Don’t forget to read to the end and get a Christmas planner.
Ask people their best Christmas and they will tell you about their childhood, or their children.
I would like to tell you it was my daughter’s first Christmas, but she spent the week vomiting, so that is definitely not it. It was her second, but she was only one piece in what made that year so special.
My family had always had big Christmases, they may not have always been expensive, but they were always BIG! Lots of decorations, lots of entertaining and most of all lots of work.
This year would be different
I spent thanksgiving in bed; my husband brought me turkey and I tried not to cry until I was sure no one could hear me. I had been bed ridden for 6 weeks so far, and my family and I were in mourning.
Following a surgery, I had paralysis in my femoral nerve. I was in pain, scared and depressed. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t sit in a chair without excruciating pain and my leg constantly felt like it was on fire. Worst was that I had run out of oxy, and my doctor had gone home for the weekend before I could ask for a refill.
In the following weeks he would give me nerve medication that would calm the nerves and dull the pain, and I would endure a nerve test that indicated the nerve was not functioning at all.
It was time to start getting ready for Christmas and I was in no mood.
But I wasn’t alone
I had a physiotherapist who recognized my depression, announced I needed to get out of the house and arranged a rented, customized wheelchair that same day. Later that week, my husband took us Christmas shopping.
I had a nanny/housekeeper who watched my daughter and her own at my house. She was young, enthusiastic and kind. She was my legs. My mother came and the two of them decorated the Christmas tree with the kids while I lay on the couch and watched. We listened to Christmas carols and sang Jingle Bells and got in the spirit. My mother even put on her happiest, most “Christmassy” attitude for us, when we both knew she crying inside to see me back in a wheelchair.
I had a computer and the internet. This may not sound important, but it was. I researched Christmas traditions that we could do as a family, and accessible outings and events. I ordered everything from presents and decorations to groceries and Christmas dinner. Also, I made planners and organizers for everything.
My mom and dad, our nanny, my husband and I would all have to come together to make this holiday happen for my daughter, whether we were in the mood or not.
And the story wasn’t over
In mid-December, when my physiotherapist and my surgeon sent me to a rehab hospital, the focus was to learn to walk with the huge brace needed to support me, because my leg couldn’t.
My third visit was on December 22nd, a date I will never forget. I don’t remember anything but the last 10 minutes of the appointment. I moved my foot! Only half-an-inch, but I didn’t care. I moved it. Which meant the nerve was still there; it would heal, and I would walk!
When I got home, I was so excited, I showed everyone. I showed everyone until the nerve was fatigued and wouldn’t do it anymore. But I knew it would again. It was just a matter of time and hard work. And I could handle both.
Christmas had arrived
We celebrated. It was our best Christmas. All of our hard work and planning came together. And now we had the spirit to enjoy it. “Fake it ’til you make it” indeed. I opened all of my presents laying on the couch propped up by pillows. And yes, I ate dinner in my wheelchair. But we had hope, all of us, of things getting better.
And these people I cared about and who cared about me had pulled it all together so that it was a wonderful Christmas. The traditions that mattered happened, the ones that didn’t fell by the wayside. We also started some new ones, traditions that we still do today, even though they were inspired by my wheelchair and I can walk now, they have become a part of our story.
What I learned
I love Christmas. I might not enjoy all the aspects of it, but I like the feeling and the spirit of it. If you want to keep enjoying it, you can’t make it so much work. Getting caught up in the presents, the decorations or the fancy meals is only good if it’s fun, and you really enjoy it. Otherwise it will burn you out and you won’t want to do anything anymore. Scale it back to what you love most. Nobody cares if dinner is catered and the ornaments are store-bought.
Christmas is not a date, nor is it an event, it is a feeling. And it only works when it is shared in some way. It doesn’t matter how you celebrate Christmas, as long as you can capture that feeling in some way. I am a military brat, so I know this one well. If you don’t have family, have friends. If you don’t have friends, have strangers. We filled our home every year with people far from their loved ones who were lonely. One of the reasons we loved Christmas is because we shared it.
Christmas is more relaxed and more fun when you have a plan. You don’t need to spend the kind of time I did, planning and listing and such. But nobody will argue that Christmas Day is more enjoyable if you don’t have to run to the store 5 times for batteries, cranberry sauce, etc…
So what do you need to plan?
Travel, if you plan to visit friends and family, or escape it all at the beach, you better book ahead. Time off from work and plane tickets both go fast at this time of year.
Especially if you are a parent, part of a couple, or both. Everybody knows how brutal the holiday schedule can be with office parties, school concerts and family gatherings. If you don’t write everything into a common schedule as soon you’re invited, you will end up with serious conflicts.
Whether it is attending the nutcracker, the lighting of the town Christmas tree or the annual church bazaar, we all have family holiday outings we love. You don’t want to be disappointed because you waited too long.
Make sure you mark down what activities you plan to do over the holiday season. If you want to make Christmas cookies, you may not need to schedule it in your calendar, but you certainly need to include sprinkles and crushed candy canes on your grocery list.
Know what you’ll cook for the major occasions, as well as what you will need for all of your holiday crafts and baking. This will allow you to have everything at your fingertips, saving you hours of quick trips to the store to get the one ingredient you forgot.
You don’t need to pick out every outfit for every outing, but make sure the kids have one civilized outfit that still fits, and double-check that the cranberry stain came out of your favorite Christmas sweater before the malls get too crazy, or you’ll be wearing that one that your coworker thought was so funny for last year’s Secret Santa.
Have a list of everything you need to buy and check it off as you go. You may like to decide ahead of time what each person on your list would like. Or you may prefer to wander the mall, seeking inspiration. Either way, you want to make sure you have everyone covered, because let’s face it, Uncle George will never inspire you, but you still drew him this year in the gift exchange.
So, this year I will share with you my Christmas calendar planners. The ones I created that fateful year, as well as the new one I added the year my daughter started school to help me survive the holiday break. May you use them in good health.
- Christmas Holiday Guides – Christmas Card List
- Christmas Holiday Guides – Gift Planner/Tracker
- Christmas Holiday Guides – School Break Planner
- Christmas Holiday Guides – Seasonal Planner One-Pager
- Christmas Holiday Guides – Seasonal Planner Weekly
And our meal planners for your holiday meal planning & shopping.