Stopping to smell the pine and peppermint…

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Every year I go into denial about how stressful the holidays can be. Because I love the holidays! I love Christmas, and gingerbread, and festive lights, and yes, clementines!

I want to say yes to every holiday get-together, to every cookie-exchange request and to be the person who gives the most awesome, most unique gift of all.

But it’s just not realistic. I can’t commit to every get-together. I barely have enough time to bake for my family, let alone others. And frankly, I rely on the Christmas gift lists my family gives me. Because they save me time. And time, is something I don’t have a lot of.

So – this year, I’ve decided not to go into denial about holiday stress! I’m facing it head on. Here’s how I plan to keep my head above water the snow this Christmas.

Don’t overbook our December weekends. Meaning, don’t agree to go here and here on Saturday, and then there and there on Sunday. This is a hard one to stick to! Because I want to accept every invitation!

Don’t bake myself into a tizzy. I started my Christmas baking on the weekend (this recipe for ginger molasses cookies – get thee to a kitchen and bake them!). If all goes well I’ll have my baking finished by next weekend. I want it done and out of the way. And yet I know there will be one last batch to whip up before the 25th. Mostly because DH can’t keep his cookie-stealing hands out of the freezer!

Do use return address labels on my holiday cards. What a time saver! Never again will I hand write my return address. Peel ’em. Stick ’em. And be done.

Do take the long way home. I love Christmas lights and Sweet Girl does too. So in the evenings when I pick her up from daycare we take the long way home through our neighbourhood to count how many Christmas lights we see. Such fun.

Don’t hit the malls on the weekend. If I can at all help it, I will avoid malls of all sizes every remaining weekend in 2012. The insanity of all those people. All rushing around. The long lines…forget it. Even though it’s tiring after a long day of work, I’d rather get my holiday shopping done during the week.

Don’t let family stress get me down. This one is a whopper. And hard to commit to. We all deal with some kind of family stress – and be it large or small the holidays seem to amplify it. And what really sucks is that my grandfather died last Christmas Eve. Which is also my grandmother’s birthday. And two days before my father’s birthday. So, it’s going to be a tough Christmas this year. I need to balance supporting my family through this anniversary while remembering that for Sweet Girl, this is a time of joy, surprise and magic.

Do stop to smell the pine and peppermint. And maybe eat chocolate. We’re always in a rush this time of year. And I don’t want to feel that stress, that urgency. I want to enjoy the festive season. So I hope to take a few moments each day to relax, to reflect on the good things in my life.

How about you? What are you plans to make the holidays as stress-free as possible?

One of my fav Christmas ornaments.

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