According to Andy Williams, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most stressful. During the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, my to-do list seems to double in size with all the extra gift buying, treat making, and dinner planning. It’s too easy to become frazzled while dealing with the whirlwind of errands and activities. As the month moves along, I start to take shortcuts to make sure everything gets done. And to keep my sanity.
I’ve already vetoed the photo Christmas card this year. I remember when such cards were a novelty. Now they’re almost expected. But I’m not sure the kids have any nice clothes that are stain and hole-free that also fit, which means I’ll have to squeeze in time to go clothes shopping with kids who absolutely hate to go clothes shopping. I don’t want to spend the afternoon crawling under display racks and running down aisles, hollering after my kids that if they’ll only try on one more shirt, I’ll buy them a cookie. That’s too much work when there’s no guarantee we’ll even get a decent family picture. My oldest becomes stiffer than last year’s fruitcake as soon as you turn on the camera, and my youngest has either squeezed his eyes shut or stuck out his tongue in every picture for the last year. So family and friends will be receiving a lovely boxed card with a brief, handwritten message inside.
Then there’re the home-baked goods to worry about. Over the past few years, my neighbors and I have fallen into the tradition of giving each other plates of homemade goodies. I love receiving these platters of confectionary delight, but I’m not much of a baker, so the giving part tends to stress me out. Good thing I have a freezer full of Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough that I bought when my friend’s daughters were participating in a fundraiser last month. The only problem is that each cookie bakes in a perfect circle, a dead giveaway that I didn’t slave over a bowl of my own batter. I’ll have to mush them up before I cook them. The neighbors will never know. And if they figure it out, they’re much too polite to say so.
As for planning Christmas dinner, my husband and I are in charge since my sister and her husband hosted the Thanksgiving meal. Luckily, we tend to favor potluck dinners, so my parents and sister are each bringing a side dish. I need to provide the meat, so I’m ordering a honey-baked ham. With rolls from the bakery and a tossed salad, dinner is served. I suspect I’ll even have enough time to make a cake for dessert (boxed, of course).
I always remind myself that the holidays are a time for enjoying family, not a time to cram in as much as possible. I try to say yes to the really important items and no to everything else. That way, I just might survive another Christmas.