The stockings are hung on their Command hooks with care and, because of our curious toddler, our Christmas tree is decorated with all the ornaments hanging in the top half of the tree. This year Maeve is fully participating in the wonder of Christmas and it's bringing us all joy. She shrieks in excitement when we tell her we're going to look at lights. She points at Christmas books to show us "Pata!" (Santa) and "teee!" and "mights!" At every opportunity she wants to see decorations in our neighborhood over which she oooos and ahhhhs. I'm savoring that we still have several years of Maeve's complete delight in even the simplest of Christmas magic.
Last week, during two of Maeve's daycare days, I had my annual elfing days which I use to finish as many Christmas tasks as possible. I wrote thank you notes to teachers and helpers and put together their gifts (my standard Mrs. Meyer's holiday dish soap and kitchen towel, plus gift cards for classroom teachers). I wrapped and shipped gifts that need to cross the country. I wrapped most of the family gifts I'm giving and made a double batch of gingerbread Christmas cookies so that we'd have dough in the freezer. This week I spent a lot of time in the kitchen cooking: cinnamon rolls to freeze and finish cooking for Christmas morning, a breakfast strata also now frozen and awaiting Christmas morning, a double batch of the coziest wild rice soup with half of it frozen, and foccacia bread (from a box) to go with our soup on Monday night. The House in the Cerulean Sea made for a very enjoyable audiobook companion.
The cinnamon roll recipe made such a generous quantity that I had a whole extra pan to gift to a friend. When I dropped them off, my friend asked if my baking was relaxing and enjoyable. "Hmmm...kind of," I said. I made most of the cinnamon rolls on Sunday during which I had Maeve's "help." For a while Maeve ate a snack at her Learning Tower and then helped me mix up the cinnamon and sugar. It was a lovely holiday moment baking with my daughter. But just when I needed to be using two hands to spread the filling and cut the rolls Maeve was officially done with baking and let me know in the way a toddler does. That's a bit how life generally feels right now. So many sweet and good things during the holidays with our three awesome kids alongside the usual parenting demands from very early mornings (5:50 a.m is an improvement from 4:30 a.m. but still not my ideal gentle morning) to helping navigate big emotions and of course all the household management from snacks to messes to making sure there's toothpaste.
I'm thankful that I started early on Christmas shopping and tasks. Each year I think I'm figuring out ways to make the holidays a little easier for myself and therefore more merry. My ideal December is one in which I can fully savor what I love about the season, including doing less and reflecting, and make optimally efficient and enjoyable the things that I want to get done but that aren't my favorite (like wrapping). To this end, every year I make notes about little tips or efficiencies to add in next year. I usually schedule an email with notes from this year's Christmas to be sent to myself next October which is when I start thinking about the holidays. This year I'm compiling everything in a giant HOLIDAY Google Doc that's turning into a holiday syllabus of sorts. It's bringing me a lot of joy which I'm sure you could already guess.
As I considered my holiday syllabus I had a thought: what if we think about what brings us joy in December when considering commitments during the rest of the year? Because so often whatever we or our kids are involved in has some kind of something in December, from an extra gift to get or a special event to attend or just a regular weekday commitment that still happens in December. A lot of those things are special and might be something to look forward to all year (that's how I feel about our special December book club meeting with potluck and gift exchange). Other commitments that don't feel like too much suddenly are one thing too many when added to all the other holiday stuff.
So that's a thought I am carrying with me as I think about goals for the new year. In practice this looks like journaling, keeping a running list on my phone of goal ideas, and even bringing up new year goals in conversation. I love asking people if there's something they hope to do or bring into their lives in the new year.
I hope that you are enjoying your favorite parts of the season and that the less fun things that have to get done are going smoothly for you! If you'd like some cheerful company for those tasks I'd love to recommend the latest Girl Next Door Podcast episode which is all about stories of when Christmas Went Wrong. It was a really fun one and I kind of can't believe Erica and I have so many Christmas fails between us!
Wishing you a cozy and merry December, friends!