Taking A Breath

Tree_2012Have you ever been so far behind on something that just thinking about it made you frantic?  That’s me and Christmas 2013.  It’s December 21, and we have the tree up with lights on it and the skirt around it.  That’s it.  No decorations yet, though the dh has pulled them out of the closet and set them by the tree.  We’re hoping to get that done today.

When we finish, our tree should look something like last year’s, pictured at left.  But it has a long way to go.

Then there’s the matter of Christmas cards.  We enjoy sending them and generally make them.  This year, we decided on a labor-intensive design, so there are only a handful ready to be addressed.  Not to mention that we’re out of envelopes the cards will fit.  And oh, by the way, it’s December 21, so these will be New Year cards for everyone who doesn’t live within shouting distance anyway.

We knew Christmas was coming, of course.  We own a calendar, a very nice one published by the Sierra Club.  Sometimes we even remember to look at it.  Yet we now find ourselves considerably behind the curve.

Part of this is because I went away.  I took a great ten-day trip I’ll be blogging about on December 26 (after I check with the people in the photos and make sure it’s okay to put their faces up here).  Had a great time, but I wasn’t here to spur my guys to assemble lists or to get the holiday shopping under way.  While I was gone, the dh, who actually makes the cards, was occupied with a home repair project that had become, unfortunately, urgent.  At least that’s finished, which is a huge relief.

But everything not yet done for Christmas, which is pretty much everything, looms large.  I fear the mall, never my favorite place and especially not at this time of year, will play a major role in my immediate future.

We’ve never been this far behind as the holiday approached.  As I contemplate all this, it would be easy to make myself crazy.  My inner control freak is pushing hard in that direction because, really, our holiday is out of control so far, and we control freaks just can’t stand that.

And yet…

We’re all home, healthy, and reasonably happy.  Christmas will arrive in four days and we’ll spend it together, which is actually the most important thing.  

If the gifts I bought on my trip and mailed back don’t make it in time, well, the guys will enjoy them just as much a couple of days late.  If the cards don’t arrive before Christmas, people will at least know we thought of them even if we didn’t have our act entirely together.

Or so I hope.

MV5BMjI5NTM5MDA2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjkwMzQxNw@@._V1_SX214_When the control freak starts screeching, I have to step away and do something other than what it’s on about.  In that spirit, I kicked back and watched a movie on HBO last night, Battleship.  It features invading aliens disrupting multinational naval exercises near Hawaii, only to find themselves up against scrappy elements of the U.S. Navy with an assist from Japanese allies.  It involves a great many explosions and features Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgard, among others.

It’s not even remotely a holiday film, of course.  There are lovely ones on TV and available for rental, and we’ll probably follow our tradition of watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas (classic cartoon version), Jingle All the Way, and A Christmas Story.  But when I’m trying not to let myself freak over things that need to be done, I need something unrelated to the potential freakout.  Battleship fit this need perfectly. 

So I’ve taken a figurative breath and am ready to dive back in.  We’ll put on Christmas music and decorate the tree, buy envelopes and finish addressing cards, maybe even get the cards in the mail.  That should settle the control freak and let me enjoy the approaching holiday.  

And if all else fails, I happen to own The Avengers on DVD.

So how’s your holiday coming?  Is everything on schedule, moving right along, or are you far enough behind that some aspect of the planning is making you a little nuts?  Does event prep ever make you nuts, and if it does, how do you react?  Do you handle it better by stepping back and taking a breath or by plowing on through?

One commenter today will receive rooster ornament and a signed book, the winner’s choice of either Renegade or Guardian.




  • Barb says:

    Is he back again to another hot day

  • Jane says:

    Hello Nancy,
    I love The Avengers and I might watch it over the holidays. I’m not too stressed and I think it’s mainly because I’m not the one who has to worry about the food and do the cooking. I do help out where I can, but I don’t have the added pressure of getting all the food ready by a certain time.

  • Barb says:

    Hi Nancy
    I am almost ready just have to ice the cakes and wrap a few presents…. If anything else needs doing it will have to wait until next Christmas lol.. I don’t like shopping anytime and our shopping centre is like a building site as it is being extended so it is even worse than usual… At least we are at the daughters for Christmas so we will all be together which is the main thing

  • Helen says:


    I have had years like you before and I do not like it LOL I am pretty much ready i am making a Christmas pudding tomorrow in the cloth but I have all the presents most of them wrapped the cake is done and I have 10 days off work but I still feel like I have forgotten something 🙂

    I will pick the pork up from the butchers Tuesday morning and cook the my son is dropping in the ham on Monday so I still have to find room in the fridge for all of this and we will begoing to my sister’s place on Christmas day so I just hope I remember to pack everything in the car before I go and I will be spending the day with my 3 sisters and most of the family and looking forward to it

    Have Fun

  • flchen1 says:

    Eek! We’re doing OK, and thankfully the kids just finished their last day of school, so I’m recruiting help for the last few things 🙂 Hooray on them being old enough to address cards now 😉

  • Minna says:

    There isn’t that much to do. My brother can go and get the tree from the forest and as for food, most foods we’ll eat on Christmas Eve will be from a store. All you need to do is heat them up. I just made some meat pastries and Christmas pastries with apple and cinnamon filling (apparently everyone prefers that to plum jam).

  • Mary Preston says:

    It’s all good here. Everyone is just chilling out, as much as we can in this infernal heat.

    The food for us will just be platters of cold fruit, salads and ham, chicken etc.

    The house is decked or bedecked or both/either.

    The gifts have been sent or are under the tree.

    Time to just put the kettle on for a cuppa and a read.

    • Mary, I’m sorry it’s unpleasantly hot! Your cold platters sound like the perfect choice for the weather.

      We had a warm Christmas once, when we visited my cousins in Florida. I ate Christmas dinner sitting outside at the picnic table. I was even wearing shorts!

  • Maureen says:

    You have the right attitude, being grateful for your family’s health and happiness. Once my kids were grown I didn’t worry so much over everything, knowing that I will get things done one way or another. I don’t have much left to do but that is because a lot of my shopping was for gift cards and our local supermarket has a whole array of them available.

    • Maureen, thanks! Gift cards are wonderful, aren’t they? Especially for teenagers or young adults who want music downloads.

      We actually own quite a lovely array of Christmas decorations, but we’re usually too rushed to put out many of them. That will be even more true this year.

  • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

    I am getting a tad crazy now. I was holding my own until the transmission went out on my vehicle then everything went to pieces. Money for Christmas had to go to purchasing a new for me car. I drove it two days and had to get it checked out, had to have a new wheel bearing put in it. Okay, so now we are down to no money at all for Christmas……..ARGHHH!
    Everyone I know is getting IOU’s for Christmas but everyone seems good with it so far.

    I still have one trip to the grocery store this afternoon and I will be good to go. I did take a step back myself a couple nights ago and watched Forrest Gump. It has been years since I saw that movie. Had a good therapeutic cry, wrote out my IOU’s, and I am pretty much back on schedule.

    • Dianna, I am so sorry about your car! Sometimes the timing on things is just truly awful. I think you were smart to have a therapeutic cry. Guys are missing out if they don’t understand the value of such things.

      I’m glad you have a system and are back on schedule.

  • Shannon says:

    My Christmas plans are both on-track and off-track. I only got home on the 15th after being gone five weeks. Ten days to get ready. And connecting with friends was the priority last weekend. I of course got invitations to Christmas day dinner so I had something to look forward to since I would be without family.

    So this weekend is doing whatever decorating I plan to do (mainly set up the nativity sets). These stay up until 7 Jan for Epiphany. Most urgent is getting my nephew’s money in the mail. He’ll get it eventually unless I decide to splurge on overnight mail.

    Right now, I am off to the grocery store for the food the Christmas day feast. I really want to make sure I get everything and don’t have to go back to the store on Tuesday. So I am going crazy over the list making.

    But after those tasks, I plan to relax. Maybe watch TV, but mainly finish the Gothic Romance that someone recommended. I, too, will be grateful that everyone is healthy, happy, and safe.

    • Shannon, one of the pleasures of the holidays for us is connecting with friends. Everyone seems to think of it about this time of year.

      I was tempted to go with the medieval system, decorate Christmas Day and leave everything up, as you’re doing, until Epiphany (the tradition 12 Days of Christmas), but I don’t think the dh would go for that.

      I hope you enjoy your book!

  • Mozette says:

    My holiday is right on schedule – for once! 😀

    Yep, I have enough food for Christmas Eve and Chrismtas Day and I’ve got all the laundry done and organised my bills – I hope – to be paid before I go away. I have to call my phone company and electricity company and let them know that my bills will be late, so they know I’ll be away for a few days.

    Otherwise, I’m ready. Mum and Dad are coming back from the coast and she’s fretting that there won’t be enough food for everyone. I said not to worry, that I bought a lettuce, carrots, mushrooms and other goodies at the fruit’n’veggie market to feed everyone on Christmas Day and when we’re heading back from my brother’s house, to drop in on my place and we can pick up all the food from my fridge… no problems, easy-peasey. 😀

    Mum’s releaved I have gone to think about this kind of thing. 😀

    Tomorrow and Monday, I have to get out some money to take to the coast and then check the mail one last time or two and I’ll be off on holidays for 9 days… 😀

  • Laurie G says:

    I only have a couple of presents to wrap. With a wedding today and a big snow storm coming I’m happy to be on top of my shopping. I still have baking to do Monday and Tuesday.

    Happy Holidays!

    • Laurie, Happy Holidays to you, too! It sounds as though you have a big weekend ahead. I hope the snowstorm won’t be the kind that paralyzes everything.

      I’m jealous that you’re’ almost done wrapping

  • may says:

    I was going nuts just yesterday trying to finish packing/buying last minute gifts for people at work. That’s the hardest! You don’t want to go too cheap but you don’t want to spend hundreds either….

    • May, that is so true about coworker gifts. You want to do something nice but not bankrupt yourself in the process. I was lucky to have only a small group exchanging gifts.

  • sandyg265 says:

    We’re keeping the holidays simple so everything’s pretty much ready.

  • gamistress66 says:

    I’m with you in Christmas arriving faster than I’m ready for it. I think some Grinch stole a few days (or a week) off the calendar 😉 though did manage to finish my shopping yesterday (I think). 🙂

    • Gamistress, you’re finished? Wow–color me Christmas tree green with envy!

      I certainly feel as though some Grinch stole a few days, but unfortunately, I know exactly where they went. 🙂

  • Becke Turner says:

    I don’t know if you would call it behind because we didn’t “do” many of the traditional things this Christmas.

    No tree or decorations at the house. That seems a tad weird but we’re going to daughter’s home to do Christmas there. Still….

    Like you we did the important things. Presents were bought, wrapped and ready to go. We’ve already dropped off the gifts for our adopted family. DH took care of the cards.

    So like you say, the important thing is we will be together–even if we are taking a U-Haul to NC with furniture and gifts!

    Ho. Ho. Ho

    • Becke, in my universe, “behind” depends on where you are relative to where you plan to go. Sounds as though you’re on top of everything!

      A U-Haul, eh? Maybe Santa needs one.

  • Debbie Oxier says:

    I love the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. Of course it was a lot harder when I was working. I love the baking, the shopping, the rushing around to find last minute gifts. This year I found the cutest jars with red and white checked lids. Filled them with candy, put a pretty Christmas sticker on the side, then tied a red and white polka dot ribbon around it. Gifts for neighbor’s and friends!

    • Debbie, the candy jars sound great! I normally enjoy the hustle and bustle, too, but in limited doses. The mall, for example, does not generally involve cheery people happily browsing, at least not by this point. It’s more like the grimly desperate (whose ranks I will endeavor NOT to join) scrambling for anything that might do. Lucky for me and my mood, the lists I’ve now cajoled out of everyone indicate that mall time may be limited. Whew!

  • Amy Conley says:

    The tree isn’t , but it up,, I didn’t buy my first gift til Thursday! But it will all get done. Luckily I don’t have to have “everything” by Christmas day, basically just grandson #2’s things. Grandsons #s1&3 will be later and any of my own kids will wait, of course, thank goodness.

    • Amy, it’s nice not to feel deadline pressure. I’m feeling better since I decided to chill about cards arriving on time. Now that the boy is older, Christmas morning isn’t quite the urgent matter it once was.

  • Cassondra Murray says:

    We are incredibly behind. We don’t even have the tree out of storage. I’m still trying to make a place for it.

    To that end, I should get cleaning…..

  • Jennifer Tanner says:

    Hi Nancy!

    I’ve learned over the years that no one really notices the things I obsess over. Presents are wrapped. Need to work on centerpieces. Found golden beets at the farmer’s market this a.m. which made me happy because I won’t have to worry about stains on the table linens. I know I won’t get everything done, but that’s slowly becoming okay. Happy holidays!

    • Hi, Jennifer–I think you’re right that most people don’t really notice the things that drive us up the tree. You’re ahead of me if you make your own centerpieces.

      I’m not familiar with golden beets, so I looked them up online. They seem very pretty.

  • Nancy – We’re behind as well. First, because Thanksgiving came so late this year, and I just can’t get into Christmas until Thanksgiving is over and 2) we took a vacation to Florida the first week in December so the short three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas became two. 3) I wanted to get a new book proposal in to my agent and worked steadily on that. I emailed that off on Wednesday, so finally – finally – I was able to start Christmas shopping on Thursday.

    We didn’t put up a lot of outside lights this year due to the cold. Normally I have lights wrapped around the banisters inside, and my my collection of Santas displayed on the mantel. Not this year.

    We went out to dinner last night with friends. One of the couples invited us over afterwards for wine and her house was beautifully decorated. Multiple decorated trees, various Santa Clause portraits hung in place of the normal artwork, Christmas themed pillows everywhere…made me realize how feeble my decorating this year has been. Oh well…

    • Donna, I understand about late starts! Our decorating also will be of the feeble variety because of everything that delayed it during the first part of the month. We simply don’t have time for more.

  • Nancy, I feel your pain! Because of deadlines and moving and mom being in and out of the hospital, we are so far behind this year that we’ve simply given up on a few of our favorite things, like sending out Christmas cards and … oh yeah, putting up a tree. Ha! We’re not doing it! We’ll be at my mom’s and her tree is up and looking beautiful, so that’ll be our tree, too. 🙂

    Oh, and I just started my shopping yesterday, so I’m really on top of things. LOL

    But woo hoo! Can’t wait to read the 12/26 rundown of your fabulous London trip!

    • Kate, I’m sorry your mom has been sick. When things like that happen, we just have to prioritize, and I don’t see the point in putting up a tree if you aren’t going to be around to enjoy it.

      The dh and the boy left a short time ago to shop. I guess the boy and I will head out tomorrow, and the dh and I on Monday. Or possibly the other way around. Gah, the mall will be insane by Monday!

      I hope the trip report lives up to expectations. 🙂

  • Kaelee says:

    Well I was totally nuts until yesterday when I finally found something to give my niece. I picked her name in the present exchange and had no idea what to get her.

    Now I’m just a little bit nuts gathering up a few things for stocking stuffers, wrapping a few gifts, making sure I have all the ingredients for the two cheesecakes I will be baking on Christmas day. As a family we celebrate at my sister’s place on Boxing Day so Christmas day is just the two of us with our two cats.

    • Kaelee, our family used to do gift exchanges. They can be a lot of fun, but they also offer opportunities to be baffled. I’m glad you found something!

      I enjoy finding stocking stuffers. I brought a couple back from my trip, actually.

      Your two-person celebration sounds lovely. Kicking back and enjoying the day has a lot of appeal.

  • catslady says:

    I think I’m in denial every year lol. It never leaves the back of my mind starting with Halloween onward. Most years panic causes me to go back out shopping because it’s never enough!! I was a bit calmer this year because we had already given many early gifts but then of course there won’t be as many under the tree. My children are grown so it’s only me that obsesses lol. I had my tree trimming party early this year which I think helped a lot and it got me in the mood since my decorations were all done. But my cards just went out this morning lol. I am amazed every year that everything does seem to get finished one way or the other lol.

    • Catslady, if your tree is up and your cards are out, you’re way ahead of us. We’re working on the tree and the cards today, having finally obtained envelopes.

      I went to a tree trimming party once. It was great fun!

  • diane says:

    Very little done except for the cooking. Love that part.

    • Diane, you and the dh would find common ground with the cooking. I enjoy baking, despite the minimal counter space in our kitchen, but I’m not much for cooking. He loves it, though!

  • Nancy, oh, I know that panicked feeling so well. But this year – and pardon me if I gloat – I’m really organized for Christmas. All my cards sent. All my house clean and organized. All my baking done. All my gifts wrapped. Decided I wasn’t going to be stressed about something that’s supposed to be fun this year – and for once, I stuck by my resolution.

    • Weeeelll, Anna, I don’t know if I will pardon the gloating, envy being such a powerful motivator and all. *g* Actually I’m very envious. I admire you for making a schedule and holding to it.

  • pearl says:

    Very behind in everything but will slave all weekend long.

  • ellie says:

    Ready and waiting for my visitors. Done everything and am relaxing now.

  • anne says:

    Love to be organized and am this year so I feel better.

  • Heathercm2001 says:

    The tree is up and decorated, but I never got to the rest of the indoor decorations. I think I am just going to go without them this year. Shopping was easier this year because I only had to shop for my nephews, rather than my entire family. With the help of Amazon, that is all done. It feel like December just popped up out of nowhere this year. 2013 went unbelievably fast!

    Good luck with your to-do list! You can do it!

    • Heather, thanks for the encouragement! We’re making headway, and I happen to know my guys did a bit of shopping earlier today. The dh and I may do the same while the boy is occupied with his friends tonight.

  • Deb says:

    Nancy, I have had Christmases like that with full-blown panic set in. This year, I think I m ready, even though short one gift. I ordered an Iowa Hawkeye sweatshirt for the DH, but was sent a boys large….So, wrapped up for my daughter. I still have cash to get for the sons’ girlfriends. I also bought them infinity scarves.
    I am watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel today. We are expecting a snowstorm tonight and tomorrow with 7 to 10 inches coming our way, so that is what I will be doing tomorrow as well. 🙂 I am making potato soup for supper.
    Merry Christmas to you!

  • Deb, good luck with the snow! Watching movies sounds like a perfect way to spend a snowy evening. And potato soup will be yummy on a cold night.

    It’s too bad about the shirt. You seem to have everything well in hand, though.

    Merry Christmas to you, too!

  • bn100 says:

    ready for it

  • Just in case anyone is keeping track, we now officially have the tree decorated. Yay!

  • LOL! I’ve had a number of years like that, Nancy! I will be finishing up the Christmas cards tomorrow and letting the post office deal with them on Monday morning. As you said, at least people will know I thought about them. The tree went up right after Thanksgiving. As of yesterday all of my gifts have been purchased. None have been wrapped. I will probably wait and wrap them at Mom’s so the paper isn’t torn in the car ride.

    I have to work until 8:30 PM on Christmas Eve and then drive over 80 miles to my Mom’s house. Sigh. Fortunately I am scheduled off on Thursday so I don’t have to leave right after Christmas dinner as I usually do!

    I am hoping and praying this is my last Christmas at Walmart. We’ll see. I really want get the courage to take the leap of faith and make writing a career. Walmart is sucking the joy out of all of my holidays and most of the other days as well !

    • Louisa, I’m so sorry the DDJ is complicating your holidays. How aggravating! I also hope this will be your last holiday season there. It’s good to hear that you’re off Thursday. I hope you get to enjoy the day!

  • I’m calling it a day. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and I hope you’ll all have a wonderful holiday season.