Nov 21, 2011

Saving Christmas: the gifts are tagged and bagged

Confession: as my blog name bears witness, I am a dilettante:  a dabbler in many things domestic, but flighty, flitty, fun, and even a little flaky.  If you were looking for that super-focused, relentlessly driven to pursue perfection blogger's blog, you're in the wrong place.  I can be over-organized one minute, and a disaster-looking-to-happen the next.  I can be crafty some days, but if the project doesn't get finished while the wind is in my sails, it might stay unfinished for a long time.  Maybe even forever.  I'm more like Tigger than Pooh.  My interests vary widely and my attention span is shorter than I am (and that's saying something.)

Which may explain why I'm suddenly thinking about Christmas before my best and favorite holiday (Thanksgiving) has come and gone.

I agree with the turkey.  No trees, no red-and-green until next week!

But this isn't just a case of me jumping the gun, or getting my holidays out of sequence.

Last year, Mr. Official did a 3-day stint in the hospital right before Christmas and it taught me a hard lesson about procrastinating on important aspects of the holidays - like um, shopping for gifts.   This year, we're headed down to the Florida Keys mid-December, so I'm even more motivated to get my ducks in a row early, even though this early bird stuff makes me feel like a duck out of water.  Yeah, I'm wearing out the hunting metaphors.

So now I'm going to let the cat out of the bag.

Spill the beans.

And give myself a pat on the back.

Because for the first time in a long time (oh, heck, let's be honest:  first time EVER, maybe????), my Christmas shopping is nearly completed (I have 4 or 5 items left to purchase) and it's not even Thanksgiving.  I started knocking it out with online purchases several weeks ago, and on Saturday, I declared open season on the outlet malls in Gatlinburg.  Unlike most of the rest of the world, I don't do Black Friday shopping (for a plethora of reasons), and by the time we return home from our Thanksgiving trip, we're knee deep into December and I feel I'm way behind before I even start. 

Anyway, the tagged-and-bagged gifts are cooling their jets in the back of my closet, and I can now resume our regular Thanksgiving programming.  In case you're wondering, my idea of a perfect "Black Friday" is a late, leisurely breakfast and then a few hours of ambling through some local stores and antique malls.  I'll think warmly of all of you trying to outgun each other from store to store.  As for me, I won't be enduring crushing crowds or interminable lines to stand in - I might snag a few good bargains or just enjoy browsing.

Starting next Monday, I'll share my weekly plans and ideas I'm using to save Christmas - and my sanity - in the hopes I can help you keep yours, too.

I adore this season with my whole heart, and I believe we can pull it off with our own individual style, grace and aplomb, without setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves.  Some realistic prioritizing and a little ingenuity can give us the sweet rewards of a joyful low-stress holiday that we actually remember with fondness.

If you haven't done your Christmas shopping yet, here's a sanity-saving tip I found helpful this year. I carried along a pack of big, bright Post-it notes and a marker, along with my trusty list of recipients and gift ideas.  As each purchase was completed, I slapped a sticky note with the recipient's name on the gift receipt (be sure to ask for those if there's any chance a return is in order), and tucked them both in the bag with the gift.   When we got home, everything was consolidated and everyone has one bag with all their stuff.  I don't know about you, but we have several family members with similar tastes, styles and sizes; the intended recipient can get a little fuzzy when we start the gift-wrapping frenzy.

Looking for something to get you in the true spirit of the holidays?  I heartily recommend Grisham's 2001 novel "Skipping Christmas" as a timely read this time of year.

The book is far better than the movie "Christmas with the Kranks"  and it articulates what many of us have felt about the approaching holiday season.  I don't advocate skipping Christmas, but I do want to enjoy it it the way it was meant to be celebrated, instead of dreading it.  So how do YOU save - and savor - the holidays?

Happy Monday,

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