10 Things You Can Do NOW to Have a Merrier Christmas

10 Things You Can Do NOW to Have a Merrier Christmas
by Helen Hartman

It’s the most wonder-why-we-do-this-to-ourselves time of the year. An experience way too many of you tend to look at it like Santa peering down the narrow, bird’s nest infested long, dark plunge that is the modern unkempt chimney. How are you going to get through it with your “jolly” disposition (yeah, I put that in quotes, I may not know you but I know you and jolly is not the first word that spring to mind when describing you), not to mention your derriere (I promise I will try not to mention yours or anyone’s derriere again if you try to realize my promises don’t mean much) in tact?
With the holiday still weeks away there are a few things you can resolve to do right now that, while they can’t guarantee to make the season bright, may just keep you from being driven up on the rooftop.

Clean It Up, Clear It Out.

Twas weeks before Christmas and all through the house everybody was cleaning, even your spouse!

Let’s face it, gingerbread houses are not the only homes around that other people think are tasteless, covered in crumbs, and have mysterious sticky patches from the doors to dormers. Dwelling on the all the things that can and have gone wrong or need to be done only detracts from your ability to enjoy the season. So get your behind up out of that comfy chair right now and dust, vacuum (or are you supposed to vacuum then dust?) polish, pack away, de-cobweb and so on. A deep cleaning now will make it easier to stay on top of things later as you put up a tree, bring in gifts and things and have guests. Clearing out closets will give you a place to hang guests tacky coats where you don’t have to look at them or throw them on the bed where they will be returned covered in dog hair (even if you don’t have a dog, this will happen, no one knows why). Making space in cupboards and shelves will provide ample room to hide presents – and more importantly allow you to FIND those presents again!

Plus, donating old clothes and household goods may make someone else’s holiday happier.

Do Not Open Until After Christmas

If you can’t get rid of it, hide it. It worked for those collectible NASCAR plates your mother in law gave you as a wedding gift. It worked (as far as you know) when you tied that sweatshirt around your waist when you realized your yoga pants were see through and when you put those bakery cupcakes on a plate for the kid’s ‘home made bake sale’ to cover your… oh, yeah, I said I wouldn’t mention that part of you again.
The point is the list of things you’ve tucked out of sight, disguised and outright ignored in the name of appearances could go on and on. I say go with your strong suit, especially in times of undue pressure. Clutter plus Christmas equals stress for most of us.
At Christmas, baskets, bins and even bags are your friends. I have stashed all sorts of things under the platform we put the tree on. When I take things off a shelf or table to make room for a Christmas do dad, I place it in a basket or bin tucked under a bench or on a lower bookshelf. Cute boxes and fake books sit on counters and tables can hold phone chargers, mail, all sort of things that usually clutter up the surfaces of your home.

Make a List, Check it Twice.

If wadding up my To Do List and spit balling it at a know it all elf is naughty, I don’t want to be nice.
Make TWO lists right now, one of the things you must get done (buy gifts, put up the tree, office obligations) and a second one of what you want to do (bake cookies, send cards). Assign dates to each. If the date passes on a ‘want to do’, reassign it. If it passes twice, put those lyrics from Frozen you’ve been trying to get out of your head for the last six month to use finally and Let it go, let it go….

Don’t Just Believe in Santa, Get On His Team
Yes, Virginia and the rest of you, (even the ones who thought, hey, I’m not Virginia, I’m skipping this) there is a Santa Claus and he’s inside YOU. I don’t know if THAT’s the reason you crave cookies and have a belly like a bowl full of jelly but I do know that nothing lifts your holiday spirit more than giving. Small (or big) gestures done throughout the season make someone’s day merry and bright. So keep change in your pocket to give to bell ringers. Give toys to programs like Toys for Tots. Volunteer. Smile at others. Santa is real and YOU are on his team.

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holiday… Shopping
If you haven’t started your shopping (I haven’t even started complaining about having to shop yet, so I’m way behind my usual schedule!) order something online today. Some people say if you don’t get off your behind and go out there and shop that’s taking the easy way out and to that Helen says – what’s your point? Regardless of what your gym teacher told you in that lecture on being a lady, being easy isn’t always naughty.
Go ahead. Click to check out. Knowing you’ve made the first step lightens your load.

Rock Around Whatever is Handy
Get moving now. Sure, you’re going to start eating right and exercising after New Years. I’m right there with you (probably in the same buffet line, piling sticky buns and sausage balls on my plate). Seek balance. Eating more? The move more. Eating rich or sugary foods at a party? Eat a healthy breakfast. Walk those extra steps, dance like no one is watching (please, Helen really needs some new things to laugh at on YouTube and Elf rocks to All About the Base has your name all over it). You know this, don’t over think it, just do it.

Like Christmas stars and Christmas Lights, the seasons isn’t meant to be sustained, it’s meant to shine.
Twinkle, baby, twinkle. Christmas comes in glimpses and gasps. It comes in wearing a red hat with a vintage pin that makes other people smile when they see you. It comes in a sweet string of sights, sounds and moments, in a shared secret, in being taken by surprise by laughter, or kindness or even sadness. Accept now that the time leading up to and surrounding the holidays will have ups and downs and probably sideways and even a few arse over teakettle moments.
Stop, look and listen and be open so you don’t miss the flashes of insight and inspiration that are the heart of the holiday.

Expand Your Vocabulary
It’s okay to pick and chose the things that will make your holiday lighter, happier, less stressful.
Helen finds creative cursing effective but if that’s not fitting with your holiday customs, try: “Not this year” or “We’re overbooked as it is.” In a pinch, if asked, say to participate in a gift exchange, say (a bit too brightly) “Great. We’re making all our presents this year, do you have any allergies to dog or cat hair yarn?” (if they seem enthusiastic, don’t panic, buy a cheap scarf and lay it on your bed, as noted above, it will collect pet hair even in homes with nothing but goldfish).That should shut them up.
Start now before the pressure gets it’s grip on you, by telling people you’re cutting back this year. You might find out that turning some things down actually comes as a relief to others, or that it helps you to understand what really matters to you. (for me it’s not having to do other people’s stuff and be nice about it)

Have Yourself Some Merry Little ME Time
Sometimes when I say I need a little me time, I really mean I need less YOU time.
It’s not just the glass of wine, eggnog, hot chocolate, latte or soda, it’s the time out you take that recharges you during hectic times. Why is it in the time set aside for giving we most need a kick in the rear to remind us to be kind to ourselves?
Plan now for those little breaks, buy yourself some good chocolate, brandy, a gift card to a coffee shop to treat yourself during the harried holiday. Find time to watch movies that heighten your holiday mood and/or read books that take you away to a warm and happy place, make you laugh or think or touch your heart. Its time well spent.

Practice Grace
A way of moving with purpose and elegance. Behaving pleasantly in social situations. Charm, forgiveness, compassion, gratitude. A prayer of humility and thanks.
Practice grace however it applies best to you and your life and grace will become like muscle memory. Exercise it daily, starting now and it will become your fall back and your foundation. A season of grace. It’s possible and within your power.

If all else fails –
Don’t Be Afraid to Wing It
If we’ve learned anything at all from Christmas movies and holiday-themed TV episodes it’s that sometimes the messiest mix ups bring the most memorable moments.
For us it’s the year we got stranded in Memphis by a freak ice storm and we had Christmas dinner out of the vending machine. Or the time we were in the hot tub drinking wine and someone suggested we go to midnight church and we did, wet hair and all and had an amazing time (no, it was NOT the wine, it was the message and the moment). Or last year when we got tickets to what was a spectacularly awful Christmas concert that we sat through because we all thought everyone else was enjoying it until I finally just stood up and announced I was leaving and we fled like criminals into the night. Or… actually every Christmas I can think of is like this, y’all, and I am ever so glad they were. Embrace the grace, cut the clutter, get through to what matters and have the merriest Christmas ever!

(Only 8 mentions of your derrier – that calls for some rump cake! I mean rumcake)