A self-admitted Christmas junkie, I absolutely love this time of year.
I enjoy getting out our decorations, remembering the history of each ornament, transforming our home into a sparkly winter wonderland — even when sometimes we are wearing shorts during the month.
Although I am sure some people frown on decorating before Thanksgiving Day, I simply can’t help it. I always start out by telling myself I will just help Paul set up the Christmas village, or get out my collection of Nutcrackers to dust the pieces off.
By the time we sit down for Thanksgiving Day dinner, though, this little game has usually morphed into the house being a hodge-podge of pilgrims and Santa.
We used to make the kids wait to decorate the tree and house until the day after Thanksgiving, but somewhere along the line that rule got tossed out.
Our boys, who are now young men, don’t really participate in the decorating. Thank goodness our two girls still do. Paul enjoys it just as much as I do, even though he probably wouldn’t admit it.
We have already had Christmas music blaring around here. And thanks to online music services, I never have to worry about getting tired of listening to our same old CDs.
Meal planning is also something I relish. Sitting on my bed with a big stack of cookbooks and a notebook is one of my favorite ways to pass the time on a Sunday afternoon.
I like thinking about what to serve and when. Even though I’m not normally a big baker, I even love deciding what treats to make for gifts and, of course, for Santa on Christmas Eve.
We have a lot of Christmas movies, for which we know pretty much all of the lines by heart. I am especially fond of the old ones I grew up watching. “Rudolf,” “Frosty,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and my all-time favorite, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Some more recent favorites include “Elf,” all of the “Home Alone” movies, “Scrooged” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” just to name a few.
Sometimes we watch these movies twice, but we always put them away after Christmas to save them for next year.
Another family tradition is to watch family videos from years past. They are hilarious, particularly when you see the chaos that was our “normal” was anything but.
The Christmas videos are sweet to watch. Hearing our daughters squeal (and they were loud) with delight as they opened their gifts.
We always laugh when we remember how the entire rest of Christmas day was spent with Paul putting together various toys that had hundreds of parts. When you have four children, everything is times four.
Perhaps not surprisingly, I usually spent the entire Christmas day in the kitchen, cooking, baking and playing with whatever new kitchen items Santa had brought.
I am always sad when friends tell me they dread this time of year because of all of the stress. I try to emphasize that too often they take on unnecessary pressure.
For example, if cooking and entertaining isn’t your thing, don’t do it. If you find yourself in a position where you have to have family over for a meal, suggest a potluck, buy the meal from your favorite restaurant or take advantage of all of the pre-cooked foods available everywhere.
If finances are an issue, be realistic about the budget. If you have children, help them prioritize and come up with three or four of their top items they hope to get. But if they are asking for something you can’t afford, let them know (in an age-appropriate way) that it may not be realistic.
Consider making gifts to give friends and family. This is a great way to get children or grandchildren in on a memory-making activity that will stay with them forever.
Even though our children are too old to want to read their childhood Christmas books, I still leaf through them. There are even a few preserved from my childhood.
Oh, how I loved reading and re-reading those books as a child and then reliving my joy by reading those same books to our children.
If you find yourself dreading the season, remember the reason for it. Any time you are feeling down about your current situation, the easiest way to cure the blues is to go volunteer somewhere.
There are so many needy people out there. By giving them a smile and showing you care, you just may change a life.
If you savor this time of year, please email me and tell me what you and your family do to make this time special.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.