Thursday, December 5, 2013

Stop the Holiday Craziness!

My feet have been dragging!
I've been having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit.

The problem is that it is all too much!
Do you ever feel that way?

Decorations Sorted and Ready to Pack Last January

Time is getting shorter as the 25th rushes at me ~
but my To Do list gets longer as I procrastinate.

I'm feeling overwhelmed and a little resentful.
I have a bad case of the Christmas Blues.

"Get Rid of the Have-tos and Should-dos," proclaims Dr. Phil 
in the November issue of The Oprah Magazine.

So I'm drinking coffee and contemplating my Want-Tos.
What do I really want to do this holiday season,
and what can I let go of?

Decorations Waiting to Be Unpacked This December

Christmas is all about tradition ~
and like most families,
my extended family has many 
wonderful Christmas traditions.

But how do I distill all the wonderful,
but overwhelming traditions 
into the essence of Christmas ~
an essence I can relax into and enjoy?   

For the past several years, 
I have had a singular Christmas tradition.
I look long and hard at a photo
my niece Lisa took in Peru in 2009.

Peruvian Child, 2009

That photo pierced my heart the first time I saw it.
No child should look 
so dirty, 
so cold,
so disheartened.

It still pierces my heart.

That 2009 Christmas 
I stopped giving presents to my extended family,
and I began to make a donation to charity 
in their names instead.

In 2009 Terry and I gave a knitting basket 
of a llama, an alpaca, a sheep, and an Angora rabbit
to provide a family with milk, warmth, and income.
My family embraced this gift whole-heartedly.

Source:  Wikimedia

Continuing with our relatively new tradition,
this year Terry and I donated a heifer
in the name of our extended family.

Source:  Wikimedia

But I'm still feeling dissatisfied and harried.

So aside from the spiritual meaning of Christmas,
what else does this holiday stand for?

I'm thinking love and gratitude.
What does it mean to you?

I think the answer to my Christmas Blues
lies in simplifying what I do during the holiday season.

Seriously simplifying,
because when it comes right down to it,
I just want to relax and enjoy 
being with Terry, our family, and friends.
I absolutely don't want to be stressed!

Decorations Waiting to Be Packed Last January

So I'm going to cut that myriad of traditions
down to a meaningful, manageable size!

I'm not sure yet what that means,
but I'm going to start with trimming down 
that ridiculous pile of decorations!

And I'm going to focus on gratitude
for all that I have been blessed with,
starting with the Ever~Patient Terry
who is the best possible husband
in the whole wide world for me.

My Hawaiian E~P

And what am I grateful for
on this cold, clear morning in Colorado?
I am grateful to be warm.

Baby, it is cold outside!

And I am really grateful for the men  
who hand-shoveled our driveway 
in the cold, dark subzero last night.

Now I haven't lost my baby,
haven't made him say goodbye;
but the music in this lovely winter song
sounds like I feel today.

 Source:  You Tube ~ sarahmclachlanVEVO

How are you dealing with the holiday craziness?
I am so open to suggestions for banishing the Christmas Blues!


  1. Oh Louise, I can't tell you how much I agree with and relate to this post. And that photo is absolutely heart wrenching. I think Christmas has lost all meaning. Things are so out of control this time of year. The consumerism is downright depressing. All the waste and "Made in China" and rushing. Need I go on? I get down every December and I'm always so thankful when it's over. I really admire your change in "gift giving". I wish more people were like you. Last year I made it my mission to only buy "Made in the U.S.A." toys for the children and experiences for the adults (movie tickets and the like) in my family. It's hard but challenging and fun. I feel so much better about buying things when I'm helping my own country. But, even though I ask people not to buy my girls so many presents, they never listen. They don't want to listen. And I can't stand bringing all this useless "stuff" back into my house. Most of it doesn't get played with and a lot of it ends up at Goodwill. A perfectly good waste of time, money, resources, energy. "River" is maybe my favorite song of all time. I couldn't believe you had it in your post! My family has standing orders that that song must be sung or played at my funeral. Seriously. As I read your post, I was wondering....have you ever read "Voluntary Simplicity"? I read it at least once every year and I often feel it was written just for me. I've simplified my life in a thousand ways over the last few years and, the more I cut out, the happier I am. Anyway, sorry for the novel, but I found this post inspiring and so meaningful. Thank you, Louise! So happy I'm not the only one who feels this way.... And Happiest of Holidays to you!

    (STILL SO JEALOUS OF YOUR SNOW AND COLD WEATHER! It's 70 degrees here today and I just turned on the A/C. Bah Humbug!)

    1. Hi Audrey! Thanks for your thoughtful "novel" ~ I'm guilty of writing many long comments, and I so appreciated yours!

      I love your idea of Made in the U.S.A. gifts for kids and experiences for adults. When the kiddos were smaller I always gave books. I remember Natalie saying "If it's from Aunt Louise and Uncle Terry, its 100% probable it's a book!" She was 5 or 6, and I'm not sure if she knew what "100% probable" meant mathematically, but she knew it was a book! It's very hard for aunts, uncles, and others to forgo Christmas gifts for the little ones! We all love our extended families! We drew names for the adults for a long time. And sometimes people gave cash at the request of the kiddos, and then they donated some to a charity of their choice.

      We like a lot of the same music, Audrey! I'm so glad that you enjoy such a beautiful song. And I'm going to look for that book at Barnes and Noble! I have a long ways to go when it comes to simplifying! Terry nicknamed me "Overboard Louise" well before we got married. I know less is more ~ and better for me! Slowly, slowly I'm making progress!

      I love cold and snow, but the cold is a little much right now. Below zero temps and wind that makes for a wind chill plummeting to as much as -30 or more gets old fast! It's hard on animals, plants, and people who can't heat their houses or are homeless. So it could warm up above zero at night please! I agree ~ A/C and the Christmas season just don't seem right! Maybe our cold snap is reaching you! Take care!

    2. Overboard Louise!!! That is really funny. We had 75 degree weather yesterday but it's cooled down again today and will be even colder tomorrow. Maybe we are getting your cold front after all!!!

  2. I think you should give yourself an early Christmas present -- permission to do only what you truly want to do to mark the holiday. Ditch the excess decorations, baking, card sending and all the rest. Feh.

    P.S. Sorry about that cold weather we sent down your way. But if it's any consolation, we're freezing our ass off too.

    1. Hi Debra! It has been really cold, but I know that you are going through much colder and snowier! I hope it warms up soon for everyone! Thanks for the permission to lay off a little! LOL!!! I'm backing off some and working on backing off more! But it's easier said than done for me. I hope that you and your Rare One are enjoying a happy holiday season!

  3. Hey Louise,

    You really nailed it with this post. I am sick of what Christmas has turned into. The kids LOVE your donations in their names - they get so excited about whether its a Lama, cow or a Chicken - keep it up.
    Love Barb

    PS: I can't imagine how you are going to cut down on your decorations - you have so many and you love them all - LOL

    1. Hey Barb! You've raised simplifying Christmas to an art form!!! I'm trying to channel you! LOL! You're right about the decorations! So far I've found one I can part with! And don't anyone dare to touch my Eskimos! I hope that you are staying warm! We have sunlight, even if it looks cold and thin! lv u

  4. I have a tough time with Christmas. One side of our family goes way over the top... it is all about gifts and gluttony. The other side enjoys the simple pleasure of being with one another and sharing a few gifts.
    Guess which I prefer?!! Sadly, this year we will be with the former, and I will be missing the latter.
    For me, I want the holiday to be about happy memories and making more memories.

    1. Right on Dreaming! When I think of Christmases past, it's the fun we had together that I recall! And it was such fun! I hope that you do have some simple pleasure with your over the top relatives. It's been my experience that different family traditions can be hard to reconcile, so I just try to go along for the ride wherever I am. I'm sure that you are someone who makes the most of a situation and spreads happiness. Have a good one ~ stay warm!

    2. Ah, you are so kind and you have made me see that I really need to find that silver lining - as tough as it may be!
      I'll put on another layer.... it is cooolllldddd outside!!

  5. Those are beautiful photos, and a great reminder how fortunate we are to be able to keep warm! Let's not forget that!

    My side of the family has always been a very laid back bunch, so there's never really been much pressure during the holidays. We gather for a meal, a lot of laughs, and a wonderful memory of precious time spent together. That's what's important to us. My parents raised us in that environment, and my brother and I keep that feeling going. We are passing that on to my two kids, and I hope they run with it. So the holidays have never really been stressful --- at least on my end :)

    1. Thanks for the kind words! I love your comment about your family celebrations! That is what it is really about! Our next generation is very close ~ first, second, and third cousins. It is wonderful to see, and it comes from all that love and together time. I missed out on the laid back genes! But I'm "working on it." That right there tells you a lot! LOL! Enjoy the holidays!


    I was unable to view your Sarah Maclachlan video(some regulations), so I put this link here for anyone else who may have the problem. I met Sarah in the 90's, she was a good friend of my co-worker (who went to school with her in Halifax) a tiny wee bit of a thing with a most beautiful lilt of a voice! Really liked her a lot!

    Xmas Blues actually just attacked me recently. Ever since my Mom's passing I have had no interest in celebrating and even moreso since Jim's concussion. Things change in your life and we just have to go along with what feels 'right' inside. We have a very quiet Xmas, super quiet and with the upheaval with family issues, that quiet is even moreso. I'm fine with it but I know Jim misses the 'noise and clatter' from the family.

    We do have a great Xmas dinner though. We discovered a few years back a Bakery/Deli place run by a lady who used to take my aerobics classes back in the 90's. Her Xmas turkey pot pie filled with veggies is just like turkey dinner from our childhoods. It tastes exactly like my Mom's dinner, so we buy a couple pies and enjoy them with homemade cranberry sauce. I just mentioned this to Jim today, so we better put our order in.

    Hope the mist has lifted and that you are able to go outside and enjoy that beautiful Colorado air!
    Check out the email I sent you re: Donalda!!!!!

    1. You're just awesome, Ron! Thanks for the song link and for the email reminder! I've experienced the regulation thing sometimes too ~ arrggghhhh!!!!! It was quite an interesting article about Donnie, and I probably would have missed it!

      I really miss my parents at Christ.mas, and all my wonderful family and friends who are no longer with us. As you say, things change and you have to roll with the changes. We will be with Noreen, Cathal, and the kids in Breck, and that is always lovely. But I do miss the exuberance of my family at Christmas. I totally get how Jim misses the 'noise and clatter' from his family. I love that idea of turkey pot pies for Christmas ~ I hope you got your order in!

      Do you have a good cranberry sauce recipe? I have about six pounds of cranberries in my freezer ~ I can never bypass the bright, red jewel of a fruit!

      Still very cold ~ not walking to Parkway late this afternoon FOR SURE! It's a pale blue and white world out there right now!

      Have a great weekend!

    2. What article about Donnie? Send me a message on Facebook

    3. Barb ~ I'll forward Ron's email!

    4. SO did Barb get the link, OK!???

    5. As far as I know! Thanks for checking!

  7. I don't do much at my sea
    Then just go home and visit the other tree
    And that is that
    Easy peasy at mymat

    1. I need more "easy peasy" in me!
      Your photo icon above left says it all.
      Hope that you are having a great day at your bay!

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. I still need to put up my tree, lots of new ornaments this year

    1. Me too! Maybe Little Iz can watch her uncle put the sparkles on the tree! Take care!

  10. It's such a nice thing to do and give people in need a helping hand, we do it also.

    1. Yeah, GT! Terry and I are always wondering why some people have it so good and others have it so hard. I've learned that life is not fair, but so many magnificent people make lemonade out of lemons. I've been through difficult times, but I've always been fortunate to have a supportive family and resources to draw on. We need a kinder, gentler, more giving world. I look at all the amazing kids in the next generations, and I feel a lot of hope for a better future. Have a great weekend!

  11. Yes things have changed dramatically for us as far as Christmas goes. But you know, Louise, we are now having our own Christmas with no pressure from anybody. In the past we were caught up in all the things that we felt we had to do to keep every one happy And, it was fun I must say! Now we have a Christmas that suits us and it works fine for us.
    Guess you ought to, which you are doing, eliminate the unnecessary and pointless aspects of 'setting up' and making it your own while keeping all the things you love about, friends/family and those important traditions.
    A few years ago, I stopped buying individual gifts for family and give a donation to my favourite charity here in Halifax on their behalf. Makes sense and everyone likes that.
    So, change what you have to or feel you want to, and have a wonderful time decorating and celebrating the things that are important to you. Have a great one Louise!

  12. Hi Jim! Christmases passed have always been fun, for sure! My problem is all the expectations I put on myself! I love that you are donating to your favorite charity in Halifax on your family's behalf! It's not like we don't have more than enough! My nieces and nephews have always worked for charitable causes, so they appreciate my Christmas donation so much! Still I love to have a surprise under the Christmas tree ~ I've never grown up Terry snuck something in the house from the mail tonight! I am such a kid at heart, but I'm not looking for clues. I learned in grade 6 that finding something out in advance is not worth it. It was a little box!!!!!! I'm cutting back on the decorations, even if I've only found one I can bear to part with ~ or is it bare to part with? I've just gotten back from Parkway, and two glasses of wine have gone a long way! LOL! It is so Trudeauing cold outside! OMG! And dark! Hurry up Winter Solstice! I told Terry the first Thanksgiving that I knew him that the Winter Solstice was pretty much my favorite date in the year! Bring on longer days! I also told him I was part Druid! Poor normal guy! Time for a movie and some relaxation. OMG! I do love to be retired! Have a lovely weekend, Jim!

  13. Hi, I hope your camera arrives soon. What did you get? I took the plunge and ordered a canon rebel t3. I've been watching for it all week. I even paid extra to have it delivered Tuesday. Don caked today to tell me it finally arrived. I can't wait to get home and try it out. Can't wait to see your new pictures. Btw, stopped in Williams Sonoma that storie.

    1. Hi Peggy!
      Camera is here. I love it, but it's been too cold to go out and play with it! We still below zero here. Burrr! I have my space heater cranked up nearby!

      I went for a Canon PowerShot SX 260 IS. It's tiny, but powerful. I also have a PowerShot SX50 HS which has a built in 50Xs Optical Zoom. I go for the PowerShots because they have excellent auto focuses and don't require changing lenses. I discovered early on in a photography class that I can't see well and focus in low light conditions ~ couldn't get a focused studio shot for anything. Also, I don't have the patience for changing lenses or for waiting for the exact shot with the appropriate lens.

      I have a blogging friend in France who takes some of the best wildlife photographs I have ever seen ~ she consistently shoots them! Her patience, skills, and artistic eye blow me away. National Geographic quality in my estimation! I'll make another comment below with a link to her blog.

      But I can't follow her path. I more of an opportunistic photographer. My new PS is small and discreet, so I can shoot candids of family, friends, and others without being intrusive. I gave up on Thanksgiving photos because my 50 is bulky, and suddenly people were more formal and not as natural. Watch out at Christmas peeps, because Louise will be back in full form with her new little camera!

      I hope your new camera brings you tons of pleasure. I'm looking forward to your new photos. I find your blog fascinating because you photograph such a different world from mine. Yours is nesty and lovely, and you have lovely talents for creating beautiful indoor spaces. I missed those genes in my family! LOL

      Have a wonderful weekend! I hope to hit Williams Sonoma next Friday when I go for a photography session at the Apple store! Stay warm and away from ice!

  14. Ooh! Gorgeous snow. I've always felt there's something so calming and almost magical about snow. I miss it, a little.

    I hear you on simplifying. We have moved enough times through the years that we haven't been able to acquire a bunch of "things," and I think that's been a real blessing. Yes, there's been some chaos, but we've also been able to focus on what matters most--because it was all we could manage to focus on. For me, it's family. Christmas is the time to gather them around and count each and every one of them as the huge blessing they are. Here's wishing you much luck with your simplification. Hey, invite some family over and have them decorate with you, eh? =)

    1. Hi Crystal! Thank you for your thoughtful comment! Snow is magical, and I can't imagine living without it. My husband wants to move as far as possible from cold and snow when he retires. We working on that conundrum!

      I am simplifying this year! Way simplifying! I've kind of gotten in gear in the last day or two. As you say, it's all about family! My family is hundreds to thousands of miles away ~ very far-flung. The closest member, Noreen, is a two hour drive through the mountains away. But I'm opening the egg nog and Terry and I are getting the tree up this weekend! I do love the tree!

      Have a wonderful weekend!

  15. I hit the "Simple And Easy" button years ago.
    Come to my house, I will show you how to do it!
    As you get older, you can see that you can let some things go. Peace and joy to you!

  16. Thank you for the kind wishes, Kay! I have a special talent for finding the hard way to do everything, it seems! But I am reaching that point in life where I'm looking at simplifying everything I can! My husband has teasingly called me "Overboard Louise" since before we were married ~ so obviously I have room for improvement! Peace and joy right back to you and Richard and Christopher! Take care!


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