Saturday, December 24, 2011

Alternative Christmas

I have a dream. That the days leading up to Christmas are peaceful and serene. No shopping, no mall, no grumpy crowds. Last year I’d almost talked the kids into skipping the traditional holiday madness and going someplace to escape, their only stipulation was it had to involve sun. From my research I learned that on December 25th there are two places in the continental United States that are most likely to have sunshine. Phoenix and Key West. Apparently the word is out, because both places were light-years out of the budget and frequent flier miles were completely blacked out for that time of year, so discounts were out too.
The hunt was on, and my inexpensive options were shot down with verbal cannon fire. Monastery Christmas?  Nope, my dream not theirs. Grandpa’s cabin deep in the snowy hills?  Too rustic, no heat, and complete lack of sunshine. Camping in Anywhere, AZ?  Do you know how cold the desert gets at night?  We ended up right here at home, enjoying a good old-fashioned Griswold family vacation like always. It was a blast too, it always is.
It occurred to me that I’m approaching this all wrong. Being home for Christmas, with a house full of company is truly wonderful. I love it. It is the prep work that sleighs the Santa in me. My plan early and simplify has been a repeated, colossal failure year after year. It doesn't work either because I’m still deep in the thick of it the day before, shopping and gathering, and in the end - despite my planning failures - it all works out, because none of these things or any of the details matter. Well, I may be a slow learner, but eventually I do get it.
The solution finally came to me, there is only one way to avoid the pre-holiday chaos. I’ll opt out the week BEFORE Christmas. No traveling to someplace fancy or interesting either, nothing that involves much effort at all. Maybe I’ll stay right here in my house the whole time, maybe not. The idea is simply to just wing it all in a 24-hour time frame – all preparation - and see if it even matters. What an excellent experiment, I’m really jazzed about implementing it next year. No early prep either, everything from decorations, to gifts to the meal must be the result of work done no more than 24 hours ahead. Wow. I’m looking forward to next year already. 

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