Holidays, Life

Christmas chaos

I touched yesterday on the fact that I was feeling a bit of “gift fatigue”.

It’s not even really just “gift fatigue”, though that has been the department that has caused me the most headaches this year. The Christmas season is just always so crazy! It’s one of those HUGE Catch-22s for me (and many, many other people, I think).

Christmastime (or the whole holiday season) is magical, fun, exciting, whimsical, special, romantic. We all want to enjoy various aspects of it but it inevitably ends up feeling like this mad rush to get everything done. At least for me.

Much of this is self-imposed, but this is why it’s a Catch 22. There is really no part of my holiday celebrations/ traditions that I want to do away with in order to “lighten the load”. Yet, I don’t always like the overwhelm that comes with it all. What to do, what to do.

I think the answer is…..take the entire month off of work every December. Hahahaha! 🙂 Yeah, probably not going to happen.

For some perspective, here’s a list of traditions/ occurrences that happen at our house:

decorating. Too much decorating!!! Takes a LONG time (cumulatively) and gets split into several “sessions”: 1)our whole main level 2) our basement rec room (this is where our Christmas Eve celebration occurs, b/c we have a bar downstairs) 3) OUTSIDE lights/decor – always a huge pain in the neck 4) my Christmas village set up (cords, lightbulbs, etc etc…) 5) the Christmas tree. Phew. Seriously, the decorating takes f.o.r.e.v.e.r. But then again, I LOVE it when it’s all done!!! Like, serious LOVE.

Cookies. Baking cookies makes a big fricking mess. And you have to plan it all out, buy the stuff, make the cookies, decorate the cookies, clean up the cookies…lovely tradition, great fun, taste delicious-but lots of time + mess. 🙂

Christmas cards. I send them, every year…also time consuming! Again, self-imposed. But I like to send a photo card with a splattering of pics from the year, which means I need to choose the pictures + order the cards (always the most annoying part), find everyone’s addresses, address the cards, mail the cards, etc. But….I love getting others’ cards, so I like to send them, too!

Shopping. The gift buying thing makes my head spin. Back in the day, you just went out a couple times, picked up whatever they had at the mall or Kohl’s Department Store and called it good. Now, with all the online shopping in the mix, it feels like the options are endless- the “perfect gift” IS out there, somewhere, and it’s technically available to you, if you are smart and savvy enough to find it (and order it, in time).

So the pressure feels cranked up to me. Plus, my family is just NOT a “minimal gift giving” family. We are firmly in the “too many gifts” camp. I’m sorry, but it’s true and I’m just going to admit it. In our defense, we very rarely just buy toys or things for the kids if it’s not a birthday or holiday, so many holiday gifts are things that we would need to buy them anyway at some point. The whole gift giving tradition IS very fun (for us). We have been known to wrap up individual pairs of socks just to drag out the gift opening process, because it’s more about the excitement and anticipation of it all. The “experience”, I guess, of sharing and opening the gifts. But, this means we are not buying and wrapping just a couple of items.

Wrapping presents. Another big, time consuming event (though one I generally really enjoy as it normally involves time alone (gifts, you know!) + fireplace + Christmas movie on TV)

Holiday “fun events”– the lights displays, etc.

Asher’s birthday is Dec 2nd which creates its own bunch of “stuff to do”, plus we celebrate St. Nick’s Day on Dec. 6th (very popular in the heavily German influenced area I grew up in) but requires filling the stockings that day with candy, little treats, etc (which means I needed to buy that stuff).

-Trying to make time for the Christmas movie watching, relaxing, other holiday traditions

-In normal years, attending Christmas/ holiday performances (i.e. The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol, etc.) PLUS school band performances, holiday piano recitals, school events….

Other things I’m probably forgetting right now. 🙂

I have tried time and time again to figure out how to scale this all back. And yet, here I am. 🙂 I guess I just can’t let any of it go. Somehow, it always all gets done. Somehow, the magic happens. Hahaha. I just wish sometimes that it was ACTUALLY magic, and not, um, the mom of the family making it all happen. 😉

Tell me what it’s like at your house. I’m sure each household’s experiences vary wildly, so I’m just so curious!!

Day #4 of 12 Days of Christmas Challenge:

Family candelight dinner + Christmas tunes! ✔

Made Chipotle Crusted Pork Tenderloin (a spin off of this recipe I’ve been making for years + I didn’t use the grill).
I chopped up a fresh pineapple too! SO yummy with the pork. I started eating my bread before I remembered to take a pic. 🙂

Up today: walk outside in the dark tonight!

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful for my heart (definitely literally, but also figuratively. 🙂 )

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9 thoughts on “Christmas chaos

  1. That dinner looks beautiful!

    We subscribe to three things we like to do at Christmas – and chuck the rest. I found when I had babies it was just too much! So! It’s cards, baking, and a little decorating. I have NEVER done Elf on the Shelf. I love the creative aspect of writing the Christmas letter and I track the addresses in an Excel spreadsheet that was actually once our wedding invite list. My husband doesn’t shop until the last minute, which is a little heart attack-inducing BUT he does ALL his own shopping and we draw names for his family. I have almost no one left to buy for my family. And I take great comfort in winter solstice and more light.

    1. Thanks for sharing. I forgot about the Elf on the Shelf. Yep, we do that too. Haha. Much less pressure now that they don’t believe anymore though. If he doesn’t move, oh well. Also, I drew the line at all of that elaborate “mischief” some people’s elves seem to get into. Not happening at our house. The elf moves from a literal shelf to a stocking to the Christmas tree or something and that is that. I do not have time or interest in creating some crazy “mess” that the elf got into!! Nope.

  2. So much of the Christmas prep falls on the mom which is tough. But maybe listing this out will make you realize something needs to go or will remind you it’s worth the stress and effort. We are minimalists over here but that will change as our boys get older and things get added in. Our decorating only takes an afternoon besides the outdoor stuff with my mom did this year since she was here caring for Pablo and wanted a job! I am appreciating not having holiday parties this year. I had 2-3 for work, one that required travel to chicago and then Phil had one. I loved his party because it forced us to have a date night and I really like his coworkers. But my work ones were right after work which made for very long days, especially for all introvert! Granted I wouldn’t have gone this year even if they had them since I’m I mat leave!

    I am not sure if we will do holiday baking or not. Our son is so picky. My mom made sugar cookies for Halloween and he didn’t like them. That is a cookie I usually make each year. I usually host a cookie decorating party for my college friends and their kids but that isn’t happening this year and I don’t feel like it’s worth it to make them when I am the only one who will eat them (Phil isn’t a big fan). I might make kiss cookies but we need to work through the 4 dozen (!!!) monster cookies my mom and Pablo made together!! We are eating them shockingly fast though. Ha.

    1. I feel like it definitely ramps up as the kids get a little older and more into it all! But much of it is, like I said, by choice… so I really only have myself to blame for much of it. 🙂 It’s hard to change though after years and years of doing it this way! And I really DO enjoy it (after the fact). The only resolution I can think of, besides cutting items, is just making a really solid list and actually planning much farther ahead. I always say I will do this, but I don’t. Maybe having holiday things “scheduled” starting in mid fall (like much earlier deadline for gifts, planning to have Christmas cards done by November 15th, etc) might help. But the fall season always seems busy too with separate fall traditions plus Halloween then thanksgiving!! Argh! Can’t win. Hahahaha!!!

  3. i can see that those are self imposed activities for the whole family to feel holiday spirit! I think it’s a privilege actually to be able to do them all and form memories for the memory. It’s all perspective right?
    we just watched a 2011 new year eve movie with the girls and we loved it. cheesy, easy plot and conversation, celebrities, love, hope, and just fun! We all felt super holidayish after it, and definitely will do more!
    your dinner looks soooo good. I don’t spend more than 20 min for dinner these days… mostly 5 min. hahaha…

  4. We’re doing more for the holidays than usual because we aren’t able to see extended family this year and are trying to feel more festive, but we are still fairly minimal. We have a Christmas tree, some lights, our menorah (we celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah), and a few other decorations, but it doesn’t take too long to do. We didn’t get many presents this year, but I’m sure that will change as Avi gets bigger. Joel and I always exchange books and give each other one of our favorite books of the year, which is a fun tradition.

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