Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

50, 40, 39, 38, 37...

I missed the last two Christmas countdown articles, so here is the latest to catch up.

All my good intentions to follow the Holiday Houseworks Plan (HPP) have gone COMPLETELY astray. I got stuck on creating “Information Central” the first week, not because I am easily distracted, but because clutter and lack of organization have prevailed in my house for so long, some serious restructuring needed to be done. As I mentioned before, I will write a piece about that process when I truly have some results to post (complete with photos --- hopefully).

My essential Christmas tasks are moving forward, albeit not as rapidly as I had envisioned. The online ordering is nearly done; just a few more items for my daughter will complete the list. I am still waiting for inspiration on a few gifts, but have no concerns that something will come to mind shortly. I am somewhat astonished at the number of prepackaged “basket” gifts in the stores this year. If I were amenable to the idea of giving that sort of thing (plus the tried-and-true books, movies, and CD’s), my holiday shopping would have been done two weeks ago. I generally eschew those pre-formulated options, though, preferring to create my own personalized versions instead. For example, this year, I devised what I think of as a “charity” basket. Unfortunately, I can’t give any details because some of the people on my Christmas list read this blog. Maybe I will tell you about it after the holidays.

I have also been investigating Advent devotionals. I will probably use Radical Advent from Lutheran Hour Ministries, only because I haven’t been able to find anything else. So many of the options this year have forsaken the traditional in favor of the postmodern. Of course, this is occurring not just in reference to devotionals. Some folks in Sydney, Australia, are attempting to silence Santa and his “ho, ho, ho." Apparently, the jolly fellow’s statement of laughter is perceived as offensive to women because the singular use of the word “ho” can refer to a female of ill repute. And did you know that Santa is also an example of poor health habits because he is overweight? Yep, my grandchildren may grow up identifying with a slim, “buff” Santa. Santa as a Ken doll, even. Now there is an idea fraught with all kinds of psychological baggage --- Santa combined with Prince Charming. I think I will stick with Father Christmas or the Norman Rockwell version for now, thanks.

Some of my Christmas decor will be going up this week, a bit earlier than anticipated (only by a week), as a longtime friend of my husband is visiting the day after Thanksgiving and I want to get some of those tasks out of the way before he arrives. The bathroom may even be transformed by tonight when I finish doing the daily towel laundry. The “everyday” decorative shower curtain is already down and washed for Christmas storage. The ordinary towels will be going into their seasonal storage box, too, as soon as they exit the dryer.

Yesterday, my daughter and I finished most of our planned charitable giving for the season: Operation Christmas Child, Warm Kids/Warm Hearts, and a donation of Thanksgiving dinner items to a local food bank. This is the third year (at least) that we have put together a Samaritan’s Purse holiday box for a teenage girl in a cold climate. The effort was so quick this year since I saved a contents list from last year and used it to shop for this year. We actually over purchased. One small notebook and a yo-yo wouldn’t fit in the shoebox. Rather than try to find a storage place for them until 2008, I took the former for sermon notes at church; the latter may go to our neighbor’s child or to the Toys for Tots Campaign.

Priorities for this week: start the Christmas cards, decide on the rest of the holiday decorations, and pack the distance gifts for mailing. If I can get the latter task finished by the Monday after Thanksgiving, I will be on-track for a relaxed holiday. Just pray I don’t get sick!

How are Christmas preparations going at your house?

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