Just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean you get a pass over the holidays. Many writers are contract-bound by December and early January deadlines, while other writers have self-imposed deadlines to keep their careers moving. The late arrival of Thanksgiving has also put a monkey wrench into many of our plans. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t get in the mood — or find the time — for Christmas preparations before Thanksgiving is over.
I’ve been married 29 years. During this time, I have become less insecure and eager to impress everyone by how much I am able to accomplish. As a result, I’ve changed many of my Christmas activities to help me save time and increase my enjoyment of the celebration.
Now, I know the level of enjoyment for each person is different, so if you love any or all of the activities on this list, go for it! Here are my changes:
1.) I acknowledge all of my clients at Christmas because I enjoy doing so, but I have otherwise cut my Christmas card list to the bare minimum. For instance, the first year I was married, I sent a card to each and every person we invited to the wedding. No more.
2.) I have given up on writing a Christmas newsletter. I figure if you want to know about my summer vacation, you can call or email me.
3.) I no longer bake cookies, prepare baklava, or make fudge.
4.) I stopped buying Christmas gifts in July. This saves me the frustration of storing gifts and then having to hunt for them later. Now I just buy them in December and they go straight from the shopping bag to under the tree — with a small detour to be wrapped.
1.) Stay in touch with God.
2.) Plan to get the tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving.
3.) Schedule time to shop for gifts I hope everyone will enjoy.
4.) Cook a special Christmas dinner.
5.) Attend parties.
6.) Spend time with the people who mean the most to me.
8.) Take my car in for state inspection. (Okay, I have to do this one.)
It took me awhile to decide what to keep and what to eliminate around this time, but making a few hard calls has helped me to stay cheerful while maintaining a productive business and calm personal life. What better way to have a merry Christmas?
What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
What, if anything, have you eliminated to help you keep your sanity during the holidays?
I’ve cut back on baking the past few years because I usually eat more sweets than the guys.
This Saturday my son, Scott, flies into Chicago after spending a semester in Spain. Even though he’s a college student, it was different knowing he was so far away. The first thing we plan to do is go to church Sunday morning and thank God we’re all back together.
Scott wants to be home with family and friends and good, healthy food. So I plan to prepare lots of healthy meals and include plenty of fruits and vegetables.
I will keep my sights on the real reason for Christmas. Jesus, family, friends, and food for my hungry son. 🙂
I hope you all have a great Christmas!
I’ve cut my Christmas card list to those who are out of state which includes family. But I haven’t given up my Christmas letter, especially since that’s where I developed my writing voice. However, my letter isn’t an annual “what we did” list but a highlight from each of us, and I make it funny. Short and sweet. LOL
Other than that, we keep gifts to a minimum and focus on the birth of our Savior. Have a blessed Christmas!
I stopped sending Christmas cards a long time ago. My must do list includes decorating the Christmas tree the first weekend after Thanksgiving and Black Friday Christmas shopping with my sisters.
Tamela Hancock Murray
Lisa, I like how your Black Friday is a family event!
We gave up on sending cards. It just added too much stress and cost to our Christmas. We also dropped out of the extended family gift drawings. Really…gifts for second cousins? I have enjoyed taking a Friday off work (tomorrow, in fact) to go on my own little shopping trip. I like buying onlline, but there’s something special about shopping for my wife and finding a “dad’s gift” for my kids. And yes, the Christmas break is when I hit the writing hard, set some goals for next year, and really focus on my writing career.
Tamela Hancock Murray
Ron, I’ll bet those “Dad’s gifts” are a highlight for your kids!
You have your priorities right. But I still bake Christmas cookies. My guys and several shut-in neighbors look forward to their annual plate of goodies.
Besides, Christmas wasn’t meant to be a stressed-out shopping spree, it is the quiet worship of a God who cared enough to trust his precious Son to the care of an earthly mother. That, more than anything else, leaves me in awe of Him.
Congrats for being married 29 years! That’s wonderful 🙂
Okay, I’ve learned that the more kids you have in school the more difficult it is to fit in all those Christmas activities. My husband and I have had to sit down and decide together what to cut out and what to keep up with.
1. I too have cut down my Christmas card list by more than half. The stamps are getting too expensive and I don’t have time to write out all our names and a small message on each individual card. But for those who send me cards every year they will get one back 🙂
2. This year we have done much of our shopping online when free shipping is available. This has cut down time, gas money, and helped out wallets.
3. I do bake cookies with my kids, but I don’t always make them from scratch like I did in the past.
4. We attend 1 family Christmas party every December. And we’ve split our Christmas between my family and in-laws. Christmas Eve with one set of grandparents, Christmas day with the other.
5. We watch one Christmas each night in December with the kids.
Hoping after next Friday we will be able to enjoy Christmas weekend and relax together as a family. Our family is the most important to us, especially when we take the time to teach our kids that Christmas isn’t about the gifts, but God’s gift to us.
Have a wonderful Christmas!
I cut back several years ago when I was working a 50-60 hr job at Johnson Space Center and haven’t bothered to add anything back now that I’m at home.
I used to send cards to everyone I knew. Now, if I see you or talk to you to wish you a Merry Christmas, you don’t get a card. Much cheaper and I love the personal contact.
Decorations are a must, everything starts going up right after Thanksgiving.
At the request of my in-college-and-poor daughters, we started drawing names within our family a few years ago. One gift to buy, except, of course, for the grandkids and my hubby. And I switched totally to gift bags for presents. So much easier to stuff than wrap.
I love window shopping so that’s still on the list. Especially this time of wear with the hustle bustle and the carols played everywhere.
I take lots of time to rejoice in the birth of my Savior!
Tamela Hancock Murray
Sherry, I like how the gift bags are reusable, too. Right now I do a combo of bags and wrapping, depending on the gift.
This year, we cut back on a lot. My husband was out of country for four weeks in October and November. We’re traveling over Christmas this year, so it’s been relatively simple. We’ve always done Christmas letters, though they’ve regressed from being handmade (over 100—I started in January :)) with a letter, to being simplified with a letter to becoming simply a letter. Time is a commodity I don’t have much of to trade.
Normally, we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve just my hubby and our boys. We want to have our own family traditions. We go out to lunch and then open presents. They have a chance to play before we attend Christmas Eve services. We spend Christmas day with my family in another city. It’s fun, boisterous with four kids between 8-10 years old.
We have worked hard to not be overcommitted to Christmas activities and to keep our families first in the celebrating. We’re trying to help our kids see Jesus in the midst of the commercialism.
I’m rambling. Sorry. 🙂 I appreciate your priorities, Tamela. Have a great Christmas!
We still buy early, but we have one spot where everything goes. A tub in our closet. In fact, I went through it yesterday to see just where we stood on things. Amazon is a great way to shop, too. Free two day shipping is one of the eight wonders of the world, I think ;).
I stopped doing Christmas letters in… wait. I’m not sure I ever started ;). Just not my thing :D.
One thing I do need to think about cutting back on is cookies. I make chocolate chip cookies for teachers, etc. But starting a few years ago, we also make them for all the specials teachers, the office folks, the lunch ladies*, former teachers still in the same building, and so on. Not so bad when everyone was at one school, but with my oldest in middle school… I just don’t know. Starting in middle school, I may not do “former teachers” anymore. It’s only 3-4 more people at the elementary school but would quickly add up in middle school.
We’ve also cut back on decorating, which makes me sad, but we just don’t have the room for the big tree with the furniture we have now – unless we stop using the fireplace during Christmas and we rather like it :D.
I wish I could cut out giving finals at the same time as the holidays, but I don’t think I can get away with that ;).
*I subbed as a general aide at my kids’ school a few weeks ago and had lunch with the lunch ladies. They talked about how much they loved my kids [duh – who wouldn’t? They’re awesome ;)] and miss my oldest daughter. They also mentioned how much they appreciate the cookies – from almost a year ago. Because no one ever brings them anything for the holidays. So that’s going to be hard to convince myself to cut back on them for the “unusual suspects” because we do appreciate them, even if we don’t say it enough.
Tamela Hancock Murray
Carol, I love that you remember people no one else does! I can see why you’re conflicted about former teachers, but of course they will be getting lots of gifts from current students, so you can look at it that way if you want to cut back. (See, I am great at making people feel less guilty, I hope — Merry Christmas!) 🙂
Tradition: I save everyone’s special gift till last and give them clues from the Bible–usually 2 or 3, the last one leading to the gift, i.e., “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet” and the next clue would be taped to a lamp. This was more fun before our two granddaughters moved out of state.
Christmas letter: I still do this, but it’s different every year–sometimes in poetry; sometimes in newspaper columns (sports, arts and entertainment, health [for close friends], etc.; sometimes an acrostic; last year was TV shows (The Good Wife, Father Knows Best, All in the Family, General Hospital). This year was Scripture verses–“And I say unto you write”; “a man had two sons [well, we just have one, but you get the idea). Friends say they look forward to our letters every year. For close friends, I had a longer note on the back.
What I’ve quit doing: Hosting a family dinner with my sister’s family (years ago, before she had grand- and great-grandkids, it was already up to 30, and my husband’s health can’t take it anymore. We each do our own now.
Nancy B. Kennedy
Reading through the comments, I’m sad to hear that so many people have axed the Christmas card and letter tradition! I love them! Yes, you heard me, LOVE them! I’ll read every word of your four-page chronicle. Our most cherished family tradition is to save up the Christmas cards we get, open them all at once on Christmas Eve and read the letters out loud. It’s a lovely time of treasuring family and friends. So… send me a card! I’ll read it!