I dug out my widget from last year and popped it back up on the side of the blog there. I found it a useful tool last year to help me keep track of my time (or ramp up my anxiety towards the end...) as I tried to manage all my projects.
True to my word, I actually did start working on Christmas presents last January. A little bit here, a little bit there. But mostly I decided that to preserve my sanity and to keep my focus on the spirit of the holiday season I would be more realistic in what I tried to accomplish this year. So here we are with 44 days left and I have a grand total of 33 projects on my list. (See? Much more realistic.) The even better part is that I have 13 of those finished! And many more are in the partial to mostly finished category.
I decided last year, after too many late nights and literally days spent locked in the basement by myself in the evenings, that a crazy, sleep-deprived, ready-to-snap mama is not the memories I want my children to have of their childhood Christmases. I don't want to be so busy making the magic that I don't have time to stop and savor it with them. So I have a plan.
Step one: Be more realistic in what projects I take on.
Step two: Get my children excited and involved in preparing for Christmas.
I am afraid that all too often I am in such a rush or overly concerned with turning out a "perfect" final product, that I have rebuffed little hands that want so badly to help. This year I am determined to change my focus by choosing simpler projects that are more on their skill level, and letting go of my perfectionism when it comes to gifts. The cookies we give out may not be decorated the prettiest, but by dang they will have an overdose of love as a secret ingredient!
As part of step two, this project is one of my first orders of business. It's an advent calendar, based on my knock off of the PB Halloween Countdown knock-off. My kids love the Halloween one I made and I had such fun making it, I thought a Christmas one would be great for us!
Last year I attempted a countdown of sorts with having a present that they could open each day, little treats and activities directed at spending time together. But with all my crazy crafting I was horrible at following through and actually doing the activities with them. This year will be different. I have been stock piling up little treats and toys that will fit in the pockets. It can be a simple as three chocolate kisses (so they each get one) and a note telling them why they are loved, to a snowman rubber ducky and the promise of a bubble bath where they can play in the tub as long as they want. It really takes so very little to make a child happy.
Step three: Realize that unfinished projects are not the end of the world.
(and have a backup plan)
I love to give handmade gifts. It's one of my love languages. It says that I care enough about you to spend time making you something. Because while I am working on your present I am thinking about you, and what makes you tick, your likes and dislikes, and trying to find a way to show you that I care about you. And you just don't spend all that time and thought on someone you don't like. However, I also know that the people I love enough to spend my time on them that way, will still love me even if the gift I give them wasn't crafted by my own two hands. So I have a stash of small items (still thoughtfully selected) that are ready to deploy should I end up having more intentions than time. Then I can not stress about presents that are unfinished. Fortunately wool doesn't go bad, that hat or pair of socks can be ready for next year...
Step four: Choose to enjoy this time.
Christmas is magical when seen through the eyes of a child. And you only have so many of those Christmases before they are a little older, a little more skeptical, a little more consumer driven. I want to be able to look back and know that I didn't waste or miss another moment of child-like wonder or the absolute belief in magic they have right now. I have to make it a priority, and choose to spend my time wisely so that I can work on projects when they are busy elsewhere and then we can come together and enjoy doing Christmas things as a family.
I think I'm ready... now I have to go knit some things.