Thursday, October 15, 2015

Christmas Thoughts

For those of us who like to be both organized and crafty for the holidays, it helps to have a planning system of some sort. Since 2004, I've kept Christmas notebooks. Here's volume two:

It's a Coptic-bound blank book with a fabulous illuminated page from the Book of Kells on the cover and lined paper on the inside. Coptic bindings lay flat when open, which makes writing in them very, very easy.

Volume one of my Christmas notebook (which is basically the same...just a different page from the Book of Kells on the cover) contains 2004 through 2012. Volume two brings me up to date.

Inside are gift lists, check lists, and copious ideas for holiday cooking, decorating, card-sending, gift wrapping, crafting, and such. A good bit is brainstorming ideas that didn't happen, so it's worth re-reading each year. After each season is over, I jot down notes of what worked, what didn't, what was fun, and what wasn't so I have good advice to start the next year.

To kick off a new holiday season, I start thinking about what I want to do. Am I feeling energetic and psyched, or am I feeling peaceful and minimalist? Does the idea of shopping send shivers of dread down my spine or does it seem appealing? Realistically, how much time do I have for baking, sending cards, wrapping and shipping gifts, making small gifts for friends, etc.? What's this year's budget?

This process of examining my feelings and practical matters BEFORE getting started has resulted in much happier and less stressed holidays. We tend to put such pressure on find or make the perfect gifts for people, to bake for everyone and every event, to decorate our house in over-the-top style, to do it all...perfectly. The result of all this striving for perfection is often Scrooge-like moods and feelings of inadequacy and failure.

"The neighbor's lights look so much better than ours!"

"Look how cute Melinda's gift wrap and bows look! Mine look like a kindergartener taped and tied them."

"My cards aren't nearly as nice as Geri's, or Joan's, or Leslie's, or Sue's."

"Bobbi's cookies beat mine all to pieces."

"I can't believe that the Jones's tree is ten feet tall and all color-coordinated! No wonder ours looks so skimpy and random."

Comparison is the thief of joy. Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time, especially if you're an observant Christian like me. This is why I think it's important to refocus each year on what's important to you right now. This year is, after all, different from last year. Perhaps you moved, have a new job, lost a job, lost a family member, have an empty nest, have children who no longer believe in Santa, have a sick loved one, had knee replacement surgery scheduled for December 1.

All sorts of things bring change and necessitate re-evaluating what you need, want, and can actually do without going crazy.

Ask yourself some questions. What traditions are more of a drain and drag than pleasure? Are there "new" traditions we can start that might be more meaningful? Will the world stop spinning if I don't make ten different types of cookies or if I wrap gifts in just plain white paper with red ribbon or if I do all my shopping online?

What's really important about this season, this year, for you?

Cognitive dissonance is the term for a disconnect between our values and our behavior. If your values call for holy observance and celebrating Jesus' birth, but you spend all your time caught up in the ridiculousness of competitive decorating, you're going to be unhappy and the holidays will feel flat for you. If you're a power shopper year-round who thrives on good deals and lavish gift giving, you'll likely feel cheated if you finish all your gift shopping online at Amazon in two hours.

Don't get swept up in the mindless current of busyness and perfection.  A little forethought and planning can make for a much more satisfying, meaningful holiday season.

And simple cards like this one are easier to mass produce so a few more people will get handmade cards!

Size: 6.25" x 3.5"
Or you could just wing it and revel in the chaos. Really, there aren't any rules.

stamps: Clearly Besotted Tiny Trees, Papertrey Keep It Simple Christmas 
ink: Hero Arts 
paper: Papertrey
accessories: dark red rhinestones


  1. "Comparison is the thief of joy". I am going to frame that and hang it!

  2. Ditto on "Comparison is the thief of joy". You do what makes you happy. I know someone who can only afford to give cards at Christmas, but we all look forward to them, knowing she probably spent more time selecting each one than we spent purchasing lavish gifts. Her heart was in each one.

    Personally, I'm done by Thanksgiving, so I get to sit back and watch the chaos while sipping a latte. And it gives me time to design my Christmas card. :/

  3. "Comparison is the thief of joy". Oh, what wisdom is encapsulated in those six words!


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