“Do you know why Santa is always jolly?” my husband said to me last year as we were driving together to purchase our Christmas tree.
“No, why?” I replied on queue like the well-trained straight man of umpteen years of marriage.
“Because he knows where all the bad girls live,” he said. I laughed.
“Where’s that?” my son piped up from the back seat. He really wanted to know.
The holidays seem to come faster every year. By Halloween, the outdoor plants at Home Depot are all gone and Christmas trees fill every nook and cranny of the store. At some malls, Christmas music even accompanies back-to-school shopping. There is no stopping Christmas. But we can slow it down and cherish every moment. Here are some ideas.
Don’t Dilute the Season
Set your own parameters and jump into the season on your terms. Fend off the push to start early. I like to dive in on Black Friday and get out with the crowds to catch the excitement — and the sales of course. Make the season memorable by planning one small holiday event each weekend, such as getting the tree, catching the lighting ceremony or skating at a rink. Create a visual of the season’s shortness by planning these events on a big calendar everyone can see.
Count it Down
My son can’t seem to memorize his division tables but he can instantly calculate the number of days to Christmas. Use your little Human Holiday Calculator to help build the excitement. Get an advent calendar or add a days-to-Christmas countdown to your fridge.
Celebrate Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday is the virtual Black Friday. In offices all across America, it’s the Monday-after-Thanksgiving phenomenon where people collectively panic about their holiday lists. Suddenly, the fingers start shopping online sites during work time. So, join the crowd and make the most of it. Your boss is doing it too.
Wrap it Up Early
Shopping is not recreation. Recreation is recreation. Make lists and get it done to have more time for fun. Draw names with extended family. Really. They want this too.
Wrap it Literally
My friend Teresa decided not to wrap gifts one year because of how fast they were unwrapped on Christmas morning. She experimented with simply leaving piles of gifts for each child under the tree.
It was a fiasco. Her daughter felt slighted by Santa and asked if Santa was too busy for her this year. Teresa never left a gift unwrapped again.
Create a Slow Tradition
Making crafts can certainly slow down time. Even baking cookies can take up a whole afternoon. Get online for ideas, get the stuff, make a mess and create a tradition.
Make it Special
For my daughter, my husband has this show-her-the-finer-side-of-life theory of gift giving. He wants to head off any possibility that she will marry a folk singer. This is a palpable fear of his as she really likes the music. So he buys her nice things that a folk singer could not get her. For the longest time, she was the only five-year-old on the planet with pearls and she does cherish them. But the smart thing about getting one very special gift is that you’ve got an anchor. You don’t have to worry about adding too many other gifts, leaving more time for holiday enjoyment.
People mention things they want all year long. You only have to listen. Besides the pearls example above, gifts don’t really have to cost a lot. For my dad, I’m scanning up old photos for a slide show. For my husband, I’m going to get his favorite book D-Day signed by the author. The time spent creating thoughtful gifts adds to the Christmas spirit.
Remember the Reason
The first year we moved here, I asked my children if they wanted to be angels and shepherds in the holiday procession at church. My son instantly was 100% sure he wanted to be a shepherd and said so. My daughter said, “I want to be a ballerina.”
I explained that 2000 years ago there were angels, shepherds, wise men, animals and Inn Keepers. There were no ballerinas.
“I want to be a ballerina,” she said again. I put my smart-mom noggin in gear.
“You mean a ballerina that wears a white dress and a tinsel halo?” I asked. She was two at the time and much easier to trick.
“Yes!” she replied. Problem solved.
We went to Holiday Mass with our Shepherd and Angel/Ballerina to say our thanks and remember the tiny baby who started it all. Christmas stood still for an entire hour.
Margee Moore is an advertising copywriter, mother of two and author of the iPhone book app Sleeping With the Laundry. Makes a great t0-me-from-me-love-me gift!