When we walked into the tiny lobby/breakfast area, it looked as if our anniversary weekend hotel wasn’t living up to the deal it appeared to be online. We got the keycards and headed to the car for our bags. As we passed some rooms being cleaned, I noticed a man carrying a gallon container of solution. The words “Bed Bug” stuck out to me with flashing lights. We made a quick u-turn and hurried to the lobby for a refund. There we were, in Monterey with no place to stay.
Joseph and Mary experienced “no place to stay” as well. I’m sure they were much more disturbed by those circumstances with her due date drawing nigh. Fortunately for us, with the help of HotelTonight.com, by evening we were tucked into a beautiful room with a crackling fire. They however, found shelter in a stable with a manger in place of a porta-crib.
Feelings of sadness, disappointment, and weariness often accompany this “most wonderful time of the year.” Unmet expectations can quickly deflate our hopes, increase our stress, and leave us feeling like victims of our circumstances.
After Christmas, but before you put away the last box of decorations, sit down with your laptop or pen and paper. If any of these struggles resonate with you, consider the solutions and benefits. Then, set yourself up for a more peaceful and productive holiday season in 2019.
Timely Tips - for a peaceful and productive holiday season
You experience regret at the end of the season due to things you didn’t get to do, or didn’t get done. (Glad we got cookie decorating with the granddaughters on our schedule this year!)
Make a list of the activities, traditions, and holiday prep that you want to do next December.
Include the things you loved doing this year and things you wish you would have done. Leave off the things you'd rather not repeat.
Put the list in your “Reminders” app for a notice to appear in early November 2019 or, clip the list to your November page in next year’s paper calendar.
When November 2019 rolls around, assign each item a date in December before your schedule fills up. As things arise you can say no, because you actually do already have something scheduled or, make a conscious choice about what to prioritize.
By creating the list at the end of this holiday season, things are still fresh in your mind. Next year you’ll feel more in control by assigning dates and times for new things, traditions, and the general holiday prep projects and activities.
You were run ragged with daily stops after work to pick up another gift or stocking stuffer—"Oh yeah, I forgot Aunt Susie!” The “joy of giving” ends up being just a slogan on a sign and not part of your holiday experience. There’s no down time for sipping hot chocolate and watching a good Christmas movie.
Create a list of all the people and events (office party, hostess gifts, stockings, etc.) for which you purchased presents this holiday season and will most likely need to buy for next year.
Record stocking items and hostess gifts you purchased this year that were a hit and can be repeated next year.
Keep this list handy in a folder (digital or hard copy) so you can shop throughout the year.
When you find something, record it on the list along with where you hide it, so you won’t double-buy in December.
Give yourself a shopping deadline and schedule times to shop prior to that date.
You won’t be fighting the shopping traffic and crowds and you’ll have more free evenings to enjoy a quiet night at home, or an outing with friends or family.
#3 Problem: Your house looked as crazed as you felt the night before you hosted the family Christmas dinner.
Grab your 2019 calendar again and block out time for three organizing sessions (kitchen/pantry, living room/dining room, and guest bedroom/bathroom) prior to Thanksgiving. More, if needed.
Purge and declutter these areas.
If the holidays hit before you’re done, use the garage or your catch-all room to temporarily store the excess. Close the door.
Set a reminder on your calendar early in January to tackle the bags/boxes of stuff that were relocated with a completion deadline of January 31st.
If it’s still not done—call me!
You can think more clearly when your space is decluttered and open your home with joy. You will also have a plan in place to tackle the clutter after the holidays!
Abby's (twin #1) bedtime prayer, “Mommy, I want to pray for Mary and Joseph… God, remember Mary and Joseph? They were your parents!”
I’m sure that first Christmas didn’t go exactly the way Mary and Joseph envisioned. They celebrated Jesus’ birth with stinky animals and uninvited shepherds. And yet, Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” May we too find ways to focus on and treasure that which is most meaningful this Christmas and always. Merry Christmas!