Fa La La La …

Today’s post is by Sherrilee.

People hate me this time of year. This is how I got here.

As a newly married young gal, I had lots of ideas about how we would start our own holiday traditions and celebrate together. We agreed that we would spend the holidays on our own in Milwaukee as we both had grueling schedules (me in the bakery and him at grad school). It was right around Thanksgiving when his parents called; I could hear him in the other room sliding down the slippery slope. By the time he got off the phone, he had agreed to go home to Kansas City for Christmas. I made him promise that if we spent time with his family, we would split that time with MY family. On the 23rd I worked until 2 p.m., rushed home and we took a night flight to Kansas City. Spent a day and a half with his folks, then we flew to St. Louis on Christmas morning and spent a day and a half with my folks. Home on the 26th and back to work on the 27th. I hadn’t done holiday cards, done no baking, hardly purchased any gifts and no down time. I cried for 3 weeks.

As the year progressed, I promised myself I never wanted to go through that again. I bought holiday cards on sale in January, purchased gifts through the summer and even baked cookies in early November, putting them in the freezer. By Thanksgiving I was all done. The whole holiday season was less stressful and there was also no yelling and cursing at my Wasband. The next year I wasn’t at the bakery, but got everything done early anyway.

It’s been decades but I still work hard to get everything done by the beginning of December. It means being organized, thinking about it throughout the year and working on the projects months before the holidays. Even though I now celebrate Solstice and also now make all our cards and gifts, I still get done early and then thoroughly enjoy the whole holiday season. taking plates of cookies everywhere, going to every party I’m invited to and watching all of my holiday movies. I love it.

So go ahead and hate me; that’s the spirit!

What would it take to make your end-of-year stress vanish?

36 thoughts on “Fa La La La …”

  1. I have no particular year-end stress but I have a solution for those who do. Switch from the Gregorian calendar to the Julian. Today’s date on the Gregorian is November 28. According to the Julian it is November 15. Voila! You have almost two extra weeks with which to work. I recommend the inevitable switch back to late February. That will make winter go away sooner.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. Good morning. I don’t hate you, Sherrilee. I would like to get everything done well in advance of the holiday season as you do. I don’t think that is possible. For many years I have told myself I should do my Christmas shopping early. It never happens and I end up straining to get my shopping done before it is too late.

    For me, the best solution would be to simplify Christmas by cutting back on gift giving, and by having a much less elaborate celebration. That also doesn’t seem possible. This year I haven’t managed to get any of my Christmas shopping done early. I had better get started on it right away to avoid doing too much stressful last minute shopping.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There seem to be two possibilities for reducing Christmas stress. We can plan better, trying to do tasks ahead of time. Or we can strike some tasks off the list, simply not doing them.

    One of my flaws is deciding to do something for someone else, then forgetting that I made that decision. What begins as an expression of affection morphs into another obligation that raises my stress levels at the busiest time of year.

    The solution mostly requires discipline. I critically pare down my “to-do” list, eliminating those tasks that don’t increase my sense of joy, giving me more time to do the things that bring me and my loved ones happiness. One of the few blessings of getting older is that it becomes easier to ask, “Do I GOTTA?” Sometimes the answer is no.

    Maybe a good way to get things in perspective would be to watch that Christmas movie filmed in Minneapolis, “Jingle All the Way.” It is the nastiest Christmas film I know, a shining example of how perverted the impulse to give can become.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. i think death is the obvious answer.
    much less stress but the enjoyment factor diminishes too.
    i dont know. im a little stressed out but i find the holiday season and the people in my life all understand if the cards and or other falderall come out late or not at all. i remember the saying ” i used to be concerned about what people thought of me until i realized they really dont think of me that often” my cards either get out or they dont. my gifts always get looked after, i dont eat cookies and my stress is a given. i would love to be a blob of jello in the crorner without a care and i have a little film canister in a secret drawer that makes that possible whenever i want but its interesting that i choose not to put myself in that condition very often. i seem to enjoy flitting about doing the same things in the same dysfunctional fashion i always have. i do remember going between milwaukee and minneapolis with forst wife and wrapping mounds of gifts all night long but the plus side is i ave the wonderful movie movie the christmas story and look forward to the 24 hour run put on by the turner network. life is not better than watching the chrtismas story over and over and remembering all the christmas’ past.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I am grateful to my mother for many things, one of them is a healthy sense of perspective about Christmas. With a mother who worked as a church musician (depending on the church, choir director, organist or both), December had a different layer of busy. When your “day job” means extra rehearsals with a children’s choir and getting ready for one of the biggest days on the church calendar, fretting about having the house decorated “just so” on the day after Thanksgiving was not high on the list. The day after Thanksgiving was about getting some extra rest before the big push was on. Tree goes up the Saturday before Christmas (and stays up until Twelfth Night), presents were not elaborate and likely purchased in bits and pieces over a period of weeks (had she had the internet then she would likely have done almost all of her shopping online, which is mostly how she shops now that she can…and she is retired), and there are 12 days of Christmas that start on 12/25 in which to get cards sent. Oh, and someone else does the elaborate cookie baking. I mostly follow that pattern, even though I am not preparing music for several church services over two days. Our tree goes up a little earlier than when I grew up (Husband will start making noises in about a week about getting one), decorations are not elaborate, shopping is done as much as possible either at locally owned shops that are easy to get in and out of or done online after Daughter goes to bed, I set aside parts of the weekend right before Christmas for baking (because Julekage and krumkake don’t freeze well and that’s really all I bake), and I follow my mother’s pattern that I have until January 6th to get card written and still have them “on time.”

    As an employee of a big box retailer, I truly appreciate those who shop in a frenzy on weekends like this – they help ensure that I continue to get a paycheck. And if little Molly is delighted by her new laptop or robotic dog, so much the better. I recognize that I am not saving the world by helping to sell TVs and smart watches, and I won’t try to rationalize the consumerism that my employment relies upon. I will also not feel guilty for opting out of that same madness and spending my day yesterday in my PJs binge watching Dr Who with my daughter and not spending a dime on anything. It is, after all, a family tradition to take that day as a day of rest.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I’ll be working part time at the flower shop in December. I don’t work that much, so I shouldn’t complain, but it would be less stressful to not have those workdays on the calendar. Every morning I wake up that I don’t have to work, I feel really happy.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Morning-
    Good for you Sherrilee–

    Being more organized would help us more.
    However when I do wait until the 24th, options are limited and therefore choices have to be made. No sense stressing out over it when a bottle of ‘No Doze’ and bag of Twizzlers from Kwik Trip will have to do. (Yep, that really was a gift one year. And we like Twizzlers so it was OK.)
    I’d rather get that then the ‘What Does Your Poop Mean’ Calendar. (Another actual gift I received one year. NOT from my wife, thank-you-very-much.)

    It was an interesting comparison between families when Kelly and I first started dating. My family and lots of little kids and it was basically a ‘free for all’ ending in digging through the garbage and wrapping paper looking for the missing part of some kids toy.
    And her family took turns opening one at a time so all could see and appreciate and comment. I thought it took FOREVER!

    Neither right or wrong, just different.

    We cut a fresh tree for our house. But *when* depends on schedules and weather. Might be December 19 or the 12th.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I remember the years too, VS, when we used to try to get to both of our families – loading up the van with all the presents and food, driving the triangle from Winona to Minneapolis, then down to Marshalltown IA or vice versa. When we moved to Mpls it got easier, and either we or my folks traveled.

    I realized a few years ago that I’m the one that does all the Christmas stuff – and it’s given me the freedom to pick and choose what I do, since Husband doesn’t really notice one way or the other! But I often just go on autopilot, doing my decorating, gifting, and cooking rituals. This year, thanks to Sherrilee’s post, I plan to consider each thing and decide which ones I want to do. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Early in my marriage we were both students at the U of MN. Every year we were madly studying for final exams at just the time we *should* have been doing the Christmas cards. So we fell into the habit of doing cards after Christmas, and the cards themselves morphed into letters.

    We found that people preferred hearing from us later. Our letters didn’t arrive the same time a dozen cards did, so people could take more time to enjoy them. We quit feeling guilty about failing to do the expected thing by mailing cards in December, and everyone was happy.

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  10. I used to love Christmas. I enjoyed decorating the house and tree, and hosting a big feast on Christmas Eve. That tradition came to an end after twenty-five years as children grew up, families and individuals moved away, and it became more work than it was worth. It was fun while it lasted, and I have many fond memories of those Christmas celebrations.

    Since neither husband nor I have family close by, and no kids or grand kids to buy gifts for, our Christmas season is pretty much stress free. Since we both buy whatever we want or need, it’s very difficult to find a gift for either of us, so these past several years we have given each other a donation to Heifer International. No wrapping required, and we don’t have to contend with more stuff we don’t need, and with a little luck, our donation makes a difference in someone’s life.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Births, marriages, divorces, remarriages, deaths. The cycle of life for most people, I suppose. At this point, I have 12 grandchildren (with more on the way should Steve remarry) from three children. If each of their five proliferate like their parents, it’s conceivable to end up with 75 great grandchildren (only if I live into my 90s). My brain has trouble wrapping itself around the fact that this all started with me having just three.

    Living in a cottage which saw 45 Christmases and Thanksgivings until almost 20 years ago fills me with melancholy every holiday season. The family outgrew the space so the kid with the biggest house played host.

    What’s really gotten complicated and unmanageable is gift-giving. When my parents were still alive, everybody gave something to everybody. Since then, it became “only the children” gifting, with the adults choosing just one person out of the hat. Now, half a dozen grand kids have cars and jobs, so I’m uncomfortable with the one-way only arrangement.

    I’ve never received a gift or a thank you card from any of the grandchildren (who’ve been reared to be entitled to begin with). I told my daughter how I felt about this and she said that I needed to talk to them about it. Isn’t that a mom’s job to do?? I’m not going to say to them; “Hey, why don’t you guys gift your grandma from now on?”

    Everyone in my family believes that family being together is the only thing which matters, but the little girl inside me still craves a couple of presents or a sweet, handwritten note.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. You’d be surprised how personally people can take the actions of others. I actually have a couple of acquaintances whom I don’t EVER mention how far along I am in my “process”!

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        1. Some people prefer to complain about everything that isn’t right in their lives, and others spend their energy finding solutions to their problems; you obviously fall in the latter category. I applaud you for that.

          Liked by 3 people

  12. One thing that seems clear is that sensitive people are not at all easy in their attitudes toward modern Christmas. In my case, I treasure some aspects of Christmas and am appalled by others. Meanwhile there is a never-ending flow of movies, books and shows that feature hand-wringing about how we’ve lost the “true meaning of Christmas.” I can’t think of another calendar event that inspires so many heartfelt mixed emotions.

    Time adds its own set of spins to complicate what is already a complex topic. There is no single ghost of Christmas past in my case but a whole attic full of different ghosts. Some are a delight to remember. Some are ghastly. We struggle to make peace with a complicated emotional event, and then things change and we have to do it again. tim is probably right to note that the only ultimate solution to this is death, in which case I’m happy to go on adjusting to complexity and change a bit longer. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I don’t hate you, VS, even though I’m a Christmas grinch, but that’s because I don’t even try to do a fraction of what you do. I’m long done with Christmas cards/letters; I give very few gifts; and I have few to no social invitations at this time of year. My kids long ago took over the decorating of the Christmas tree: my meager contribution to the festivities is to lug the box of Christmas books down from the attic. Oh, and to make cookies (and coffee walnut toffee) – and I just make the few I like the best and tell people who want something different to make it themselves if they want it. I like making (and eating) cookies, so that’s a fun chore.

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      1. did anyone ever mention coming out with holiday license plates. i think it would be a good idea and something constructive for the people behind bars to do to make the world a better place

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        1. There’s a product for you. Make one of those license plate frames with a holiday motif on one side. The other side has some more generic design, so that after Christmas you flip it over. Sell it on Amazon. The gift for someone who has everything.

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