It's October 1. You know what this means, right?
Christmas is coming like a freight train. I really wish that the coming of October did not scare me to pieces, but it does. Why? Cooler temperatures mean fall, and fall is GYST (Get Your Shit Together) Season. Christmas stresses the heck out of me, and it always has. Playing Santa to four kids, my husband, two sets of parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, girlfriends, boyfriends, teachers, mailmen, paperboy, dry cleaners, UPS guy, and the dog ain't easy! It's one of those things that, once you get going, isn't so bad. Certainly, when it's over, the afterglow of happy kids makes it all worth it. When you're in the trenches, though, it can be hell! There's so much stress between Thanksgiving and Christmas, brought on by the retail industry, that I always second guess myself. Do they all have the same number of gifts? Did I forget the obvious gift that he/she wanted this year? What about that one gift that everyone is getting this year...do we need it too?
My husband made a silly remark the other day, challenging our family to have our shopping and wrapping done by December 1. So I looked at it just like training for a big race; we have to plan this out. This kind of goal doesn't just happen by itself. So I've come up with a training plan for the beginner, intermediate and advanced shopper/giver/wrapper/decorator. If we start today, I think we can do this thing.
Week 1 (10/1-10/7):
Beginner: Buy a pretty new notebook to make lists of things in. Oh, and pick up some brightly-colored pens. List-making is FUN! (Pace: taking it slow)
Intermediate: Beginners plan PLUS list the people you need to buy for. (Pace: If I don't stick to the plan from Week 1, I may fall behind.)
Advanced: Intermediate plan PLUS come up with one major gift for each person. (Pace: Notebook-check, pens-check, list-check, major gift-check. What's next, because I'm an overachiever. Let's get this party started.)
Week 2 (10/8-10/14):
Beginner: This is going to be so much FUN! I love my new notebook and beautiful pens! I still have time for all this silly holiday planning, so I'm just going to buy some pumpkins and decorate for Halloween. It'll be so much FUN! (Pace: I'm good. I'm happy. I'll be fine, really.)
Intermediate: Scout on Amazon for major gifts. (Pace: I am so on track right now, and I feel great.)
Advanced: Order major gifts on Amazon and have them shipped gift-wrapped. (Pace: Excellent, feeling good, although I could go faster, but it's still early.)
Week 3 (10/15-10/21):
Beginner: I started making a list, but I was sidetracked by the fact that I still needed pumpkins, scarecrows and hay bales, but I'm FINE! (Pace: One holiday at a time, OK?)
Intermediate: Is it too early to think about getting the Christmas decorations down? (Pace: Get the ladder, honey.)
Advanced: Find excellent hiding spot for gift-wrapped packages, and while I'm at it, clean out that closet. (Pace: Overachiever mode.)
Week 4 (10/22-10/28):
Beginner: Buy Halloween candy while shopping. (Pace: What? Kids gotta have the candy, man!)
Intermediate: All this early Christmas prep really screwed up my Halloween. (Pace: not feeling it anymore.)
Advanced: Halloween shopping was done in August, dudes! Time to wrap! (Pace: Definitely hyper-speed.)
Week 5 (10/29-11/4):
Beginner: Buy more Halloween candy because you ate the supply from last week. (Pace: Where's my pretty notebook and cool pens?)
Intermediate: Throw back a few beers after the kids are finished trick-or-treating. Chocolate makes you thirsty. (Pace: Is it too soon to carb load?)
Advanced: Fill in list with fun stuff and stocking stuffers. (Pace: I'm still so early, it's ridiculous!)
Week 6 (11/5-11/11):
Beginner: Raid kids' candy stash. (Pace: I think it's the month Thanksgiving falls in, but I'm on such a sugar high, I could be wrong.)
Intermediate: I could still do this whole 'be ready early' thing. I totally could. (Pace: needing a kick in the pants.)
Advanced: Why not go get a turkey...no, make that TWO turkeys. I'll need them this holiday season. Preparing feels good. I'm so much better than everyone else right now. (Pace: Woo Hoo!)
Week 7 (11/12-11/18):
Beginner: What a nice little break between Halloween and Thanksgiving! I think I'll put my feet up and relax this week! (Pace: La De Dah, La De Dah.)
Intermediate: Holy Shit! If I'm going to be finished in 13 days, I better start soon. (Pace: OMG, 13 days, really?)
Advanced: I may start early meal prepping activities for Thanksgiving. Yes, I'm calm, cool, and collected. (Pace: Arrogance. Pure, unadulterated arrogance.)
Week 8 (11/19-11/30): Yes, I know that 12 day weeks do not exist, but for purposes of this example, gimme a little artistic license, OK?
Beginner: Oh. My. God. Who put Thanksgiving on the calendar so early this year? Why are there no handy guides for planning for Thanksgiving, for God's sake? Why is this whole Xmas thing so important anyway? (Pace: spinning out of control, I don't even have time to spell Christmas. I mean Xmas.)
Intermediate: I have slacked off for a few weeks now. Check the list, shop for more stuff, buy wrapping paper, serve Thanksgiving dinner to 14 people with a damn smile on your face, find the ladder, get the decorations down, buy the tree, decorate the tree, run around the house spraying evergreen-scented air freshener, nag husband to put house lights up, think about wrapping gifts...(Pace: frantic frenzy.)
Advanced: Realizing that all gifts are wrapped, having a Homer Simpson "D'oh" moment when you realize you forgot the gift tags. "Shit." (Pace: "Shit.")
So, you see, in my humblest of opinions, moderation is the key. And by moderation, I mean do everything at the last minute. Who isn't motivated by a goal?
Are you an early shopper?
Totally unrelated...What's on your Christmas (Hannukah/Kwanzaa) list this year?