If It’s Your First Time Hosting Christmas, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:56am

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Yesterday, as I strung lights around our tree, a task I loathe, it occurred to me that I must have been the Christmas grownup at least 30 times in my life. Which is to say, either hosting at my house, or in charge of a big chunk at my mother’s. (As I’m not Superwoman, I’m sure I outsourced it more than once, hence 30 even though my oldest child is now 35.)

To heck with metrics. I said yesterday, as I taped over a broken bulb, “I finally know how to do this.” In sum:

A Christmas Veteran Tells You What She Wishes She Had Known 30 Years Ago

  • Invest in storage. Day one. Those ornament boxes with little compartments are great for ornaments and I recommend winding your light strings around old wrapping paper tubes.
    • Corollary: If you love the smell of a grown tree, vs. manufactured, and you live for a nighttime twinkle, you’re going to be cursing light strings for the rest of your life. Make peace with them now. It’s quite possible that nobody will ever help out, and it’s not worth any of your lifelong grudge tokens.
  • Buy timers for the outdoor lights. Your neighbors will thank you when those gorgeous extremely bright icicles on your garage turn off by 10 or 11pm and I promise you are going to forget to do it without automation
  • What you cook is less important than that it’s ready as planned at 5pm. Hungry intoxicated people are often unpleasant.
    • Corollary: Nobody needs Christmas china per se but there’s always fun in red plates or green napkins
  • You aren’t running late unless you have to dash to the mall at 4pm on December 23rd. December 22nd is on time.
  • Don’t try to create Christmas traditions all at once. Let them accrue organically; it will happen. Besides, if you fill your days with hot chocolate bombs and and caroling and so forth you may never stumble upon the tradition of shopping for stocking presents on December 24th at a large drugstore chain with your sister, the two of you laughing so hard your niece worries you’ll be escorted out.
    • Corollary: By a security guard.
    • Corollary #2: stocking presents, even for 12 people, CAN be wrapped close to midnight on Christmas Eve if your siblings help. Ask me how I know.
    • Corollary #3: If you want matching stockings with embroidered names by all means do so but it does preclude somehow acquiring a lone stocking as big as a St. Bernard that makes everyone  every year laugh so hard they cry.
  • Laughing so hard you cry is a Christmas tradition all its own
  • If everything is awful, don’t worry. There’s absolutely no guarantee that anything will be the same next year. If everything is lovely, enjoy it keenly for the same reason. Such is our knife edge.

P.S. if chaos and last-minuting makes you miserable, ignore everything I just said. This post is for we who live on this human edge and there find joy.

I wish you a Merry (giddy/organized, your choice) Christmas. If it’s not your holiday, tell me when yours arrives and I’ll celebrate it here too. If you have other holiday life lessons, I’d love you share. And have a wonderful weekend, in every mode.

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