Slowing Down the Holidays

This year we are doing something special for the holidays. We’ll be spending much of Christmas week visiting my daughter in law’s parents in Boston. She and my son are expecting their first child in April, so in many ways this is probably the beginning of other changes in our customary life.

With all that in mind, I was really looking forward to cutting back on all the stuff we usually do for the holidays. After preparing for days before Thanksgiving and then getting sick that night, I wanted to take a different approach, preferably one that wouldn’t be so exhausting.

My first plan was to ditch the big Christmas tree and get a very small one just for ourselves. After all we’d be gone most of the week at Christmas. Well, that idea didn’t last long because my son insisted we get a full sized tree. We compromised and got a medium sized one, but somehow that didn’t change at all the preparations for putting up the tree. All the boxes of Christmas paraphernalia still had to brought down from the attic and sorted through. My husband searched an hour for the silver garland we wrap around the tree. He still spent hours putting up the Christmas lights inside and outside.

I still have Christmas cards to send and I am slowly cleaning the house so it’s in good shape before we leave. Why bother? Because it’s no fun to come back to a topsy turvy house when you’ve been on the road for almost a week. And besides, I’m German. I can’t help myself. “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is the mantra I grew up with. Ugh.

There are still Christmas presents to buy. This requires hours of thought and in some cases searching for just the right gift. I spent hours last night on the internet looking for a weekender bag for my daughter in law that she could use for herself, or as a diaper bag if need be. I didn’t want the bag to scream “diaper bag” so I had to find one that would masquerade as one. In the wee hours of the morning I decided on a navy blue and white canvas bag which I had monogrammed in red with her initials. It would look “smart” I conjectured, and serve multiple uses.

However, in the middle of the night I had second thoughts and decided that I would not have the bag monogrammed after all. This would allow her to exchange the bag for something else she might prefer. I woke up early anticipating making the phone call to cancel the monogram. At 9am I called Lands End and…guess what? The bag had already been sent out! “Was it monogrammed” I asked, since the delivery instructions said an extra day or two would be needed for monogramming. “Yes, it was,” the sales person replied. “Oh well,” I replied. Disappointed, I adjusted my thoughts about it all and decided “It is what it is!” (I hate that expression, don’t you?)

The living room now looks like a bomb hit it with all the Christmas decoration boxes strewn everywhere; my curtains which I ironed a few days ago are still draped across the living room sofa; the cards still need to be written and mailed; and I still have a few presents to get. I DO NOT have to prepare for Christmas dinner which is a huge relief, and the house does not have to be whistle clean for guests like it was last year. But my daughter and did spend hours and hours searching for a suitable Airbnb for our family visit in Boston. Oh, and did I mention, my husband and I have been car shopping the past week because one of our PT Cruisers is not reliable to drive anymore.

My stress-free Christmas is turning out to be just another variation on the usual Christmas insanity. Next year there will be a new baby in the mix. Hopefully that will make it all worthwhile. What are you doing to reduce stress for your holidays?

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barbara suter

I'm a retired teacher who enjoys writing and sharing in this; unique blogging community.

9 thoughts on “Slowing Down the Holidays”

  1. Your post made me feel better–haven’t written more than two cards yet, we haven’t gotten our tree yet, most of our decor isn’t up yet, haven’t baked most of my cookies yet…..My plan is to take a day off this week to get stuff done!

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    1. Somehow when my husband and I were both working we got stuff done, but we were always exhausted by the time of the actual event. Now that I’m retired, something I used to get done in 3 hours now takes me 3 days! Go figure! I just can’t push myself like I used to. I know you’ll get done what needs to get done and whatever is “extra” will just have to go. For me, it was always the baking…I never got to it. Happy Holidays!

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  2. So often we say that this is the year we go for a stress free Christmas, but it rarely happens. Since we have no children the stress of buying gifts is cut back. Because we have three cats who like to climb and knock things around, we no longer put up a tree. We usually go to my brother’s on Christmas so we don’t have to worry about the house being ready for company or cooking a large meal. These little things help us relax and enjoy the day whatever may happen.

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  3. “Ch-Ch-Ch Changes”… they are the ‘spice of life’, right? 🙂 Yes, a grand child changes everything. At least you are traveling this Christmas, which it stands to reason, that everyone will travel to your home next Christmas. And I think d-i-l will like the monogrammed bag…always go with your first instinct-it is usually the best. Relax…and enjoy the simple moments of the day and season. 🙂 Merry Christmas!!!

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    1. Thanks for the reassurance about the monogrammed bag…you’re right about first instincts. I am sure that traveling and living in an Airbnb will have its own stresses, but it’s nice to change it up once in a while. I love how you started your reply to my post: Ch-Ch-Ch Changes…are definitely what makes life so challenging and so interesting. Here’s hoping you’ll be having a happy and healthy holiday season.

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  4. There’s always so much to do! Even when I think I’ve lightened the load, I’m wrong! It sounds like you will have a nice holiday though – As soon as your boxes are out of the living room, you’ll be happy to look at the lights (I hope!) I bet she’ll love the bag!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you’re right about the bag. In any case, since it’s monogrammed it’s hers for life! The boxes are still in the living room because I started to put up fresh curtains and wash windows today instead. Somehow it will all get done…for you, too. Happy Holidays!

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  5. This has been a crazy month for me – two trips since Thanksgiving (one planned and one unplanned). So I’m all about how to simplify so I can simply enjoy the season. Today the cards will be my priority.

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