2009

Here you learned that I was without computer. We were not happy. Who is when that happens? But it was right at the holidays. We thought it was going to be a week. It turned out to be two weeks, and it’s still not back to where it was yet. There is still stuff to load back onto it, and we have two computers now instead of one. (And my new one, though unbelievably small and cute, is difficult for me because the keyboard is so small.)

A lot of the things I do (besides blogging) involve using the computer. The thing I do most frequently with it is keep the records for my church’s finances. Prior to the crash, there had been a series of problems that put me behind in that department. Then with the crash, each passing day put me a little further behind. (I just started catching up today. And it’s year-end, so it is not as if I have the option about taking my time to get caught up.) That caused me a lot of stress. But in the end, what could I do about it?

Another major consumer of my computer time is blogging–both my own blog and visiting others. Obviously that was not happening, either.

But in the end, it turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened. Why? Because if I had had a computer and been able to work and blog, I would not have managed to do all the holiday things I did. As it was, it was the worst holiday season I have ever endured. Prince Charming and I have no intentions of ever living through such a fiasco again, but it would have been so. much. worse. had our computer been working and then be able to spend NO time on the computer. Though disguised, it was a gift to us.

Only the cat did not mind the chaos. Here she is on my work table.

Only the cat did not mind the chaos. Here she is on my work table.

Every year I do more for the holidays.  In this case, “more” takes on many meanings: in the form of more time-consuming  cards to send (200 of them), more elaborate ornaments to make, and more handmade gifts. The whole of 2008 was crazy. Much of it was “good” crazy, but it was an unusually busy year, and very little for the holidays was done ahead of time. So when the computer crashed and my list of how many ornament boxes to make and for whom was gone,

Ornaments boxes in process. In the end, I made 37 of them.

Ornaments boxes in process. In the end, I made 37 of them.

How the ornament boxes looked when completed.

How the ornament boxes looked when completed.

my list of who got handmade banners was gone,

I made 15 "winter banners (the snowflakes dangle) and 4 "merry" banners as gifts.

I made 15 "winter banners (the snowflakes dangle) and 4 "merry" banners as gifts.

my Christmas card list was gone (I did not remember to take pictures of the pile of Christmas cards. Suffice it to say they were cute and had many steps), never mind all the work I could not be doing; I was a little stressed.

With my husband’s work computer we managed to use our external back-up drive to retrieve some of the information which I hand-copied (barely legibly) to complete everything. But the problem was there was not much time left, and much had to be sent or shipped, and I was doing more than ever.  It was horrible.

Prince Charming got on board as he always does and helped me. He could not do everything, but there were things he could do to help. The week before Christmas, we stayed up until midnight or 1 a.m. every night making cards, gifts, whatever. He did all the packaging and labeling and postage printing, and I did the most of the making and wrapping.  Prince Charming also made all the “treats” we give away this year. We usually do several things, but this year it was only pizzelles (for more than 50 families), and he did all of it. I did not make even one. And all day long while he was at work, I did more making and wrapping. Truly, it was horrendous.

This was a baby gift for someone who happened to arrive in this time frame. I loved making it, and the parents loved it. But I have to say it wasn't easy fitting a 10-letter name into a frame! (They call her "Halle.")

This was a baby gift for someone who happened to arrive in this time frame. I loved making it, and the parents loved it. But I have to say it wasn't easy fitting a 10-letter name into a frame! (They call her "Halle.")

It is not like we never make our own cards or many of our gifts, but this recent holiday season just went over the limit of sanity. But the thing is that we do not want to change what we do. We LOVE making handmade gifts. Most of the people to whom we give gifts have plenty of anything they need, so handmade things just seem nicer; we are giving more of ourselves. And it has nothing at all to do with the fact that I hate shopping.

So what we decided is that we are going to force ourselves to work on everything as soon as possible and all through the year. The ornaments are usually done in February, but the boxes are never done before the holiday season.

This year's ornaments. I made the tops and put them on the gold balls.

This year's ornaments. I made the tops and put them on the gold balls.

Nor are the cards or handmade gifts. We have to start plugging away in any spare moment during the year–both of us–so we can have a relaxed, joyful and peaceful holiday season next year. (This year we got only a small fraction of the decorating done. I did not even get the autumn decorations off of my front door.)

Now Christmas is not my very favorite holiday, but I still love it a lot. I love the festivity and the way people tend to be more happy and generous a lot of the time. This year, however, PC and I could not fully get into the holiday spirit; we were just too tired. And that is not OK, especially for our children — it’s not their fault we the year unfolded the way it did and we did not force ourselves to do more all year long. There must be changes. So we are determined to make it happen.

Are we already working on Christmas cards, ornaments and gifts? No. Right now I am working on wedding invitations for a friend. They must be finished by Wednesday because they need to be mailed soon, and I am going out of town on Wednesday. Before I leave, I also need to make 100 swap cards to take with me since I am going to a stamping event. (And I am not even sure of the design for that yet.) After that I will make myself deal with Valentine’s teacher gifts and get them done right away, and after that holiday things will begin. The goal is to have everything finished and ready to mail by Thanksgiving. Everything. No exceptions. This is no small feat, because even after everything is ready, there is still wrapping, and like everything else in my life, I have to do that just a little bit more than ordinary. I always buy the wrapping, ribbons and trims right after Christmas, so there is no reason that gifts could not be wrapped and ready as made and purchased. (Yes, a few are purchased, but mostly through fundraisers my children have so we do not have to make them go sell stuff to friends and family.)

I love wrapping gifts, but it is another time-consuming thing. But part of the joy of getting it finished early will be enjoying the beautiful things under our own tree for a while!

I love wrapping gifts, but it is another time-consuming thing. But part of the joy of getting it finished early will be enjoying the beautiful things under our own tree for a while!

So while without computer, I realized that I could probably very happily live without it for a good, long time. I was way too busy to miss it much. I thought I would miss the blogging more than I did, but I really did not have time to even think about it. HOWEVER, when I started looking at Sky Watch contributions yesterday, I realized what I had been missing. The reason I got so enamored with blogging so quickly after starting last summer was that I love the blogs I visit.

And I will be visiting again, and soon. But I have not looked at my reader in over 3 weeks. That probably means it has more than 3000 unread posts. That means I will not even attempt to catch up. If I try, I never will, so I am just going to start with what is new.  I tried for three months to catch up and could not, so I think it is better to just start fresh.

Back to my goals. I never do New Year’s resolutions. Does anyone really even remember what those are after a week or two? For me these things are goals, and most of the time when I have goals, I meet them. It is going to take some diligent determination, but I know I can do it. And next year, the holiday season is going to be more meaningful and joyful and fun and full of festivity, not last-minute misery. I promise!

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