Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Rome Wasn't Built In A Day, But They Didn't Drag It Out Forever, Either

Pressure Busting Tip #6
Back when Rick and I were first married, the country was struggling through the first recession, circa 1981. So, my teaching certificate/degree and I were working as a bank teller from nine to five, and my carpenter husband was selling shoes at the mall, working various retail hours.  I, a rosy, dewy-eyed newlywed, however, was hellbent on being The Perfect Wife and having a fine, hot dinner ready for My Man whenever he came home from work.  Enter...the crock pot.  Like most new couples, we received one as a wedding or shower present, and I put it to Hard Labor immediately.  That poor thing almost melted its cord.  Chicken Parisienne, Beef Stroganoff, Smothered Pork Chops, Creamed Chicken and Rice, Pot Roast...I practically produced the entire Crock Pot Cookbook in our first month or two of wedded bliss.  Then, one evening Rick finished up his Crock Pot Comestible, turned to me and said very, very tiredly but carefully, "Are we ever going to have anything that doesn't come out of the crock pot with cream of mushroom soup?"

(Thus marking, by the way, the first and only time this man has ever come close to complaining about my cooking.)

Every person has a tolerance level--that holding point; the place at which, for now, things are okay, but one more little breach, and IT'S OVER.  The dam bursts, the volcano erupts, the pimple pops, whatever image works for you.  Every single year, our Collective Tolerance Level For Christmas gets prodded more and more.  This year, I saw my first Christmas commercial on 21 August, for heaven's sake.  Stores made big headlines when they opened at ungodly early hours on Black Friday.  Now, the very Bastions Of Retail are opening on Thanksgiving itself.  It's easy to start feeling rushed and hurried and pushed and bossed into Christmas.  Is it any wonder that so many of us feel resentful, angry, overwhelmed, and bullied by The Holidays?  Well, stop being retail and media's bitch by observing Pressure Busting Tip #6:  Refuse to observe the Christmas Season until December 1st.  Honestly, how much Christmas do you need?  It should be appreciated, savored, and enjoyed.  Not resented, dreaded, and cursed.  It's not a competition, either.  There's no prize for being the first one done.

Trust me, by the time we get done with all these tips, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy a wonderful and full Christmas with family and friends without grinding your teeth at night.



  1. Love your series! I read a book years ago called Unplug the Christmas Machine (at least I think that was the title), and ever since then, I try and think about which Christmas rituals I like and which ones I can live without, and they change from year to year. One year, the tree only had lights because I decided that the smell and the lights were all I needed. Some years I do cards and some years I don't. It just depends. And that makes me enjoy rather than dread the holiday.

  2. I tend to do my shopping early, because it all has to get in the mail, and some of it has to go all of the way to Alaska. Ted likes to go out a day or two before Christmas for his shopping. This used to stress me out, until finally I realized that it didn't matter, his gifts were purchased and wrapped in time, and often were better than the ones I spent months considering and figuring out. So now I'm much more relaxed about the whole thing. I still have to start kind of early, but not horribly so. December 1st seems like plenty of time to me, if I'm not ordering from various websites.

  3. Anonymous10:33 PM

    August 21st? Holy crap! That's absolutely disgusting!

    And I was frustrated to see them putting up Christmas trees at Bloomingdale's in October.

    - Mikey G.

  4. Mikey--I know. Every year, retail and media try to sneak it in a little sooner. If we don't stand firm, we'll never have a boundary. It will be Christmas forever, and nothing will be special and meaningful ever again.

    J.@jj--Oh, there are all kinds of reasons that one has to shop early. Yours is a perfect example. That doesn't mean you are observing the holiday, so to speak. You're not decorating the house, playing carols, etc. It's a Practical Matter. Every once in a while, I will see something unusual for one of the boys and grab it to put away for Christmas. This might happen in the summer. That doesn't mean I'm "Christmas Shopping" per se. I know someone who counts it as a personal failure if her Christmas Shopping isn't done by August. I wonder if Christmas hasn't become, for her, a competition or an Efficiency Contest. Sort of sterile. I offer these tips not to take any fun out of Christmas, but to put it all back in.

    Rose--Hi! Thank you. I'm absolutely sure I'm not the only one to offer these sorts of ideas up for enjoying Christmas more. And as you said, a great many of my Dearest Readers already do some streamlining and saving of Christmas on their own already, like you. Thank goodness. I really want people to finally relax more and truly enjoy this Holiday, rather than zoom around and collapse after it. It can be done! (As you know.)

  5. I think December 1 is the perfect date for starting the actual celebrating. Like you, I will pick up gifts here and there if I see them, but I don't actually start purchasing everything months ahead or celebrating then. I do love it when I can really relax and enjoy Christmas and not feel like it's gone on for months, but yet feel like I'm being rushed through it and just want it to be over. That has happened more and more. :-(

    Loving the tips!

  6. Shirley--I'm glad, and I have to admit that I'm surprised at the big response these posts have gotten.

    I know a lot of people who love Christmas and have a tree and decorations (subtle) up year round. Once November arrives, they go full on into Christmas Mode. I can't imagine sustaining that.

    I love having my fragrant tree up, some candles, and a few other things. I like Christmas music during the season. I like shopping for gifts and thinking about Jared and Sam and Rick enjoying what I bought them. And I like trying to think of a theme for my mom's gifts each year.

    Once Christmas is over, I start getting edgy, though. I want my house back. Last year, I think it was two days after Christmas that I had everything down and put away by the time Rick got home from work. He was amazed. Honestly, I was too.

  7. December 1 works for me - especially since it's the Sunday after Thanksgiving & that's when we usually put our tree up (if we're in town).

    I usually don't start thinking about Christmas presents until December - but I need to get a better grip since I'd like to crochet things for people some year. I'm not that fast! I enjoy crocheting & it wouldn't be a stress if I'd just, say in July, make a list of what I want to accomplish & budget my time...

  8. My older sister was born on December 15, and because my mother thought that she would be scarred if her birthday and Christmas were ever conflated, we never got a Christmas tree or did anything Christmas-related until after her birthday had passed.

    I guess I was OK with it?

    Now I pretty much go with starting the decorating the second weekend of December and calling it a day.

  9. Gina--Your mom was awfully thoughtful! No wonder you are so laid-back about Christmas. Your mother could only fit so much into 8 days or so! I think it's pretty great. If you're fine with it still, now that you have your own family, then go with it. If you want to try something Daring And Wild, what the heck! Put the tree and stuff up the first week of December this year and see how it goes. Just don't wrap your sister's birthday present in Santa paper. That's not nice.

    The Bug--My "daughter" Kait decided to revive her knitting career this year and informed me that via text message from college. I told her that, in a show of solidarity, I might pick up knitting again, too, after my 29 year hiatus. She said, "I'll be home on December 10th. That should give us plenty of time for knitting things." Sigh. No. No, it most certainly won't. Unless she's talking about "knitting things" for NEXT Christmas. I absolutely adore her, but she's got more optimism than is good for anyone.


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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