I’d like to blame the fact that Thanksgiving was later than normal this year, which meant we had less time between that holiday and Christmas to get our lives in order.
But let’s be honest: We lost, what, maybe two days? That can’t possibly be the reason.
I could also blame the fact that my kid’s birthday was a couple of days before Thanksgiving—which, honestly, did screw me up, if not emotionally financially—or that I had way more to do this year compared to last. Oh, I could find a lot of reasons why I made some poor decisions, but the truth is simply this: I was a complete mess.
I waited too late to order some gifts from Amazon. I foolishly decided to bake 400 cookies the week of Christmas. And even though I had ordered my Christmas cards in October—yes, advance planning!—I didn’t mail them out until two weeks into December. And some are still sitting on my desk.
So here are some of the screw-ups and bad decisions I made—and hopefully I remember to read this in October, so I don’t make the same mistakes again.
I Didn’t Update My Address Book From Last Year
All those returned Christmas cards because the address was wrong? Or the people I had forgotten on my list that got added last minute? Yeah, I never made those changes last year, so I made the same mistakes this year—including sending a card to a friend who moved three years ago. This time I’m going to make those edits to my list now while I can still read my own handwriting and save myself the stress in December.
I Didn’t Suggest Secret Santa at Preschool
Another parent—and elementary school teacher—tipped me off on this about a week before Christmas. This would have saved me (and a bunch of other parents) from buying 12 extra gifts this year.
I Baked—A Lot and Too Often
In short, I should have planned out my baking better. Cookies are challenging because they’re a high-maintenance product: You have to literally form hundreds of dough balls by hand, then place them spaced out on trays and swap these trays in the oven every 12 minutes. And if you’re making, say, five batches of cookies, that will require literally hours of standing around in your kitchen, waiting for cookies to bake. (Good thing I had the sense to install cable in the kitchen.) I could have baked cookies in smaller batches over a few weeks and froze them. Or I could have thought of something less tedious and time-consuming to make, like bar cookies or brownies. Or not baked at all. (Although coming up with an alternative gift idea only creates another stressor…)
I Didn’t Organize Landon’s Photos This Year. At All.
I always think, “Oh, what a nice gift it would be for his grandparents to make a photo book of the year.” Yeah, that didn’t happen.
I Didn’t Plan Anything With My Friends
To be honest, that didn’t even occur to me until after the holidays when I started seeing people posting on Instagram of dinners and brunches they had with their girlfriends. I know it’s a crazy time of the year, and I’m sure my friends—at least the ones with kids—were just as stressed as I was with managing school Christmas programs and goodie bags and Secret Santas at the office. And I must’ve assumed everyone was too busy. But still, that’s one of the best things about the holidays, getting together with friends, sharing a meal or just great conversations. It’s what I look forward to—and I completely spaced this year. My bad. Maybe we can celebrate another holiday, like Groundhog Day.
I Waited Too Long To Even Think About Christmas Eve Dinner
It wasn’t until a coworker told me she was trying to make reservations for dinner on Christmas Eve—and couldn’t because she, too, waited too long—that I even thought about it. We literally had nothing planned, which was too bad. I’m sure it would have been nice to get a little dressed up and go to a fancy dinner with my family, but I didn’t even consider it. Instead, we went to see Honolulu City Lights and ate hot dogs. Not the worst, but still.
I Baked Cookies For Everyone But Santa
Yes, I baked hundreds of cookies and made dozens of packages and gave them all away. Then my son asked what cookies we were going to leave out for Santa. Are you kidding me? Luckily, I had cookies gifted to me by other people—thank God for the bakers!—so I actually did have enough to leave out. But just barely. Next year I should make a special batch of cookies with Landon, so he can decorate them and feel a part of the experience. Hopefully I remember!
I Ordered an Advent Calendar a Little Too Late
I’m not Catholic, but I thought an advent calendar would be fun for Landon to get excited about Christmas. Essentially, I viewed it as a countdown—and he got a special surprise each day. This was actually a great idea; Landon absolutely loved it and was excited every morning to open the next door. But I had thought about it a little too late and it came on Dec. 2. Not the end of the world, but I could have been more on it.
I Didn’t Make a Budget for Christmas
I did have a list, so at least my spending wasn’t too mindless and spontaneous. But I’m still a little afraid to see my credit card statement.
I Didn’t Take Time Off To Enjoy the Holidays
I used vacation days to watch my son when his preschool closed for the winter break. But I didn’t plan anything fun or Christmas-y. No ice skating at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center or picking out trees at Helemano Farms. All the things I told myself I wanted to do this year, I didn’t do. I was too busy baking cookies (see above). I did, though, take Landon to visit Santa at Kāhala Mall. But even that was an afterthought: We were there to pick up lemon peel gummies from Carousel Candyland and walked right past the Big Guy. So we stopped, paid $10 to take photos with my iPhone and moved along. At least we did that, thought it wasn’t planned at all.
I Let Landon Open All of His Gifts
OK, to preface this: I wasn’t going to let Landon open all of his gifts at once. I wanted him to take his time to open each present before moving on to the next one. (I was trying to teach him appreciation.) Midway through this exercise, I realized he was opening boxes of toys he either wasn’t really into or too young to use, and we were just creating a mess of things in our living room. Instead, I had him unwrap everything but only pick a handful of toys to open and play with. The others I stored in his closet. I’ll take them out periodically throughout the year, when he gets bored with his other toys. Which will be, like, today.
I Didn’t Get Anything For Myself
I spent so much time (and money) focused on the kid—and everyone else—I didn’t think about myself at all. And Santa didn’t leave me anything under the tree, either. Next year I think I’ll treat myself to something. Maybe a vacation during the holidays.