Pageantry

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life100 Comments

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Nothing like a church Christmas Pageant to get you in a better mood for the Christmas, right?

The kids' Christmas play was on Sunday. Aidan was in the role of the Hollywood-lovin' mayor of Angel Town who had to be convinced to bring Christmas back to Southern California.

Cole played the part of both a furniture mover and a surfer dude. I was a little shocked when he was the first kid out of the gate to sing by himself. And perhaps even more shocked at the length, or lack thereof, of his pants.

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I'm not trying to be a Scrooge, but i'm curious about something… some of my friends and myself find Christmas to be, how to put this… not as fun as it could be? or, maybe a little stressful? or maybe between work and life, hard to fit in?

Do you know of what I speak? and if yes, how do you get around it?

I guess I'm trying to figure out how to deal with the fact that we don't even have our tree up yet, and part of me is already looking forward to taking it down.

 

Cathy ZielskePageantry

100 Comments on “Pageantry”

  1. #1
    Susan

    We’ve struggled with that, too. Though my husband would decorate in July if I let him, I’m counting the minutes to get “back to normal”. However, three things set our holiday on track (and I’m not sure any of these will help, at least this year): 1) we start the holiday season with our annual “Anything but Thanksgiving” Supper. It’s held the Sunday before Thanksgiving, kids invited, and you have to bring beer and a food item that has nothing to do with Thanksgiving. This year included a “Happy Mother’s Day” cake! 2) Santa brings only three gifts, because that’s what Jesus got. Mom and Dad give maybe one or two small gifts. It’s all about the birthday, so Christmas isn’t about the presents. Conversely, when it’s one of the kids’ birthdays, we go freakin’ all out – it’s all about the birthday. 3) (thanks to a stacy julian idea) We all write down things we really want to do: lights, supper out, watch a certain movie, then pick at least a couple of nights a week to do those things.
    Nothing earth-shattering, but it helps us. Especially this year, as personal crises are making it a very hard season, it’s nice to just sit back and watch the flurry of activity, instead of participating in it. Sorry for the long comment – you’ll be okay.

  2. #2
    Zarah

    Just claim you’re “doing it the traditional Swedish way” and that you will NOT stray from your chosen path, but put the tree up the night before X-mas, not earlier. Then take it down before New Years – because… That’s New Years, not X-mas. You need to keep the traditions separate. *nods* πŸ˜‰

  3. #3
    melanie

    I remember my Mom groaning when we, as kids, begged to have the tree up at the beginning of November, and I could never fathom WHY she was like that. Then last night (as we put up our tree) I realized that it must have been just one more thing she had to do on a list of a thousand. I felt her pain. :p

    Hang in there! And I second the above poster who does it the European way. πŸ˜‰

  4. #4
    Katherine McKamey

    It’s so funny to read other people feeling the same way I do this year. Christmas is my favorite time of the year and I look forward to it all year long because the kids are out of school, the Christmas Eve and Day celebrations and get togethers, my Birthday, New Year’s, etc. But this year, I guess because 2 days after Christmas I turn 40, I just don’t seem to be as excited about the whole thing. I even have my Card Making Club coming over this Wednesday night and I just got the tree up yesterday and the rest of the house is completely covered with boxes of decorations (it feels like we are moving!) and all I have thought about since the first box arrived downstairs is “Ooooh it’s gonna take forever to get all this put away!!” We bought a real (dead) tree this year and it is so skinny that only about 1/4th of our ornaments fit on it so a bunch of those boxes won’t even get opened this year! Needless to say, I was feeling pretty guilty about that until I read your post and now, truthfully, after hearing someone else feels the same way -I don’t feel so bad about it! I really just want some peace and quiet- something that has eluded us for months. Maybe that will be the best Christmas present our family gives to each other – now if I could just get the twins to realize they can play without quarreling….

    Merry Christmas from our almost decorated house to yours!

  5. #5
    Ali Lipton

    I think you described the feeling well. I’m not “bah humbug” as much as just going through the motions this year. It *is* hard to fit Christmas in as kids get older, schedules get busier. I just finished the last of my photo assignments for the month so now I am going to focus on some “want-to’s” instead of “have-to’s”. I want to make some homemade gifts (like Donna’s fabric album). I was invited to a cookie exchange, but I consider that a “have-to” rather than “want-to” so I will politely opt-out in favor of a quiet day listening to Twisted Sister’s Holiday album while crafting to my hearts content. Here’s to you finding some time to focus on your “want-to’s” and putting the “have-to’s” on hold for just a short while. Happy Holidays, Cathy.

  6. #6
    Susanne

    Thank you for letting us know someone else feels like this too. With a new baby and all of the Baby’s First Christmas pressure (he’s all of 8 weeks so I’m sure he’ll remember if there was garland in the dining room or not) I feel I’m about to drop. Our tree is up thanks to my husband but this weekend I stuffed all the extra garland and stuff back in a box and took it downstairs. I told my husband I’m just too busy to deal with this crap right now. I swear we’re the only house on the block that doesn’t have lights up, yard decorated or at the very least a wreath on the door. Maybe next year.

  7. #7
    JanTink

    I’ve been feeling that way for the past few years…it’s gone from being fun to being a bunch of work! My kids beg me to put up decorations early and I just would rather not bother! Luckily, our tradition is not to get a tree until my husband’s birthday on the 16th (at least it is since we got rid of our artificial tree because it was broken) so I don’t really have to decorate until then. The day after Christmas, I usually have the tree down and out the door.

    Part of it is that we are very involved at church and the holiday means much more spiritually than it used to, so the commercialism really intrudes.

  8. #8
    Melanie

    Yes! Others feel the way I do! I wish Christmas could be about NO decorations to put up or take down (though I love the lights on the tree – maybe just sring them over shelving???) Between working full time, 2 boys (age 4 and 2), a new puppy, a just-found-out-I-am-pregnant again moment, my two year old NOT talking and trying to fit therapy into our lives and did I mention full time work? I am pooped out.
    Hey anybody have a way to create more time or a job I can come and go as needed, I would really appreciate it! LOL!

  9. #9
    Juliann

    I have had a few years of feeling that way and I think it is because too much of the focus was on the doing/acquisition part of Christmas so I try to focus on the being part of Christmas – being quiet, being reflective, taking time by only putting up a few things at a time.

  10. #10
    Amy

    I don’t have my tree up either!! We did at least go chop it down yesterday. The advent season is so short this year. . . The fourth Sunday is almost nearly Christmas already! I think that’s what’s thrown a lot of things off kilter.

    I think the key is just to simplify as much as possible and try to enjoy the moments of the holiday season. I have to forget about the Jones’s and just concentrate on what’s important to me (and DH).

    Love the pics of the Christmas Pageant! We actually did an Advent Festival (Night in Bethelhem from Group) rather than a pageant this year.

  11. #11
    katie scott

    We put up the tree last week but haven’t gotten the decorations on it yet and everyone seems fairly fine with it. Its pre-lit so its pretty. And we’re working on the Christmas cards. I haven’t done one bit of shopping yet. And I’m pretty ok with all of this. I don’t really think the kids notice if we didn’t take out every single decoration we own, just so long as there are some twinkly lights and presents under the tree on Christmas morning. My big Christmas wish is to take my son to see snow this year!

  12. #12
    Erin Bassett

    I hear ya girls! My brother’s family moved in with us in October so all my normal routines have been out the window since then….plus we’ve all been sick (at different times of course) since Thanksgiving. On Friday I pulled all the decor out of storage (haven’t put most of it up yet) but since space is a precious commodity around here this year I don’t even want a big tree…just a little one on a table or something…everyone thinks I’m a scrooge…but with my 1.5 yr old niece here I just know we’d be redecorating the tree 1000 times a day…not to mention vacuuming all those darn pine needles. This year I just want to focus on real meaning of Christmas (Jesus’ Bday) and having family near & not have to deal with all the headaches.

  13. #13
    Lyn Meeker

    I’ve really downsized everything that I used to do because I thought that’s what Christmas is all about! .. (And it drove my DH up the wall!) .. So now .. I decorate only the living room … all the other rooms in the house stay “normal” … so if you want “Christmas” you sit on the couch …

    The other things that I do .. are those that make me smile. They are not necessarily the same each year (although some do seem to sneak in over and over) .. like wrapping presents to a silly holiday CD (and now that we have Direct TV .. There’s an entire channel!)

    And something I have just been inspired to start .. I am going to make a holiday memory journal .. of those traditions of holiday’s past .. and maybe start one or two up again!

    Anyway .. since I downsized a couple of years ago .. Mom has been happier and enjoyed it more .. DH has been WAY happier .. and DS hasn’t seemed to notice that it isn’t as explosive.

  14. #14
    Rachel Dallaire

    I totally understand. The past couple of years have been that way for me. My husband is a manager at Sears, and so we can’t go anywhere for Thanksgiving or Christmas (he has to work the day before and the day after each holiday). We don’t have children yet and we live 4 hours away from family. Just not fun like it used to be.

    This year has been a little better. I’ve just really been trying to focus on doing small fun things and reflecting upon the season. Trying to remember to enjoy it-not doing things just because they “should” be done, but doing things that I want to do. And only those things. It’s helped me focus on why we’re celebrating Christmas, without all of the stress and glitter that sometimes gets in the way.

  15. #15
    Lyn Meeker

    I forgot to add .. that I just adore the “ANYTHING BUT THANKSGIVING” dinner! .. That’s something I will be starting next year!

  16. #16
    zanne

    oh, yeah. try being in ministry at this time of year! i pastor all the artists and worship areas in our church–so i’m responsible for all those worship services coming together and having music, stuff on the screen, advent candle lighters, communion servers (shoot me now). i worked a 14-hour day yesterday; 3 services plus an angel-tree party…yowza. when is there time to bake cookies with my daughter? to shop? to get a tree? (next sunday after church–the only time all five of us can do it together.)

    but… i’m finding this year that i actually am planning ahead a little. i will do X on this day. (see above) and it works. well, mostly. and one of the best gifts i ever had was when a friend (who was single) offered to wrap ALL MY GIFTS for me. i gave them to her, told her whose was whose… she did it ALL in one night. that helped a BUNCH. and also deciding what things we will and won’t do, which includes some ‘annual’ traditions which might only happen now every couple of years–which also makes them more special–has brought some relief, too.

    and truthfully–it wouldn’t be Christmastime without a little chaos, now would it? it started out that way:

    honey! i know you’re in your third trimester, but we’ve got to go to Bethlehem. yes, NOW. yes, you have to go too! yes, we have to walk! well, fine, then, you can ride the donkey, but let’s go! no, i didn’t make reservations, we’ll have to figure that out when we get there. let’s just get GOING!

    and continued on from there. so the fact that we carry on that tradition… makes sense. it’s nuts, but it’s part of the whole deal.
    which makes me feel a little better about it all. merry merry!

  17. #17
    sharon B

    OMG! I am with you.. It took me a week to put my fake tree up! it stood naked in my family room with nothing but lights and some garland that I ended up not using! I normally put lights around the banisters up the stairs, and over the fireplace with my little hand painted houses.. NONE of that this year. No lights on the deck. The few gifts I do have under the tree look so forlorn. No wrapping colorful ribbon and tieing pretty bows.. just bought a bag of bows! I ordered as much off line as I could because I did not want to go near the mall! And I cannot wait to get that tree out of my family room. I suspect it will be down 12/26, which is typically how it goes every year, even when the kids were small. I am glad I am not alone with my Christmas spirit.. or even lack of it!

  18. #18
    Linda

    Grab a glass of merlot and put on “Christmas Vacation”. Just the music at the beginning puts me in a better mood. BTW, our outdoor Christmas lights have been strung out on the floor of the dining room and hallway (to check to see if they work) for the past 10 days–my dear husband promising each day they will be put up tomorrow. I have been telling him “why bother now”. So I think we’ll just plug them in and enjoy our beautifully decorated floors.

  19. #19
    Jen Cozz

    Ugh! I totally know what you mean. The past couple years our tree only got up because my kids put it up. I managed to put the lights on it. And my kids decorated it. I was amazed that our tree was up last week but it did take about a week to get it decorated.

    I’m hoping that I won’t be freaking out this year. Trying to lower my expectations. Oh, to be a kid again!

    One thing that my family did to help with the shopping crunch is to draw names for the adults. Then each person only has to shop for 1 adult each. And we set a price limit too. Much more doable timewise and moneywise.

  20. #20
    amanda

    OK, IT IS a pain in the butt, I go all out for Halloween so by the time I put it away and take Christmas out, I am over it. BUT, Christmas is not about me. Christmas is about my child and the traditions that he may pass down to his family. I get all jazzed up about Christmas because of the family aspect. It is a time of togetherness and scrabble and Champange Cocktails at 2:30 in the afternoon with my sister. Christmas is about counting our blessings and going to church and being THANKFUL. I would be cheating my kid if I did not make this a magical time for him. And that does not mean monetary gifts and tons of presents, it is truly about a family get together with cousins, brothers and sisters, and crazy uncle phil. I do it because of them. Let your kids decide when their older how they want to do Christmas, but I feel it is my job as a parent to make it magical on any budget.

    So, suck it up, and buy your kid some new pants! You rock Cathy!

    Cheers.
    Amanda

  21. #21
    Sharon Faulk

    Hey Cole! Your mother dresses you funny! πŸ˜‰

    I was making Christmas harder than it should. With my crafting skills, I felt compelled to make hand made cards for everyone. WHile it was fund for a couple of years, it now seems like work so I dropped it. Gifts for the teachers? Gift cards. Make it easy, make it more fun. πŸ˜€

  22. #22
    Robin

    This is the first year I am not feeling the “stress”….For me it has been about my oldest son being ill. We have been in and out of doctors’ offices since October and last week he had pneomonia. While he was down with the fever…my husband out up the tree and lights and we decorated it after a nap….but I think if you don’t need a tree..don’t do it. Or put up a small one and give the kids some art supplies and ask them to get creative to decorate it (paper chains and popsicle stick ornament would probably make you smile more). There will be no outdoor lights this year. We will skip the holiday parties. If I get a few batches of cookies made I will be happy. My biggest worry is Andy so Christmas just doesn’t matter that much and we are just happy with what we get done. Enjoy your holiday and ask for help if you need it.

    Robin

  23. #23
    Patti

    WE moved to central asia 18 months ago. They celebrate Christmas on Jan. 6th here. It makes life so simple…no big commercialized Christmas, hardly any decorations in the stores. Pressure is off. Seriously in America, we can over-do “traditions”. Infact, we are going to Thailand for the holidays.

  24. #24
    Rita

    I felt that way too until I made a list of what was really important to me. Decorating the tree is important….redecorating the house with Christmas knick-knacks….ISN’T!!! So, we put up the tree and put out the nativities….and plan to just relax and not give in to all the commercialized materialistic Christmas crap out there:-)
    BTW>>>>>
    I let the kids loose with the lights,and they “designed” the outside lights. It looks like a drunk put them out, but the boys are proud of their work and so am I.

  25. #25
    Penny

    I work full time. NO kids (OK, so no kids in itself is a time saver, I realize :-)) Tons of family though.

    I used to go all out in decorating & shopping. No more. It’s a hassle that I gave up for better things.

    Now I spend one morning at the nursery buying a small live tree (cut 1 1/2 ft off a 5 footer to make it small), a real wreath, premade bow, and a few large poinsettias. That’s it. Natural things are so beautiful all by themselves.

    I put only lights and a few well placed balls on the tree. So easy.

    Place bow on wreath & hang on door. Set out poinsettias. My decor is done. I severely limited myself and don’t do any furthter decorating.

    When I entertain it’s store bought goodies only. I don’t cook them this time of year. With the little time I have, it’s more important for me to be with people then spending my time cooking.

    I don’t attend any holiday functions I can get out of. That includes cookie exchanges, business events, and the many other events that are unique to the holidays. (That’s another thing that’s getting out of hand these days and a real time zapper, if you ask me :-).) It’s not that I don’t want to go because I do love a good party and socializing, but time is so limited. So unless it’s really important or a family event, I decline.

    My husband does all the Christmas cards. I tried to persuade him this year to do away with most of them, but no. Next year we’re doing photo cards to make that even easier because we don’t plan to sign them. Stuff in envelope and go.

    We buy gift cards for EVERYONE. And grocery stores my way now carry gift cards for nearly every store in the area. Bonus. I pick them up there if I can. I don’t like to shop at Christmas. When I do shop, it’s Internet and we mail it to recipients from the store.

    I’ve got this system down. It’s easy and it works. I just had to re-learn my idea of what makes Christmas for me and to let a lot of stuff go.

    Good Luck.

  26. #26
    K Weston

    Last year was like that for me, and it was a horrible Christmas. I vowed it would never happen again.

    My husband and I have talked at length about what we want to do versus what we do just because it is tradition or because it is expected. After that, it becomes all about honesty (with myself) in the decisions. Do I really want to do that? Do I want to do it more than I want to do this? And this isn’t easy for me to do–I have chronic paralyzing indecision. But what I hate more is that my indecision can stall my life. So I have to make myself decide and get going, and I’m pleased to say that our list of “to dos” is much shorter this year.

    I just finished all my shopping last night–online. A new one for me. I slimmed down the list, and decided that braving the mall was not fun for me. So I stopped. I also stopped going over and over the gifts, trying to find the most perfect thing. It isn’t out there, and I’ll drive myself crazy before I settle for something less than what I already found three days ago. I allowed myself a little time for research, set a deadline, made a decision, clicked “order” and checked it off my list. That is a huge burden completed. Will I have that stunning gift that will bring tears to eyes of my mother-in-law? No. But have I ever? Is that even possible? Short of another grandchild, we’ve been aiming a little high.

    I made my cards this year, because I never have and I really wanted to. But I didn’t want to write the whole summation letter, so I didn’t. (On the back, I included the address of my blog–if they really want to know, there’s some good readin’ already wrote.)

    I bought a tree, because I need it fresh. But I made myself choose it in three minutes, because nothing kills the pine buzz like four lots and settling on a tree after everyone is tired and mad. And I put up the tree, because I love it. But I left all the kitsch in the boxes, because it makes me crazy looking all clutter.

    The “have-tos” of the Christmas season are coming to an end this week. So that I can get on with enjoying the holidays. Because I really love the holidays and I hate that all the “have tos” of being a grown up have gotten in the way of doing all the things that I swore I would do when I got older.

    It snowed like crazy here on Saturday, and my little boy so wanted to get out in it. But we had a church Christmas party in an hour and I didn’t want to have to clean up a wet boy. But that is the kind of thing that I didn’t want to miss. So he and I ventured out to the park and took in 45 minutes of grand snow pleasure. And we still made it to the party–thought my hair was a little flat. But that’s what it’s all about. And I want some more of those. So I’ll get this business side out of the way, so I can fit in the good stuff.

    I hope that you find your Christmas spirit–someone who inspires so many each and every day, deserves a magical holiday.

  27. #27
    stacey

    cathy, i blogged about this very dilemma last night, and how i kicked it.

    check it out:
    staceycox.typepad.com

    i think half the pressure is that we all think we’re the only people who feel this way — completely barrelled over by the christmas season — and we’re not.

    πŸ˜‰
    stacey

  28. #28
    Jean

    It’s about removing the expectations from the equation and leaving in the parts that feel genuine. Once Santa was out of the bag in our household, I felt less obligated to put up the tree with all of the ornaments, the Dept 56 display, and other decorative elements a la Martha throughout the house. Christmas definitely changes as your kids get older and move into the teen years. This year we have a Norfolk Island Pine set into a silver IKEA pot with white lights, a couple of silver and red ornaments, and a handcrafted foil paper star the kids made almost seven years ago. No one seems to feel the loss of the more elaborate decorations.

  29. #29
    Susan

    Hi Cathy,

    I took your graphic designs class at CKU San jose a few years back. I so enjoyed every minute of it. You are not alone. It is so refreshing to see your post. I check in with many other blogs each day and I can’t get away from Christmas and the “I ve got the world on a string” fever.
    So far for me this has been the worst christmas ever. I am unemployed from being an employment trainer. A job that I adored and was good at. Due to program budget cuts I am here frantically job searching and checking blogs to see what ever one else is up too. My husband is a real estate agent and I don’t have to tell you what that industry is like right now. It hurts me to see him unable to sleep due to bills and with Christmas hanging over our heads. I am collecting unemployment a whopping $1, 200.00 a month. That covers our mortgage and very few bills. Basically every month I am not working we are $800.00 behind in our bills.

    I try to put my best food forward for my daughter’s sake. Her 11th birthday was 2 weeks ago. We were able to muster up enough money to buy her some phoney uggs. It broke my heart. She didn’t share her birthday list with us for she knew we could not afford it. She was a trooper and never once was upset. She put her best face on.
    Every day Christmas creeps closer and closer. I watch people shopping and decorating. And all I want for christmas in to be employed.
    On the side of our house I have my recycleables. To some that looks like trash but to this mom, that is our Christmas. I hope that when I do cash them in it is enough to buy some presents to put under our tree.
    To make matters worse.my dear parents passed away years ago and my older brother is critically ill awaiting a doner for a bone marrow tranplant.
    I don’t know why I am unloading on you. I guess to let you know that you are not alone.
    Thanks for listening.

  30. #30
    Sidney

    I have been feeling the same way. We put our tree up in an effort to force myself into Christmas. I have been thinking a lot about the purpose of Christmas and the retail gluttony. I am not a super christian or anything and we are in between churches right now, but to me the retail gluttony is sickening. I worked retail for years, I watched people buying just to buy, with no real purpose. This year we are being more careful with our spending and giving, not only because we are poor, but because I want my daughters to learn that Christmas is about giving. We have never had any “traditions” except putting up a tree, opening PJ’s the night before that somehow the bird and cat shopped for…. I try to leave the season open. If we wanted to decorate a palm tree instead of a pine we would do that. If we wanted to do Noche Buena, we would. I hate being tied down to routine, wavering a little from the mundane makes things more exciting. Pick your favorite Christmas thing and do it, and nothing else if you don’t want to. No one in my house cares that we only put up the tree and the Nativity. I even goodwilled a bunch of Christmas decorations.

  31. #31
    Sue

    Hi Cathy,

    I took your graphic designs class at CKU San jose a few years back. I so enjoyed every minute of it. You are not alone. It is so refreshing to see your post. I check in with many other blogs each day and I can’t get away from Christmas and the “I ve got the world on a string” fever.
    So far for me this has been the worst christmas ever. I am unemployed from being an employment trainer. A job that I adored and was good at. Due to program budget cuts I am here frantically job searching and checking blogs to see what ever one else is up too. My husband is a real estate agent and I don’t have to tell you what that industry is like right now. It hurts me to see him unable to sleep due to bills and with Christmas hanging over our heads. I am collecting unemployment a whopping $1, 200.00 a month. That covers our mortgage and very few bills. Basically every month I am not working we are $800.00 behind in our bills.

    I try to put my best food forward for my daughter’s sake. Her 11th birthday was 2 weeks ago. We were able to muster up enough money to buy her some phoney uggs. It broke my heart. She didn’t share her birthday list with us for she knew we could not afford it. She was a trooper and never once was upset. She put her best face on.
    Every day Christmas creeps closer and closer. I watch people shopping and decorating. And all I want for christmas in to be employed.
    On the side of our house I have my recycleables. To some that looks like trash but to this mom, that is our Christmas. I hope that when I do cash them in it is enough to buy some presents to put under our tree.
    To make matters worse.my dear parents passed away years ago and my older brother is critically ill awaiting a doner for a bone marrow tranplant.
    I don’t know why I am unloading on you. I guess to let you know that you are not alone.
    Thanks for listening.


    Best,

    Susan

  32. #32
    Traci in Virginia

    I am so with you on this! Our tree is up but not decorated. A big section of lights are out. I am so over it…putting lights on a tree makes me a MEAN mom! Next year I will be shopping early for a pre-lit tree. I’m making a note of it now. Anyway, We watch ELF alot. It makes us laugh. I love it.
    I asked the kids the other day what they liked most (decorations) with the thought that I would pare it down a bit. They both gave me specific items. That helps. Shopping is done already and we do the 3 gifts from Santa thing also that is mentioned in an earlier post.
    I am taking the week off from work (I substitute teach) this week to finish cleaning, decorating, wrapping and crafting. Plus I have an assignment due Friday and a comprehensive final exam in a graduate class Saturday. So, I will also be studying. Classes should not be allowed during the Christmas holidays. Too much stress. I guess just keep in mind that the little things are often the most fun. Drive around to look at lights, pop corn and hot chocolate around the tree while watching silly movies. We always work a Christmas puzzle over the holidays. Everyone loves it and gathers around the table determined to find the most pieces. Have your kids help with everything…perfection does not matter and they love to help! My daughter (10 yrs) loves to wrap…guess what..she will be helping me wrap. Good company and wrapping done twice as fast. We may use more tape but who really cares!!!

    Have a wonderfully Merry Christmas! In no time at all we will be cleaning it up and talking about being Januweary!!

    P.S. love Cole’s pants! hee hee

  33. #34
    kristin

    this year, i am celebrating because i want to, not because i have to. i think that is what the difference is for me- which has helped me out tremendously in my excitement for Christmas. if your kiddos and hubby are okay with keeping it low-key, do it! choose what you actually want to have displayed, don’t feel like you have to decorate the *whole* house with *stuff*

    it’s your house, who cares what visitors think when they come over and you don’t decorate?

    as for the idea of gift buying, i like the comment about a couple of gifts, and not going crazy. we aren’t really gift giving crazy people naturally, so that is an easy part for us.

  34. #35
    Kirsten

    You know, every year I have a hard time getting jump started and into the ‘spirit’. Long about the time I’m wrapping presents at 1:30 a.m. Christmas morning, I wish it lasted longer. And then I feel so let down the day after. I just dread the prep, the shopping, the wrapping, the frantic worry that I’ve forgotten something or someone. And I’d really rather just skip it all. But here’s the thing: Somewhere in that unwritten contract I signed when I made a baby, and then another one, it says I HAVE to do this Christmas thing. And once I get the ball rolling – forcing myself sometimes – it starts to seem fun. I need to just get myself out there and get some shopping done. This year I put the tree up Thanksgiving weekend (the fake one…the real one will come next weekend probably) and it’s bare. But it’s a start. And any day now I’ll get the bug and get it together. Just baby step it, and make myself take that first step.

  35. #36
    Sue

    Hi Cathy,

    I took your graphic designs class at CKU San Jose, years back and loved your class.
    You are not alone. It is so refreshing to see your post. I check in with many other blogs each day and I can’t get away from Christmas and the “I ve got the world on a string” fever.
    So far for me this has been the worst christmas ever. I am unemployed from being an employment trainer. A job that I adored and was good at. Due to program budget cuts I am here frantically job searching and checking blogs to see what ever one else is up too. My husband is a real estate agent and I don’t have to tell you what that industry is like right now. It hurts me to see him unable to sleep due to bills and with Christmas hanging over our heads. I am collecting unemployment a whopping $1, 200.00 a month. That covers our mortgage and very few bills. Basically every month I am not working we are $800.00 behind in our bills.

    I try to put my best food forward for my daughter’s sake. Her 11th birthday was 2 weeks ago. We were able to muster up enough money to buy her some phoney uggs. It broke my heart. She didn’t share her birthday list with us for she knew we could not afford it. She was a trooper and never once was upset. She put her best face on.
    Every day Christmas creeps closer and closer. I watch people shopping and decorating. And all I want for christmas in to be employed.
    On the side of our house I have my recycleables. To some that looks like trash but to this mom, that is our Christmas. I hope that when I do cash them in it is enough to buy some presents to put under our tree.
    To make matters worse.my dear parents passed away years ago and my older brother is critically ill awaiting a doner for a bone marrow tranplant.
    I don’t know why I am unloading on you. I guess to let you know that you are not alone.
    Thanks for listening.

  36. #37
    Sue

    Hi Cathy,

    I took your graphic designs class at CKU San Jose, years back and loved your class.
    You are not alone. It is so refreshing to see your post. I check in with many other blogs each day and I can’t get away from Christmas and the “I ve got the world on a string” fever.
    So far for me this has been the worst christmas ever. I am unemployed from being an employment trainer. A job that I adored and was good at. Due to program budget cuts I am here frantically job searching and checking blogs to see what ever one else is up too. My husband is a real estate agent and I don’t have to tell you what that industry is like right now. It hurts me to see him unable to sleep due to bills and with Christmas hanging over our heads. I am collecting unemployment a whopping $1, 200.00 a month. That covers our mortgage and very few bills. Basically every month I am not working we are $800.00 behind in our bills.

    I try to put my best food forward for my daughter’s sake. Her 11th birthday was 2 weeks ago. We were able to muster up enough money to buy her some phoney uggs. It broke my heart. She didn’t share her birthday list with us for she knew we could not afford it. She was a trooper and never once was upset. She put her best face on.
    Every day Christmas creeps closer and closer. I watch people shopping and decorating. And all I want for christmas in to be employed.
    On the side of our house I have my recycleables. To some that looks like trash but to this mom, that is our Christmas. I hope that when I do cash them in it is enough to buy some presents to put under our tree.
    To make matters worse.my dear parents passed away years ago and my older brother is critically ill awaiting a doner for a bone marrow tranplant.
    I don’t know why I am unloading on you. I guess to let you know that you are not alone.
    Thanks for listening.

  37. #39
    a.l clark

    I agree, but then I went to pick out a fresh tree this year, instead of the artificial to make it a little differnt. Also cut out a lot of the presents and Lowered decorating expectations (also making the gifts I do give more practical in nature). Instead, I’m spending more time with the family and just enjoying time rather than grudging it.

  38. #40
    Aby

    I hopped on over for a little inspiration…and you didn’t disappoint. Thank you, Cathy. I totally get what you mean about going home. My home is Michigan…and I miss it terribly, especially during the holidays. Maybe that’s part of what makes the holidays less fun than it used to be…at least it is for me.

    This year I put together a talk on getting organized for the holidays for a local hospital (which I then turned into an instant download product if anyone’s interested.) In putting together this talk, I decided to create a holiday mantra or inspiration statement. My statement is “the joy is in the journey.” It occurred to me that if I wait until all the to-do’s are done to start enJOYing the holidays, it just wouldn’t happen. There’s always one more thing to do. Always. And even more so during the holidays.

    So when I’m starting to feel stressed by all that’s still to be done, I think back to my mission of joy. I look for simple ways to make the stuff that needs to get done more fun like cranking holiday music, dancing, and drinking mass quantities of hot cocoa with soft fluffy marshmallows.
    But not all at once. πŸ˜‰

    Oh, and my tree isn’t up either. It was too warm to get it one weekend. Too rainy the next. So I’m thinking, I could be perfectly joyful without a tree this year. (I’m guessing my family won’t go for that one…but it’s fun to fantasize.)

    Happy holidays, Cathy! Thanks for the inspiration all year long.

    Aby

    p.s. sorry I posted this comment twice on two different posts. Technical glitches…guess I should turn down the holiday music and focus on what I’m doing. ha. πŸ˜‰

  39. #41
    Hillary Chybinski

    amen sister! we (okay-me) put the tree up last night – no lights, no decorations yet. . .no time. cards. . .not done. . .honestly, not started. . .I get what you mean – I feel like I lose sight of the “true meaning” and enjoyment – but in the hustle and bustle – I’mnot sure how to correct that. . .

    Hillary

  40. #43
    Patty

    I have felt so guilty the last few years for my lack of enthusiasm for the holidays. It makes me feel a bit better that I am not alone in feeling this way. I too am trying to simplify. I love having a tree and I love the ornaments, but I have more than will fit on my tree. So whatever fits is what I put on. This year I have been purging a bit too. Anything I no longer need (i.e. pet stocking for pet that died, old garland that never gets used, and decorations and nick knacks that I just don’t like — all in a pile to go to good will). My DH isn’t really big on Christmas, so that makes it equally difficult to really get excited about it. However, since getting into scrapbooking about a year ago, I have been trying to be more crafty. Making some cards this year and also made a few ornaments. Also, am planning to have the kids make gifts for grandparents. I think they are old enough to be able to do this now. I planned it for the last couple of years, but never followed through. DD is a little high strung and doesn’t follow directions well. Also, doesn’t do well with mommy trying to help. She is 4 now and should be able to understand some simple instructions.

    Thank you everyone for sharing and letting me know that its okay to feel less than excited, and that its definitely okay to cut back — SIMPLIFY!!!

  41. #44
    Terri B in Oregon

    Welcome to my world….My tree is up, my house decorated, but………my children are grown, well practically, the youngest (twins) are juniors in college and everyone of my four kids want gift cards. What fun is that. Thank God for my one and only grandchild, but even then shopping and planning isn’t what it used to be. The Spirit, what ever that means to you seems to be missing more and more. Everything like baking and decorating is such a CHORE! It used to be fun. I still make a lot of my gifts, but I don’t know what is missing? It’s not faith, as we have that, I think it is sharing with my kids, the whole baking, decorating, planning I used to do with my kids is gone. Yikes, I think I am depressing myself. Guess I need to change my frame of mind. Not quite sure how to…

  42. #45
    Jenny

    Me too Cathy. I’m tired of Christmas already and it’s only December 11. I’m sick of having to go to one family or the other’s place for Christmas, I’m sick of having to do the big dinner, and I’m sick of having to THINK so hard when all I wanna do is sleep πŸ™‚

    I’ve eased back by not making my own Christmas cards this year. I’m going to limit my time at my inlaws this year and only go for about 4 hours then come home. I’m still thinking about putting the tree up; but then I’ve only just caught up with about 5 weeks worth of ironing … The house needs a clean/vacuum/dust and I ‘aint decorating until that’s all done.

    If it gets done… πŸ™‚

    I wanna know the answer too. I’m too tired to be bothered, I think.

  43. #46
    Laura

    We’ve had a very significant loss in our family this year (my mom) and so decided to take a trip over the holidays. Never done this before… We’re trading in an x-mas tree for a palm tree…this gives us a fantastic way to choose a few special traditions (cards, cookies) and opt on others while we finish up our healing. On another note, this trip business gives us a way to simplify on an another important score – we’re agreeing to only take presents that fit into a suitcase (our daughter is 11 now…). May like this approach so much that we do it every few years. Simple is beautiful.

  44. #48
    Gina

    For Rita: Try Cardstore.com for those Christmas cards. Easiest thing in the world – select/create your card, create your general message, import addresses, add personal messages on the ones you want to, hit the “submit” button. They print, stuff and mail all your cards. You might want to mail one to yourself for your scrapbook.

    Thanks, Cathy, for making me feel less guilty about having these same feelings. I do it because I know how magical it is for my kids (having been one myself, once upon a time) but it’s becoming more of a struggle every year. You’re not alone.

  45. #49
    Ronni H

    Cathy, I was up for the *Crappiest Mom of the Year* award this weekend, cause I threatened to cancel Christmas. And I meant it too. Funny thing, I remember my mom threatening to cancel Christmas too. It took me alllllll weekend to get the energy to put up the tree, and even then, I did it out of guilt.

    I don’t know what it is about this time of year… all that pressure to make sure your kids get the presents that they *want*, that your house is decorated to the nines, and you’ve baked more cookies than you’ll ever eat…My boss called me a scrooge today, and I took it as a compliment.

    *Shrug* I guess I’m very grateful I’m not the only one who feels this way, and I’ve got some pointers from your other readers, and I feel a little better about it.

  46. #50
    Marianne

    The key is to simplify. I dont have to put out every decoration I own, every year. I pick and choose. My sister passed away in August so this year the holidays are all about “getting through” I am totally not fixated on what the day itself will be like. I make a few lists, run to the store a few times, do a few family tradition things–gingerbread houses and a few dozen cookies–and thats all there is. Besides it’s only the 10th. Plenty of time to stress over the christmas cards not being done and the tree not decorated. Peace

  47. #52
    Jackie

    I know how you feel, this year I was so not looking forward to getting the tree out. BUT I realized that Christmas is for the kids. I wanted to do it for them (4 of them, ages 6-12). AND I let them completely decorate the tree this year, I did not put one ornament on. As they were decorating I made hot chocolate and a little treat for them. They were so excited to see all of the ornaments and were screaming to each other “remember this one!????” It just melted my heart to see them love all of the ornaments that I am so tired of. The tree is not as pretty as I would like it, but I decided to not care this year. They love it and I hear them showing different ornaments to their friends when they come over….so try to keep in mind that even though you may not want to decorate, the kids will love you even more for it because they will have happy memories. You can do it!

  48. #53
    meg

    This year, I approach Christmas as how you approach scrapbooking. Just clean and simple. No frills, no embellishments. After all, what is more important is finding meaning to the season. Cheers. πŸ™‚

  49. #54
    Gina

    I totally get what you are saying and have had those exact same thoughts. Stacy Julian put it into perspective for me in a recent blog post. She said ” do what you love and enjoy and not what you feel like you “have” to do.

  50. #55
    jen

    I think it’s the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality hitting the holidays. We “must” do this, we “must” get this for the teachers, we “must” decorate like this, we “must, must, must.” And it’s exhausting. By the time I crash tonight, my Christmas cards, shopping, cooking, and worrying will be done. Not because I’m perfect (bwahahahahahaha), but because I threw in the towel this year. If it ain’t perfect, well…so be it. I’m going to enjoy the next two weeks and to heck with everything else. πŸ™‚

  51. #56
    kp

    We own a business, and this time of year is as stressful as being a farmer, will our crop come in? Every day is like being on a ride, (please, no blizzards to prevent people from shopping, no below zero temps either). W try to keep it a semi-normal time for our 10 year old, but it is anything but. By Christmas Eve we send all of our employees home, close down the store ourselves (why oh why must the MOA be open until 6 pm?) then go home, put on our pajamas, and just spend time together until the alarm goes off the day after Christmas to start the next round. To keep the spirit alive during December, we sing Christmas carols on our way to the store, we make opening our gifts to each other last forever, we play board games by the fire at the end of the day, and call far-away family that we can’t be with until January. But you definitely have to cut some things out, Christmas cards went away long ago. And no more elaborately decorated cookies, or divinity. Just find a delicious bakery. It works! And then I make a really big deal out of Valentines Day instead…

  52. #57
    Lisa

    i completely understand. we don’t have our tree up due to technical difficulties. i let my children decorate everything this year. i think the thing i am looking forward to the most is having my whole family around this year. we haven’t all been together in over 2 years and that is what is bringing me joy this year. all of my kids (and new son-in-law) will be here together for a few precious days.

  53. #58
    jan

    ya know…we just decided to FEED the chaos this year. we’ve got 3 princesses who are just bonkers. one asked for puppets & googly eye glasses. so, this year, we are making the kiddos a puppet theatre and we bought a bunch of handmade puppets from germany that could SO be straight out of mr. roger’s vault. we plan to record their goofy (and often fart-filled antics) to share with family and friends. i say, skip the traditions and focus on what really counts…make it MEMORABLE. that doesn’t have to be tied into a tree or perfectly wrapped gifts. just find something you WANT to focus on and make it happen and make it special. πŸ™‚

  54. #60
    Rebecca Bollman

    Yes! I get particularly angry about having to cook The Meal while my husband watches tv only to have all other females present clean up while he watches tv. of course he loves the holidays! Arg.

    I’m not sure I can offer a solution to the problem. I try to keep in mind how much it means to the kids. For them it is magic to have gifts appear under the tree. I also try to focus on what makes it Christmas for me: music, lights, that fabulous pine smell.

    If none of that works, I go rowing. Nothing like a little winter water exercise to alleviate stress. Plus Mt Baker is a beautiful site πŸ™‚

    Good luck and happy holidays

  55. #61
    Nicola

    What’s not to love about Christmas?

    all that festivity and celebration, love and good will among men AND there’s sparkly lights…

    p.s Santa, if you’re reading… I wanna pony!

  56. #62
    Joc

    Someone earlier up the comment chain menioned the word SIMPLIFY, someone else said IMPORTANT as in list what is important to you. I would like to second both of these things. This year we have simplified both the gift giving and the decorating, and focused on the being together, and doing together things.

    Our tree is up, and the advent calender is in action but the rest of the decorations are coming out slowly. Every few days I bring out something else, and the kids are getting a real kick out of it, and I am feeling a whole lot less stressed about it. I intend to pack it away the same way, one or two things a day starting the day after Christmas until it is all gone. YAY. I love that “clean” feeling in the house when the Christmas clutter is gone πŸ˜‰

    Whatever you choose to do, make sure it is things that you enjoy, anything else forget about.

  57. #63
    Koren

    great minds think alike. agree with so many of the previous posters.

    we make a list of what’s important (really important about Christmas) and say no to lots of other things. make a backwards advent calendar where we write each day what we did to celebrate Christmas. then we don’t focus so much on what we didn’t have time for.

    traditions make it easier to plan stuff. some things we do every year, others ever two or three years.

    we limit gifts at Christmas (2-3 per kids) but also do New Year’s Bags. BIG birthday type bags full of NEW things for the NEW year (clothes, school supplies, games, books…) is also an awesome way to capitalize on the after Christmas sales.

    I remind myself everyday that we are supposed to enjoy this time and our kids enjoy a day at home with a movie and popcorn as much as an adventure packed day out. reel everything in to be more simple.

    with love, a homie in Seattle :-}

  58. #64
    Erin

    My mom had a great idea for the tree a few years ago. She bought a really skinny fake tree, and had a professional designer come decorate it. Every year it comes up from and back down to the basement on a stretcher, still decorated.

  59. #65
    Nitty.Gritty.

    I saw a church sign with this on it yesterday…made me pause for a moment and reflect.
    It said, “If you think your Christmas is stressful, imagine giving birth in a stable”. That quote put things in a bit more perspective for me. Good luck with finding your Christmas spirit. =) And I love those pants on Cole. They made me laugh outloud. I’m sorry. They just did.

  60. #66
    Judy in Carefree

    Try losing your furry buddie, a 12 1/2 yr. old Shih Tzu, suddenly and then having to put down your other dog whose cancer had progressed to the point of no return. See if you feel like you want to do Christmas. Thank goodness I have two weeks to put it all together because I need to do it for my grandchildren. Take a deep breath and know that the extra stress is worth it for the kids!

  61. #67
    Kelli Kemmerer

    Thank you Cathy! I have felt this way for a while myself!! I have two school age children who are totally into the spirit and believing in Santa. If they had their way we would have had the tree up at least the weekend before Thanksgiving. As it was we put it up Dec. 1st and I am all ready to take it down. I never use to be that way! I lost my mother unexpectedly two days after Christmas 3 years ago. I just focus on my kids and their enthusiasm for the spirit which helps!!! GOOD LUCK!!

  62. #68
    Alyssa Maldonado

    1) Gifts – cut the gift list in half. Really how many gifts do you get from others (that are not sb related do you use anyway?)

    2) the tree – get a “charlie brown tree” because just like people not everyone is perfect, and it makes dressing the tree in it’s “formal clothes” so much more fun, even little trees want love and attention. and when was the last time you had a tree that only took 1 or 2 strands of lights to fully illuminate it, and what about the old paper Ring garland – we are SBer’s we have paper, and glue- let the kids go crazy it’s for them afterall.

    3) remember the magic – get a fraction of the gifts for the kids, and have them do a scavenger hunt to find them. Just give them clues.

    4) remember the reason – Jesus was born this night. It still wasn’t easy- but it would have been so much harder if it wasn’t for some strangers who gave them the small comfort of warm dry barn… not everyone can donate hours to a soup kitchen, or give $ in excess, but we can all find a way to give something away. Get children on this too have the pick a gift to give to toys for tots or another charitable service (children live what they learn).

    5) Elves – much like a secret santa, have eveyone in the family pick a name- you are now the elf of whomever you picked. the goal at least once a week you (the elf) have to do something to Help, or suprise your person. ther are plenty of age approiate things kids and adults can do – from something as simple as doing a chore of the other person secretly so that the person is surpised to find it done (think: folding clothes, cleaning the bathroom ect) to a surprise (think: letter or note about why you like that person, a handmade tree decoration, a plate of surprise cookies ect) the trick is that you can spend no money. Elves can band together to help one another achieve goals as long as they can keep a secret. Elves are revealed on christmas day. (secret- this is a great way to get kids and husbands to help with the chore list- thus reducing stress)

    6) sing- christmas eve, even of it’s only a verse of frosty the snowman, or rudolph, turn on the tree (bliking is better), turn off the lights, gather friends and family at the end of the evening. pour hot toddies, hot cocoa ect. and sing. let the kids to to bed early. relax.. and to all a good night.

    7) break up – many hispanic and other cultures don’t exchange gifts this day. My family celebreates on 3 kings day (Jan 5 or 6th depending on what calendar system you go by). It is said that this is the day that the 3 kings arrrived to give the gift of myrrh, frankensence and gold to Jesus. Celebreate Christmas for religous reason, save the gifts till after the rush- no one ever said you HAD to give into commercialism.

  63. #69
    Cathie

    I know what you mean, I am full of traditions re xmas, tree must go up on 1 dec, decorated like a shop one, lights wherever i can reach, etc etc. This year i’m taking the year off, going o/s to the in-laws so no xmas tree for us and minimal shoping. it’s wonderfull, i wander around the shops looking at the ornaments then walk away laughing, not me this year !! it’s just so relaxing, take the pressure off, i don’t think the kids even care we don’t have a tree this year, there will be one at grandmas but yay she’ll be doing it.

  64. #70
    Melissa S-E

    As a 41yo mom of 3 I’m finding that one of the keys to enjoying Christmastime is to plan things that *I* like doing. This year I’m doing a bit more baking and crafts than I usually do – with the kids, of course – and it’s something that we both enjoy. I also try to see it more through my children’s eyes than my own jaded, cynical, anxiety-ridden eyes. ;-> BLESSINGS, Zielske family, for a Season of wonder & magic.

  65. #71
    Mom

    Alright everyone! Lighten Up!! Christmas is a magical time of year. We put up the tree as close to husband’s birthday as possible (9th) and enjoy every minute of it. We have one grandaughter here and she comes and decorates with my help. Grandpa always puts on the top. I just love this time of year. So much fun. Visiting family and all. Shop early and wrap early. Cathy you must remember Christmas at our house. Love Mom

  66. #72
    Sherry

    Okay, you girls are starting to depress me. What’s happening out there? This is supposed to be the most festive time of the year. The most important thing is to figure out what is the most important to you and what your kids find the most special. We put up a tree, a nativity, lots of greenery and fresh flowers. The decorations are a pain in the butt, we do them for our kiddos. It brings out the magic in all of us. We always throw at least one party because this time of the year is about being with friends and family. The easiest way to do gifts is to draw names with your families so you limit the number of buying you do. And, by all means, don’t go crazy and then regret it in January when the bills come rolling in. The gift is just a symbol of the season and your love. It’s more important to be creative and really find a gift that suits the reciever. The most important thing is to give your time…to your family, your kids, or a family in need. Teaching our children to give at this time of the year is the best ‘gift’ we can ever give to them.

  67. #73
    Katy

    I watch A Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation and tons of Christmas CD’s, including, but not limited to; Alvin and the Chipmunk, Elmo and Patsy (Grandma got run over.. blah blah), Burl Ives, Rudolph, etc.
    I cross things off the list without doing them πŸ™‚ LOVE that! πŸ˜€
    Oh, and I buy myself some slinky Christmas jammies. πŸ˜‰

  68. #74
    Heidi

    Thank goodness, others feel this way too.

    This year I wanted a smaller tree (less to decorate, less to rearrange in the family room etc). My husband whined about it, “this is the smallest tree we’ve ever had”. All I could think was that it would not hurt so much when I attempted to shove the tree ‘you know where’.

    As a cure to it all, I took my kids shopping – great one on one time – and their idea of the perfect gift is so simple.

    Hang in there!

  69. #75
    Rebecca Gawryl

    Oh, thank God! I thought I was the only one! To be brutally honest, I hate Christmas. It’s so depressing. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. I never have enough money. The kids always want too much (even though they already have too much). I hate lugging all of that crap down from the rafters. I hate having to take my house apart only to have to do it again a month later. But I tell you, after a full day of complaining about putting all of that stuff up, my youngest son (who is 12) came out of his room, saw the decorations, and gave me the biggest hug while thanking me in the most sincere way I have ever heard from him. That’s what gets me through.

  70. #76
    evalyn

    I’m thinking you must have really hit a nerve here….In my home, my husband doesn’t celebrate Xmas (he’s Muslim) but I do . What that means is deciding which “traditions” are most important to me. No decorated tree or lights (which is fine with me)but a real wreath for the front door and pointsettias, cyclemen and forced paperwhites for the tabletops. I purchase one ornament for myself every year. I (actually) enjoy Xmas shopping for my family and gift wrapping.My husband and I don’t exchange gifts. I go to my granddaughter’s Xmas program and The Nutcracker. I bake cookies and send cards to close friends only (read: six). We skip my husband’s giant company party and go to an intimate dinner with my boss, coworkers and their spouses, all 16 of us. We spend Xmas day with my parents and family. Nice and simple.

  71. #77
    cris

    I love Christmas but I can understand why it’s so stresful for some people.

    First, you need to realie that you don’t have to follow the season’s traditions. If you don’t want the big ass Xmas tree- then don’t have one. Decorate something else, buy a fully decorated tree from a local charity, or (gasp) make your kids put the thing up if they want it.

    Second, Don’t think of your bumming as being unhappy. Think of it as a opportunity to reavaluate your family’s holiday priorities and traditions. Not happy with something – change it or tweek it. Your kids will understand (and may even be excited to add ideas of their own).

    Third, visit organizedchristmas.com for help doing stuff. I introduced this site to my mom 2 years ago and it has been a huge help! She only completes about 1/3 of the stuff but they’re the things that are the most important to her. Use what you need and ignore the rest.

    Finally, about 3 years ago I had a powerful experience that taught me the valuable lesson of the perfectly flawed Christmas. I was a nanny for a newborn and a toddler. Their mom loves planning the perfect holiday. She had very carefully laid out the nativity scene in the living room; however, every few hours we would notice that the figurines had been moved around. This went on for days and the mom was totally freaking out about it.

    Then one day we caught the toddler in the living room, moving the figures around. The mom got upset at her and sent her into time-out. I left to grab the baby and when I came back into the room, I found the mom sobbing. She pointed to the nativity – when all the figures had been carefully arranged around the Baby Jesus so that they encircled and looked at him.

    The toddler had taken the time to “fix” her mom’s nativity to reflect what she was being taught about Christmas. It was one of the most powerful things I have ever experienced. I truly started to live a different type of Christmas from that moment on. Now, I don’t care about the gifts or the decorations…if they happen great, if not – eh. All that stress? Not important. All that religious stuff? Important.

  72. #78
    Lynne

    I feel the same way you do (hence, my decision this year to forego the tree and other decorations — see my blog for more details)… and I think the reason it all seems like too much is because the focus is all off (just my opinion). I think that the focus should be on friends/family and being together and celebrating the birth of Christ, instead of on buy, buy, buy… rush, rush, rush…

    The thing is, I think we bring so much of it on ourselves. Like some of the other commenters have said, one of the best things that I’ve done this year is to sit down and decide what’s really important to me — and to feel good about doing whatever that is, and letting go of the rest.

    You’re in good company… Hang in there!

  73. #79
    Heather Sinkler

    Wow, this makes me kind of sad to read all these comments of people who are not enjoying Christmas,and just letting it bring them down. All I have to say is this, “To be happy, don’t do whatever you like, like whatever you do.”
    Happiness is a choice.

  74. #80
    Wendy

    Last year after shopping at Toys R Us on Christmas Eve at 9pm… I vowed NEVER again. We are totally embracing a less is more Christmas….. even tossed half the decorations out in the charity pile.

    This year, Mr. Man & I went out on a date = quick dinner…. then shopping for our kids early November. Then two weeks later… date= quick dinner shopping for anyone who wasn’t getting a gift from Amazon.com. Everyone else is getting a gift from Amazon sent to their door…. and those peripheral people… you know daycare, teachers…they are getting a cool Christmas ornament that ties into a family tradition of ours, and a AMEX gift card. It’s not classy… nor cheap… but sooooooo dang easy.

    This year, is wayyyyyy easier than last year. Simpler. And we have time to enjoy things like reading “The Wild Christmas Reindeer” in front of the fireplace.

  75. #81
    Trina

    With my birthday just seven days before Christmas, this holiday season has never been a favorite, but I feel like this year has been a turning point.

    It started with buying my first Christmas CD and listening to it in October. The music got me thinking about my annual letter much sooner and I’ve had fun designing my own Christmas cards for the first time. I’m planning to survey friends about their favorite Christmas music and then acquiring one new CD annually for a few years. After Christmas I’m also going to see if I can find any holiday scented candles on sale. I’m actually looking forward to thinking about Christmas in October again next year with the help of some new music and candles.

    A lot of stress with the season seems to come from waiting until the day after Thanksgiving to start thinking about Christmas. Since I don’t have a family of my own and I still spend Christmas at my parents’, the season isn’t nearly as stressful for me as it seems to be for other women. I realized this year though that I can embrace and look forward to those things that I personally enjoy the most: Christmas cards and music, holiday scented candles, Starbucks eggnog lattes, my annual craft day with my girlfriends, and our extended family gathering. But the rest of it, the decorating, the cooking, the baking and the obligatory gift giving, that I dislike (and rarely do), I don’t have embrace. Those things do not need to define the holiday season for me, even if they are important aspects of the season to someone else.

    Great question and I appreciate your honesty. Looking forward to reading through others’ responses.

  76. #82
    Sharon

    Christmas seems a bit of a grind at the moment. I have to remind myself I actually love it. And my son has pants of exactly that length – must be the style I think πŸ™‚

  77. #83
    miranda

    I have read your blog for a year or more and this is the first time I am posting. I agree with you about Christmas. It seems the spirit and magic is gone but just this year. We love to decorate and send cards but not this year. The tree is up with only lights. They yard is decorated but very simply. My husband has a huge (80+ house) village and he does not want to do it. It is his favorite Christmas thing to do. I definitely do not like the hustle and bustle and the mall. Christmas is hard to explain to a 6 year old when all they want is presents. I have decided to keep it simple and focus on the family. We are all we have and we need to appreciate each other more. So to everyone feeling this way I say do keep it simple and remember what is important to you. Happy Holidays!!!

  78. #85
    Sharon F

    we too had the same experience, there was a moment on Sunday of, are we going to put up a tree or not? I was fine either way – this year has been very different, lots of change, etc. There was a window of 15 min.or so, and we said, let’s go now or we wont. So we got a tree. Alone and naked our tree stands two days later. We have a work xmas party tonight, so no lights or ornaments for our little tree. Perhaps tomorrow.

    I feel so behind. Not sure why or what I am behind on? But it feels as if its all going past me somehow. So I am conciously trying to enjoy each day and moment and do what I can. But enjoying is the key.

    wishing you health and happiness of the season and year!

    sharon
    oakland,ca

  79. #87
    reyanna

    Everybody is right… it’s just *how* it’s supposed to be, I guess. But I’m with you… I’m just not happy about it. (And we don’t even have kids yet! Just LOTS of family.)

    A friend of mine sends out “Happy New Year” cards instead of Christmas cards, but I think we’ll do summer cards this year instead. Though, I am sending out a Christmas greeting (courtesy of my husband’s PhotoShop skills), via email. :p

    Our tree is still not up. And we did 90% of our shopping at Amazon.com (free shipping!)… I love the idea of 3 gifts at Christmas (because that’s what Jesus got), and doing the crazy-present-giving at birthdays instead.

    To make matters crazier, our 5th wedding anniversary is Christmas Day. LOL. What were we thinking?!?!

    So… I took it easy this year. If something is too stressful, or I feel like I can’t get it done, I’m not doing it. And if I have to send presents out the day *after* Christmas because lines will be shorter at the post office, so be it. πŸ˜€

    Good luck!

  80. #88
    angie

    I love Christmas & have 22 boxes of Christmas in my attic, but I only put up what i feel like putting up. Some years, I have put up the tree with just lights…it is still absolutely beautiful without a single ornament. I also like to decorate with more natural things such as bowls of pomegranites/pinecones/cranberries/green & red apples/whole nuts in shells, etc…accent with a few fresh clipped evergreen sprigs from your yard.

    To get me into the spirit of things, i listen to Christmas tunes as I create Christmas theme projects like scrapbooking previous holidays or making some easy holiday crafts to decorate & give as gifts.

    Also, I like having my kids help decorate. They enjoy being part of it & usually are pretty good helpers.

    good luck, girl…don’t stress.

    peace

  81. #89
    Kristin Dossett

    I have been getting this way for the last few years. I would skip it all together if I could. This year we have NO snow. Imagine no snow in Alaska! It is just dark and ugly.

  82. #90
    jes

    oh girl, i hear ya… we’re still in the process of unpacking from our big move (from cali to oregon). we left all of our christmas stuff behind at a family member’s house because we couldn’t fit it into our moving truck. the only thing that made it with us was our artificial tree (bah humbug), which was put up in our empty living room the week after thanksgiving and stood naked until 3 days ago, when we strung it with 2 strands of cheapie lights and ornaments from the dollar store… for us it’s been a year of turmoil and chaos, battling demons from every angle, and now we have to fit in time for christmas and i don’t even want to deal with it. i’d like to just skip ahead to next year when i hope that we’re in a different place in our lives so that we can enjoy it fully, rather than feel obligated to go through all these motions and pretend that i’m happy this christmas. so i completely understand… *hugs*

  83. #91
    janie

    I can totally relate…….BUT…..do it for your kids and it will energize the kid in YOU!

    Do the minimal of what is important to you and your family. For me (us) it would include a Christmas tree (with a minimal favorite treasured ornaments), a wreath on the door and on the grill of the car, making sugar cookies, making caramel candy, putting out the Nativity set, sending Christmas card photos from Walgreens, a string of lights on the mantel, having a favorite cheese ball on hand,playing Christmas cd in the house and car, having Cokes in the traditional green bottles in the refrigerator and shopping for the Salvation Army Angel . Anything else is extra and may not happen, but that is ok.

    What DOESN’T get done is going to holiday parties, lots of indoor or outdoor decorations, large variety of homemade cookies and candies, travel, or shopping. We only buy gifts for our 3 kids(limited number of gifts) and my hubby and I don’t exchange).

    I feel like I have covered the sights–the smells–the sounds and the feeling of Christmas adequately. It means sooooo much to my kids.

    And finally…..my kids are 15yo, 13 yo and 9 yo. It is abundantly clear this year how quickly the time passes and what little time we really do have to celebrate the kid in all of us. I am thanking God every day this Christmas season, that all my kids want to do our traditions together as a family. At some point I will have all too much time to have a clean house, work, etc.

  84. #92
    kim in Camas - ScrapToMyLu

    Sing it sista! I threw a hissy the other day about decorating for Christmas. It’s so disruptive, I don’t like taking stuff down just to put up Christmas stuff. My husband, the logical one says “then don’t do it….we’ll just do a tree and the outdoor lights and call it good.” My little Aha moment right there. In prep for the next couple of weeks, I have thinned my work schedule down, getting subs for some of my classes. It already feels like a weight off my shoulders…….no pun intended (I teach fitness)
    Good Luck!
    Did you ever see your feature on Today’s Creative Blog?

  85. #93
    Janet

    Really, who is thrilled at Christmas time but the kids? And bless them, they make it all palpable for the rest of us. It’s so much work, so much overspending, overeating, stress, etc.

    I let go of trying to find *perfect* gifts. Now I just try to find a gift that will make the recipient happy. It’s so much simpler. And I try to do something special for someone who is in need–it just seems so much more important than making sure the rest of us all get the newest and most expensive toys.

    Last year we did the bare minimum decorating. This year it was more fun to go through the decorations, maybe since they took last year off.

    Do what you want and leave the rest alone. You can’t force happy feelings. And, as always, thanks for being so honest with all of us blog readers. It’s so refreshing.

  86. #94
    Jenny in Wellington, NZ

    I realised after writing my last post why I find Christmas stressful: it’s the shopping for gifts. Let’s face it: we all have PLENTY. So now it’s time to buy things that just make the day a happy day.

    What I have found really good over the last day or so is to sit with hubby and PLAN. We’ve prepared our shopping list and we’re hoping to complete it by the end of this coming weekend. What a relief!

    I still haven’t decorated, and I’m thinking I might not anyway. There is one decoration up and thats a Hallmark collectable that I bought my husband this year… Santa with a racing car set πŸ™‚ It’s on the TV, everyone can see it lol… the street is decorated and using so much electricity I dunno why I need bother πŸ™‚

    So I’ve DECIDED to have a low key Christmas this year in keeping with MY needs!

    Cathy: decide to have a low key Christmas. If anyone else wants something different in your household, (e.g. decoration etc) then it’s up to THEM to figure it out!

  87. #95
    Sarah

    Just as there are no rules in scrapbooking, (learned that one from you!), no rules for christmas. We don’t usually get a tree because our place is too small. I sometimes send cards and sometimes don’t. I sometimes hand make gifts, and sometimes buy everything. For some, we don’t buy any gifts and just donate to charity in their names because they’re too darn hard to shop for. We’ve only made cookies once and want to do it again this year. I love to wrap gifts so even though it takes time I do it but that could easily be skipped if I didn’t enjoy it any more. Just enjoy what you do and don’t do what you don’t enjoy! That’s the christmas spirit for me!

  88. #96
    Sarah

    Just as there are no rules in scrapbooking, (learned that one from you!), no rules for christmas. We don’t usually get a tree because our place is too small. I sometimes send cards and sometimes don’t. I sometimes hand make gifts, and sometimes buy everything. For some, we don’t buy any gifts and just donate to charity in their names because they’re too darn hard to shop for. We’ve only made cookies once and want to do it again this year. I love to wrap gifts so even though it takes time I do it but that could easily be skipped if I didn’t enjoy it any more. Just enjoy what you do and don’t do what you don’t enjoy! That’s the christmas spirit for me!

  89. #97
    Lorie

    Yes, I know of what you speak. Christmas no longer flies my kite either.

    I don’t try to get around it. I just ignore it for as long as possible. Do the absolute minimum, and then have a day or so of the guilts.

    We bought a tree in a bucket a couple of years ago. It’s completely decorated. You take it out of the closet, plop it on the table, plug it in. Voila, you got Christmas. Done.

  90. #98
    Susan

    Hi – I’m one of your “silent blog readers”. Hope you don’t mind… Actually, I’m quite daunted to be adding a comment, noting that you already have 97 added to this post. Quite scary. I’m happy when I get 4 or 5 comments. I really enjoy reading through your blog and find it really entertaining. Esp your son’s long shorts/short longs… hee hee.

    Christmas is always a crazy time of year, no matter where you live. I find that the best way to calm things down is to just turn down invitations. This is the first year that I’ve decided that I just can’t cope with doing everything. People just have to understand. I start doing my Christmas shopping in October ‘cos I’m the world’s worst shopper – if I could do everything on line, I would. Sadly, I only finished my shopping last night this year.

    Anyway, good luck with the festive season, hope it passes you by peacefuly!

    Festive greetings,
    Sue

  91. #100
    michelle

    Well, the house is decorated, the tree is up and, well it has ONLY 4 ornaments on it. Just can’t get there to do it-so I gave myself permission to let the tree exist as it is. It is beautiful and I did miss pulling out the ornaments and the stories behind them-BUT I needed a break, the kids are cool with it so this year I decided it would be okay-and it has been!

    Peace and Happy Holidays to All!

    I so wanted to be the 100th comment!

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