Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Holiday Simplicity Thoughts


- Have you gotten your flu shot for this year yet? How about your family members?

- Do you take your children for Santa pics? If so, have you made time/plans/budget to do so?

- Since we're spending time in the home office this week, how are your supplies of printer paper, ink, tape, stamps, and other office supplies? Need to add anything to your shopping list?

- Kitchen maintenance - Wipe down front of all cupboards and appliances. If needed, remove items from counters, clean counters, then replace items.

- Is your diary or journal up to date? It's the middle of the month. Did anything happen this month so far you want to document to read back on in the future? Before things get busy with Thanksgiving?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Home Office Organization part 2

I'm continuing to sort and clean my home office. Since I work at home, this room is a big (and messy) part of my daily life. I have two bookcases to sort, and an enormous Sterilite tub of miscellaneous greeting cards I need to sort and list on eBay. I also have a filing cabinet I need to check over - is anything out of date or unneeded enough to send to my shredder (the fireplace)?

Is your workspace where you pay bills and do paperwork clean and tidy? Can you find things when you need them? Do you have scissors, tape, pens, and notepaper easily ready for you? Do you have a phone nearby? If so, does it need to be cleaned off, wiped down of makeup and fingerprints? Have you cleaned germs off your computer keyboard recently?

LOVELY HOLIDAYS: More Christmas Simplicity

Do your holiday preparations take over and become all-consuming? In the next few weeks, will your life become all about holiday planning, cleaning, freaking out, running to the mall to shop, stressing about cooking, etc?

Holidays are wonderful, and it's ok to be excited and anticipate them. But only if we don't make ourselves (and our families) crazy with the preparations. We shouldn't ignore the other important parts of our life: friends and family, because we're so busy getting ready for the holidays. What are we getting ready for the holidays for, after all? To spend time with friends and family.

If you are stressed out because you are doing too much - throwing too many parties, taking kids to too-many over scheduled after school activities, taking on too many take-home extra work projects, etc. ask yourself why you are doing all this? Where do your expectations come from? Who tells you to do all these things? Spend some soul-searching time to see what the cause of your stress is, and figure out a way to deschedule your life. Cancel events, do without some homemade baked goods, throw one less party, insist on more family at-home nights if that helps you.

Carve time out of your life for things that are important, and cancel things that aren't. Tonight I am spending time with friends at dinner (giving up TV time) and proud of myself for making the time to do so.

Being "busy" is not a race or a competition. I am striving for a good balance between being the least busy person I know (I'd feel lazy or unsociable) and the most busy. Busy enough to be involved, giving back, being productive and having an interesting life surrounded by good people. But not so busy I am stressed or can't find time to share with loved ones.

I've strengthened my resolve to consciously try to have a simpler Christmas. What traditions do I want to keep, and which ones can I let slide, or do in simpler, less grandiose ways?

Food: For me, the big Christmas meal is not really all that different than Thanksgiving. Turkey/Tofurkey for the meat eaters and vegetarians (none of our friends or family eat ham or pork), mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and a couple veggie side dishes. One simple dessert (a cake or even pumpkin pie I can bake the night before) should do it. You don't have to have ten kinds of homebaked Christmas cookies around the house.

I do however refuse to take timesaving measures such as buying refrigerated presliced cookies. One of my holiday traditions is to bake cookies with children, and I intend to spend time doing so this year again, as soon as I figure out which children I can borrow to do this fun event with! (Meanwhile their moms can enjoy going Christmas shopping without them for a couple hours).

Decorations: My Christmas lights take more than a whole afternoon to put up, but I do it with the help of some cousins. We make a special fun time of it, and have a nice meal afterwards. The tree will take an hour to buy at a nearby farm and set up. Decorating it will only take one pleasant evening - another opportunity to spend fun time with friends or family, as I always invite people to join me for the decorating.

I won't spend more than a couple hours decorating the rest of the house - a few candles here, garlands there, but not so much I get stressed about the time it takes.

Gifts: One inexpensive gift per person, and I'm already almost done Christmas shopping because I started so early in the year.

Activities: I'm going to carefully pick and choose which activities I get involved in. Sure, I love everything about the holidays. But to keep myself sane, I'll carefully book in a minimum of two "at home" evenings by myself each week. Activities I will pick and choose between include caroling, throwing cocktail parties, attending cocktail parties, movies, theater, shopping, dinners out, gingerbread house making, baking, Christmas card sending, newsletter writing, gift wrapping, game night, karaoke night, a long evening spent reading a book, driving around to look at Christmas lights, babysitting kids so their parents can go shopping, white elephant parties, and Christmas stocking opening.

One of the recent joys in my life is I finally have enough family in my own town so that I am able to stay home for Christmas and not travel. (Maybe every couple years or so I'll visit relatives in a snowy city a few hours drive away, but not right now). Right now that sounds like the loveliest, most simplistic, stress-free Christmas of all: Home.

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