Because guess what.
I'm not a Halloween fan. Oh, that wasn't a secret?? I don't decorate, I don't help my kids with their costumes, we don't host a party, and I wish I didn't buy candy but fine, I do. OK, wait, back up. Two years ago we did buy them each a new costume, last year they all wore the same costumes again. This year, the girls raided the thrift store for new duds, Nicholas has decided to wear his football uniform, and Jonathon wants to be an anime character. Apparently any anime character will do? I think it's easily doable from our dress-up clothes and perhaps some random bits from the thrift store? Color me clueless. Anyhow, I don't stress over Halloween at all.
On the other hand, I'm a huge fan of Fall. Fall is wonderful. Whole pumpkins and beautifully carved pumpkins are awesome. Crisp air and colorful trees, joy. Raking leaf piles and no more mowing, bring it on. I *heart* Fall.
Thanksgiving has been at my parents' house the past couple years and abroad it's a holiday either shared quietly at home or with close friends. In either case, Thanksgiving is family and TV football and food, food, food. There's little to no stress aside from ensuring the food all finishes cooking/baking/roasting/pureeing/setting at roughly the same time, and then trying to find room in the fridge for all the leftovers.
Then comes December. You're probably thinking "oh, she's just Christmas crazy if she's planning months ahead," but that's not really the case. For one thing, buying earlier spreads out the cost of Christmas. And you probably don't know this, but I get worked up and anxious over some things and Christmas is one of them. Preparing early eases the tension I carry around and therefore spread to my family. No one likes Mommy-Tension. I don't blame them. I'm not a fan myself. So I start early and here's why.
Rebecca's birthday falls on the 2nd (gifts are done). We're thinking of an activity she can do with a couple friends that evening.
This year we also celebrate her Confirmation on December 3rd (gifts are done). That is a big deal for her and we'll have a nice dinner out after the ceremony.
Saint Nicholas Day falls on December 6th (most gifts done) so stockings are prepped with small gifts tucked in for an early-morning-before-school opening. Every year each child receives a new ornament to put on the tree and then add to their starter collection that they'll take with them when they leave home. The ornaments represent something meaningful to the kids from the past year. They've involved music and sports and vacations and interests and often the kids will pick them out themselves. When we're in Virginia we pick them up during our yearly trip to VA Beach at The Christmas Mouse. When abroad, they are something from local vendors, the school or a trip they enjoyed. Other items in the stockings are small, sometimes fun, sometimes tasty, sometimes useful. Gold chocolate coins are typical if I can find them in time. The chocolate is generally terrible, but the coins represent the story of Saint Nicholas and how he rescued those in need with secret gifts of gold coins. The stories change depending on whether the coins were tossed through a window, down the chimney, or yes, left in shoes by the front door. Since we don't have a chimney, I'm not leaving a window open, and I wouldn't eat anything left in shoes in our home, stockings it is.
Christmas is spent it in our home. Cleaning, clearing space for a tree, getting something special for each person in the family, cleaning, a meal for 9, desserts, coffee, and tea to fortify the present-openers, cleaning. You know the drill.
The hardest people to shop for are men. Why is that? Jonathon is still a Kid so he's actually done. Nicholas? Ian? My dad? Still. Working. Considering. Pondering. You'd think I'd know them all really well and figure out a gift easily, but like every year I'm running into walls. Part is that they (the mature men at least) need nothing and if they want something they'll buy it themselves. Takes the fun out of it, no? Nicholas is on the edge of Kid and Teen so toys are losing their allure but getting only gift cards or clothes is not exciting. I think Ian will have to take care of that one. In the meantime, I continue hunting for something useful and meaningful. Last year we got my dad a Kindle, that was a hit. He didn't know he needed it, but he did.
So here we are approaching Halloween. The candy is bought and ready to hand out.
Then we can get to the good stuff.
Bring it on.