Christmas 2013: lessons learned

In the aftermath of all the excitement and wonder, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on what I learned from Christmas 2013:

1. Getting sick the week before the Big Day is not optimal. In fact, it’s possibly the worst time to fall ill, except for getting sick on Christmas Eve or Day. None of the shopping is done, none of the menus are planned, nothing is wrapped, etc. By the time one finally makes it round the corner to feeling better, there’s no chance to make up for lost time.

Next year, don’t skip the flu shot. 

2. Prepping for Christmas company is not a “me” thing; it’s a whole family affair. In the past, I have taken on the lion’s share of the typical straightening/cleaning frenzy that occurs before anyone comes over because I don’t want the kids to grump and moan about it. What this leads to is one stressed-out me (exhausted from cleaning and shopping and cooking) yelling at bewildered kids. Not a fun scene for a holiday. This year, I told them to clean the house and then… I walked away. And they did a fantastic job.

Stop freaking out and start delegating. No one likes a stressed-out Mom around Christmas. 

3. In keeping with #3, decide what’s a “must-do” and let the rest go. Aside from cleaning the house, we usually try to make sure that we’ve got everything just so. This year, the only thing that topped my list was “make Christmas cut-out cookies” so that we could have our annual tradition of decorating a cookie or two for other people on the Eve.

This was one of my cookies, decorated specifically for my husband:


It’s an homage to the Griswold Christmas Tree #2 in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. You know, the one with the squirrel hiding in the tree. S liked it anyway.

Cookies and clean bathrooms are important; everything else can pretty much be faked, worked out on the fly, or skipped altogether. 

4. Consider all aspects of Christmas Eve before you plan the menu. This year, for the first time, we decided to go to late Mass with the kids on the Eve (“late” as in 10:30 p.m.). Given that we were going to be up laaaaaate, we probably should have rethought serving turkey for dinner. The tryptophan kicked in during the middle of the service, and more than one of us needed nudging to keep awake before it was over.

Going to late Mass = no turkey for dinner.

5. The simple gifts are often the best. Want to know what gift occupied my daughter E all day yesterday?


She made millions of bracelets for everyone. All. Day. Long. Today, she needed more rubber bands and clips. She is a girl obsessed. And her dad was worried that this was going to be a “dud” gift.

Never underestimate the power of a simple, crafty gift for a crafty girl.

6. Give handmade gifts to people who appreciate handmade gifts. I knit socks for my mother every year. She loves them, she’s always wearing them every time I see her, and so I make her more. I love that she loves them.

Guess what my mom made as a gift for me and S this year?


It’s a masterpiece, this double wedding ring quilt. It’s beautiful and warm and I can’t quite believe it’s in my house. I’ve always wanted one, and somehow Mom knew that. I love walking into my room and seeing it spread out on my bed. I swear I sleep better underneath it. As S says, “It’s so lovely, it’s hard to believe that a person made this.”

Don’t waste handmade works of art on folks who don’t appreciate them. Give them a gift card without a second thought and save the crafting goodness for those of us who get a little teary, knowing how much love went into them.

7. Blogging in motion is not as easy as knitting in motion. Let’s just say that I’ve learned that I cannot type in a moving car without some issues. Knitting, on the other hand, is still not a problem.

There still may be hope for getting my son C’s socks done this year. 


Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Looking back over your holiday, is there anything you’d change for next year? Make more cookies, maybe?

About thethingaboutjoan

Mom of three who knits a little, bakes a lot, crafts a bit and blogs about it all.
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12 Responses to Christmas 2013: lessons learned

  1. mtetar says:

    A gift you will forever remember. It is beautiful. Blessings, Mtetar

  2. paigesato says:

    perfect lessons. and that quilt is. to. die. for. lucky you!

  3. rgemom says:

    Love it. I am working on adopting these rules myself and focus on what really matters rather than what my brain is telling me matters. Happy Holidays!

    • It’s so hard, isn’t it, to let stuff go. I’m awful at it, but I’m trying to calm my mind down enough to realize that it will be okay if some stuff isn’t done the way I think it absolutely must be. Every once in a while I manage to delegate, but it’s always a struggle to really let go.

      Hope you all are doing well during these holidays!

  4. amyp22 says:

    Sorry to hear you were ill but glad you’re doing better. I’m going to have to try out that delegating strategy… Sounds awesome. Love the quilt!! What a nice gift.

  5. The quilt is beautiful! And I am dying to get someone’s child to make me one of those loom bracelets. I was tempted to buy a kit for myself! 😉 -Nizzy

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