I thought I'd get a start on some of my thoughts about the Christmas season. First of all I want to say that in certain respects this Christmas was rather smoother than last one. Allen and I really tried to communicate clearly about our own cultural expectations of Christmas (ie how it was celebrated growing up, and how we'd like to celebrate now.) That doesn't mean that we didn't discover a few zingers under the surface. That's just married life I suppose. We were able though to get on the same page about a few thing like approximately how many presents belonged under the tree.
In many ways this Christmas was about me learning to manage expectations and priorities. I really can't do it all. I couldn't do it last year when I was at home all the time, and I certainly can't do it now with a job and various other commitments. But I sometimes liked to pretend I can. Those were the days I came home late, tired, and cranky. On the whole though, cookies, crafts, and decorations that couldn't be fit in on a particular day were pushed to another day or trimmed altogether. I still overworked myself and stressed out about how much I was getting done, but I really don't think to the extent I would have if I hadn't been looking for ways to actively manage how much I expected to do on any given day. One day in particular I had to relinquish my plans for the good of others when I really, really didn't want to even think about doing so. It all came out ok though. There really wasn't anything I didn't do that will much matter in ten years.
Things I think I would change to help with Christmas next year:
Make several lists: Sometime in early Nov/late Oct I think I should sit down and make a list of everything I want to get done -looking at my expected schedule for the month and where I think everything could fit. Then I think I should look back at that list and make two more off of it -things I would least mind cutting if time doesn't allow and things I would most like to add if time does allow. I should probably get a list from Allen too. This might sound like make-work, but I tend to loose sight of priorities when I get busy ie trying to get something done a week before I should when there are other things that really needed to get done first. Having some sort of list/time-line would possibly help.
Cook early/make smaller batches: I made about 30 cheese balls sort of at the last minute before Thanksgiving. It was a lot of work, took more than a few hours, and now my freezer is full of cheese. That is easily something I could make in smaller batches a week before Thanksgiving and a week or so after if needed. Ditto for various cookies etc.
Plan meals better: Fortunately I had plenty of leftovers on which to glide through the week or so before Christmas. Week after Christmas when I'm plenty tired and could use the help? Nah. So next year I want to plan to have more leftovers/freezer meals available so that I have more time/energy for continuing the celebration on towards Epiphany.
Really plan for Christmas Eve: By this I mainly mean plan not to have lots of dishes in the sink and stuff strolled around on the floor. Christmas Adam all my plans hit the fan which meant that when we left to go see my cousins not only were things not done, but I didn't really have a chance to clean up from the things I did. Carry that over to Christmas Eve when I ended up going to work, running a last minute errand, wrapping presents, and baking/decorating cookies. Need I mention that Christmas Day the apartment was hardly sparkling? And in the natural relaxing that follows a big effort I've sort of lost momentum here. The apartment, I regret to say, is still not sparkling. For that reason I think it'd be wise to really try and plan to have things cleaned up by at least noon Christmas Eve and henceforth not to pull out anything we'd be too tempted to leave on the counter overnight. This isn't because I don't think you can have fun and celebrate until everything is perfect but because it's hard to find your traction when things have sort of piled up, and you're tired from planning/doing/celebrating.
I have more thoughts on Advent and Christmas that I want to get up later. For now though I need to eat.