Christmas Preparations.

614f53ae1e14f01d54c76ef23063170eNow that I’ve sufficiently eaten my weight in turkey/dressing/sweet potato casserole/cranberry jelly/pumpkin pie/deviled eggs/any other dishes filled with butter, cream of something or other, and salt, I can begin to think about Christmas. As my brain comes out of the Thanksgiving food coma, it starts to register that Christmas is coming. Like soon. Then I have my yearly panic attack trying to wrap my brain around how I’m going to get everything done. So let’s begin with ambience, shall we?

Let’s go ahead and pretend that my house is all decorated for Christmas and the stockings have been hung by the chimney with care. My tree looks like something out of a Ballard Design catalog. I have candles lit all over the house to give every room that soft glow, never worrying for a moment my children will play with the candle flames or accidentally set something on fire. The centerpiece on my kitchen table is pristine. There is garland over every doorway. The house smells of cinnamon. Our Elf on a Shelf is doing something clever that I’m sure I’ll pin later. I’ve got my kids’ beds decked out with Christmas sheets because who doesn’t buy Christmas sheets for one month out of the year? They each have a little Christmas tree in their room because I want the Christmas spirit to ooze out of every open door. The outside of our home is gorg with wreaths that I made by hand to adorn our front doors. And just for fun I made wooden monograms to place in the center of each wreath. Yes, I carved them myself in my workshop because in case you didn’t know, I’m a regular pioneer woman. From the lights to the ribbons to the perfectly decorated mantel, I must say I’ve outdone myself this year.

Now to the baking, my favorite. First on the list are peanut butter balls, or buckeyes to you Northerners. Then come the white chocolate covered pretzels and the Christmas cookie cutouts that I let my children help me make. It’s amazing their attention to detail. They never just glob on the icing and dump sprinkles on the cookies. They take their time piping the icing outline on the cookie then filling it in carefully making sure we don’t actually need the wax paper underneath to catch any drips. Then we make Oreo truffles that are perfectly round balls (never lumpy) and always evenly coated with white chocolate (never drippy). I, of course, always allow plenty of time to make these treats and am never up late into the night waiting for cookies to come out of the oven. After our treats are made, I let the kids make treat bags for everyone in their class. Seventy kids in all. It’s nothing really. Just cellophane bags, with some of these Christmas goodies inside, tied up with a perfectly curled ribbon and a kitschy little note that says something rhymy about Christmas. The kids always love making these bags for their friends and I barely have to supervise them at all. They always know the exact amount of treats to put in and never overfill the bags. #blessed

After all the decorations and baking are done, I can really focus on getting the shopping out of the way. Shopping last minute is for those who clearly didn’t plan ahead. I need to get the shopping finished early so I can really spend time on the real reason for the season. Jesus, obvi. Since I’ve got all the shopping out of the way I can go to the homeless shelter to serve meals, visit the children’s hospital, take Christmas goodies to the nursing home, and buy gifts for at least 10 angels off an Angel Tree. I love that I can be so on top of everything.

Now let’s get real. If this describes you, that’s amazing. I wish I could be that productive during the Christmas season. As of right this second, pumpkins and gourds are still the centerpiece of my kitchen table and the only reason our Halloween pumpkin isn’t on our front porch is because we had company come in town a couple of weeks ago. If they hadn’t come I can assure you our carved pumpkin would still be rotting next to our front door right beside the pumpkin welcome mat. I had every intention of getting Christmas stuff out before we left town for Thanksgiving but guess what? Life happened. And when life happens, I get tired. Too tired to stay up into the wee hours trying to decorate my house so I can post it on Facebook or Instagram and make everyone jealous of how together I am. (Just a side note, my Christmas tree would never make anyone jealous, unless your goal is for your tree to look like a child decorated it. #noskillz)

So, if you are like me this Christmas season and ultimately not going to get everything done perfectly or in a timely manner, don’t lose heart. What’s the worst that’s going to happen? You won’t win a trophy for Most Christmassy House? You won’t receive a blue ribbon for your perfectly iced Christmas cookies? Jesus isn’t going to come down from Heaven and give you the Mini-Me award? I know ya’ll are smart enough to figure out these things weren’t going to happen anyway, although the Mini-Me award would be stellar.

I promise I won’t beat myself up over not having my house looking like something out of Southern Living Christmas if you won’t. Deal? We’re all just doing the best we can and stressing out over Christmas isn’t going to make it any more special. Christmas is special because of what it’s about. We could forget to bake cookies, not decorate our homes, and buy lame gifts and that wouldn’t take away from what happened on Christmas. Our hero was born. This tiny tart came into the world to save us from sin and death. No ribbons, no bows, not even an iced Christmas tree cookie. I remember when I had my first baby, the hospital room wasn’t decorated, the food was not especially amazing, and there weren’t even a lot of gifts. But there was this baby. This baby that changed my life. No pomp and circumstance. No carols. It smelled nothing like cinnamon. Just the miracle of a baby being born. And nothing could have made it more special than it already was.

That’s what Christmas is ya’ll. Just the miracle of Jesus. We, in our own power, can’t make it more special than it already is. But we can worship. My prayer this Christmas is that the season will bring me to a place of worship; that when I think about all that needs to get done, I will stop and remember the reason for having Christmas at all. That tiny tart. Oh how I love him so.

What’s your favorite Christmas tradition? I have a several but one of my favorites is actually making Christmas cookies with my kids (I know you’re all shocked it involved making a dessert). They aren’t always pretty but we sure do have fun globbing on the icing and loading them down with sprinkles.

-Courtney

 

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