A friend of mine recently commented on struggling to keep the holiday "frantic spirit at bay." She asked if anyone had any advice. I didn't comment, but she did get me thinking. Am I frantic? If not, why?
I'm not frantic over the holidays. I don't think I usually am. Of course there are days that are busy and I have worried about how to "afford Christmas". Maybe there's more to do that we don't normally do, like traveling and extra shopping, but not frantically.
One side of our family is small, so there are not a lot of people to buy for. On the other side we draw names, so again, not a lot of shopping needs to be done. I honestly enjoy shopping for other people so it wouldn't be bad in my mind if there were more people.
Cameron and I pretty much follow a tradition that my parents followed and that is buying the children just three gifts, plus stockings. We've never gone overboard. There were years where we maybe bought one extra "together" present or we did an extra activity. This tradition serve us well this year, because it means that since money is the tightest it's ever been, there will be no big disappointments. The cost of the gifts may be lower, but the number will be the same.
Another thing that helps is that I guess I'm somewhat lazy. I do not bake all kinds of extra cookies and candy just because it's Christmas. More cups of hot chocolate? Definitely! :) But platters of sweets just for us? No. We have desserts at party's and at our own Christmas celebration, but not tons made just for fun. I also don't do a whole lot of homemade gifts. I do some. I love making things, but if I tried to do for everyone and all my neighbors and everyone that my children knew, no one would want to be around me for Christmas.
I guess I just know what stresses me out and what I will and won't do for the sake of "celebrating".
Christmas music. I love it! No one can calm my spirit like Amy Grant. I know she is somewhat controversial, but I'm sorry, her Christmas album just makes me breathe deep and remember what I love about this season. Then there are childhood favorites like Alabama and Kenny Rogers. Stop laughing!! I can't help it. My memories of Christmas are tied up in these songs and I have nothing but wonderful memories of Christmas growing up. Which is why I can no longer listen to Tennessee Christmas. Makes me cry every time! Bittersweet to think of those times now that some of those people are no longer here.
There are two other things that help me stay calm. One, I don't ask the girls for a list. I did that one year and I swore I would never do it again. I had handed her (I won't say who) a few catalogs and told her to circle things she liked. Whoa! I never heard the end of it that year. It was like she had left and some little crazy child came in her place. I listen all year long to the things they talk about and ask for and show me in the stores, just for fun. I keep my eyes out for things all year long that I know they would like or need. Of course they still make a list, but it's not that long and it doesn't become the focus of weeks and weeks and weeks.
The second thing is shopping all year round. It's not that I'm finished before Thanksgiving, but I've always got at least a few things already purchased. This habit does wonders for the frantic spirit.
And last, but not least, I do not, I repeat, do NOT surf Pinterest. Pinterest can be a wonderful tool if I am looking for something specific that I am already planning to do. However, mindlessly looking and gazing at all the wonderful decorations and crafts is asking for the weight of "MORE" to come crashing on your shoulders and I don't think that's what the angels had in mind when they announced the birth of Jesus.