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Holidays 2009: Got It Right This Time

December 26, 2009

I have some photos, but I’m too lazy to upload them. Maybe later.

I have to say, this was the nicest holiday season I can remember since moving here to California. Possibly in my adult life — is that crazy to say? Here’s why:
Last year’s holiday season was so awful. Just dreadful. From just before Thanksgiving all the way through New Year’s, it sucked. I was determined to make this holiday season a nice one — not overstuffed and stressful and trying-too-hard, but really nice and enjoyable. That’s been my motto all year — just trying to enjoy things rather than trying too hard.
So what did I do to make it so great?
1. I handmade almost all my gifts. One would think that this might make it more stressful, but it made it less stressful. I chose things that I thought everyone would actually enjoy (and wouldn’t just be more stuff), and they were all easy and fun to make, and I gave myself all month to do it. I found this to be much more enjoyable than shopping. Also, much less expensive (and therefore, less stressful). And hopefully, more meaningful to the recipients.
2. I did only the things I wanted to do, and made sure to include the things I really wanted to do. I made a few batches of cookies, but when tempted to make one more batch (which I wasn’t in the mood to make), I decided not to. I didn’t spend very much time shopping (which, I think, was key for the enjoyment factor of the past month). We got a tree, which we really love. We did a little bit of decorating, but not too much. Just enough. I went to a holiday concert with a friend. I watched a couple silly holiday movies. I didn’t over-plan for Christmas dinner. When it became obvious that Terri wasn’t up for the big family party, we scaled it waaaay back. It worked out very well.

3. Sounds cheesy, but I really focused on all the good things we have to celebrate this year rather than all the negative/scary/frustrating stuff I could focus on. There’s plenty of that stuff to worry about. But I really wanted to enjoy myself this holiday season, so I just decided to focus on enjoying things and being thankful. It really worked. I feel like we are so rich and lucky. I had only two days where I felt that icky holiday stress. One was the day I had to buy a new sewing machine, and the other was at the grocery store when everyone was pissed and stressed out and I almost got sucked into the bad energy. Other than that — it was pretty dang nice.

It all culminated with a very nice Christmas Eve spent running a few errands and shopping for groceries (the stressful trip – seriously, Berkeley Bowl people, take it easy!), and doing a tiny bit of last-minute shopping with Terri, which was fun.

Christmas Day was perfect. I slept in, and then went and did the few petsitting jobs I had to do. Came back and got back into bed to read while Terri slept in with the kitties. Once she woke up, we had our stockings. Santa decided to keep the stockings strictly practical and/or delicious, so I got a magazine and some special imported candies which I really like but never have, and Terri got some favorite treats and a brain teaser book. We both got new toothbrushes. 🙂

After we both woke up a little, we warmed up the living room and went out to open gifts. We had wonderful presents from everyone, including each other. Mostly practical and much-needed/appreciated, plus a few fun items such as a beautiful snowy owl necklace from Terri (photo from the artist’s Etsy page) and a Wii from my fabulous brother!! The rest of the afternoon was spent playing with the Wii, completely wearing ourselves out. We’re both actually sore today!

Our lovely and low-key friends Vanessa and Steve came over for Christmas dinner. The menu was really great: spinach dip, salad, butternut squash gratin, pesto pasta, mashed potatoes, roasted beets, and fresh homemade caramel corn for dessert. Then we snuggled in to the living room to watch Elf, and then they went home and we went to bed to watch a Buffy episode and ended the night watching National Lampoon’s Christmas and talking about what a nice Christmas we had.

I have to say, on this day after Christmas, I am extremely happy, grateful, thankful, content and peaceful. Which is a pretty dang nice way to end the year, and the perfect antidote to last year’s badness. It was a rough year in many respects, and we missed our Tiger Little very much, but I worked really hard to make last year a good one and in spite of the rough patches, I think I succeeded. I’m actually looking forward to next year! Now that’s an accomplishment.

Coming up next: the Year In Books review, and plotting out the upcoming year. Hope you all had nice holidays, no matter what you celebrate, and although I’m feeling a bit computered-out, I’m going to try to catch up with blogs in the next day or two. I’m a bit out of the loop. But happy!

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