Stockings hung, Christmas cards in progress…all is normal

Well, not all is normal, but that’s just because flu (mild, thankfully) has struck the house this week. The Christmas cards still being in progress on the 7th day of Christmas, though, is perfectly normal.

Before discussing Christmas cards, I must share that I got both stockings I was knitting done in time to hang for Christmas Eve! Yay!! I still have to go back and weave in all the ends and block the red one, but it held Santa’s presents, which is all that really matters as far as the stocking’s owner is concerned.

knit stockings

Now about those Christmas cards…every year, I plan to do them early (well, earlier…early for us would be to have them all in the mail by Christmas Eve). And every year, I never get them done in time. A large part of the problem is procrastination on my part, but another issue includes the relatively large number of cards I try to send each year: we’re up to about 140 this year, and that’s not including new congregation members. I decided to give myself a pass on them until next year, mainly because my Christmas card apparatus just did not have an extra 50 or so cards and addresses built in and I have to draw a line for sanity’s sake somewhere.

Every year, I also question whether or not I really want to do Christmas cards. It’s another “thing to do,” and it’s one that easily fits into the “not absolutely necessary” category. It takes a long time, between tracking down address changes, ordering cards (I use photo cards), having cards sent to the wrong place (ok, that was just this year), writing a Christmas newsletter, and signing/addressing/mailing. Then, I have long since given up handwriting more than our signatures and at most a line or two on each card, and gone the “photo card with enclosed newsletter” route, which I know many people (including my husband) feel are not in the true spirit of Christmas cards. But every year, I decide I still want to send cards, and to do it this way, and here’s why:

  1. It’s one chance to keep in touch with just about everyone in my address book. In fact, even though I bought a lovely new address book this year, I have yet to actually fill it in, because most of my addresses are on the Christmas card spreadsheet. As much as Facebook can help with keeping in touch, it doesn’t beat snail mail. An ongoing goal of mine is to write more actual letters, but this is one chance to make sure I send out at least a little bit of snail mail each year.
  2. I like Christmas newsletters. I know that many find they are at best tacky and at worst a canvas for bragging and one-upmanship, but I differ. I don’t have the stomach to write the same pieces of news out by hand 140 times, nor do I expect my friends to. But I still like to hear what’s going on in other people’s lives, and I enjoy reading any newsletter updates when they arrive. So I’m going to keep sending them until I either here from someone who genuinely hates ours (in which case, I probably just won’t enclose the newsletter next year) or my husband takes over the bulk of Christmas card preparation (unlikely).
  3. I like those photo cards, too. Similarly, I think they let you personalize your cards without handwriting cramp, and I like seeing visual reminders of our friends and, for those with kids, how the kids are growing and changing.
  4. I prefer sending imperfect cards to no cards at all. Miss Manners would probably disapprove of my assembly-line Christmas cards (especially since this year I went and bought printable labels–but MAN has that been a help once I got the printing alignment right!), but if I didn’t do Christmas cards this way, I wouldn’t do them at all right now. And I like doing them.

With all that said, I do think Christmas cards should only be sent if the sender enjoys sending them. They are a lot of time investment, and December is a month with enough time commitments already. But for now, I’m going to keep sending Christmas cards–and reminding myself that Christmas is a twelve-day season in which to get them out!

Advent 2014

I have obviously not kept up very well with blogging this fall. While we as a family seem to be getting acclimated to our new home and life, I have found myself still feeling very much in transition. That’s why I am so happy that it is now Advent. I have known that Advent starts the new church year for quite awhile, but this year, I am especially eager to start a new year. I need the chance to refocus my thoughts away from the transition of the last year and on to what good things are yet to come.

One of the challenges I keep facing over and over is “not getting enough done” as a stay at home mom. The days fly by, and it seems like my to-do list at best stays the same length and at worst gets longer. I also find myself focusing too much on the to-do list and not enough on time with the kids, or even concentrating on whatever task I am currently working at. So to get ready for this Advent, I went ahead and made a huge, multi-page to-do list for the next year or so. I divided up the things I wanted to get done into categories (for example, crafts I wanted to make, household chores that needed to get done) and then I tried to choose just a few of the major things to focus on right now: celebrating Advent/getting ready for Christmas, and trying to complete “moving into” our new house. These are two fairly large items, and there are of course other small things that have cropped up and will continue to do so, but I’m hopeful that by focusing on a few things, I can feel less adrift and frenzied. I’m also hoping that this approach will help me to look at the different seasons in the year and in life, and recognize what tasks are appropriate to focus on in this season–and which ones to drop for now.

I do hope to get back into blogging, but right now, that’s not one of my top priorities, so I’m going to limit it to book posts for now. In the meantime, I will be trying to enjoy and do the work of this Advent season.