Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Countdown to Christmas/Advent (10/23/08)
TITLE: Christmas Preparations - Joyful or Fearful
By Alice Zvacek
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Last year, I found out that I was having Thanksgiving for the first time ever, and I was living with my terminally ill mother and would have to have the dinner at her house. It should have been a disaster waiting to happen. Instead, despite challenges like my son breaking his ankle two days before Christmas, it turned out to be one of the best holiday seasons Iíve had. What changed? Well, I knew I needed help, and I turned to someone who has been a source of help for me for years. Marla Cilley, better known as Flylady, has been offering advice about how to leave tha CHAOS (Canít Have Anyone Over Syndrome) for years, but suddenly for me last year it clicked.
What is the first step for having a peaceful, joyus Christmas Ė Start Early? Donít wait until the day after Thanksgiving to start planning. Itís too late! Youíre trying to cram all of the planning, the preparation and the activity into one short month. Start early does not come naturally to many of us, me included. Procrastination is my middle name. One thing that FlyLady suggests to help combat this is to pretend youíre going on a cruise the first of December and you wonít be back until the 19th. It gives you a greater sense of urgency, plus it lets you pretend. Thatís something that the child in all of us likes to do. If you start early, you really will cruise through the Holidays.
Next, you need to Develop a Plan. Take a deep breath, look around your house, and see if itís reasonably presentable. If not, start there. Getting a holiday planner is a great way to start planning. FlyLady has a Holiday Control Journal that you can download at www.flylady.net. She also suggests that you break the week up into a different type of chore each day of the week. Her website also posts missions for each day (from the middle of October on) to help you stay focused. Another website with several holiday planners is organizedhome.com. Click the printables tab and you will find several planners and tutorials that might help. Most of these assign a different task or area of your house to each week. You also need something to put your planner in. Organzied Home shows you some options. Last year I bought a 1Ē red binder, which I put on the top of the buffet (Clean the piles of paper off of the buffet first.)
One thing that always brings stress during the holidays is meals. Your days are busier, and itís harder to get those meals planned. FlyLady has a Thanksgiving meal plan ans several other recipes for your family. Another website which may help is www.savingdinner.com. It offers weekly e-mailed menus, downloadable plans and books with meal plans with the shopping lists. On this website, Leanne Ely also has Thanksgiving and Christmas meal ideas. Another meal planning website is www.e-mealz.com. They offer weekly meal plans based on particular diets, specific grocer ads and more.
One of the things that causes the most stress during this time of year is unrealistic expectations. Itís not realistic to think that you can go to the mall the day after Thanksgiving and get all of your Christmas shopping done if you have three children under 5 in tow. You need to look at your family, your work, your special issues, and decide what will work for you. Maybe you canít decorate the whole house, but you can have a great Christmas tree. Maybe you canít make it to five different family celebrations on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, but you can pick three to go to. Everything will never be perfect, and if youíre looking for perfection, you will always be dissapointed.
Remember start early, plan, deal with meals, and have realistic expections. If you do, you will be able to enjoy the time around Christmas without pulling your hair out. Have a joyous Christmas.
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