Making a list and checking it twice

We’ve fallen behind on housekeeping yet again. There’s a layer of dust on every surface. Today I had to put on the “underwear of last resort.” You know – the ones that are an ugly color and never did fit the way I like. But that’s all that was left in the drawer.

A leftover from one of the last years we sent Christmas cards...Ethiopian nativity

A leftover from one of the last years we sent Christmas cards…Ethiopian nativity. I love that everyone in the scene looks so skeptical, as if they’re saying “What the…”

I don’t know about you, but falling behind is pretty typical in my life, even in normal times. Years ago, when I used to pull out all the stops for Christmas, it was much worse during the month of December. Stress to the tenth power. But for a number of years now, I’ve chosen to drop holiday-related tasks that bring on Grinch-like moods. Here’s my Christmas “don’t-do” list:

Christmas letters/cards Oh, yes, I did both for years. Searched high and low for just the right card, scoured my records for addresses, stood in line at the post office for stamps, stayed up late signing and addressing. And wrote “clever” letters highlighting our year. Expensive, time-consuming, and misery-inducing. Never again.

Overbaking I have a large collection of Christmas-y treats that are fun and easy to make. I used to provide cookies for co-workers, for neighbors, for friends, for parties. And there were tons of leftovers for us to enjoy. But it was expensive, messy, and stopped being fun. Seriously cut back.

Christmas Parties Don’t give ’em any more, try not to go to them. I did go to this year’s staff party because it was an open house and I could go in the daylight and stay for a short time. Mingling and small talk is crazy-making for me. No more.

Excessive gifts Up until this year we gave several (smallish) gifts to each member of our families, including extended family. The matrix of what we’d bought for whom created a sense of panic rather than joy. This year it’s all hand-made gifts, one per person. That’s it.

Lights on the house As much as I adore colorful lights on a house, especially our house, the anxiety produced in certain family members over finding time to put them up and getting them precisely arranged made us all sad. So I’ve given up on this one.

I don’t mean to be a Scrooge. If these activities are meaningful to others, that’s awesome. But what was most meaningful for our family was cutting back. What’s left in our celebration of Christmas includes a few baking sessions for our absolute favorites, quiet time together, beloved decorations and music, holiday books and movies, Advent candles on the dinner table, Wednesday and Sunday worship, meaningful gift-giving.

And peace. Halleluia!


8 thoughts on “Making a list and checking it twice

  1. Too often, holiday movies make us feel guilty about not doing it all. Kudos to you for cutting back to what matters most to you.
    Instead of sitting down and doing Xmas cards all at once, now I wait until receive a card to send one back, so it’s not so overwhelming.
    And we’ve changed our gift-giving to extended family to a $1 gag gift exchange at a party that results in a lot of laughter. For example, last year I chose $1 inflatable swords for everyone, and a hilarious sword fight ensued.
    My husband wants us to use what he calls “the present circle” instead of putting up a tree each year, meaning just use the tree skirt and pile the gifts there,lol. I’m still vetoing that idea…
    Thanks for speaking out on what matters most!


  2. You do what works for you. I did Christmas cards for people this year for the first time in several years. I still have to bake but I’ve cut right back on the amount that I used to do. Christmas presents – lots of little things for all the kids under the tree. Food… well my mum is a bit upset I’m not doing a baked dinner this year but she’ll live with cold meats and salads. 🙂


  3. That’s a great way to do Christmas. I think that the focus of what Christmas is really all about, is way off these days. Now days it’s all about great gifts (competition), and money (going broke). Whatever happened to a good ol’ family Christmas? Dinner, laughs and quality time with those you love. I think your plan is wonderful!


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