Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas? Just say no.

Yesterday I got an e-mail advertising “Last minute Christmas gifts”. Yeah, I know, nothing unusual. But yesterday was December 12. Am I the only one here who thinks it’s a little strange to call something last minute that is 12 days ahead of the actual holiday? I like being prepared as much as the next person (ok, maybe more than the next person. Just a teeny tiny bit.) and yes, I fully admit to making a plan by calendar week for the full months of November and December. But that’s just because it’s the way I am. I make lists. I plan things. I have small kids that tend to throw off the plans I make. So I try to start early.

But still. 

I didn’t buy all that many gifts, and most of the ones I did I could still comfortably order today and have delivered in time. True, there are a few customized things that took longer. And granted, not every gift I have been making myself I could finish if I started today. My cranberry vanilla liqueur takes some time.

But still.

If you weren’t as crazy as I am about making things and getting things done as early as possible – you could still get all your Christmas preparations done within two weeks.

What bugs me here is that people feel rushed around the holidays, anyway. At least I do. So here I am, thinking I’m doing pretty well, having crossed all major things off my list except for mailing domestic packages (they take one or two days to arrive), writing Christmas cards (I’ve never understood why anyone would do this in November anyway. This year I've tried. And failed. Oh well.), wrapping a couple of presents, trimming the tree and cooking dinner for Christmas Eve.

And then I see these mails in my inbox and I start to feel rushed. Pressured. Do I really have all the gifts I need? Am I missing something here?

I do realize that this is precisely what they’re trying to do. Which is why it bugs me. And why you have to read through a rant about a random mail in my inbox today instead of a DIY post. Sorry about that.
But it’s important to me.

Don’t feel stressed. Don’t feel pressured. Even if you got nothing done on your list.

Christmas is not about the perfect decorations. Or more and more and more gifts. Or writing cards to everyone you know. Or cooking an elaborate menu. Or decorating the prettiest tree ever. Or covering the entire front of your house in lights, poinsettias and wreaths.

Even if you manage to do none of that this year – that’s fine. As far as I’m informed, we’re celebrating someone’s birthday here. And I don’t think ten kinds of cookies, a huge pile of gifts with a list including coworkers and your hairdresser or a card to Aunt Sue are mandatory.

Feel rushed, too? Go and cut down your list. Focus on what’s important to you. Read a story with your kids. Make or choose a few gifts for those that matter to you and enjoy making them. Write a card to someone you really have something to say to. Cook a good meal for your family if that’s what you like to do. Or let someone else do it if it’s not. 

Me? I am not

  • making that third batch of toffee. Here's my official apology to everyone who's not getting toffee this year. Maybe next year.    
  • stressing over and trying out new recipes for Christmas Eve. I’ll go for something I know and love. Like a chestnut soup (see here) and a tangerine semifreddo with salted almond brittle for dessert (it’s this one by the way. Divine. And it can be done ahead of time.)
  • going to write all those Christmas cards
  • stamping and making all my gifts tags. Instead, I’m using some of these really cool printables  in the roundup that Jessica from How About Orange posted
  • trying any more cookie recipes this year. Not even the maple nutmeg recipe one I saw the other day at smitten kitchen. Really.
  • making any presents for my coworkers (sorry guys, nothing personal here). I was tempted for a second yesterday when someone commented on my felt brooch. But honestly? I’ve spent last weekend in the kitchen and making gifts with the kids. I need to relax and spend some time with my kids. 
Don't get me wrong, I love making gifts and decorating and cooking for Christmas Eve. And that's why I'm doing it. But I refuse to let anyone stress me about 12 days before Christmas being last minute. And I refuse to let myself get in this frenzy where I start to think that I need to do more, bake more, buy more. I've picked my projects and I will do them - and if I end up not doing them, that won't be the end of Christmas. Maybe on the contrary.

What are you not doing?


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