Contributed by Rachel Stever, Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US. It is also the first day of Hanukkah and the first time the two holidays have coincided in a lifetime. The holiday season is truly upon us. This is somehow my most and least favorite season all at the same time. It gives me an excuse to cook and bake all the things I love, and see friends and family I may have only communicated with by text and email for the last few months. It also means rushing through crowds, always spending more money than planned when I find the perfect gift for someone (or for me), and trying to figure out what nine-year-old boys are into this year.
I love the consistency of the holidays. No matter who ends up hosting or how many Thanksgiving dinners we end up having over the weekend there are always constants. I’ve used pretty much the same pumpkin pie recipe since I was assigned pie duty in junior high school. The radio starts playing Christmas carols a little bit earlier each year but most of the songs stay the same. My Grandma always asks who watched the parade (usually just her) and everyone cares about football for at least one day.
I always try to start my holiday shopping early each year and it never quite works out the way I plan. I still need to brave the toy store aisles, whether brick and mortar or virtual, and find the Cabbage Patch Doll my niece wants. (I feel ok typing that here because she can’t read yet.) I also want to get out the Cabbage Patch Doll my dad stood in line for almost 30 years ago, when I just had to have one myself, and compare it to the modern version.
I have started my holiday list. Each year before the end of November, I start a year-end to-do list. It has all the gifts I need to buy with a budget estimate, all the parties and dinners I am attending with what I am bringing, all the household chores I need to take care of before the end of the year. It also has all the regular things that need to be done because the rest of my life doesn’t take a break for the holidays. The electric bill will still need to be paid, especially since its finally starting to get chilly in Arizona.
I started using the list a few years ago. I don’t remember where I found the idea, somewhere in the wilds of the internet, but it makes the end of the year so much easier. I use a spreadsheet, but I’ve seen other people use a regular calendar page, or just a few note pages. It’s always easier to remember to add things to the list before all the hustle and bustle starts. Things like squeezing in a last visit to the doctor to use up my health saving account balance will not be forgotten.
I also need to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the season. Taking time to make a cup of cocoa and watch my favorite Christmas movies. Long ago my mother restricted the viewing of certain movies to the month of December, probably after we wore out our copy of White Christmas one July, and I have mostly kept with that rule. Although sometimes a summer day can be improved by spending an afternoon with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney.
Whichever holidays you celebrate and whatever form your celebration takes, I hope you enjoy yourself. And when the line in the store hasn’t moved for 10 minutes and Little Drummer Boy is playing for the umpteenth time, remember it will all be over in a m