Friday, December 5, 2008


I love the aroma of cookies baking in the oven. I've been choosing two or three types of cookies to bake at each session. Working at this pace is so much easier than in past years. Yesterday I had fun baking Ginger Spice Cookies and this morning I baked Russian Teacakes (also known as Mexican Wedding Cakes or Butter Balls). I also made Snickerdoodles, which I rolled in red and green cinnamon sugars. The house smells wonderful. I have over ten dozen cookies in the freezer so far - at least 2 dozen each of five different kinds - and it's still the first week of December. That's a record for me. This year I'm actually going to have plenty of cookies to offer my neighbors and family.
Decorating works the same way. I know that's not a surprise to some people, but to me, this is a revelation. This year I haven't felt rushed to get everything out and arranged. I've been enjoying each day instead of dreading it - due in part to downsizing the decorating and setting more realistic goals for the Christmas season. After years of failing to accomplish all I set out to do, it occured to me I might be setting unrealistic goals.
Now I decorate with only the things I really like. I sometimes use a tabletop tree instead of worrying about putting up a full-size one. I can handle the smaller tree by myself and find that leisurely decorating while listening to Christmas music is often a better option for me.
I learned to not put all my favorite vintage ornaments on the tree. Two years ago, between the cats knocking them off and Spouse knocking over the tree three times (that's a long story), many of my oldest and most favorite decorations were broken beyond repair. When using a smaller tree, I hang unbreakable ornaments and display fragile ones under glass. Live and learn.
A smaller tree and downsized decor can be just as festive as a more highly decorated space. I'd rather have a few well-placed holiday arrangements and feel good about the season, than to pull out all the decorations and feel as if all I've done is work during the holidays.
During this busy season, don't try to do everything at once. There is still time to bake and decorate, even if you haven't yet begun. Simplify your goals and do what is realistic for you and your family. Don't try to compete with anyone. Remember, the Christmas season isn't a race. It's a journey.

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