Hello there! It’s been a while. I hope that you and yours enjoyed a lovely Christmas and that 2017 is seeming all bright-and-shiny new to you, exciting and full of hope.
I guess I’m there? Maybe? I’ve spent the past several weeks feeling alternately over-stressed and exasperated with myself – and cleaning up so! much! vomit! So I think I’m just ready enough to move on that I’m getting excited about the possibilities this new year holds.
Or I’m getting excited about having a crisp, fresh, new planner to fill out. One of the two.
Either way, it feels good to turn the page. And in turning it (so to speak), I thought I’d give you fine people a little dose of my end-of-year processing and beginning-of-year planning: lessons I learned in 2016. Plus some general catch-up stuff and cute kid pics.
I went way overboard writing it, though (length!), so I’m splitting the whole thing into more than one post. First, I give you:
(1) Decembers are for getting sick.
This lesson just about slapped me in the face the other day. At the beginning of December I was all hopeful and dreamy. “We had such a rough December last year,” I kept thinking to myself, “It will be great to actually enjoy this one!” I figured we’d, you know, be able to take care of our preparations on time, maybe bake a few cookies and invite some friends over, enjoy a few cheerful days with our extended family . . .
I don’t know what I was thinking.
Was I thinking that December owed us something? That last year’s bad December gave us immunity for any ailments that might try to strike us this time? That surely, surely we wouldn’t have two sick Christmases in a row?
It took until early January – weeks into a string of stomach bugs and the umpteen-million loads of vomity laundry that accompanied it – for me to remember: “Oh – that’s right. We’ve been here before.”
And in a flash I realized that we almost certainly will be again.
This year (er – 2016) we were mostly out of commission for weeks on end thanks to a long-lingering, family-wide stomach bug.
Last year we started the month with a series of weird pregnancy symptoms for me and ended the month with what was likely a mild case of Guillain-Barré syndrome for my husband. (So scary! So many hospital visits!)
Five years ago I began the month with a sinus infection, had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic I was given for it, and consequently suffered such a terrible, harsh cough that I damaged my vocal chords and was unable to speak above a whisper until mid-January. (So emotional! But I avoided surgery!)
In two of the intervening Decembers I was pregnant, all tired and unambitious-like.
So again – what was I thinking? For this small-kids season of life, at least, I think we should just expect that we’ll need to reserve Decembers for getting sick.
Which means that this year (2017), I want to get most of my Christmas prep work done before December even starts. I want to finish my Christmas shopping by Halloween. (Even the wrapping? Wouldn’t that be amazing?) I want to do a good “fall cleaning” of the house before Thanksgiving. I want to be ready to order my Christmas cards during the Black Friday sales. I want to decorate the house (and return the bins to the attic – somehow this step keeps getting left off) the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Come December, I want to have nothing left to do but decorate the tree and address those Christmas cards. By a roaring fire, preferably. And if we’re somehow able to escape whatever plague 2017 has in store for our neck of the woods, then gosh darn it I want us to be the kind of people who bake Christmas cookies and decorate gingerbread houses. Like those beautiful people on Instagram.
That’s my plan, and I’m totally writing it down in my crisp, fresh, new planner. Because …
(2) Planning is vital.
This one should be obvious – I know it should. But I am sometimes really slow on the uptake and so it is just now, at age 37, that is has clicked for me that life would be simpler if I sat down with my planner and planned things out. What a revolutionary idea.
I’ve only ever used my planner to record upcoming appointments. Never before have I thought to use it to mark out time to prepare for said appointments. Or due dates. Or holidays.
Generally what I do is know vaguely that I need to be preparing for x,y,z but spend my time wrapped up in the more pressing a,b,c items instead, so that when x,y,z comes due I’m startled and yes – unprepared.
But per the above, I’ve already framed out time for next year’s (this year’s? whatever) Christmas preparations in my planner. I need to sit down soon to do the same for other holidays and events. And I’d really like to reserve a weekly time for sifting through my papers and my planner and figuring out what I’ve got to tackle next.
I’m not under the delusion that I’ll ever be perfectly organized and prepared. But I tell you, the realization that I don’t have to go through life feeling startled every time I turn my planner’s page – it feels pretty darned great.
Okay. More lessons next time! ‘Till then, take a look at the front of this year’s Christmas card. (Isn’t he such a beautifully grumpy elf?)
See you back here soon (I promise! It’s already written!) for the next installment of Lessons That Julie Just Now Learned But Everyone Else Already Knew.