Monday, December 21, 2009

Ready for Christmas

Last year, I struggled through the holidays overwhelmed with how much needed to be done for Christmas and I puzzled about how to organize myself. It is, after all, supposed to be a beautiful, meaningful celebration of our Savior and not just a stress bomb for the mom.

This year was completely different. To begin with, I made a decision not to worry about whether I was getting the best possible gifts! I have finally realized how impossible that is. I purchased gifts online for my out-of-state people and got all the orders done early. I stuck with things anybody would like or be able to use, for instance food gift baskets. Getting those packages mailed on time has been stressful in the past. While it is expensive sometimes to buy good gifts online plus pay shipping, there are deals out there and it was cheaper for us because it kept us away from the stores. Going to the mall with my husband, who enjoys shopping and feels no time pressure, can result in our buying all sorts of things along with the gifts. I'm the one who wants to buy it and get out of there, and John's the one who wants to browse, to get me to try on something he spotted or look in three more stores for the best price or item.

John's joke, for years, is that he has Christmas completely figured out - he simply lets Diana do it! That's not true - John likes to help, but I'm keeping the lists and making sure everything gets done. (Kudos to my sweet husband - it's our 35th anniversary today!)

You know what? If you buy online a few times, you find companies that are wonderful! No affiliation, folks, but my favorites are Amazon, L. L. Bean, Omaha Steaks, Guadalupe Smoked Meats, the Texas Pecan Company, and Wine Country Gift Baskets (not for wine, think chocolate).

I also made up my mind to be bullet-proof about difficult people. Nobody's been difficult yet, but if they are, I'm ready! If any gift just doesn't work, I kept receipts, and if anybody is so tacky as to unreasonably complain about a gift, well, that's their problem.

The tree went up a little late - the weather was dreary, and we were waiting for a nice day on a weekend to do that, and that slowed us down. However, we have a lovely fresh tree.

Recently, John's mother was hospitalized, and we have been extremely worried about her. John went to California for a few days to see her. She's doing MUCH better, and he's flying home today. It's a good thing I was psyched, because this meant that I didn't have his help for the last few things I needed to do, including buying our sons' presents. I sat with a cup of coffee and all the newspaper ads this weekend and decided what I was buying and where to go, then went out and got it done, including shopping holiday food specials since the boys will be home.

One thing I do that has worked well for me is I keep a spreadsheet with the names and gift ideas, and finally I mark what I actually purchased each person. Since I've kept it several years, I can see what I got them last year.

Another thing I do is keep a basket of already knitted gifts ready to go. These are items that don't have to fit - for instance, shawls, blankets, and scarves. I always have at least one baby blanket ready to go. That circular baby blanket that I put up a video on is a great choice for a generic baby gift, and you can mix the colors up for either a boy or girl without it looking boring. I wish I had more ideas that are good for men.

As to my goal of making the holiday meaningful, which I wrote about on the blog last year, I have already had some great experiences. For instance, I attended an amazing choral concert and a holiday musical/comedy revue, purchased a new holiday album, and found time to pore over the Christmas letters we received. We go to church all year, but Christmas Eve our church has a beautiful service, which is a "don't miss" activity for us.

Have you got any great holiday ideas that work well for you? I'd love it if you shared them.

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