It’s happened. It does every year about this time. I wasn’t waiting for it or looking for it. The bug just finds me, and then BAHM! I get bitten. Bitten by the Christmas bug, that is.
Yes, every year, even when I’m not surrounded by all things Christmas, I get that little bug inside me. I love summer for all the summery things, but I think Christmas truly is my favorite times of the year. I love the decorations, the tree, the lights, gift giving and baking, and I most of all love the quietness that settles in with a good snow fall, especially when I can sit in my parents living room with the tree lights on and a cup of hot chocolate and just sit. No plans, no specific thoughts, just sit. I love walking outside in the evening during those snow falls too. Everything is so still that you can actually hear the snow falling.
I was very fortunate to grow up in a place that gets four very distinct seasons, and all of them being just the right mix of lovely. I miss it a lot, especially now as we can’t travel home as a family. I can’t tell you how often I think of taking Olivia home to celebrate Christmas with both our families. There’s something about Christmas in Armstrong though. There’ s always snow. The first year I was in Haiti I went home and there was none. That was 5 days before Christmas. I was sad. It felt wrong. Christmas Eve came and no snow. I have this knack of knowing when it’s snowing, even in my sleep. I woke up that night to find 6-7 inches already on the ground with more coming down hard. The next morning when we woke up and the light broke it kept coming. We got more than a foot that day. Our second Christmas being married we spent with Chris’ family in Vancouver, WA. It never snows there. Well, maybe once ever 15 years or so. And you know what? Christmas morning after talking to my parents and having my Dad tell me he would send some snow my way it started snowing as we opened our gifts. It wasn’t heavy or a lot, but it was there. I love snow. I sometimes feel like it’s Gods way of telling us to slow down. To stop and enjoy the things around us.
So all that talk about snow to tell you that yes, the Christmas season is my favorite. I love that Canada celebrates Thanskgiving in October, in the fall. It seems appropriate to stop around harvest time and be thankful for what we have. It also leaves November and December open to all things Christmas, and to get bitten by the bug when we’re ready.
We’re blessed again this year to have family coming in for Christmas. Chris’ sister Abby will be arriving the same day I get back from Missouri next month (going to be in a friends wedding) and then Chris’ parents arrive the following week, a few days before Christmas.
Yesterday my brain started running and thinking about the things I wanted to do between now and then. Nothing crazy, just the things that will make it feel more like Christmas for me, and hopefully everyone else here. I don’t like the “Christmas rush”. I think it’s silly to try and cram too much in just to say we celebrated. I’m learning as I get older than simpler is better. And this year because we’ll be having company for almost the whole month of December (we have guests here at the beginning of the month before I go) I’m going to be doing some organizing and planning. Doing a meal plan, doing a cleaning plan, planning any baking I want to do etc. I want to have a tidy house, I want to know that the groceries I have on hand will feed the people here and I want to enjoy the fun stuff like baking some cookies and watching a few Christmas shows with Olivia. This will be the first Christmas that she’ll get to participate in, in an active way and I want to enjoy that. And I don’t want to be overwhelmed when I do it. Having a meal plan means I can just whip up a shopping list. I always have meal plans when we have guests because then I can plan the shopping, but also spend less time in the kitchen. It works! I want to plan the housekeeping so that I’m doing a little thing every day to keep some order around here. I feel like stuff has kind of gotten the better of us in recent months and have been working to change that. Also, breaking down the extra tasks means that it doesn’t seem overwhelming.
I was reading some good blogs yesterday that you might find interesting, especially if you find yourself running around during the holiday season. You can link up to them through Org Junkies post – they’re down at the bottom. That’s what inspired me.
Something that we started out of necessity, but loved so much we’ve committed to doing it every year, is shopping online. Over the years before I moved to Haiti I really simplified my gift giving list. When we went home for Christmas in 2007 we decided to try and do as much shopping online as possible so we wouldn’t be running around doing it when we got there. We had learned from the year before that is no fun. We would rather be taking that time to visit with friends and family since we’re on a limited time frame. So, we ordered, and when we got to Chris’ parents house we unpacked the boxes and I had fun wrapping. There were only a few minor things that I had to go out and buy. The trip to Missouri is coming at a great time because I can order the gifts we do need here in Haiti, have them sent to our friends house, and bring them back. I’m traveling with another friend from here, also a fellow bridesmaid, and we decided to go a few days early. One of those days is designated as a shopping day. Not a run around the the mall all in a Christmas shopping frenzy, but a day to wander and poke around, get a yummy coffee, look at Christmas decorations and just enjoy the season. We’re both already looking forward to it because it’s so not Haiti. I even order online when it comes to getting supplies for us or the mission. I know that when I go home I don’t want to spend two or three days running around. The only exception is when I know I can get a lot of stuff in one place like Walmart or Target. That’s my little tip.
Not sure if or when the bug will bite you. If it does, turn on some music, and enjoy thinking about why we celebrate Christmas. I would love to hear any Christmas tips you have too!