While the holiday season is generally full of joy and cheer, we all know that it can be a bit overwhelming and stressful. As a wife and mother, I’m approaching the 12th year of navigating this hectic time and trying to keep myself (and my family) sane. Thank goodness, I’ve learned a few things along the way:

Shopping
I don’t love to shop. I enjoy it most when I’m not on a mission for something specific (usually, that’s when I end up making the most purchases). However, shopping in November and December can be outright miserable for me. Online shopping has literally saved my life. Amazon is obviously a wonderful invention. I’m going to say it… I consider Amazon Prime my shopping soul mate.

When searching for a specific gift though, every once in a while I have to hit the pavement and head to the store. I discovered that stores are quite manageable during the weekday. I take one day off (generally Tuesday or Thursday are best), get an organized list together and enjoy a little holiday shopping. This actually makes for a pleasant gift buying experience. I grab a coffee, browse and sometimes I even find a little something for myself.

Patience, Patience, Patience
During this time of year, there are lines everywhere. Even places where people don’t generally shop for gifts, expect a line. For me, this one is easier to manage than many other holiday headaches. All year long, I have a knack for picking the worst check-out lines. Like everyone else, I pick the shortest line where people have the fewest items. BUT… right after I place all of my things on the conveyor belt, inevitably something happens. The person in front of me has card issues, an item doesn’t ring up correctly, it is time for the cashier to go to lunch, the register goes haywire, or the person in front of me requested cash back and the cash register isn’t opening.

I have learned two key things here! First, as soon as I am aware of an issue, I politely inform anyone behind me that they should consider moving lanes. By now, I am fully aware that things aren’t going to go well. Second, this is quality time that can be used wisely. I am stuck there, so I might as well check email, send friends their “Happy Birthday” message on Facebook or pick up a tabloid (that I have no intention of buying) and catch up on Hollywood’s latest news. We all have our guilty pleasures.

There’s Nothing Wrong With Socks…
It’s said to be the “thought that counts” when it comes to gift giving. I know we can all remember receiving a certain gift or two where the thought was “What the heck were they thinking?” There truly is nothing better than giving a well thought out and planned gift, but there’s also nothing wrong with practical gifts. If you know someone needs or will use a specific item, it’s not an “un-fun” gift.

Note: Socks take up a substantial amount of room in/around a stocking…

Remember The Reason For The Season
It is so easy to get swept up with places to be, programs and events to attend, shopping, cooking, travel arrangements and wrapping. Don’t lose sight of the meaning of the season. Try to find a few minutes a day to remember what it’s all about or enjoy reminiscing about a favorite childhood holiday. Share stories with your friends and family.

In the last few years, our family participated in Adopt-A-Family. Watching the boys’ determination to find the requested gifts on the wish list was amazing. I have to admit it was the most fun gift shopping I’ve ever done too. Whether you donate gifts or your time, it’s a great way to keep your heart in the right place. It truly is so much better to give than to receive.

The Tree is For Everyone…
Each year, we bring home a real tree. When the boys were much younger, I admit, I would obsess a little about the tree looking perfect. As they’ve gotten older though, not only do they like to help decorate, we have acquired a number of homemade and “unique” ornaments. Currently our tree has so many NFL players on it, I think it could work for a Fantasy Football Draft.

Even our two dogs love the tree! Last year, our puppy dragged his dog bed underneath so he could sleep there. He also managed to break countless ornaments and tear off the bottom third of the branches. He thoroughly enjoyed that tree!

Letting go of where each ornament is placed has also gotten easier every year. I’ll be honest, I do often slowly rearrange things, but nobody seems to notice. This year, Colton thought hanging the most breakable ornaments at the bottom of the tree was the way to go, “That way they don’t have far to fall, Mom.” As I mentioned about the dog, I moved those right away.

I think I’ve finally come to terms with letting the boys just decorate the tree however they like. After all, it won’t be long before they aren’t interested in helping at all. I certainly know I’ll miss their style!

That’s A Wrap
I always feel like gift wrapping is one of the more tedious tasks of the season. It seems never ending sometimes! Add that to the fact that there’s really not much spare time to see friends and socialize when so much is going on for everyone.

Try putting together a wrapping party with friends! Have everyone bring what they need to wrap, share the paper and bows and catch up with everyone while getting the job done! Wine doesn’t sound bad either!

No matter what, the holidays come and go every year. We live them. We survive them. Some years I handle them better than others. I am sure you all can relate. No matter what, I really just try to enjoy my family and loved ones. They truly are the only things that matter. I hope you all manage this holiday season with love, laughter and lots of patience.

 

 

 

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