the car. Try to wrap presents as you go, just like SP does. In a nut shell, take time out so you end up having time to enjoy the season later.

Live in the moment. Sure it's good to plan ahead. Like PC and Angel, make lists. A list keeps you on track so you aren't overwhelmed.

Most importantly, keep your mind focused on the real reason for the season. It's not about presents... I know this sounds cliche. But getting lost in the process of trying to make our holidays perfect can shut our eyes to the beauty or glorious wonder of Christmas. Even when we mourn those who can't be with us, living in the moment can bring more than bittersweet joy.

I wish you special blessings, MelJ. May you experience peace as you go through the coming months.

Kathy
(Getting over the shakes as she comes out of the black pitch of inaccessible internet access for over 24 hours.)

robynl said...

Sorry meljprincess and I know where you're coming from; I lost both parents within the last 3 yrs. 2yrs + 1 month to the day of each other. I didn't feel like it either but knew it would do ME good if I tried and I did. Sat. would have been Dad's birthday and it bothers me somewhat. There are always memories so we must add good ones in the bag to balance it out.
I have presents bought and sorted and ready to wrap and some recipes for baking picked out.

Problem Child said...

YOUR LIST IS GONE!?!?!?!

OH NO!!!

APB on Angel's List!!

Tam said...

Congrats aBookworm!

This Christmas I think we are going to be sending out gift cards. We are in the process of packing to get ready for a move out of state just after the new year, so we won't really have time to do all that shopping, trying to decide what to buy everyone.

Angel said...

Instigator, have you read the Holiday Stress article in the clinic... Hmmm.... :)

Angel

Beth said...

I enjoy the Christmas music but I have to admint that when you start seeing Christmas stuff in September and October its too early. IN 2004 I ended up in the emergency room on Christmas Eve morning I hadn't finished all of my wrapping. It turns out I had kidney stones. I was so doped up its a good thing my best friend was there to help me finish and label stuff who knows what would have happened

Minna said...

Well, not quite in September, but I did start seeing Christmas stuff in shops already last month.

Linda Winstead Jones said...

I went Christmas shopping this morning, and I was none too happy when I started out. The Christmas music playing on my regular radio station was quite annoying. Bah, humbug. After I managed to find a few gifts I felt somewhat better, but I'm still stressed.

Angel, BUMMER about losing the list. This time of year I'm all about the list.

LJ

ChristyJan said...

I've been working since last year trying to get the "gift" for my 4 children completed. I'm giving them each a set of my Grandmother's pattern of silverware. I inherited a few pieces, but not enough to share - so I've been trying to find enough for each of them to have service for 12. Hopefully it will mean something to them.

Dannyfiredragon said...

Big congrats abookworm!

I got nearly all christmas gifts, because I started getting them in May. I still have to write lots of Christmas cards.

Anonymous said...

Should I admit I threw on my Elvis Christmas CD the day of the first real snowfall, October 30th? No? :o)

I'm only about three presents into my Xmas shopping and started the cards last night. Have to do some more soon, since a lot has to be mailed and I don't want to face the post office nightmare that comes in December *g*

Jennifer Y. said...

As of right now, I have no clue what I am doing for Christmas.

I still have gifts to buy, but I at least know what I am going to get.

Lois said...

Actually, this year I really can't say that they all started earlier than last year. . . or maybe I just hadn't gone to the right places to notice. LOL I can't stand the fact that everything disappears on the 25th. I mean, this might be the Christmas Shopping season now, but the Christmas season happens after. I purposely try to keep all the Christmas stuff out of my mind until then for when it actually supposed to happen, but of course, once it's the 26th, I can't take it either. LOL They sure know how to destroy stuff, don't they? LOL :)

Lois

Lois said...

Oh yeah, and geez, I have a birthday two days before Christmas. Ugh. LOL

Lois

aBookworm said...

Wow, there was a contest going on?! I had no idea but I'm so thrilled I won!! Thanks so much. Sent the Monitor an email just now with details. Thanks again.

Angel said...

Try being my poor husband. His birthday is Christmas day. I have pictures of his birthdays as a child with poinsettias on his cake. :(

I try to celebrate some other day for him. One year I threw him a surprise BD party in October! This year I'm sending him to Tunica with some friends the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Angel

Kathy said...

Lois, love your ICON!!!! I'm a Phantom fanatic!

Hey, we've lost that lovin' feelin'...oh, oh, that lovin' feelin'. Come on, everybody! Let's have FUN with this. Don't think about how hurried your life is going to get. Make your lists, have a laugh or two, put on some music, shop, wrap a few presents and get your cards ready while you watch your favorite show. Smile. This is supposed to be FUN!! Times like this remind me why I love watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We just need to get in touch with our KID side, to rediscover the wonder, cherish the mystery...before the stores become overcrowded and the roads turn into Talladega nights.

Everyone repeat. WE CAN DO THIS!

Kathy
(trying to pump you up)

catslady said...

Congrats bookworm.

I heard christmas carols before halloween and that is just sooooo wrong. I refuse to think about it until AFTER thanksgiving!

Lori Borrill said...

Oh, Instigator!! Okay, you're going to listen to me, because this is really good advice:

Take time out and breathe, the earlier the better. I suggest sometime within 2 hours of reading this post.

Sit down with a piece of paper and a cup of jo, or cocoa, or wine, or whiskey. Now take your pen and paper and prioritize what's most important to you this holiday season. Put in the must-haves: Gotta have a tree, gotta buy presents, whatever must be done. Then go down the list from there.

Now, and this is the important part, start figuring out when you're going to do it starting with the first thing on your list then working your way down. Go down the list placing items on days.

When you run out of days: STOP!

Everything from that point on must be scratched. Like finishing the WIP (it's just going to sit on an editors desk for a zillion years anyway). Or if Nashville wasn't as important as cookies with the girls, you just don't go this year. Hard, but true.

When it comes to shopping, go Amazon.com. I swear, there's nothing like sitting in the comfort of your chair, ordering everything for everyone in a matter of a few hours, and three days later, it's sitting on your front porch. I haven't seen a mall in years!

But the point I'm making is, you need to really sort out what matters and what doesn't and the notion that "everything" matters has to go. Some things don't, and without the discipline and organization, you're going to get through the holidays and none of it will have been done. Take the attitude that you should do three things well instead of 20 things badly.

I'm serious! (Lori waving a stern finger) The girls want to bake cookies, then scratch something else. Don't give them 2 rushed hours between 8-10 because you've got to move on to the other things on your list. Spend the WHOLE DAY baking cookies, relaxing and enjoying the time with the girls.

I'm serious. And now that the queen has spoken (cough cough), I expect you to do it!

Angel said...

Great advice, Lori!!! I never really looked at it that way.

I'm a catalog shopper myself, which is the only reason I have half of my shopping done. I look through catalogs starting in about July, then started placing orders toward the end of September. Yes, you must pay for shipping, but it's about the same as you'll pay in gas. Then I go get what I don't have in just a few shopping trips.

I don't know, the thought of a whole day making cookies with kids is a little daunting for me. :) 2-3 hours is the most I can handle with mine.

Angel

Lori Borrill said...

LOL Angel. You know what's funny? The minute I clicked "post", I re-read that "whole day" thing and thought the exact same thing!!

And I think it was last year when Ds wanted to make sugar cookies, so I set the whole afternoon aside. It was going to be mom/son holiday time. After about 15 minutes he was bored making cookies, took off to the park and I ended up spending the afternoon doing them myself!

So...maybe everything I said wasn't intended to be taken literally. I was "figuratively speaking". LOL!

Carol said...

Congrats aBookworm!

I haven't even started to think about Christmas yet. I really hate to shop and my family keeps getting bigger!

Big hugs, Mel!

Instigator said...

LOL Lori :-) Thanks for the advise. You're right. I know you are :-)

Instigator - who would write a shopping list if she knew what to get everybody. I suck at gift buying.

Debby said...

Oh no, I am starting to get nervous. I have not done any shopping. Then I talk to people who have done all their shopping already.