Yes, I know it’s the New Year, but I’m still processing December.
Christmas really crept up on me this year.
It was partly due to the fact that it was a Monday, and E. was in school until the 22nd, so by the time he finished school there was Saturday and then it was Christmas Eve.
And it was partly due to the fact that I spent the penultimate school week with my Dad in the hospital. P. and I had an absolutely horrific drive home again, complete with a major snow storm that approached total white out conditions at one point and a massive diaper blow out that required me to change every piece of clothing she was wearing (while being out of wipes after the previous unscheduled diaper change stop). I ended up carrying her back and forth naked to the sink from the toilet stall that had the change pad in it so I could wet toilet paper and try to get her relatively clean. She stood on the change table and said “cold” and “fall” over and over again and then cried. I ended up with poop on my coat. Eventually she was clean and dry and happy and I stuffed her in the car and drove off into the snow.
It took eight hours to get home (the drive should, at most, take five, even with stops for littlies) and I was utterly shattered by the time we arrived. I then didn’t want to do anything that weekend until I realized that the very next weekend E. would be off from school and it was going to be Christmas Eve.
In 2015, I convinced my family to stop exchanging presents with Q. and I for Christmas (doesn’t apply to the kids). This year my father and stepmother, largely out of the blue, decided to stop doing birthday presents as well (they both have birthdays which fall in the holidays), which made life even simpler. We still do presents with Q.’s family, but that’s Q.’s job to sort out (although I am in charge of presents for our two nephews).
Q. and I decided to get a Sodastream so we can have a ready supply of bubbly water, and to make sure we go on some good dates this year. Otherwise we agreed not to get each other anything else other than the traditional Christmas Eve pjs and stockings.
When I look at my list, I can’t figure out why the lead up to Christmas felt so wildly out of control and stressful.
- pjs and stocking for Q. (his stocking usually has socks, undies, t-shirts, and tasty treats in it)
- pjs for E. and P.
- gifts for E. and P. from Q. and I (using the “something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read” guide, where the “wear” are the pjs)
- Santa stuff and stockings
- ornaments for Q., P., and E., because I get each of them a new one every year
- gift for Q. from E. & P. (normally E. tells me what he’d like to get Daddy but I dropped the ball on this one and had to just make an executive decision)
- gifts for two nieces and three nephews (and the nieces were sorted out in November as my sisters and I get them and their parents tickets to Disney on Ice every year)
- photo calendars for three sets of grandparents (two of the calendars I made and the third I was just responsible for choosing photos and sending them to my sister-in-law; I did all of this in late November)
- annual photo ornaments for three sets of grandparents (left these to the absolute last minute as usual and then struggled to get the photos printed)
Admittedly, E.’s request from Santa required me to make a trip downtown that blew most of a morning, and the photo ornaments were an enormous source of stress and frustration when I couldn’t get the photos easily printed, and I did also make a stop in a bookstore to buy some books for the baby next door, the family where all of P’s clothes come from, and friends’ children whom we were going to see over the holidays. But by the standards of Christmas, even by the standards of my previous Christmases, this was a pretty light year.
I didn’t do any baking at all (I haven’t managed that since 2014) but I did decorate the house. We had a family expedition to cut down a Christmas tree on the 9th, and we decorated the tree and the inside of the house that same weekend. I didn’t get the outdoor lights up before I left to see my Dad, so E. and I put them up once I was back.
There isn’t anything I can really point to as causing the chaos (except those damn ornaments), but I felt like I was two steps behind the entire holiday season.
I think I left everything too late. I didn’t start thinking about Christmas in any serious way until December and then by the time I made all the decisions, I was running out of time to order things online (and I absolutely loathe shopping in real stores especially with kids in tow). I ended up ordering some things online at 5 in the morning when I wasn’t able to sleep when I was away to see my Dad and having to do my in-person shopping in the last week before Christmas when I really should have been working. Everything arrived on time in the end, but it was a bit too close for comfort.
Resolutions for next year:
- Think about the Down Under nephews in November (Q. had yet another year of panicking at the last minute for his family and has resolved, yet again, to do things in November next year)
- Choose photos for calendars and ornaments, make and order calendars, and print ornament photos in November (I’m sure I’ll leave purchasing the actual ornaments until mid-December like always but if the photos are ready it takes only a minute or two to make them)
- Always have five or six excellent picture books stashed away in the house so I have an easy gift if we end up getting together unexpectedly with friends who have kids. Books never go out of style.
- Use Black Friday sales as an opportunity to pick up a few things for Q.’s stocking and possibly find Christmas Eve pjs as well
- Remember December/January birthdays when planning (Spud and Pea)
- Make decisions for E. & P.’s gifts earlier
- Realize that it is unrealistic to plan to work full days right up until the very last day E. is in school and not feel guilty when I inevitably end up spending at least one afternoon shopping.
Basically I need to think about Q., E., and P. earlier, be better organized, and maybe bite the bullet and pay for Amazon Prime because two day shipping with no minimum would probably have done a great deal to alleviate my stress.
Christmas Day itself was absolutely lovely, and that’s the important thing.
Do you have any strategies for managing Christmas preparations?