Monday, December 08, 2008

Kylie’s Annual Christmas Meltdown—and Giveaway


I’ve given this a lot of thought and haven’t reached this decision lightly. But after a few years of pondering it seems clear….we really have to move Christmas ☺ Think about it. The very best holiday of the year and it’s sandwiched so closely after Thanksgiving that we have to hit the ground running the day after T-day. Then it’s a mad rush to shop, decorate, bake, wrap, write cards, etc. until my head is spinning and not from the incessant holiday music, which I really do enjoy but never have enough time to listen to.

I’d like to savor the build up to Christmas. I’d like more time to contemplate its real meaning, aside from the more commercial trappings. Somehow when I think of the season I envision a woman standing in a kitchen (she always looks like a cross between Donna Reed and Leave it to Beaver’s mom). She’s serenely baking up a holiday storm. Gaily wrapped packages peek out of the carefully decorated living room. I never get the feeling that she’s staying up until midnight the week before Christmas just to get a few treats made. That she’s frantically searching for stocking stuffers or still wrapping on Christmas Eve day. That she has to take on negotiations more suited for the U.N. as she tries to pencil out a schedule that gets the family to all the relatives’ houses sometime within the forty-eight hours they’ll be home. Or that she’s ever ever had to threaten her darling cherubs that she’s taking everything back since they engaged in a search and discover mission to uncover the stash of presents in their hiding place before she could get them wrapped.

Historians are even estimating that the time line is off by a few months anyway, so what could it hurt, really, if we moved Christmas to say, oh, Jan. 25? Then we’d have two whole months to enjoy the decorating that take days to complete. And eight entire weeks to get the shopping done. Gasp! I can hardly imagine the luxury of such a leisurely approach to shopping.

Our house looks something like this: husband announces at Thanksgiving we’re going to skip Christmas this year. Everyone in the family ignores him. A few hours later he begins the all too familiar litany about this year—and he means it—we are cutting back. I make a note to self to hide the receipts from him.

He accompanies me on the one shopping outing he is allowed to participate in, called marathon madness. (only because I need someone to carry the packages) He follows me out to the car afterwards saying what he says every year, “So we’re done, right?” His predictability is particularly endearing since our immediate family has grown to thirteen. The thought of getting all the shopping done in one day makes me weep.

On the way home from marathon shopping today (which, by the way was a trip spent in silence, since my husband and I—still wrapped in our holiday glow—were no longer speaking ☺ ) I decided I was going to give myself the ultimate gift. A day off to get caught up. I’m planning to take a personal day from work this week to finish the shopping (by myself) and the decorating. The thought of having the next two weekends free to enjoy being done, and dare I hope--write-- is like a shimmering mirage of promise.

I also have another tool in my holiday arsenal: online shopping. I just lurrrrrv online shopping. Almost as much as I lurv free shipping. I get positively giddy when I find the rare site that doesn’t charge shipping or tax. I’ve been known to try and coax my kids to put things on their lists that I know I can order online. Every gift purchased without my having to step foot in a store is a battle won.

How do you keep your sanity amidst all the bustle of the season? What are your tried and true methods for getting everything done? Do you have tips for giving yourself time to really appreciate the season without getting lost in the craziness?

My prize package for one lucky commenter today includes an advance copy of my January release, Terms of Engagement; a Hallmark ornament and cute little hinged Santa box.

65 comments:

Cindy Gerard said...

Kylie - Ever consider making your life into a sitcom? I mean - Everybody Loves Raymond has nothing on you and John.
And you can actually get him to go shopping? The sky would have to fall here to get my dh on a shopping trip.
And speaking of --- YES YES YES to online and free shipping. It's the only thing that gets me through it all.

Keri Ford said...

Start shopping BEFORE Thanksgiving! I also pick stuff up through the year. It's May, I see something perfect for my mom, I pick it up and stick it in a closet. I have most of my major people taken care of, so that's a relief!

danie88 said...

I honestly have to keep my sanity intact all the time... whether its the holiday season or not lol my life is always chaotic and busy...

My methods of keeping my self sane are to escape into a good romance book or listen to music (i listen to pretty much anything).

For getting things done... I really need to work on that... im a procastinator... which is bad. *sigh*

My tips for taking time to appreciate the season? Well this is kind of random but I LOVE christmas lights... and just sitting in my living room with all the lights off except for the christmas tree is really a good time to just sit and ponder things and really appreciate things in life... its a good feeling... also if you have a big cup of hot cocoa with lots of mini marshmallows then that just makes the moment even better...

D Twomey said...

Many years ago I suggested to my family that we don't do Christmas gifts. We all stressed out over what to buy everyone, I always had college classes and exams up to the eleventh hour, and some of us weren't too excited about all of the crowds at the malls, etc. We all agreed. Since then, we've had very non-stressful Christmases. We really enjoy them. They are now about Christmas, family, food and fun. They are great!

Of course, we do have a very small family... and no little ones around, so it was easy for us to make that decision. Sometimes I think it would be nice to buy gifts for everyone again.... then I think about shopping.... and change my mind!

Happy Holidays Everyone!!!!

Playground Monitor said...

When we lived in Germany I realized not everyone does this back-to-back holiday madness. The Germans don't celebrate our Thanksgiving so they have that slow build-up to Christmas. So Christmas isn't the problem; it's Thanksgiving. We can keep it, but make it a pizza-and-beer day instead of turkey and all the fixings.

I did lots more shopping online this year. I only have one or two more things to buy locally plus stocking stuffers. Now I have to wrap and today I have to mail a few things. I hate the post office this time of year.

I still have to write a Christmas letter and send out my dozen cards or so. I made a deal with some folks a few years ago that we'd mutually stop sending cards to each other.

I'm impressed by your DH's willingness to shop with you too. Mine does his own shopping but only because he knows he'd be in the doghouse otherwise. He does as much as possible online since he hates stores in July and would be homicidal if he had to go in them in December.

I've found that reading Christmas romances and watching Christmas movies helps relieve some of the stress.

Marilyn

Betina Krahn said...

Dani, I'm with you. The lights are the special part of the season for me. . . some on the tree and the rest on candles I have sitting all over the house and even on the lanai.

For a couple of years I didn't have a tree-- invested the money in good candles instead and had the most romantic atmosphere in the house throughout the whole Christmas season. However, come January, when I was dusting my cloth came up BLACK. A friend, seeing the soot, asked if I'd had a fire in the house!! I realized it was the candles and have since cut back. I was breathing all that soot as well as depositing it on walls, windows, and furniture!

So, these days I try to shop ahead. . . remembering to save a little $ for the after holiday sales when you can pick up Christmas-themed merchandise for a song that will cost a whole opera the next November!

And I do love me some FREE SHIPPING.

Kylie said...

Cindy, I'm beginning to think you are a lucky woman indeed not to have your dh tagging along. By the end of the day we're snarling at each other in Target, LOL. He's accusing me of mumbling, I'm suggesting he's not listening. He argues about every blessed thing I'm putting in the cart. Ahhhh, sweet marital bliss!

Kylie said...

Keri, I have officially become my mother, LOL. I pick things up and forget where I put them! And I have to threaten my kids with death to even get a list from them by Thanksgiving. Sigh. Checks are sounding better and better!

Kylie said...

Danie you have a great idea! And I love to kick back and look at the lights with Christmas music playing and just get into the holiday mood. I need to give myself time to just enjoy the season.

Michele Hauf said...

Betina, i freaked about my candles a few years ago and try to find soy ones now with the wicks that don't produce soot. And, I got a bunch of those fake candles, with the little batteries in the bottom. Put those in a votive and you can't tell they're fake. Love 'em!

Kylie said...

DTwome, if you ever decide on gifts again go online shopping! Destressful, no crowds and your feet don't hurt.

We really didn't fight crowds yesterday. I don't know if sane people are forgoing shopping or if others are later than I am, LOL!

Arkansas Cyndi said...

I admit that I did most of my Christmas shopping in Sept and October. Mostly, because I knew what to buy AND found sales. I even had all of it wrapped before Thanksgiving. So did that work for me? Unfortunately, not exactly. NOW I'm helping mom with her shopping and wrapping her presents (leaving the bows to her. I hate doing the bows).

I do hide the receipts. That'll be our little secret, right?

I'm going to do some re-thinking before next Christmas regarding gifts. It's getting a little out of hand. Since it's just hubs and me, we end up buying LOADS of presents for my sister's family (up to 7 people), his sister (6), his niece's kids (3), his brother (2), my parents (2). My sister's kids are grown and getting married. Their offspring will be next and I can't handle the load of new additions to my budget. I'm not sure WHAT I'm going to do or WHO will be cut, but you see the problem.

I do love all the Christmas lights. Sigh.

Kylie said...

Ah Marilyn, an even better idea--let's move Thanksgiving, LOL! It can be a week after Halloween. They have the decorations all out in August anyway!

Kylie said...

Ah Marilyn, an even better idea--let's move Thanksgiving, LOL! It can be a week after Halloween. They have the decorations all out in August anyway!

Arkansas Cyndi said...

Oh, is anyone making Christmas presents this year? I have a recipe for homemade Linen Spray that I might make up.

Kylie said...

Betina, with more daughters in law now shopping after Christmas is more feasible. They are in to holiday ware, which can be picked up for a song after the holidays and held until the following season.

I love candles too but ever since my kids started the wallpaper in my bathroom on fire years ago (!) I've been careful where I put them, LOL.

CrystalGB said...

I make lists to keep me organized.
I shop online to avoid crowds.
My spouse and I choose carefully the events we will attend.

Playground Monitor said...

Crystal! Lists! Yes!

That's the only thing that keeps me anywhere close to organized.

Margay said...

I think my only trick for getting through the season is to embrace it and thoroughly enjoy it. I love taking rides through the neighborhood and to my mother's house just to see the decorations, and I always have to watch holiday movies and cartoons. How can you not relax and enjoy yourself when you're watching Charlie Brown's Christmas or the Grinch with Jim Carrey? So the trick is to slow down and just take it all in.

Kylie said...

Cyndi, no one would want anything I can make. The only thing I can do with my hands is talk! And you are being punished for being tooooo organized, you know! But totally agree about cutting back (don't let my husband hear that). I just don't know where to start or how to do it. There are just so darn many of us! At some point it will have to be done, though.

Kylie said...

Crystal, I'm a total list maker myself. Of course Friday I was in a mad rush because we were going out of town for the weekend. Like the organized person I am I printed out my Christmas shopping list. And like the ditz I can be I left it in the printer! I was able to reconstruct most of the list from digging through web based email from my son's house though.

Kylie said...

Margay, I love the lights, too. That's one of my husband's jobs to put up the outdoor lights. Let's just say, he isn't done yet, LOL. But for some reason I feel like I need little ones in the car to give myself an excuse to go look at lights. This year, I'm going myself and just enjoying.

Our town has a historic suspension bridge over the river that is always lit up. The flood last summer destroyed it. They're rebuilding, but it just doesn't seem the same to look toward the river and not see the lights on the bridge.

Liza said...

I buy a few gifts all year, so I don't feel so crazed at Christmas time. I still have a few gifts to buy, but I should finish up on Friday. I always take off one day to finish my shopping and wrapping. I also didn't decorate my house as much this year. I have a little Charlie Brown tree and I'm only putting on lights and a few ornaments.

Margay said...

What a bummer about the bridge! it sounds like it was beautiful. And I think, even when I don't have the kids to go with, I'll still enjoy the lights by myself. The town between the one where I live and my mother's has this big pine tree they decorate every year, so I love driving by (on the way to Mom's, of course) to see it.

lois greiman said...

I just don't get it all done. Just don't. I say, set expectations low and keep dropping the standards. :)

Kylie said...

Liza, that would be the normal thing to do, of course. Not to get so mental about getting it all done. But my kids, even though they are grown, come home and say, "Hey. Where's the nativity scene?" Or, "Why aren't all the Santas out?" My dream is that some day they will help decorate before they leave from Thanksgiving, LOL. Right now we're lucky to get them to carry boxes down from the attic for us!

Kylie said...

LOL, Lois! I think a gradual lowering of the standards is very doable. I have these panic attacks where I sit straight up in bed after dreaming that the number of presents for the kids wasn't even. I've had my share of screw ups over the years. Like watching the kids open a gift with their name on it and having to say, "That's not yours." I have to take it out of their hands and hand it to their brother, LOL. The kids are used to it by now!

It doesn't help that the twins' birthday is two days before Christmas, one son is five days after Christmas and one dil is two weeks after the day.

Gonna make a new rule: the other two have to marry someone with a summer birthday!

Betina Krahn said...

Kylie, good luck with that rule! LOL. Let me know how that comes out.

Debra Dixon said...

I'm the one who always announces, "We are cutting back." Last year it worked, so this year--on Thanksgiving--my husband said, "I'm putting up the lights tomorrow."

I love Christmas but it's much too close to Thanksgiving.

This year we have agreed to cut back on gift giving but not celebration. We're working with an elder care group to provide necessities (blankets, toiletries, towels, etc.) for the elderly poor. So that takes care of the giftgiving.

Our rule is that if you live here or I gave birth to you there will be a small gift exchange. I'm asking everyone else to join me in the elder care commitment or the charity of their choice.

D Twomey said...

For those of you with too many to buy for... I've had friends with large families that draw names for Christmas.

Christie Ridgway said...

My dh, Surfer Guy, surprised me yesterday by volunteering to partner me on a shopping trip and also promising to "be good" and not rush me (like he had the day before). Had I cursed...um, grumbled...aloud? I did take him along and he did okay, though he continued to wear that "We're done now, right?" expression from the first purchase until the last.

How I keep sane: Do most of the shopping by myself. What would keep me saner: If someone else would do the wrapping. I enjoy the creative aspect for like two presents, and then I'm just bored with it.

Kylie said...

Deb, I much prefer to give to a needy family I know personally so I give to a couple families here at school. One is the niece of a teacher here who was recently divorced and the other is chosen by our at-risk team. Seeing some of the environments my students come from, I enjoy doing something that will make their family's holiday a little brighter.

uncidoris said...

For the families on your list, give a gift to help another family. The Christian Children's Fund website has a gift catalog. You can buy, a goat, chickens, a camel, sports equipment, school supplies and many other helpful items to those in need. Any gift to a charity in the recipient's name is so meaningful and reflects the true spirit of Christmas.

Kylie said...

Christie--I feel your pain as far as taking your dh along shopping! It's sleeting here, and mine just called and volunteered to go get the dog (being boarded 20 miles away) so I wouldn't have to drive. I think he's trying to make up for his behavior yesterday, LOL!

I'd volunteer to do your wrapping! Not that I'm very good at it but it's my time to enjoy the music. I lock myself away in a room all day and wrap while I'm listening to my extensive collection of holiday CDs.

Kylie said...

Uncidoris--thanks for the tip! I'd never heard of that organization.

Jane said...

I try to buy presents all year round. If I see something someone would like, I buy and then give it to them on Christmas. I've also been doing a lot of shopping online so I don't have to deal with the crazy crowds and lines. I give gift cards or cash if I can't pick out a gift for someone.

MaryC said...

I usually start shopping in October. For the older nieces and nephews, they supply me with a wish list which I share with other family members. Anything that helps in avoiding the return gifts line after the holiday helps!

I am also a BIG fan of on-line shopping. Being able to compare prices without having to trek from one store to another is great. Plus I like the comments that people make about the produts.

catslady said...

I'm no help - I'm totally crazed. I start stressing around Halloween as to what perfect gifts I can get everyone. This year I ended up doing the turkey dinner myself so I totally agree we should have an extra month. I got two days of shopping in but I need another one for sure.

catslady said...

Sorry I got kicked off and didn't get to finish. This week I'm having a large tree trimming party for friends and relatives which means shopping, cooking, finding all the decorations, getting a tree and worst of all - CLEANING. UGH. Then there's cards, wrapping and I'm sure I'm missing something lol.

Kylie said...

Jane maybe I should take a page out of your book and buy things throughout the year. I wait for the kids to give me a list and it's like pulling teeth!

Kylie said...

MaryC--I was in an Apple store yesterday and they explained which item I needed. We went to purchase it and the guy at the register immediately brought up the web page so I could see the comments on the item I was about to purchase. Needless to say, they weren't good. He helped me find one that had a much better approval rating and then I ordered that one on line since the store was out of stock. I thought that was the ultimate in customer service!

Betina Krahn said...

Now, Kylie, I'm a wrapping person. I love making pretty packages. but I think most of us do-- we just hate having to do all the shopping and then all the wrapping, too. Last year, I went over to an older neighbor's and wrapped all her presents to her kids and grands. She's got a tone of family, so my back was aching by the time it was over. But a glass of wine and a bit of chatting and that was forgotten. We had a great time. I'm volunteering to do it again this year!

Kylie said...

Catslady--the two of us should meet beneath the tinsel and sip a spiced egg nog to help us relax, LOL!

Kylie said...

Betina, what a thoughtful gift to your neighbor! You helped her and spent some time with her. I constantly feel guilty about not doing enough for my neighbor across the street. I'll give her a call and see what I can do to help her out.

Maureen said...

There never seems to be enough time for me either. My husband, however, is a big help. If I know exactly what I want then I write it down and he'll go out during his lunch hour and get it.

Kylie said...

Maureen, you're a lucky lady! My husband is good on small forays like that too, if I'm very specific. Big marathon shopping days....not so much, LOL!

Lots of ice here which means early dismissal. YAY! I could *so* use a snow day right about now!

Helen Brenna said...

Kylie, I think I'm about as stressed as you! Yikes. And I would love, love, love to move xmas to January. What a relief that would be!

I think I enjoyed the holidays more when the kids were little. It was so easy to surprise them. And so inexpensive.

These days, not that time isn't a critical issue, but it's coming up with the ideas for gifts that gets me.

My tried and true method for getting everything done is remembering that not everything has to get done.

I'm not and never will be Martha Stewart, so if the cookies don't get made, or the house isn't decorated to perfection (which it won't be) I try to keep in mind what is important. Time with the family. And a few fun surprises under the tree.

Kylie said...

Helen, I just can't get excited about the presents if I don't feel like I've surprised everyone with at least one gift they aren't expecting. That is getting harder and harder to do.

I think the hardest stage was like 12-17, when the kids were out of the toy stage. For my oldest, I had to come up with ideas for him to put on his list! That's lacking imagination, LOL!

The little ones are a riot at Christmas time, and as with every generation of kids, enjoy the wrapping paper and boxes as much as the items in them.

I can be a bit obsessive compulsive about the holiday, I'll admit. (yes, moi) I've given up making the sugar cookies that everyone loved decorating but no one ate. And I make very little candy, and only one batch of each because most just want a piece, not a pan full :) Luckily leftovers can always be taken to school. It's a little known fact that teachers will eat anything!

Estella said...

My family decided to just buy for the children and at this point there only two----so shopping was really easy.
I finished my shopping in earlt November, but still have to wrap.

Virginia said...

We are just buying for the children this year and having a nice dinner with the family. All the family I have left is just two sisters and I do try to fix them a Christmas bag. What I do to keep my sanity is I make a list at what needs to be done and I take one thing at a time until it is finished. This works well for me. Today I finished my shopping and tomorrow I plan on getting things wrapped. One thing at a time.

Kylie said...

Estella--the children are always easier to shop for than the adults anyway, aren't they? Not to mention more fun!

Kylie said...

Virginia, I'm a list maker, too. Although I try to make myself believe that it all *has* to be done, mentally I know what can be forgotten and no one will notice, LOL. But invariably if I decide the baking can be let go, the son who likes the Christmas star cookies whines that I didn't make them!

Jeanette J said...

I pace myself. I do a little every day..the most important I try to do first so that if I don't get something done I don't freak out about it.

Kylie said...

Jeanette--wise woman. Whatever doesn't get done one day can always be put on the list for the next. It's amazing what I decide can be cut once it gets down to the wire!

Margie said...

I try to buy all year round. That way I avoid the mad Christmas rush. I still need to wrap the gifts, though. I'll do a little each day and hope I get done by Christmas! LOL!

Pamk said...

make a list of to buy for folks. ideas on what to get each. And Oh yeah I love on line shopping. And I love GC's lol.

Kylie said...

Margie, I wish I knew what people wanted prior to the Christmas rush. That would make things so much easier!

Kylie said...

Pam, I'll admit that I tend to lose track of gift cards but I never forget to use my barnes and noble cards!

Ellory said...

No way not to lose ones sanity. I always feel I'm behind. :)

Dina said...

I just try to enjoy it no matter how far behind I am or how corwded it is or even if people are crabby, lol. Just smile and sing. :)

Kylie said...

Ellory, I think that's what stresses me out the most, the feeling that I'm behind and can't possibly get it all done! But things are looking very much like a snow day for me tomorrow, so keep your fingers crossed, LOL. I could sure use one right about now!

Kylie said...

Dina, sometimes I feel guilty for how crabby I feel when I'm shopping. I'm amazed how unfailingly patient and cheerful the clerks have been! It's got to be crazy for them.

Deborah said...

I try to get organized. Make lists of what I need to get done every day and then stick to it.

Listening to Christmas music and singing along with the songs while I wrap presents or bake Christmas cookies helps me stay stress-free.

Caffey said...

Its so true! The holidays are so close together that it too flies by so fast that we don't get to savor it! They should have the Christmas sales in July so we do that part of the gifts early! Too we now do one gift exchange between the four of us, and give to each other all year round in so many ways. Too, we have some traditions we keep, such as each year we add an angel on the tree in memory of my mom. Last year while I was ill and unable to go out, my son and hubby had gotten the angel. This year my daughter has asked to get it and surprise me! I confess that most of the gift done early and one special gift and doing a dinner/night out as a family really put less pressure on us and had us spending more time than we used to together! (We also do games, its hilarious bringing out the games and watching my hubby cheat at scrabble, and watching the humorous holiday movies together) but we its worked for us to do those things together rather than the stress of the crowds in the mall. I suggest too if doing that dinner get together instead, to reserve it. Made it go so smoothly! We had to change alot, but we did it two years ago when the stress was too much, but it was worth it.

Laurie said...

I hate to shop.!! So I give a lot of gift cards. My children love to read as do most of the relatives. B&N is the number 1 gift card that I purchase. Closely followed by Sports Authority for my athletes. My Mom gets tickets for free golf at the local golf course.(She's 84).
I work at a local grocery store and LOT'S of people buy the various gift cards!