Notes for Next Christmas

I have a friend who has a very thoughtful way of living her life, and I try to pick up her habits when I can. She recently told me that every year after Christmas she takes a few minutes to jot down what worked and what didn’t, so that she doesn’t make the same mistakes over and over again. I suspect that I should probably do this every Sunday night, but starting with Christmas seems like a solid idea.

  1. Obviously, drill a hole in the bottom of my tree and make sure it’s stable before decorating.
  2. Do not buy the square Christmas card. Again. For the second year in a row, I was lured into ordering the square card, which has to be hand processed at the post office and requires a 70 cent stamp. I guarantee there is not one person on my Christmas card list who will think more of me for having a square card. Not one of them will think, “Wow, things are really going well for the Monaghans. This thing cost 21 extra cents to send! Impressive.” And if they do, I should probably take them off my list.
  3. Do not be lured into the “40{561629be3f96d02978fda61b89c97a8a85b4e3972afa8170615e91208b2c08fa} off holiday cards” offer that you get just before Thanksgiving. It will be 50{561629be3f96d02978fda61b89c97a8a85b4e3972afa8170615e91208b2c08fa} off the following Monday. (Again, second year in a row I’ve flubbed this.) Contrary to everything I’ve ever held to be true, during the holidays, all the spoils go to the procrastinator.
  4. The post office doesn’t open until 10am. If you get there at 9:45 you will be first in line, and will be out of there in no time. If you get there at noon, you will probably wait 45 minutes, but the nice postal worker will be on duty. She’s the one who re-tapes my packages, laughs at my jokes and can read my handwriting. If you care at all about your mental health, it’s totally worth it to go at noon.
  5. I have a list of online retailers who ship with those styrofoam peanuts, and am going to remember not to order from them again. The permanence of those peanuts is not limited to their staying power in landfill. They also attach to the back of your black exercise pants in a profoundly unflattering way. I wisk them off with my hands and they attach there, so I wipe my hands on my pants to get them off, and there they stay. This is just one of life’s great problems that can be solved by shopping local.
  6. Don’t overthink the Christmas stockings. Every year I scramble to find right-sized and compelling loot for the stocking, and every year my kids race through it to the “real” gifts. For them, the stocking is like the card you have to read before you get to open the gift. They barely notice it, and half the stuff gets lost in the bigger mess. Consider going back to old school things like oranges and coal.
  7. Leave for Christmas Eve mass at least an hour early. Church on Christmas Eve feels like the 1989 opening of the Batman movie. Best to line up in advance and sleep in a tent if necessary in order to make sure you get a seat.
  8. Continue my practice of avoiding the cookie party.
  9. Say yes to anything that involves children singing in church.
  10. Fudge is not your friend.