I’ve recently mentioned trying to get on top of, well, LIFE as we stare down a fast-approaching due date for Baby #3. I don’t think you could really call it nesting; more like simply attempting to gain control over things.
So, what does this have to do with Christmas? Well, the scheduled C-section “due date” is October 24th. I’ve already bought the pieces that will make our kiddos’ pirate costumes for Halloween (both are going as pirates – my son says his sister will be a “baby buccaneer”). My husband and I are scheduling a date to focus on our second-born’s birthday (a week and a half before Thanksgiving, less than a month after the baby comes). And Thanksgiving itself will be an “I’m a guest with a baby strapped to my chest” sort of thing rather than having to put the whole shebang on myself. (Yay!)
That leaves the main event – Christmas. As I’m sure we’ve all thought EVERY YEAR, whether pregnant or overwhelmed or not, “This year, I’m going to get ahead. I’m going to finish my shopping and actually enjoy the season with my family!” Well, for us, this year’s no different…only, I’m actually forcing myself to start.
Here are some of the reasons that I’ve already hit the “buy” button on some Christmas gifts, and hope to finish either pre-baby or pre-Thanksgiving, at the latest…
Giving myself a 4th trimester. I feel like, in some ways, I’ve neglected this pregnancy (and baby) for a bunch of non-intentional-but-still-guilt-riddled reasons. So, I’m hoping to allow some time to actually connect with the baby, even amid the usual hectic craziness of life. Shopping (among doing other things) in advance will hopefully help my mind ease enough that, yes, we’re on top of one aspect of the holiday in order to better focus on my own healing and, most importantly, getting to know this special new little one.
We’re simplifying our purchases this year. Since we’re purging and generally cutting back on our overall reliance on “too much stuff”, this overlaps into our holiday gift-giving – and hopefully receiving. With presents, we’re relying on the “quality over quantity” credo and requesting the same from loved ones. So, a lot of what we’re asking for and looking for involve experiences (often in the realm of gift certificates, memberships, subscriptions, etc) or an item that we know the person truly uses and loves.
So, hopefully this also simplifies the shopping process, too.
TRAFFIC is STRESSFUL. “It’s the mooooost wonderful tiiiiime of the yeeeeaaarrr…” I am far from a Scrooge, but seriously…the lack of attention to people’s driving at Christmastime terrifies me. When I hear the cheery holiday songs juxtaposed against the background of honks, swerves, rude gestures, and general lack of care for humankind…well, it’s just sad.
So, I hit up the mall with my son after school this week and it was dead. Pleasantly unbusy with just normal post-4pm traffic. Sure, I miss the Christmas decorations and music, but that’s the price you pay for peace.
Oh, and most of our shopping will, in fact, be online, too, so I’m just trying to pick up those few, specific items now while I can, then doing the rest from the comfort of my own sweatpants, whether pre-baby or post.
I don’t want “shopping” to be included in my “traditions” list. There are some things that I truly hope we’re able to get to, as a family, to maintain some of our previous traditions. These are things that really mean a lot to several members of the family. Picking out a real Christmas tree (hopefully). Going to look at decorated houses. Making cookies. But a stress on shopping and gift-giving? Not a tradition; more of an obligation (an, at times, fun one…but an obligation nonetheless).
Weighing the stress vs. cost saving. Speaking of tradition, I used to hit up the Black Friday sales with my sister pretty hard and would accomplish maybe 90% of our gift-giving in one fell swoop. It was a way for us to kick off the holiday season together, usually with hot cocoa and carol-singing while waiting in line (we were those people, yep). Fast forward and this year I’ve decided that those amazing deals you (usually) have to wait until post-November for just aren’t worth the added stress. Even the online hunting and cost-comparing is too much.
As far as this all goes, God bless Google Docs! This year, I’ve kept a running list for every member of the family when I’ve realized, “oh, he could use *fill in the blank*” or anytime our son mentioned a particular toy more than a handful of times, on the list it went. So, while there may be a thing or two that he specifically requests from Santa that we may have to order closer to the holiday, I think we’ve got a good head-start on buying things everyone will actually enjoy.
Going with the flow of commercialism rather than fighting upstream. This is actually totally a joke (since very few people seem actually HAPPY about the fact that Christmas decorations being displayed with the Back-to-School stuff), and while I tend to reuse as much as humanly possible for wrapping, I’ve found that I’ll need to stock up on a handful of new Christmas supplies (namely, gift bags; the old ones are falling apart!). So, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I’ll be making a stop sooner rather than later so that we’re all prepped and ready to go.
So, am I the only one? Has anyone else officially started (or even finished!) their holiday shopping yet? Do you think I’m totally nuts? (Hey, that’s okay if you do.) What are you going to do to make things easier on yourself this holiday season? I’d love to hear in the comments!