Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holidays: 3. Forge Ahead

If you don't yet know your priorities for the coming holiday, then it's definitely time to figure them out. Don't stress or panic - maybe this year you will just decide how you want your holiday to be next year.  You'll notice I didn't say decide next year - decide NOW.

Some years ago, when my life was exceptionally busy and my head was literally spinning with ideas, I discovered a mode of operation that worked well for me. After the busy Christmas rush, and into the lull of the New Year, I'd work on researching, planning, and creating for the following Christmas. This has included gathering ideas for gifts, packaging, home-made cards, decorations or events to attend. I've collected recipes for baked goods or for new dishes to include in holiday meals.
I have a small storage box, which I pull out each year right after Thanksgiving that is stocked with re-purposed gift tags, cards, small bags and boxes for baked goods, gift card holders, and any printed ideas I've found that I'd like to use.
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, now is the time to make those plans. After-holiday sales are a great way to stock up on needed items for the following year.
Because we are attempting to be much more "green" in everything we do, I find this a good time to work on making more progress in this area. Excess packaging is the most difficult to deal with ecologically, but there is a lot of information out there - it's just a matter of looking for/finding it and then putting it into practice.
This takes time (and a lot of determination) to sort out and consistently do, so phasing it into your life gradually is the way to go, I think. Determine now how you can reduce your waste during the next holiday.
Once you have your top couple of priorities, it's time to get crackin'. Making time to connect with those near and dear can be a challenge, but it's ever so important. Again, there is no set way to do this, so do whatever works for you and the others.
Perhaps have a small gathering in your home or, if that is too difficult, plan to meet somewhere else. Coffee time is nice, but so is a lunch, breakfast or brunch. Beware of gift exchanges - they tend to "ramp up" over time and can become excessive. At one breakfast I attend we used to exchange tree ornaments, but decided we all had enough of those. We now bring gloves, hats, socks, etc. to be donated to a local charity. At a monthly coffee with three friends, we gather mostly to visit and share a home-made goody, only occasionally gifting each other with something simple, yet meaningful.
Write those letters, make those phone calls, send those emails (with those pictures), bake cookies with those grandkids, visit that nursing home, make that apology... Just DO IT!
If you want to change something about the way you spend your holiday, now is the time to decide what, why, and how. Of course this may need to be discussed with others in your family, but if you feel strongly enough about it then don't hesitate to do so. Reaching a consensus can be tricky, but at least they'll know your feelings and who knows - maybe they're ready to make some changes, too. Again, perhaps the actual changes are in the future, but those first steps need to begin sometime. Sooner is better than later.
Tired of heavy family dramas that leave you frazzled and exhausted? Plan to spend the next holiday somewhere else. Finding cooking that large feast alone too much? Ask for more help, dine out, order in, or scale back. Spending waaay to much? Cut back on the number of gifts, set a price limit, or create your own. Cut back on the number of activities/parties you attend, add a concert or play to the mix, attend a church service, volunteer at a homeless shelter, or stay home and relax. Decide what needs to change and DO IT!
"The Journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step."
Lao Tzu
I operate with lists. While I often have more on my list than I can do in a day, it does help me visually set down what to do and in what order. The order doesn't always matter, but in some cases it really does. Having daily, weekly, and monthly goals helps and I'm constantly amazed at all that can be accomplished one small step at a time.
And about those glitches - you will have them. Life is full of miscalculations, errors, and just plain failures. We are only human, after all. So do consider alternatives, just in case your plans should run amok. Although there are exceptions, in most cases these glitches won't ruin your holiday unless you allow them to. That's just the way the cookie crumbles.

Or, as my granddaughter put it "Now this one will be known as the cracked ginger bread man.."  And my grandson added: "And this one is headless, and this one is one-leg... but they all taste really good!"

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  1. I'm still following the jeans thread and eagerly awaiting the final reveal!

  2. I found your blog through Sherrie's blog. I think your idea of starting in January for the following year is a splendid one! I plan on doing this and thank you for the idea. I am also working on a blue jean project which I will be posting pictures of soon.

  3. as always ladybug...wonderful & inspiring post!!

    BE merry...all year long! *cheers* to 2013!