I have to admit I am not a traditionalist for the Christmas season. Having spent a decade and a half working for a national/international shipping company, the onslaught of packages and then the associated shopping and decorating does not fill me with a sense of joy. There are a lot of folks working very hard at this time of year and the added burden of traditions & family expectations create a season based more on endurance and stamina, than joy or magic. From all those years of working over 12 hrs. a day insuring gifts arrived on time for everyone else, I had to implement many short-cuts to my own holiday preparations simply to survive the season. Luckily, my kids were flexible and now that they are grown, we share many fond memories of some of those quirky holidays.
Here are a few hints that may help the harried pull off a satisfying holiday season. First, seriously consider what is important to you. I discovered I was doing Christmas chores that I thought I should be doing, but that my family really didn't feel were that important.
Consider the Christmas tree... I love the smell of a fresh fir tree, but I was the only person decorating, lighting and undecorating this tree. An intensive series of jobs, given that for many years I had collected European ornaments; combine the ornament unwrapping and then the ritualized hanging of these lovely things, then re-wrapping and storing, and that adds up to a significant amount of time. While the kids liked a fully decorated tree, no one complained when we did a few years of the Paper Tree, see here: http://dustoffurthinkin.blogspot.com/2015/12/lull-between-holidays.html and here http://dustoffurthinkin.blogspot.com/2014/12/oh-christmas-tree.html. So this year, I have simplified again, deciding the lovely twinkle lights are what I really enjoy about a holiday tree. We now have a shiny 7' aluminum pole with 150 lights, with a tip top star secured in a tree stand and wrapped in my mother's old tree skirt. I don't have to water it, I can recycle it if I don't want to use it again, storage is easy and I really think this is a more environmentally conscious choice than even a fake tree made of plastic from China.
I place a few of our favorite decorations around the living room and consider my holiday decorating done. With everyone having different obligations at Christmas, easy decorating relieves a little of the stress that can be felt during the season. Finally, I never cook a Christmas eve meal, we go out for Asian food or cook a frozen lasagna. We have a Christmas morning-to-afternoon brunch with hash & eggs, which has blossomed into a very generous meal of whatever brunch-y goodies friends & family bring to share. Happy relaxed holidays to all!