Pretty much every day, I'm working from a long and detailed To-Do list. Work stuff. Errands. Grocery lists. Calls I need to make. Emails I need to send. Stuff I need to pick up. You know. (Because you have one, too.)
When December hits, my To-Do list just becomes that much more crazy. Gifts I need to buy. Extra chores I need to do. Even MORE errands. Cards. Letters. Gift wrap. Bows. A dessert for the office potluck. You know. (Because you have one, too.)
The week before Thanksgiving, I met my friend, Sandie, for coffee. I launched into my growing dread of the season ahead. Too many parties. Too much shopping. How would I decorate? What would I wear? And, oh! The work deadlines looming.
Basically, I could have been a contender . . . for the World's Biggest Whiner.
Then, Sandie interrupted me with a smile . . . "but I thought you liked the holidays?"
I stopped mid-whine.
Because I do.
I DO like the holidays!
So I did a little reflecting. . . about what had happened. Where had my "liking the holidays" gone? And how had I gotten so "bah!humbug!" about the whole thing. Ultimately, I decided this . . .
THIS year, I'm going to change my attitude about the holidays. I'm going to be intentional about having fun and enjoying the unique, busy-ness of this particular season. I'm going to roll with it and not let the extra activity and higher expectations stress me. I'm not going to play along when others start whining about the holidays.
You know why?
Because we don't HAVE to do this.
We really don't. We can choose how we celebrate the holidays -- and how we deal with the holidays. (And even IF we celebrate the holidays.)
For me . . . I choose . . . a renewed focus on enjoying the holidays this year.
So, yeah. My every day, working To-Do list is STILL a mile long. But that's not the list I'm going to share with you today. Today, I'm going to share my OTHER To-Do list: The Things I Need To Do . . . to enjoy the holidays this year:
Smile at people. Everyone is stressed; everyone is hassled. It's that time of year. I'm trying to remember to smile and be pleasant. It helps.
Socialize. Between work-related parties and friend-related parties, I have lots of social events to attend this month. Rather than wish I were at home with a book and a glass of wine, I'm going to enjoy spending time with friends and colleagues. (And I can still have a glass of wine!)
Turn on ALL the twinkly lights. I love to decorate for Christmas -- and I especially like twinkly lights. This year, I'm going to take my time decorating . . . and I'm going to make sure to use ALL of my twinkly lights! (And I'm going to turn them on every night - and in the dark mornings, too.)
Dress up. It's fun to wear holiday clothes -- a little sparkle, a little pizzazz! The best thing about attending events and parties . . . is deciding what to wear. And this year, I'm going to have fun with it.
Plan fabulous feasts. While I love Thanksgiving, there just isn't a lot of . . . creativity . . . in the meal-planning. In our family, at least, we tend to like the same menu for Thanksgiving, year after year after year. What is great about Christmas, by contrast, is the openness to trying new things at meals. This year, I'm going to have fun planning - and cooking - fabulous meals for my family.
Just send the cards. I love to get cards and letters in the mail during the holidays -- especially from friends and family that I just don't stay in touch with on a day-to-day basis. I love it when they send family photos and update-letters. So, even though I say (every year) "I'm not going to send cards this year" . . . I'm going to send cards this year!
Relish every crazy moment of having BOTH kids (and a significant other) home for the holidays. It doesn't happen very often anymore, so I want to enjoy having BOTH of my grown-up kids back around my tree this year.
Surround myself with music. I'm lucky. My job . . . is all about music. This year, I want to stop thinking about the holiday concerts and performances as my WORK . . . and, instead, let the music set the tone for the soundtrack of my holiday.
Give. This year, I want to give generously -- of my time, of my resources, and of my heart! Not just gifts -- but year-end charitable donations, too.
Work out. Frequently -- and hard! If I keep moving; if I keep sweating . . . I know I'll be able to handle the stress and the hassle of the holiday season. (I'll also be able to eat a couple more cookies . . .)
How about YOU? What's on your To-Do list this holiday season?
For 20 years, we have gathered early in the holiday season to create gingerbread houses.
This year, I carefully baked the house-pieces in preparation for another house-decorating session. I packed and mailed a set of pieces to Erin, who wouldn't be joining us for Thanksgiving this year, and I got things ready for my Mom and I to "build."
Things started out well! The houses stayed together right away, and we were optimistic and full of creative ideas. I had found some pink, peppermint Andes mints that I thought would be Just Perfect for roof tiles this year, and I was inspired to try an all-peppermint themed house!
And, really, those Andes mint roof tiles were MORE than perfect! They fit across and down the roof perfectly -- creating a solid roof of peppermint-y pink, beautifully highlighted with red licorice.
I was so pleased.
Without warning, my entire house collapsed!
SURPRISE! (But not the good kind.)
(If you look very closely, you can just glimpse the roof-tiles in the top of the disaster-scene, above. Sadly, it is the only photo of my Grand Inspiration.)
Turns out those roof tiles -- coupled with all the frosting snow I had so painstakingly dripped from the roof -- were far too heavy for the gingerbread structure.
Although I tried to salvage the damage, it was too extensive. The entire thing ended up in the trash.
Now, we've had plenty of gingerbread disasters over the years (and I'm not even talking about the time my Mom ended up with a broken leg. . .) -- but never have we had to toss an entire gingerbread house!
It was so disappointing.
My Mom bravely soldiered on.
I've got all the leftover candy (although I did throw out those tempting Andes mint roof tiles), and I'm thinking about starting fresh and making another gingerbread house on my own.
If I do re-build . . . I'll make sure my building materials are up to code!
Jenny Update: Thank you for all your kind words and thoughts yesterday. Jenny's surgery went very well. She spent the night - heavily drugged - at the vet's office. We'll be bringing her home later today.
As you might remember, Brian recently requested a new hat . . . because he had "accidentally felted" one I had previously made for him. With Thanksgiving break just around the corner, I got Right On It.
(You know how it is. Kid requests hand knit. Mom drops everything to git 'r' dun.)
So, while Brian culled through our old vinyl album collection (because everything old is new again, y'know?) looking for "the good stuff," I knit and knit and knit.
A few weeks ago, my parents rescued (literally) a tiny, little dog.
Meet Charlie. Some sort of shih tzu/maltese mix. He has completely wormed his way into my Mom and Dad's hearts!
Charlie came to our house for Thanksgiving -- his first real trip to a new house. And his first introduction to Jenny and Jo-Jo.
There was some concern.
Jenny . . . weighs 75 pounds.
Jo-Jo . . . is closing in on 55 pounds.
Charlie . . . barely moves the scales at . . . 5 pounds!
They could eat him for lunch . . .
But they didn't! In fact, all three got along very well . . . and especially Jo-Jo and Charlie, who played games in their own puppy way all day. (Jenny-the-Tolerant mostly pretended they were Not There.)
Puppies . . . are puppies!
And with that, NaBloPoMo concludes. See you Monday.
Watching . . . Time to drag out the Christmas favorites: Love Actually. A Christmas Story. Muppets Christmas Carol.
Reading . . . Nearing the end of Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. Donna Tartt certainly writes a good story . . . But. I always hate her characters! It's tough for me to LOVE a book when I despise the main character. (Still. Worth the read.) I've also just started reading The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin.
Knitting . . . Working away on a nice, relaxing, rhythmic project (Churchmouse's Easy Folded Poncho). Just made Brian a hat (details next week). No Christmas knitting for me this year, and that feels really good!
Listening to. . . Justin Timberlake.
Planning . . . December. Of course.
Drinking . . . Tonight? A nice cab! (Yesterday? A little of everything!)
Needing to . . . Get myself on track before December careens out of control ahead of me!
Itching to . . . Finish all Christmas shopping and Put an End to It.
Organizing . . . Final, extensive clearing out of Brian's childhood/high school detritus. (I've got plans for that room!)
Humming . . . Lately it's been all Abbey Road. All the time.
Inspired by . . . A label from a new bag . . .
Delighted by . . . The bag!
Surprised by . . . How comfortable my new reclining couch is! I think I could live in it! (And I am definitely in danger of becoming a tv-watcher, just so I can sit in recline-o-comfort more often.)
How about YOU? What's going on for you . . . right now?
(Oops. This post was scheduled to post automatically yesterday - Nov 28 - in the morning. Only I screwed up and chose the wrong month. So I'm still counting this toward nablopomo . . . even though it's late . . . because it was teed up and ready to go. Only user error.)