/> Raising Angels: Holiday Lessons

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Holiday Lessons

Well, I made it through Christmas. I don't like to think of it this way, but that's kind of what I did. I made it through to the other side and learned a few lessons along the way.

Because I love you, I am going to share with you the little gems I've gained. Hopefully they will help you too.

1. Last year we followed the advice of a good friend and put a limit on the excess that had become Christmas. One year we had some good friends from Africa share Christmas with us. They come from a very, very poor place and when they saw the kids buried under the wrappings and boxes at my folks' house, I heard one say, "Oh my God, so much stuff!" That statement stayed with me.

My friend's kids get four presents - something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.

What? Seriously, this is what she did and after some thought, I decided to give it a whirl. Truthfully, I expected anarchy. Instead, something amazing happened. The kids sat around the table and discussed the difference between a want and a need. They sat and pondered what was really important to them. They came up with short lists. They opened gifts Christmas day and didn't ask, "Aren't there more presents to open?" I didn't find myself in the stores the week of Christmas looking for more "stuff" to put under the tree.

To be honest they each get 5 or 6 because Santa brings some surprises. I found myself sharing this method with many a desperate shopper this year. It made me sad to see them in such a frantic mode. "They have to have things to open," I would hear them say. "They need more stuff."

After spending the last few months purging stuff, I felt no guilt at all about not getting them more of it. We had a simple, happy Christmas and every gift had a place to call home. I highly recommend this method.

2. Wrapping gifts with friends and drinks is a super fun December activity. It's the motivation I needed to get the shopping finished and the wrapping done way ahead of time.

3. The egg casserole that was the end of me last Christmas? That works like a charm if I make it into a casserole and a half. Crisis averted this year and forever more. Hooray!

4. I will never, ever, ever, ever again agree to host more than three events over the holidays. The dinner party one weekend, the baby shower the next, Christmas Eve, Christmas morning and a family reunion still to come have not made for a relaxing holiday.

Nelson and I like to host big events on a regular basis because it makes for good motivation to get a project done. However, when you offer to host your husband's family, it means that dear hubby has a "honey do" list for me like you've never seen.

My list was something like: get the house clean, organize the closets, put clean sheets on all beds, and cook, cook and cook. Nelson's list included: put up shelves in the bedroom, redo the backyard, touch up paint upstairs, build mantel for master bedroom, etc.

His entire list sounded wonderful to me back in late October when we discussed it. Little did I know that his to do's wouldn't be started until the week before Christmas. "Will you be home on the 24th?" he asked. "X is coming over to start work on the shelves, mantel, etc."

"Hon, that's Christmas Eve."

"I know. So, are you going to be home?"

So I was home with a clean house and a dinner to prepare and the very last thing I needed was for someone to come in and start drilling. Seriously.

Consequently, the day after Christmas, the day I wanted nothing more than to hang around in my pajamas, drink hot chocolate and read the kids their new books, that day was filled with a man in my bedroom drilling away and a crew in my backyard cutting down a tree.

The removal of said tree means now I have a veritable mud pit in place of my yard. Sweet.

5. I realize that my resolution not to host holiday events will last precisely until next December. I'm crazy that way. Besides, we'll need some motivation to put some grass in the mud pit.

6. We're leaving town tomorrow for a few days. This is untimely considering all the things we need to get done before the reunion. However, some great friends invited us and it's the opportunity I've been looking for the whole holiday season - time with my family, with nothing else to do other than to be together. It's going to be glorious and fun and relaxing. I can't wait.

7. If you've been following me this holiday, you've probably gathered that December somehow triggers this peppermint addiction in me. The rest of the year I can take it or leave it, but for some reason Christmas calls for peppermint.

I stumbled onto the hot chocolate with peppermint Schnapps a few years ago. I also grab the first gallon of peppermint ice cream when it hits the stores. I also, occasionally, grab some peppermint bark in the expensive chocolate aisle. This year, however, as I was checking out with my ice cream, I spotted some cookies in the check out line that called to me. There were rows and rows of them and they were all throwing their "limited edition" banners in my face. I had no choice. Really.

And let me tell you, Santa was very, VERY happy with my choice. Go grab some before they disappear. Eat them with your spiked hot chocolate and send me a thank you note.

Here's to a Happy New Year!


Blogger Optimistic Existentialist said...

I love your friends idea for the four gifts. Also, I have a peppermint addiction as well lol!

9:00 AM  

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