Thanksgiving came early this year, didn't it? I keep feeling like I need to frantically rush into Christmas preparations, and then I remember that it's not even December yet.
We had a nice time with family this year, with "Thanksgiving A" spent with Jamie's family and "Thanksgiving B" (that would be Friday) spent with mine. The shadow puppet show was lots of fun, but I think my favorite part was seeing the kids ad-lib after the stories were done. They kept creeping behind the sheet, ready to captivate the audience with yet another adventure.
Thanksgiving B morphed into a ginormous sleepover which, although exhausting, was lots of fun, too. On Saturday morning Papa made steamers like crazy while Noni deftly whipped out the pankawaffleups and aebleskivers. (Those are real foods. Trust me.)
Now, although it is still November, I'm going to sneak into Christmas mode for a minute. And here's why: Last year I was in bed before midnight on Christmas Eve. Before. Midnight. Never, ever had I done that before (at least, not as an adult.)
So at the end of the Christmas season last year, I sat down and took a few notes. I wanted to remember what elements worked together to make the holiday special and not so rushed and frantic and last minute.
In case you have similar Christmas goals, I thought I'd share a few suggestions from my notebook:
1. Decorate the tree early. This year and last we got our tree the Sunday after Thanksgiving. It worked out beautifully to head into December with the tree already decorated. (This also paved the way for a peaceful beginning to the Jesse Tree advent which begins on November 29th.)
Last year after we cut down the tree we carved an "L" into the stump. This year the kids searched and searched . . . and they found last year's stump!
Now this year's "L" stump is ready for next year.
2. Pick a "due date" other than December 25. Set a goal to have gifts ready and wrapped by an earlier date. It's exhausting to wrap gifts on Christmas Eve and it always takes longer than anticipated. It's also nice to have the wrapping supplies put away rather than crammed in a closet at the last minute. (Not that I've ever done that before . . . .) If everything is ready by, say, December 20th, then you will be more rested for the big day.
3. Clean out the fridge a week in advance. It's helpful to have it all ready to stock with Christmas goodies. Think ahead to the week after Christmas, too, with meal planning. It's nice if you don't have to go grocery shopping on December 26th! Make an extra big pot of soup that can be frozen or stock up on a couple of Costco lasagnas to make post holiday meals easier.
4. Don't forget the stockings! Stocking stuffers always seem to sneak up on me. Last year I came up with a plan that worked really well. I tucked four shoe boxes under the bed, one for each child. I made a list of gift ideas to keep in my purse, and as I shopped throughout the month I added to the boxes. It was so helpful to have a visual of what I had and where I was lacking without needing to dig through an assortment of plastic bags mashed behind my high heels in the closet.
5. Begin the bedtime routines early. The longer nights make this easier, but aim to have dinner earlier during December so that the bedtime routines are peaceful and pleasant and not rushed. This is an ideal time to read books while drinking hot chocolate in front of the fire or to share advent traditions such as the Jesse Tree. Of course not every night will be seamless, but overall it's so worth it to aim for that atmosphere of peace.
Speaking of bedtime routines, I still have two more (not so) little heads to bless before they drift off into dreamland. So I'll leave you for now. In the mean time, may your homes be filled with peace, joy and hope as you ease your way into the Christmas season.