Killing the ghosts of past Christmases

Christmas Prep – 4

How are you elfgoing on your who-to-buy-for lists? Next week we’re going to start thinking about budgets and saving, lay-by and online shopping, so keep working on the ‘who’s. If you’ve found the perfect gift for someone and squirreled it away already, then write down you’ve got something; (and potentially, where you’ve hidden it…!)

This week I want you to begin to think about your diary commitments for the festivities. I’m going to get through the bumpy ride that is the holidays in one piece and with a smile on your face. If you’re fed up of feeling like you’ve got no time, this’ll help you manage everything in line with your family priorities.

Get your notebook, and write down one the side of page days and dates starting at the back end of November, M 26, T 27, W 28, T 29, F 30, S 1, S 2 and so on. Along the top, ‘Morning’, ‘Afternoon’ and ‘Evening’. This is not a comprehensive diary or replace your diary. Your diary is your diary, complete with show tickets, phone numbers, directions and invitations.

This is the master list so while you’re out and about you don’t double-book y’all. It is the one page you need to look at daily from the middle of November onwards. The page you talk through with your partner-in-crime and if it’s not on here – it does not happen.

month diary date book

Please don’t feel that only have to see people on or around the big dates. Many families charge around like maniacs because they feel pressure to be at one parent’s house in the morning, another parent’s house for lunch, swing past Grandma’s for tea and then run in to see another person in the evening. All on one day!

Multiply that by everyone you “simply have” to catch up with before the end of the year, and it’s no wonder you end up at the beginning of January with your hair on end, a nervous twitch and wondering what the heck happened? Practice after me:

  1. ‘We’d love to, but after last year where we rushed around so much, we’re keeping it local.’
  2. ‘We’d love to, but I’m sorry, the only time we’re going to get to see someone who’s here from overseas is on that day. Can we meet another time?’ Remember, you’ll have your diary with you, so you can pencil it in there and then!
  3. ‘We’d love to, but I can’t. Can I send Hubs/Wifey/Partner instead, or do you want to leave it until it’s a little less chaotic to see all of us?’
  4. ‘I’m sorry, we’re already all booked up. But what have you got open in January when we can really enjoy the time together?’

You do not have to see everyone. I’m giving you permission.

A few years ago, the one day we could get our family together in one place was the 27 December. Did this detract from our celebrations? Not at all. We all sat down to dinner together, laughed and joked, played with the children and had a whale of a time. Christmas is different things for different people, for us, it’s simply being with friends and family. If we’re a day or two late, so what? We’re still together.

As an aside, half of our family are in the UK, we are in Australia the last Christmas we spent with them was in 2007. Our son has never had a Christmas with both sets of Grandparents in one room. If this is something you argue over: please be grateful that you’ve got your family close enough to have this as an option, but have a conversation about splitting the days up. 

If you’re having Christmas at your house, I am telling you NOW to block out the weekend before that, (the 22nd and 23rd, this year as the big days are mid-week). You are not going anywhere other than your shopping for last minute fresh items and putting time in the diary to sit down with a cup of tea. OK?

If you’re not having Christmas at home, block out at least half of one day of that weekend to offer help to the family member that is. Arrive with a bottle of wine or cake or flowers, some food to eat on the hoof, a pair of rubber gloves, a smile and say ‘What can I do to help?’ Then make copious amounts of tea through the day, remind them they’re doing great and when they’re happy everything on their list is done – open the wine, run them a bath, then leave.

If your company has any sense *snort* they’ll have already told you what date your Christmas party is on this year. If not, ask when it is/likely to be. But don’t volunteer to help! Also, ask your spouse when their party is; now is the time to decide do you have to go to both? Think about alternating each year to halve your commitments and remind your significant each week (gently), that you’re all working together, ‘Please don’t double book me/them/you’.

What about babysitters? Have a chat with your mother’s group and other family and friends; pool resources over the weeks and as dates start being added, work together and arrange sleepovers. All chip in to minding other children and giving a child free night option to other parents.

As we get closer towards the festivities ‘proper’ we’re going to be adding other items to our diary, so do not book out your time like mad because you think you’ve got the whole month free. You do not. There are exciting things like present shopping, post office trips, grocery shopping and cleaning to take into account and look forward to.

Can you see why I’m doing this little series of posts to get you through now? Have a good week. keep beavering away with your notebooks on who to buy for, dates for your diary and I’ll see you next week for budgets.