47 Days

Lovey, don't be mad at me, but  . . . there are only 47 days till, um, you know, CHRISTMAS. Truly. So it's on my mind. I'm not trying to rush things, I promise. But here's the thing. I need to do Christmas differently this year. And that requires a head start. Do you know that some families have a rule that they finish all Christmas shopping by December first? When I first read that, I thought, Not possible. My second thought was, Great idea. I'm trying it.

You might be wondering why it's a good idea. Well, for a busy family, taking even one task out of the equation for December can make a crazy-cool difference. Think of all we have going on: work, kids' class parties, kids' Christmas programs, gymnastics, supper club cookie exchange, small group get-together, holiday tea, church, school and homework (not to mention finding time to watch Miracle on 34th St.)--the list goes on for other families. Do you see? Gosh, if I can save myself even a little time, it's worth a try. I'm going after this thing like it's chocolate pie.

You know I just had foot surgery. It turns out, when you're laid up with a broken foot, it's a good time to shop online. And you know I'm a list girl. I've got my little Christmas notebook, and, just like Santa, I've started my lists. Lists of ideas of what I'd like to get people. Lists of purchases I've already made. Lists of parties and activities for the month of December. Guest lists. Shopping lists. Everything.

I like lists.

(And tootsie rolls.)

I like not feeling crazy at Christmas (not that I've actually ever experienced not-feeling-crazy at Christmas, but I'm hopeful that way). So I'm diving in. I'm making a plan. I need to. I want Christmas to be just a little different in my heart this year. I truly love the holiday season. Peace, love, joy, and Amy Grant singing A Tennessee Christmas. Love it.

What can I do to keep a little peace during December? I'm deciding now that it doesn't have to be perfect. I'm deciding now that I can't please everyone and that's okay. I'm deciding now to buy gifts I'm excited about (not just stuff for stuff's sake). And I'm deciding now to love the people in this house as much as I can. We've got Lily crawling everywhere and still not sleeping through the night. This morning I've got two kiddos who woke up with sniffly noses. I'm hobbling around and not able to keep the house in order the way I like to.  . . . Guess what? I love my life, loveys. Because when it comes down to it, my heart is content. I'm crazy in love with my children. I'm very blessed to have a husband who loves me and cares for me and helps with the kids. Family life is chaotic and loud and tiring. It's also everything to me. And Christmas . . . well, it's magic. I want to let it be magic for my family.

We'll be decorating early over here. For one reason, since I'm pretty immobile and will be for weeks, we need to tackle the decorating thing while Blanca B. is here and willing to help. (Decorating with my Mama! Gosh, that reminds me of Porter, Texas, and seeing her string lights--more like do battle--with our tree.) It's going to be good. My mom loves Christmas decorations and she loves Christmas movies. So do I. Good times.

I've started my Christmas shopping and I'm keeping it pretty simple--and almost entirely online (which actually helps me with spending less. When I'm at the store, I inevitably find more stuff I want to buy). I'm on a tighter budget this year--it's the first year since I've stopped working to take care of these kiddos. And that's okay. The truth is that I'm already excited for Christmas. I know lots of people get frustrated by how early the stores pull out Christmas stuff. I understand the frustration. But since ornaments and wreaths and pecan pie fill me with joy anyway--I'm rolling with all of it. I'm looking over our calendar and filling in the spaces that need filling in--and also leaving white space where I can. After five years of hosting ornament parties, I'm thinking of doing a Christmas tea party this year. Sara bought me the holiday edition TeaTime magazine at Givens in Lynchburg. I've been poring through it, and I can't help myself--I want a holiday tea party. Then Laura sent me the new Downton Abbey Christmas tea blend. Good grief. It's a party. I can't wait. Christmas music playing. The smell of cinnamon and vanilla in my house. Brunch dishes. Scones. Tea with cream and sugar. (And another idea I'm not sharing yet!) These things make me happy, lovey.

One of the things I love about the mommy blogger community is the wealth of ideas you can get from other moms. I'm not the kind of mom who likes a ton of advice. Every family does things differently, mine included. For myself, I'm not keen on being told what's the one, right way to do something. But I do appreciate good ideas. Like finishing up my shopping by December first, so that December isn't so much about getting out and buying toys, as it is doing things as a family and enjoying the community we live in. Like setting those four guidelines for shopping for our kids: something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. It comes down to being purposeful.

Good ideas, loveys. What are yours? How do you keep the crazy out of Christmas for your family?
What's your Christmas wish? We're embarking on the holiday season and that can be a rollercoaster ride of emotions for all of us. We can get worn out. Bitter. Consumed by commercialism and appearances. Or we can move through the holidays like a savvy mom in a grocery store.

Roll with the unexpected.

Shrug over the disappointments and move on.

Remember the less fortunate and give to the food bank (or a needy family you know).

Stick to our budget.

Smile and be thankful for what we have.

Forty-seven days, loveys. We've got time to plan. We've got time to decide who we want to be this Christmas. How we want to live. We've got time to set our priorities. Our kids are watching.

It's a magical season. I want to let the magic in at my house.

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