I tried something new this year. Several weeks before my friend Karen wrote this post about simplifying Christmas, she wrote about how she and several friends encouraged each other to finish their Christmas shopping, wrapping and cards by December 1. When I read that, I knew immediately that it would be a great idea for me. Since having kids (maybe before, but I can’t remember life before kids), I find myself stressed out every December. By Christmas day, I am exhausted and overwhelmed, I haven’t cracked a Bible open in weeks, and I know I’ve been too consumed by all the work to spend time talking to my children about Christ’s birth. Not exactly how I should be preparing my heart or my family to celebrate the birth of our Savior!
This December, I was going to visit my sister and newborn nephew for 5 days right before Christmas, so I had already gotten an early start. When I read Karen’s December 1 goal, I kicked it into high gear and got it done. Here’s my timeline:
- Early October: Asked for wish lists from family members
- Mid-October: Started shopping (was almost entirely done by mid-November), using Amazon.com and other sites with free shipping to save time
- Late October: Bought outfits for kids’ Christmas picture
- Early November: Took Christmas card picture, updated Christmas card address list
- Mid-November: Started wrapping gifts; wrote Christmas letter, got cards printed, got return address labels, stamps, etc.
- Thanksgiving week: Addressed Christmas cards, finished wrapping gifts
- Weekend after Thanksgiving: Decorated house, cards were ready to mail
- December: Talked about Advent with the kids, Christmas crafts with kids, baking, holiday gatherings, school parties, cleaning, travelled to Utah
As you can see, December was still pretty full. It was a little more chaotic than I thought it would be, due in part to my pre-Christmas travels. But I knew it would have been so much worse if my shopping, wrapping and cards hadn’t been done!
Next year, I’d like to do some baking in October and put things in the freezer. This year, I found myself constantly running to the store because I had to bake something for one of several holiday gatherings. My friend Lynette made multiple batches of cinnamon rolls, froze them, and pulled a pan out for each gathering. Genius! I’m not a good freezer girl, so I’m going to experiment between now and October and find some things that freeze well and can serve as my signature item next December.
If you found yourself overwhelmed and exhausted this Christmas, consider joining me for the December 1 Challenge 2010! Make a timeline now so you are ready in October or September or whenever you need to start to give yourself time to enjoy Advent and prepare your heart to celebrate Christ’s birth. I want that to be my purpose: not to impress others with my organizational skills or be the first Christmas card you receive, but to make time for me and my family to mediate on the incarnation, the Word made flesh, God coming to earth to save His people from their sins.