Last Christmas Was So Much Better
In my last post I concluded saying how I was looking forward to our summer vacation even though it feels like Christmas is right around the corner. Now I know what you might be thinking: "But Jody, it's still only August." Yes, I hear you. But based on how I celebrated last year's Christmas timeline, this year it is going to come even quicker.
Let me explain. First off, I LOVE Christmas. It is absolutely my most favorite holiday. It was always a big deal in my family growing up, for both my mom and dad, and their parents as well. So there is a lot of nostalgic baggage that comes with the yule tide festivities. I have always tried to not build up Christmas too much in my mind, in terms of expectations. I knew I would never be able to recapture that childhood magic no matter how Martha Stewart I got, so I really tried just to not stress out too much and the days and weeks prior to Christmas unfold organically.
Turns out, as was confirmed last year, my approach in all those years before was a recipe for more stress, discontent, frustration and bah-humbug than I'd ever imagine myself feeling. It was a combination of dreading the holiday entirely, while already being sad it was going to be over before I really got a chance to enjoy it. I came to a breaking point. Something drastic had to change. I was afraid that if I didn't try something mavericky that I ran the risk of starting to permanently resent the one holiday that at one time meant so much to me.
I started by making a list and pulling out a calendar. I thought about all the holiday activities I'd wished I'd done the last few years, but never did. Then I looked at my schedule and realistically planned and prioritized what I could get done. Did I mention that I did this in late September? I have to admit, it felt really weird. I am always the one rolling my eyes when Macy's pulls out it's holiday decorations before the Halloween candy is even put on clearance.
But I put my weirdness feelings aside and thought, well, maybe retail is onto something, I thought. In our home now, and even growing up, even talking about Christmas prior to Thanksgiving would be unthinkable. In my new plan I was scheduling putting up our decorations the weekend after Halloween. Would I get sick of looking at them? I wondered. Would it take away from Thanksgiving? Would I be holly-jollied overload before Rudolf makes his late night ride?
Again, I wasn't sure. All I knew was what I had been doing for season's prior wasn't working. And in my mind the dumbest thing you can do is keep doing the same thing over and over again and then expect a different result.
So sure enough, I stuck to my plan. The house was fully trimmed by the end of the first week of November. Christmas cards were printed and mailed out by the end of the next. Christmas gifts were ordered, wrapped and prepared for shipping (if necessary) two weeks later. This left time for Gingerbread house decorating, Christmas ornament making, Hallmark Channel Holiday binge watching and just sitting and enjoying the twinkle of the Christmas lights.
To my happy surprise I didn't get sick of Christmas. I loved every day as much if not more than had I started later. In fact, it was even more awesome because I wasn't stressed. I wasn't wrapping presents the night before ripping into them the next day. And when Christmas was over, and it was time to put everything away, I was at peace to do so. I wasn't sad, feeling like I had missed out on something. I felt like I had really lived the hell out of the holiday.
The biggest lesson I took away from last year, is something I am keeping in mind for this year: Time is relative. How fast, or slow, time passing is experienced is relative to how you feel about it. The mistake comes when we start to ascribe how other people (or society) says we should feel about it. Specifically, who says it isn't okay to start decorating before Thanksgiving? Or send your cards out then too? If it is what fits into your schedule, or makes you happy, go for it! Some people wait until Christmas Eve to trim their tree! Time management issues aside, that is unthinkable to me. But hey, that's me.
And it will be me who starts getting ready for Christmas a week earlier than last year. I've always preferred candy canes over candy corn anyway :)