Well, we saw how bad it could be as soon as we neared the mall and spied the parking lot. The parking lot that was f-u-l-l. Inside, it was - and this is NO exaggeration - it was shoulder to shoulder. And that was in the main center / walking areas. If memory serves, the only store we attempted was Roots, and there was just NO WAY. I don't remember what we ended up doing that day, but we exited the mall just as soon as we could get turned around and squeeze out the nearest set of double doors. And, no, I have never attempted a trip to Canada again on Boxing Day. Nor will I! But, if you're a dyed-in-the-wool Shopper looking for deals, it would be a banner day!
So, how was your Christmas?! I had a . . . really. Nice. Day. Granted, I know I made more apologies than were necessary to my folks, but my day was made enjoyable by the fact that I left those things that were unfinished . . . unfinished. I didn't clear off the dining room table: we sat with our plates on our laps in the living room. I didn't stay up until the wee hours on Christmas Eve finishing the homemade goodies. No, instead, two of Dad's presents (his coconut truffles and citron-only pfeffernuus) and one of Mom's (candied-fruit pfeffernuus) were presented to them in their unfinished state (and then taken back for their finishing touches). And, while I'd like to have had all the Ts crossed and Is dotted, leaving things AS THEY WERE allowed me to have a truly enjoyable Christmas. All I'd managed to get out in the way of decorations were a small ceramic, electrified tree of my late MIL's (which I love and hope the ex will let me keep) and my folks' stockings. That was it. Still, and ironically enough, it was the most I've enjoyed the actual Christmas Day in a long time. I was happy. And my parents were tolerant and happy. And that's all one can ask for, isn't it?
One of the topics of conversation throughout the day was between Mama Pea and myself: how this coming year, 2011, we ARE going to start preparing for Christmas early enough. In, say, January! (I'm serious!) We both really love Christmas but are always taxed by the massive amount of preparations. So, how will we achieve this in the new year? Well, Mom's brilliant idea was that we write down ALL THE THINGS THAT WE NEED TO DO to prepare for an enjoyable holiday. Then, we'll spread out the preparation of same throughout the entire year, if at all possible. (This is one of my New Year resolutions.)
For example, Christmas cards. Both Mom and I really enjoy receiving old-fashioned Christmas cards but also bemoan their dwindling existence. It used to be that you could hardly find enough space to display them all. Now, their numbers are only low multiples of tens. But, neither she nor I can "really" complain because Mom hasn't written a holiday letter in years (due to "nothing to say", so she claims!?!), and I didn't get one written last year. This year, as previously mentioned, I'm writing and sending New Year's cards. But, how can you make this an easier process? Well . . . .
- Buy next year's cards during the after-holiday sales of late December and January.
- Then, aside from the 2 or 3 you may have to discard due to new addresses or divorce or death, there is always a certain number of cards that you KNOW you'll send each year. Fill out all of those envelopes in the "quiet times" of January. As I said, you'll undoubtedly have to scrap a couple come December, but the bulk of those addresses for lifelong friends and relatives will be the same in 12 short months.
- Buy Lifetime postage stamps. You can slap those on as you address the envelopes. And, even if you put on a regular 44 cent postage stamp and the Postal Service does increase the rates come March, buy the extra one or two cent stamps then and update the envelopes.
- While you can't write the holiday letter until December, you CAN take notes throughout the year when Christmas-letter-worthy events happen. Each year, I start a computer file entitled 'Christmas Letter 2011' (or whatever that year's date will be). Then, I'll jot things down in it as they happen: two new kittens arrived in June, rented an office space in town, Billy's softball team won State, etc., etc.
- Buy gifts throughout the year. Instead of looking through catalogs come November with "what am I going to get Bob & Veronica?" or "what do 13-year old girls WANT nowadays?!" in mind, keep these things in mind all year long! That's how I shop. If I see something in May that Person X would love, I'll pick it up then.
- When you do buy Christmas / holiday gifts early, WRAP THEM THEN! I keep other computer files titled 'Christmas 2011' and 'Christmases Past'. Everyone's name is included, and I jot down what they're getting that year . . . and then transfer those items to the 'Christmases Past' file once the season is over so I don't have any accidental repeats.
- If you know you want to make a gift for a particular someone, start that early, too! Heck, you can probably knit Barb's Christmas socks right in front of her in August 'cause she'd never even guess that they will be wrapped for her and under the tree come December! And, double bonus, you'll probably take more time to make that particular gift exactly right because you'll have more time . . . vs. rushing through it on December 23rd!
- An idea of Mama Pea's was to make up batches of holiday cookie dough in early fall. They freeze beautifully, and, unless you're a cookie-decorator extraordinaire, the mixing of the dough is the step that takes the longest. So, if those are already mixed in the freezer, you can pull 'em out the day before holiday company is coming and bake them fresh that morning!
With that, I'll leave you with some pictures.
|On my drive into town to celebrate Christmas Eve (Eve) with my folks.|
|Making simultaneous batches of pfeffernuus Christmas Eve. If the egg whites stay in the inverted bowl, they're stiff enough: that's the test!|
|Our Christmas weekend visitor, Lexie. She's a GOOD GIRL!|
|Front yard with all of Lexie's tracks in the deep snow.|
|Here I am yesterday morning, helping Mama & Papa Pea's old dog, Zoey, unwrap her gift from me. It makes me sad to know that she probably won't be with us next Christmas. :(|
|We ended the day by Mama Pea reading a Christmas story to us. While Papa Pea tried to stay awake, I . . .|
|Crocheted the latest hat. Ruthie, recognize my shawl / throw? (I LOVE it!)|
|Tucker & Maisy|
When my folks left, the floor was strewn with "dead" dogs.
And, with that, I think my post-Christmas update is done! I hope you have a relaxing holiday Sunday! :)