It’s time for a bad case of the last-minute Christmas crazies. With only days before the 25th, many of us are moving close to panic mode.
I’m at the front of the line. December has flown past and the Christmas crazies have hit me and, it seems, many around me.
This happens every year. I used to think that Christmas crazies resulted from having both work pressures and family/entertaining pressures in the lead up to the holidays. Now that I’m retired, I realize that Christmas crazies happen regardless of how many hours per day/week you devote to preparation.
With the final countdown near, here are a few tips to help you through:
1. Make the uber-list. If you’re like me, you have several lists. Now is the time to review all the lists and make the uber-list. Hopefully, there are some completed items that have already been crossed off!
I made my uber-list yesterday I included only the things that absolutely must be done. Things like tidying up the garage, re-arranging my closet or cleaning the cold room in the basement will wait until after the holidays. Things that stay on the uber-list include finishing the gift shopping, wrapping gifts, buying groceries for entertaining, baking special treats and preparing for guests.
I also made a schedule with key tasks on each day keeping in mind that Ontario weather can change quickly. An unexpected storm can ruin plans including last-minute desperation trips to the mall.
2. Delegate some jobs. My husband doesn’t like cooking and isn’t a great cook. But he is happy to help with kitchen clean-up after I’ve prepped vegetables, or baked. I’m happy with this arrangement and he feels included. I’ll also be delegating household chores like vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, and some of the laundry that has a way of piling up.
3. Accept offers of help. Christmas Eve festivities will be hosted at our home this year. One guest offered to bring a big salad; I graciously accepted.
4. Beat the crowds. Malls and grocery stores are crowded. Traffic is a nightmare. Parking is a challenge especially when snow banks make each spot smaller.
This is the time for retired people to get into stores early in the morning before most people arrive — or late at night when others have gone home. One of my friends told me that she went to the mall last week when a snow storm raged in the Toronto. She had quick service, lots of help with finding items on her list, and had her bags carried to the car by a young man who was happy to help!
This is not the time to go to the grocery store on the weekend. The shelves are cleared of the best produce. Go early in the morning ready with a list and don’t blink when grapes, pineapples, avocados, melons, and lettuce are selling at outrageous prices!
Hopefully you’ve already completed online shopping and received those items. If not, check delivery dates carefully and pay the extra fee for expedited delivery!
4. Decide to ‘buy’ rather than ‘make’. While having all kinds of homemade goodies may a family tradition, taking precious time to do a lot of cooking or baking from scratch is not practical once the deadline is near. Purchasing some prepared foods may cost only slightly more but will save both time and stress.
Likewise, consider paying for gift wrapping to save time. A local mall offers gift wrapping with the proceeds going to a children’s charity. Getting gifts wrapped at that kiosk saves time and contributes to a good cause. One of the big book stores offers wrapping of children’s books as a gratuity. Also, remember that gift bags are ever-useful, especially for items of odd shapes and sizes.
5. Do a blitz clean/tidy of the house. I’ve placed the stacks of newspapers and magazines that were accumulating in the living room and family room into the re-cycling box. I’ve also placed more boot trays in the front foyer as the winter snow means that assorted foot gear that we use piles up near the door. I’ve disciplined myself to clean up as I move through various rooms to avoid having to re-trace my steps to pick up or put away clutter.
6. Take time to rest between tasks. As we get older, some of the stamina and energy enjoyed in years past is gone. Taking breaks, making time to have a cup of tea and put up my feet for a half hour works wonders.
7. Focus on the enjoyment and memories of family traditions. Many of the tasks that consume me before Christmas are part of the season’s rituals. During the rush of preparations I am often reminded of many past Christmas celebrations. The menus, the cards, the ornaments on the tree, the music, and even the smells of various foods bring memories.
Thinking about how some of these simple things have become rituals strengthens my resolve to complete the work involved to fully experience the joy of the season once again.
The Christmas crazies should never overtake the retirement happiness that comes as we appreciate the wonder and beauty of this season.
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You may also enjoy previous holiday posts from my blog roll: