Thursday, December 10, 2015


Confession time: I’m not much of a shopper.

I never go out on Black Friday. I seldom shop the online specials that clog my cell phone’s memory. Many of my gifts are handmade, and the shopping for the fabric or yarn has been purchased during the year.

That said, I do have to be out and about in my community during the holiday buying season. There are groceries to purchase. Toiletries and household paper products run low. The gas tank on my Big Old Buick requests fuel.

So far this year—with the holidays only just over two (2) weeks away—I haven’t stressed over any of it. Some of my gifts are partially finished and require very little more work. Our family’s get-together has had to be delayed until after December 25 because of the day of the week and people’s work schedules. That’s a plus for Handmade Hannah who wants the gifts finished and wrapped by the day they’re due.

Over the years—and there have been plenty of those—I’ve developed some useful coping strategies. You may not like them—you may have been doing these for decades—you may laugh right out loud at them. But I swear they work.

So, here goes:

Make Lists. These include what has to be done each week, possibly each day. Lists are the foundation of prioritizing. Don’t like that one? Not a list maker? Okay, try the next one.

Trade Tasks. If you don’t have time to bake cookies/muffins/pies, because you’re revved up the sewing machine, check with your sewing friend who does have time to bake. Maybe her machine broke, or she’s not using it this year. (And maybe she’s better at prioritizing than we are, hm?)

Downsize the List. I know you won’t like this one. I don’t really like it myself. But it has bailed me out of the Stress Abyss on more than one occasion. Besides, it helps tremendously when you’re (1) out of touch with members of your family, (2) unable to find out what they like, want, or currently have, or (3) low on funds for purchasing all gifts, never mind the high-priced, overpriced ones. My solution was to give the grandchildren and their spouses cash—I remember being 30-something, traveling a long ways to get to Grandma’s house, and hoping I had enough money in my purse to fill the gas tank at least once. 

Downsizing my list leaves me free to make things for the great-grands, sometimes for my own children, and guess what? I enjoy the season of creating gifts! Not for myself, but knowing I’m doing things I like doing and (I’m told) I do well, and they’ll make somebody else happy. Worth the trade-off.

The main thing that will make these work is a little secret I learned long ago: “Let go of the results.”

That’s it in a nutshell. You have good intentions. You do your part. Now, let go of the results. If the kids don’t like money, or the gift you saved to buy, or already have three copies of the CD you thought they wanted—let it go. You can’t change their lives or persuade them that they can always use cash. Their good manners—or otherwise—are no longer your business. Smile and let it go.

One of the most important lessons I’ve had to learn is that the holidays aren’t all about me—or my children—or my grands and great-grands—or even my church. The holidays are all about celebrating an important event in your history—Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, many others.

If you aren’t involved in a religious organization, you can help others enjoy a holiday dinner at an inner-city mission; or give food to a food bank or other collection point to be distributed to folks who have very little; or share out-grown or no-longer-useful clothing. 

And who knows? That experience during the holidays might strike a spark that lights a path for you to help other times of the year. Not all shelters are for homeless people. Some are for military veterans working to overcome substance abuse. Some are for women and their children who have broken away from an abusive home. Check around, ask somebody. You may be surprised.

I’ll think about you while I finish binding the little quilts I’m making. And when the holidays are over and my gifts have gone to their new homes, I’ll begin again sewing blankies for the Neo-Natal ICU.

Blessed holidays for you and yours, from Thursday’s Child.

And do yourself a favor—try not to stress!

PS--No photos today--the Internet threatened to give me stress and I refused. I said no, thanks, and walked away.

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