Christmas Countdown

By Karen Hendricks

The mantra I keep hearing and repeating from all of my friends who are moms this holiday season is… “Let it go.” With Thanksgiving falling so late on the calendar this year, there just wasn’t as much time as usual to prepare for Christmas! Whether it’s holiday decorating, cookie baking, gift wrapping, or tree trimming, many of these holiday traditions are falling by the wayside this year. We are all in the same boat–flying by the seat of our pants this holiday season!

About a week ago, I decided to give in to the fact that I can’t and won’t be able to do it all this year… and I gave myself a gift: the gift of forgiveness and grace. After all, what is the true meaning of Christmas? The most important factors in the holiday season are family, friends and togetherness… not so much the number of decorations throughout my house or the number of cookies in my cookie jars (practically zero–and not because we ate them all!).

So for the first two weeks of December, the extent of my decorating included a wreath on the front door (thanks to my husband for hanging it up–although it was upside down for a few days at first, LOL), my beloved Santa painting over the mantle (shown in last December’s post Holiday Heart and Soul), candles in the windows (also thanks to my wonderful husband), and lights outside thanks to the dynamic light-hanging duo of my son & husband. And two additional time-honored traditions, the Advent calendar (check out my blog post Christmas Nostalgia here) and our December countdown calendar.

Dec Countdown

I purchased the fabric for this wall-hanging nearly 20 years ago, back in the mid 1990s, when my oldest daughter was a baby. I remember what a chore it was, to carve out some time with the sewing machine and actually stitch it up one November or December, so that we could begin using it. Back then, it was hard enough to find five minutes to take a semi-shower! But from the time it was stitched and hung in our kitchen, it was a hit. It’s always hung close to our kitchen table, so that every December morning at breakfast time, someone had the honor of moving the red fabric frame, attaching it via velcro, on its march toward December 25. The first few years, daughter #1 was in charge. As daughter #2 and then our son entered the fray, there were often competitions over who could wake up the earliest, beating everyone else to the breakfast table, and therefore have the honor of moving the marker. Really. I think there were even tears shed over this honor.

Fast forward to December of 2014. The oldest sister was away at college until a few days ago. My son, now 14, as the youngest in our household, has had the complete honor of counting down this special month. His sisters have relinquished this highest of holiday honors to him, whether it’s because they are mature, or more likely because they don’t care to compete with his early-as-a-rooster habits. They are “letting it go.”

I can see a time coming when they are all away at college, and at least for the first half of December, it’ll be me moving the red fabric frame as it outlines those early, lazy days in December when Christmas still feels so far away. By mid-December, when they all arrive home from college and the pace of December increases to a frenzy, I’m sure they’ll all enjoy taking a turn, slipping back into their childhood tradition and moving the red frame once again. As we countdown to Christmas this year, I feel another countdown creeping into our lives… the countdown towards the close of their childhood.

Cherish all the joys of the 2014 holiday season with your families, cherish your children at whatever ages and stages they are in, and if  you are feeling stressed remember to “let it go.” Merry Christmas!

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6 thoughts on “Christmas Countdown

  1. This year I “let it go” with my Christmas cards…just couldn’t get it done…but I am forgiving myself and was actually able to enjoy a couple of days of cooking and baking over the weekend and for the Monday and Tuesday the kids were still in school…which was really nice! And we, too, have a countdown calendar – my daughter gets the odd days so she can do her birthday, and my son gets the evens (which gives him Christmas Eve, which he likes)…all good stuff. Merry Christmas to you!!

    • Wonderful plan! (Letting Christmas cards go… and enjoying your Mon/Tues!) And awesome idea for the odds/evens. Be careful… next year you might need to remember who was odd and who was even and then switcheroo, 😉 Wishing you & your family Christmas joy!

  2. Oh how I love traditions, Karen! We have an Advent Calendar that we have been using for nearly 15 years! It used to be the “job” of my two older boys, but now my seven year old daughter has taken charge and updates it every day! Fond memories! Merry Christmas to you!

  3. I think “let it go” was a universal mantra this month — I had to let go making treats for our neighbors, and only put up a portion of the decorations we usually do …. and the planter at the corner of our property still contains the dead mums from Fall with no new holiday décor! 🙂 So be it … we have had a lovely holiday and I finished putting the breakfast egg strata in the fridge at about 1:30 am last night, sleeping in while my husband was first up to put it in the oven this morning. And our advent calendar didn’t make it out this year… but the boys have survived. It all works and reminds us of what is important. Merry Christmas, Karen!

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