Focus of a Ninja

I don’t know if this happens to you, but most years, I have a Christmas problem. I have a feeling that it’s not uncommon among those who are the Makers of Christmas.  I work so hard at making it nice, at making all the traditions, at making all the food and the cookies and presents and then wrapping them, that by the time Christmas actually comes, I’m some weird, exhausted mess with tape in my hair,  right on the edge of  a nervous breakdown.  Even when things are underway, I often feel like the work I did only serves the rest of the family.  Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to make a beautiful Christmas for them, but early this year I wondered if there wasn’t another way.  A way that would mean that when the halls were decked and the candles lit and the family gathered, that I would be sitting there with them, instead of cloistered in a bedroom frantically wrapping, or in the kitchen cooking like a lunatic while they all play cards by the tree – eating gingerbread and sipping egg nog. 

I did what I usually do when I want something to go better.  I made a plan, and schedules, and spreadsheets and daily to-do lists.  I enlisted Joe – telling him that not only did I think this was going to be good for me, but good for him too. (The promise of the possibility that he wouldn’t be married to someone furious about us having the wrong candles and RUINING CHRISTMAS was a powerful motivator to him.  We got organized,  (Well.  I got organized.  Mostly Joe got even more co-operative than he usually is, which is really saying something.) and today, at 10pm, if all goes well and the planet doesn’t throw us any curve balls, We will be done. 

Done wrapping.  Done knitting, done shopping, done cleaning, done buying – stick a fork in us people, because we are ALMOST DONE, and do you know what that means?

Who won’t be frantically wrapping presents at 2am and crying because it’s all been too much?  Me.  Who won’t be throwing in a load of laundry at 10pm on Christmas Eve because there aren’t enough towels for the whole family in the morning?  Me. Who won’t begin the journey to my mum’s by screaming "WHAT DID YOU THINK "WE ARE OUT OF WRAPPING PAPER BUY MORE ON YOUR WAY HOME" MEANT JOE?  WHAT DID YOU THINK IT MEANT?" Me. Who isn’t going to have a single present wrapped in something weird like tin foil or napkins this year?  Me.   Who isn’t going to be staggering through an assortment of strange convenience stores on Christmas afternoon trying to find just one godforsaken little lemon for the carrots? Me! Who isn’t giving a single, solitary, for the first time ever in the history of the world, giving a present on still on the needles so that she can be teased by her family? Me. 

I’d say it’s a miracle, but it’s not.  Joe and I have busted a serious move this year, and tomorrow, everything is going to be nice.  Really nice. We have been a Black Ops Christmas Lightning strike force.  We’ve had daily State of the Union meetings,  and missions and starting tomorrow, this family is having a beautiful three days together. 

I know that a clean house and finished presents can’t make everything perfect, and my family will still be my family, and all the regular crap will still go down – but this year, when my daughters ask me if I want to be a fourth in euchre, I won’t have to tell them that I don’t have time.   This is the nicest change we’ve made in a long time. For today though, I’m going to need the focus of a Ninja.  The schedule calls, the sheets need washing, the second batch of peppermint bark needs finishing (I decline to comment on the exact location or condition of the first batch of peppermint bark.  Let’s just say it’s "missing") I’ve got one half hat to knit and the last round of wrapping has to be done.

Christmas Ninjas.  We are them. 

Gifts for Knitters, Day 23.

This is an easy one. Gift Certificates.  Your local Yarn Shop has them, and your knitter would like that.  Go now. They don’t close for awhile.

145 thoughts on “Focus of a Ninja

  1. Yay for Christmas ninjas! You go, Steph!
    As someone who once finished sewing together a sweater at 3:30 AM, realized it was supposed to have a button band, and then continued knitting, sewing on button band, wrapping and sneaking down by dawn’s early light to place the gift under the tree… I really, really applaud this idea!

  2. Have the Happiest of Holidays. Don’t forget to send us all photos of the gifts, food, trees and most of all, the smiling faces. And thank you to the holiday elf who allowed me to be FIRST – that’s my present!

  3. When we were kids, my mother’s favorite day of the year was December 26th. She could finally relax after working so hard to make Christmas nice. Sound familiar?

  4. Merry Christmas, Stephanie. Thanks for a whole year of laughs and deep thought. Loved it. Enjoy your time with your family.

  5. I too was way more organized this year. I have everything wrapped, stockings stuffed, shopping and marketing done, baking, xmas knitting done. I am so amazed that feel that I must have missed something!

  6. Congratulations on Being Organized. Have a wonderful holiday with your lovely family, Stephanie. And blessings on Joe the Helpful!

  7. I’m so happy for you! You go, honey. Maybe next year I’ll be able to accomplish something similar, but alas, this year is still going to be frazzling. Still, the little bit of peace and quiet on Christmas morning as we three sit down to a pot of tea and homemade stollen, with candles lit and music playing, is the one part of the holiday I cherish, and despite my frantic rushing the entire rest of the month of December, I make sure to allow myself to relax and enjoy that time with my husband and son.
    Being able to enjoy Christmas Eve without all the frantic wrapping and baking and cooking and knitting and so on would be nice, though. One of these days…

  8. Good job! I hope you have a lovely time with your family. I’m sitting at home right now sneezing my brains out with a cold. I wish I wish I was baking cookies, making homemade cocoa mix and trying out that awesome-sounding peppermint bark recipe you shared!
    PS: I really liked the acorn/apple soup from your tweet. I’m not vegetarian, but I love the food!

  9. Having just moved house, I’m counting having a decorated tree and a table to eat at as victories for this year. We’re planning having another Xmas in January 🙂 and you know what? It’s cool, because it’s our first Xmas together, first in the new house, and everything else can wait. I just hope the oven stops playing silly buggers and we don’t run out of gas…

  10. Wow! That’s just so impressive and heartwarming and all. I’ve come close to accomplishing that same thing this year, but it’s only because 1) fewer relatives in town and 2) I’ve scaled back my expectations.
    To be able to do it in grand style and enjoy it at the same time? Nicely done!
    Perhaps you should sell the spreadsheets and to-do lists?!

  11. I love Christmas ninjas! (Though, admittedly, you are the first I have encountered! Maybe next year I will join the ranks of them as well. It sounds like a good approach, really.) Christmas prep is almost done here by necessity – we are about the hit the road to go to my parents.
    Merry Christmas to you and your, Stephanie!

  12. Well done, sistah!! There is something to be said for age and experience. Have a great holiday with your family.

  13. congratulations, stephanie!
    being able to have saner, more organized holidays is one of the joys of having kids grow up, isn’t it?
    we celebrated last night with extended family, so on christmas day it’ll be just me, the two grown kids and the grandgirl enjoying ham, yams, biscuits and a veggie or two, plus whatever’s under the tree. there will be laughter and music (straight no chaser’s hilarious christmas album) and material proof of just how lucky we are.
    merry christmas, stephanie, and thanks for all the enjoyment you’ve provided me this year — online, in the book and at sock summit. have a great 2012!

  14. I’m on your side, I really am — but I couldn’t resist immediately checking out the Tweets. (And Joe, it’s the cosmos — my husband waited two hours to give blood without remembering that the corneal grafts he had mean he can’t give for a year.)
    Enjoy it, kid.

  15. Steph,
    You sound just like me when the family was growing up. I’d Work my fool head off to make it perfect.
    Ending up with a migrain headache. I ended up the Grinch of the day. But every thing was so perfect. I hated Christmas.
    As the family left home, I finally had a talk with my self. They love me more when things weren’t perfect and I wasn’t sleeping off the migrain.

  16. Kudos to you and Joe.
    (It also helps to have older, less needy children – who can at least get themselves dressed, and ones that don’t all occupy the house all year; and the spreadsheets / lists, they always help.)
    Happy Christmas (I know I would give-up on the solitary lemon and have it without – I’m just like that.)
    Happy dancing, happy family times.

  17. Well done! This is my first day off (teaching 31 2nd graders) so I’ll be pulling the holiday together in one day. I know, I know; what am I doing relaxing and commenting here? It’s the gift I’m giving myself. Merry Christmas!

  18. I looove the day after Christmas, which in our house is usually about the 28th by the time the company leaves. I sit with my feet up and this year I’m going to start a sock. No cooking needed because the fridge will be full of leftovers, just quiet and knitting. I can hardly wait, but of course I love having everybody here, too. Sure, it helps that I retired this fall and didn’t have to fit my prep into two or three days.

  19. You’re amazing. Well done. I still have mushrooms to buy – and since we’re having chestnut and mushroom roast and I’m currently carless that’s potentially a big deal. Have a great Christmas – you’ve earned it!

  20. There’s also the “lowering expectations” method. We have had to resort to that because of chronic illness. Funny how health issues tend to focus the mind.
    Merry Christmas, Ms. Yarn Harlot!

  21. Way to go, Christmas Ninja! If you don’t say anything about the peppermint bark, I won’t say anything about the caramel corn!
    Have a merry Christmas!

  22. I love that you are so well organized this year! YOU DID IT! I also love that you know how to play Euchre! My California friends look at me strangely when I mention this game…Merry Christmas to you and your family!!

  23. I envy you. I am still in the crazy, going to have glitter and wrapping bits in Very Odd Places while cooking a ham. I feel sure of it.
    What with one gift hardly started and nothing wrapped.
    There’s always next year.

  24. Congratulations on your Christmas Success! I am also having a relatively less stressed holiday due to the fact that we planned ahead better. It feels SO good! Enjoy.

  25. Yep, I’m the Keeper of Christmas in my house too. Have been for 40 years. I have a love/hate relationship with it.
    I’m finished too. My guests starting arriving in 1/2 hour or so. Hoorah, let the celebrating begin.
    Congratulations on having a job well done! Have the happiest of gatherings.

  26. I am the chief elf at this time of year and you are right, it is stressful.That’s the main reason why I don’t do any Christmas knitting, I couldn’t cope with any more looming deadlines in December. I get to relax around Sunday lunchtime in the knowledge that I’ve pulled it off again.

  27. Great that you enlisted Joe in your Christmas Plan of Attack. I’ll look forward to hearing whether you win in euchre.
    Cheers to a rested holiday!

  28. Now I know where all my energy has gone… It went to you. Congrats on getting to enjoy your holiday. Hope you have a wonderful one!

  29. Truly…the gift of time. What with all the dashing, running, writing, submitting, organizing, coordinating you do all year…this take it in time sounds delicious. Have a great time with your family.

  30. Yay for you and your family. I am glad things are going smoothly and I hope they stay that way. Me? I am still 4 inches from the end of the last sock. Send some of that ninja-like focus my way, please! 🙂
    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  31. Congratulations and well done. Have a well-deserved merry Christmas and happy New Year. Life is too short to make yourself miserable trying to be perfect but it seems that with planning and focus, you are perfect anyway! Yaaaaay for Steph!
    Fate threw me a Christmas curve-ball yesterday when I fell off the porch (dog had too much energy and the steps were icy) and sprained my ankle. Since I am the only Maker of Christmas in the house, everything but the actual meal is therefore cancelled (and I can prep most of that sitting at the kitchen table). I decorated a bit, but my kids are boys and as long as they are well fed won’t give a darn about anything else. There’s nothing that can’t wait for January, or for a time when I’m able to move around and do things.

  32. I think your family is going to be so happy to have you, not having a meltdown, in their presence. I think you should share the spreadsheet with the rest of us for next year. Or at least a ‘making of’ because our holiday is surely different from yours on some level or another.
    I had no spreadsheet. The baking is not done. The wrapping is not done. But I’m happy. Most of it is done.

  33. Hoping this plan also leads to you NOT having the annual post-Christmas illness. Merry Christmas!

  34. Thanks for taking the time for us though. Honestly, I slowed down a lot on the Christmas frenzy because in the end it was all about good fellowship (yikes, did I actualy use that word?!!) and being together as a family. Happy Christmas

  35. Wonderful! As funny as all your madcap Christmas writings have been over the years, this is even better. I love you for all the humour and fun you give everyone with your blog, books and book tours, so I’m really happy for your success at mastering the most challenging act of Christmas celebrating!! Pictures please, and Happy Solstice Celebration of Choice!

  36. I’m glad you’ll be able to enjoy your Christmas instead of struggling with it. But remember, your family loves you for you, not for providing perfection.

  37. Congrats, well done!
    This year I allowed myself to not buy a tree. We’re celebrating at my sister’s house in another state. They have a tree, we’re bringing cookies, presents and a crock pot for dinner so we can all relax and knit together. I had two knitted gifts to finish and I finished one, the other will be gifted on the needles (but she’s 5 so I think she will forgive me).
    Forgiving ourselves is the greatest gift we can give.

  38. You know, it is funny that we both finally got Christmas organized the same year. I only have to block a scarf, crochet a coaster, and wrap. I think I will finish tomorrow afternoon! (instead of 2am on Christmas)

  39. May I recommend drawstring gift bags? I made a bunch over 25 years ago that we are still using (and I’ve added a few more in different sizes along the way). No rushing out for wrapping paper, and completely reusable. Just tape on a label — I usually put mine on the string — and you are good to go.

  40. Thanks for taking the time for us though. Honestly, I have slowed down a lot on the Christmas frenzy because in the end it is all about good fellowship (yikes, did I actualy use that word?!!) and being together as a family. Happy Christmas – raise a glass

  41. There was the year we put the two year old to bed, finished painting the living room that we had been renovating (basically his whole life), washed the floor, carried up the sofa, rug, etc, put up and decorated the tree, wrapped the presents, put together the little tykes car… just in time for him to wake up.

  42. Go you! Your family will enjoy having you a part of their fun – – and you will enjoy also. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

  43. This year we have a new granddaughter, just days old to join in our celebration. We have been so focused on her arrival that Christmas just kind of snuck up on us.(me, really, it snuck up on me) And while it won’t be the most organized of Christmases, it will be one of the best!! Merry Christmas to you and yours, and many thanks for your wonderful blog this past year.

  44. Now, if you would just teach a workshop called “Christmassing for Speed and Efficiency”. I’m there. At least share the spreadsheets.

  45. I hope you will enjoy it, Steph…… I did it one year, and You know what? It didn’t feel right. Didn’t feel traditional. Did NOT feel like a true Fraser Christmas! Since I realized this, I’ve relaxed. Apparently all true Frasers (from our particular branch of the Fraser family tree) NEED to be frantic and crazy on Dec.24th or it doesn’t feel like Christmas. Still, I hope you and the Pearl-McPhees do not carry this aberrant gene!
    Merry Christmas to you all.

  46. euchre! If only I could find somebody in upstate NY with whom to play euchre. That would make my Christmas complete.

  47. Merry Christmas. May God bless us….everyone! Thanks, Stephanie for sharing your life and thoughts with us. Whenever I am laughing at the computer, my son knows it’s you on the other end!

  48. I am in awe at what you have accomplished this year.
    I just received an email with a link to a great flash mob that finally left me feeling in the spirit of the season (it’s been a little late this year), as well as a beautiful skein of Fleece Artist Trail Sock “Stardust” that I just ordered a couple of days ago, to start a hat (that will NOT be a holiday present) on 12/26 – One more trip to the gas station and the grocery store and I think I’m done, too!
    (Well, there’s baking and cooking and wrapping, but I have all day tomorrow for that!)

  49. I am not yet the Keeper of Christmas. I think, despite the fact that I am now Mama, I am still waiting for my mom to tell me what to do.
    So we have a few gaps this year: Handmade stockings that I sewed are sitting on the couch because we don’t have hooks. Gingerbread cookies were eaten before we had a chance to decorate them. There are no ornaments on the tree.
    Good thing my motherinlaw is cooking Christmas Dinner.
    I’m not sure if what you’re saying means that I should become much more organized about Christmas, or if I should avoid all responsibility for Christmas.

  50. I want to be more like you. This year as I am finishing up, I have a child who declared it just isn’t Christmas without gingerbead people so he made people last night and is decorating them today. That means I can’t get into the kitchen to make my husband peanut butter fudge. Drat. But, a child’s happiness depends on gingerbread people and I am letting him have at it. Plus, my kids are done with school for abit and are underfoot, which also slows me down. But hopefully they will remember fun times with mom, decorating cookies and planting an indoor terrarium and not that we had bean soup for dinner again.

  51. Christmas Ninja..I like that. I was that way this year also, wrapping things as I bought them early in the year. Asking family members what their children wanted and ordering online and wrapping when it got here. I did less baking this year because we didn’t finish it all last year. No groceries here but that’s because we are going away, but this plan will work for next year too.

  52. Bravo! We knew you had it in you, especially after organizing 2 Sock Summits. (However, I don’t celebrate Christmas and haven’t been to Sock Summit, so perhaps my comment isn’t quite on target)
    Enjoy your holiday

  53. Not only are you amazing, Stephanie, for your humour, your insights, and your organization and skills, you are incredibly generous with your time, your talents, and your self.
    Thank you so very, very much. Like the other commenters – I wish you a fantastic time with your family – just don’t forget that the #*&$%^! jacks are stronger than any Aces – that’s what is hard for me to remember!
    Your gift suggestions have been stellar – thank you for them. I wish you, Joe, and the whole family the best times together. X O

  54. Now THAT is a plan. And getting Joe to pitch in from the planning stage forward was a critical smart move.
    The only thing missing from your approach that you might contemplate next year – scope reduction. Every good project manager knows about prioritizing, spreading tasks, planning ahead, dependencies, etc. But the biggest single weapon in the arsenal is scope management.
    I realize this is heresy I am speaking. But just plant that idea in your mind and let it settle in. Sometimes the only person who believes it ALL has to be done is you. It happens to all of us – we set an agenda we believe is mandated by everyone else. When it’s really only mandated by ourselves.
    What I really love about this post though is that you had an overriding goal – make Xmas a special time for you too. Bravo! That should be your goal for every special occassion going forward.
    My girlfriend often says that she’ll be happy if everyone else is happy. And it’s true, but it misses the flip side:
    Everyone else’s happiness is enhanced if YOU are happy as well. That’s not selfishness, that’s looking at the whole picture.

  55. I’m less ninja this year and more prioritized. I have accepted my limitations, scaled back, and am only doing the important things. As long as gifts are wrapped and there is food in the house, I consider Christmas a success. Do I want my kids to have an example of a freaking out mom, or one who is enjoying the season?
    And for a perfectionist like me, its been a very long road to get to this point. My goalmis to snatch successnfrom the jaws of perfection.
    Which is why I took a nap with my four-year-old in front of the fire this afternoon.

  56. Oh Stephanie, Merry Christmas! You have given me so much pleasure in reading your blog & books for several years now. And the fun of 2 Sock Summits! I’m glad you are on track for a more enjoyable Christmas this year. Peace to you and to all of us.

  57. Congratulations on the early finish! Those are always nice.
    Thanks for the 23 days of gift suggestions – it’s been the best present so far. Can’t wait to see if my non-knitter has read the blog and taken any of your ideas (not like I didn’t send him the link multiple times.)
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  58. Reminds me of Morley’s description of her pre Christmas planning in Stewart Macleans “Dave cooks the Turkey”

  59. Hoorah for being done before Christmas! After years of, “But… but… it’s not Christmas unless I bake ALL the traditional cookies and put ALL the decorations out in exactly the right place and do ALL the things,” I let go. I’ll never have the family Christmas like we had when my Dad was alive — Mom sold the house and says, “We don’t have to do THAT any more,” to all the traditions — so rather than getting depressed about what isn’t happening and trying to will it into existence by doing ALL the things, I’m going just with the bits that please me and adding whatever innovations I want.

  60. Women of the world unite with you!! I, too have tried to best my Christmas best this year & have hopefully succeeded. Neighbourhood christmas party for 20 or 30 tonight. Prep for Christmas dinner tomorrow & 18 in for it on Christmas day. Then I will lie down.

  61. Congratulations! I am in better shape than usual as well. I only need to add thumbs to the fingerless mitts for my niece and wrap them up and I will be done.
    Since I am Elf in Chief at our house, that means the planning, shopping, and wrapping happened a bit earlier than usual. I did skip Tuesday morning’s knit group in order to finish wrapping, but that was my biggest concession to the need to get stuff done.
    It helps greatly that my Joe is Chef in Chief year round and takes charge of cooking and meal planning (at this time of year I take on the role of Potluck Organizer on top of my usual roles of Assistant Chef, Dishwasher, and Busboy ).
    One thing I learned by accident last year is the value of knitting gifts throughout the year. These are usually yarns or patterns that I want to try, but with no specific recipient in mind. We seem to get surprised by unexpected guests every year, and it has been helpful to have a few one-size-fits-all gifts on hand.
    This helped me reach 10 knitted gifts to be opened on Sunday without any craziness on my part (I have knit more gifts for Xmas before, but never without a few all nighters).
    Peace and happiness to you and yours.

  62. My husband had a massive heart attack and almost dies on Nov 3. Needless to say priorities are different now. I did not bake myself to death, not knit my fingers to the bone. Lots of folks are getting gift certificates. But I have the best gift of all, my husband is alive and I intend to keep him that way. I am spending my time making healthy foods and exercising with him. Our 4 children are just happy to have their dad alive ages (9-22)and whatever Christmas turns out to be is fine. Their dad is at the table. I may be tossing gifts in garbage bags tonight and tying them with a ribbon, but it’s all good.

  63. I’m working at Hospice this year and have given myself permission to not knit for everyone this year. I also bought pie crust.
    I hope you dance.

  64. This is my first Christmas with a child old enough to enjoy it, and the first for which I’ve hosted a portion. Earlier this week my friend laughed at my to do list and the schedule beside it, shopping list on the back. But, it’s 8 pm on the 23rd, all the presents are under the tree, the food is prepped and tomorrow morning’s to do list is reasonable. There were things that got bumped from the list, but things like a one on one visit with my elderly Gram didn’t. (Two on one? I took the toddler she adores.) And I fully expect to enjoy my weekend, even if it won’t look as effortless as it did when my Mom was in charge. Laugh at my list, but it worked.

  65. Oh Steph, I know if you can get a handle on it – with all the other things you do – I might have a hope.
    Have a wonderful Christmas!

  66. WATCH OUT!! The one year that happened in my family, when everything was ready and done before
    Christmas Eve day, my mom was sitting and relaxing
    with a cup of coffee, not believing that everything was ready and she had only had to have half a dozen
    screaming meemie tantrums in December to get it all ready, when the oil furnace backfired and blew oily soot on everything. EVERYTHING. Perfection comes with a price. Good luck. and Merry Christmas.

  67. Ah-ha! My Christmas mojo has been MIA for weeks which is highly unusual. I see you borrowed it. Good on you for a nice holiday, but next time, could you leave me a note?

  68. Merry Christmas to you and your family Steph. And thank you for a lovely December’s worth of blogging.

  69. Merry Christmas! Tree decorated, cookies baked, gifts wrapped, sitting down to read my daily dose of Harlot and make myself a pair of foot ovens while I listen to my husband and son record their annual Christmas song in the basement….. Bliss! Thank you, Stephanie, for bringing Joy to us in so many ways….

  70. Good for you, Stephanie! This year you’ll be celebrating Christmas instead of making it. It is the best plan you’ve told us. This is how to make Christmas memories for the whole family. Best wishes for a very Merry Christmas!
    Thank you for all the wonderful blogs. It is your year-round gift to us. I appreciate it and all the effort you put into it so much.

  71. Best holidays we ever had were the year we went to Disney immediately after Amerixan Thanksgiving. I was convinced I’d be gone soooo long, I would have no time to shop when we got home. Or wrap. So, I started the last week of October, and I was done, even wrapping, before thanksgiving. I had 3 little kids, and it was the best holiday season ever. (we celebrate Hanukkah, and extended family does Xmas, so I had to prepare for both). We got a great, fun, trip, then home, and I was already ready! I was wrong, I did have free time to get ready when we got back….but it was so lovely to NOT NEED IT!

  72. Merry Christmas, Stephanie and Joe and everybody. And thank you for the “it’s missing”–I burst out laughing, remembering a pot with boiling sugar water smoking hard with me grabbing the handle and running outside to try to keep it from setting off the smoke alarm.

  73. I can so relate, Stephanie, my first batch of cookies went missing, also. just like your peppermint bark. Merry Christmas!

  74. You make me laugh, because my husband and I have the same thing going on. He’s willing to help, if directed REPEATEDLY AND SPECIFICALLY. Go you for getting it all done!

  75. Last year we shopped and wrapped early, gave the gifts to the relatives, and hopped a cruise shop to Hawaii and French Polynesia for 30 days which included Thanksgiving. You can do this when you are old!

  76. Merry Christmas! And you’ve given you and your family the best gift of all….YOU! Congratulations on the great plan and carrying it through. (Now I have to go finish panicking with the wrapping and the cooking and the laundry…)

  77. I just finished my Christmas knitting. For the first time, I won’t be frantic on Christmas Eve. Congrats to you and Merry Christmas!

  78. I’m not really having christmas this year. I bought my cats something and I’m letting the dog pick from the leftovers in the fridge. The couple presents I needed to send are gone, and I think tomorrow (24) I’m going to bake some banana bread and maybe even some pumpkin bread for my wonderful neighbor.

  79. Happy Christmas to you and your family. Thank you for another year of generously allowing The Blog into your lives; you add so much to ours with your warmth, humour, and insight.

  80. Congratulations Stephanie! It’s now past 10pm, so I assume you have completed your mission and are on the way to simply enjoying your holiday. Good for you! Hope you have the merriest of Christmases and a joyous and prosperous New Year.

  81. I have to work on Christmas this year, and all the family comes to my house. So, my turkey is already baked, sliced and in the freezer! Left over turkey is always great. How’s that for organized?? And only half a hat left to finish tonight. If this works out I just might do the turkey in the freezer thing every year!

  82. lemons for carrots? am I the only one puzzled by this? I have a Franklin-esque picture in my head of the carrots getting lemons for christmas.

  83. Congratulations, Stephanie, and Merry Christmas. I am glad you will really be able to participate in the Christmas you created, and I’m sure your family will be delighted.
    I still remember with incredulity the year my daughter was 3 and I had been cross-stitching a maniacally detailed but beautiful Christmas stocking for her since before the Christmas she was 2. I knew it had to be finished that year, because at age 3 she was going to notice that her brother had a stocking and she didn’t.
    The elapsed time between hanging the fully lined stocking (yes, it was lined–I wasn’t going to risk destroying that needlework by shoving toys into the reverse side of the cross-stitch) and the time the children got up to see what Santa had brought was . . . approximately one hour. It was worth it, though. She still hangs that stocking every year, and she and her husband have made stockings for each other and their family.
    Merry Christmas to all, ready or not. Now, I just have to go finish up the socks for my 4-year-old grandson . . .

  84. Congratulations! I just discovered that I’m one gift short, which means pulling something from the yarn stash, a few more hours of knitting & one more gift to wrap. Really, not that bad, considering we won’t be celebrating til the 27th.
    Merry Christmas, Steph, to you and yours!

  85. Oh yeah baby, bring on the egg nog and toast the spreadsheet and to-do-list.
    In my own little piece of Christmas organisational miracle I even had time/energy this afternoon to go with my family to the local public pool (summer here) and have some fun with the kids despite having friends around for Christmas Eve dinner 🙂 So glad I did.
    Merry Christmas!

  86. Merry Christmas Steph to you and yours!
    (what is peppermint bark? You see, I never had it, and yet all the Christmases were fine).

  87. Congratulations to the Christmas Ninjas! I’m so jealous!!! You have a clean house!?! I’m really, really, jealous! I was doing really well at the end of November. I already had 2 Christmas presents knit and I had started making headway on my house. I had a Holiday baking schedule and a Holiday Knitting schedule and everything looked do-able. All I really wanted for Christmas was for my house to be clean, to decorate some, to bake gifts for people, and to watch movies and knit gifts. In short I really wanted to be a domestic homebody! Alas it was not to be. A friend of mine became really ill and was in the hospital for 2 weeks. I took care of her dog at my house and her cat and other things at her house. Then she needed help when she got home with being driven to doctor’s appointments and the like. What can you do, I couldn’t say no! I feel like I went to bed on December 1st and woke up on the 21st realizing that there was absolutely no way that any of my plans were going to work out. I hadn’t even mailed out all the gifts yet because I didn’t even have them all! SIGH! What are ya going to do? So, I did finish and get mailed out a few knitted gifts (my niece is going to be very happy.) I have to finish blocking a lace scarf and I should be able to mail that out on Monday. Two more presents to knit and I’ll be done with that. I’m hoping to be done by mid January because I’m a slow knitter. Congratulations again. I hope you have a wonderful holiday with all your friends and family. I can’t believe how big Hank is! Thanks for sharing it all with us.

  88. Oh happiness! Way to go! All good wishes for a warm and festive season winging their way virtually to you and your family!

  89. Here, in the land of “Christmas is RUINED” It will be a miracle if sleep happens tonight. However, we have been getting along wonderfully because whenever the panic rises as my partner or I start to get frantic, we just stop and say “Christmas is ruined” have a laugh, and try to calm down enough to deal with the next task. So thank you… for “Christmas is ruined” It’s really been a great help with the stress!

  90. Have a rocking holiday with your loved ones Yarn Harlot. Thank you for the inspiring holiday posts and the gift ideas. I believe there are some knitting delights under the tree for myself and the other family knitters so I wish the same for you.

  91. Now is not the time to ask for anything, I know, so consider this a request for the days after Christmas. Or even for next year.
    You posted a cranberry sauce recipe years ago that has become a staple of my Christmas and Thanksgiving feasts ever since. I even carry a little tupperware packed full of it to my in-laws every Christmas to supplement my MIL’s consistently excellent Christmas dinner. That recipe changed my life, and I thank you for it.
    Could you post your peppermint bark recipe? Pretty please? 🙂
    Do enjoy your Christmas, you’ve earned it. If not for your efforts, the sun wouldn’t come back, and that would be pretty awful. And now, I’m off to do my own annual sun-encouraging activities. (Which includes making that cranberry sauce.)

  92. So glad to hear it! I too had a come-to-jesus moment after Christmas last year, when I was on the verge of a breakdown, and I made a year long plan to prepare for Christmas. I shopped a little each month, I knit through the year, and I made a more realistic, but still lovely, plan for homemade treats/holiday meals.
    Today I only need to wash sheets, clean bathrooms, bake cookies and finish off the homemade limoncello for Yankee Swap tonight. Very doable. Tomorrow’s dinner, while lovely, is easier than many I make on a weeknight.
    And it is GOOD.
    Merry Christmas! I hope you truly enjoy the next few days. Cause then life starts again. 😉

  93. Wow, I am impressed! You really are Superwoman! This sounds as though it will be your very best Christmas ever–you should be super proud of yourself, your organization prowess and your tenacity! I’m sure your family will be equally impressed. Have a wonderful Holiday! You sure have earned it….

  94. Merry Christmas to you and your “merry” band of Christmas ninjas. And even if 10 pm on the 23rd was a tad optimistic, it is better than 3 am on the 24th, isn’t it????

  95. To Dyepotgirl at 5:52 am:
    Your friend was sick and you helped her. She didn’t have to worry about her beloved pets; she was able to get to her post-hospital appointments. I bet she even healed faster because of it.
    Way to go, Dyepotgirl! Presents are nice, but caring is better. In any season of the year.

  96. Stephanie, Merry Christmas and a Happy Knitting New Year. I enjoy your writing and your passion for knitting. But – isn’t there always a But? – I have one word for you – SIMPLIFY. It is time to let go of the need for perfection. Enlist the help you need, get your family on board and have a simple Christmas. Yes, keep knitting all the wonderful things you knit, keep writing all the wonderful things you write, but let go of the clutter and the guilt. You are loved, whether the towels are washed or the peppermint bark has disappeared. Accept that, and let go! (As opposed to, “you go, girl”. Breathe, enjoy, love, be.

  97. I don’t know if I have ever had a blog entry resonate with me more. The before picture could have been taken of me. I end up wondering if it is all worth it. You make me think there might just be hope for the coming years if not this year.

  98. Talked to a friend yesterday who is preparing soup in a crock pot for Christmas. Me, on the other hand, I’m always running around madly cooking as if I’m cooking for an army and then we have tons of food left over. I’m taking a hint from her next year – keep it simple!
    Hope your holiday is lovely Steph! Enjoy your family time!

  99. Um…
    OK. First of all, I’m so happy for you having such a nice Christmas season. So, so, so happy.
    But I am heaving a little sigh for the entertainment of the “I’m really trying to follow Lene’s Christmas schedule oh no where did the time go!” posts. Just a tiny little one.
    I’m really, really happy for your nice Christmas, though– truly! (Entertainment at others’ expense isn’t nice, Deborah– write it ten times.)

  100. I’m not organized enough to have lists and whatnot, so I’ve just had to give up on having a perfect Christmas – but that’s okay. It’s remarkably freeing learning to just let stuff go.
    I’m so happy for you that you have everything under control this year! Go, Steph! (And Go, Joe! for being even more cooperative this year!). My family is spread all across the country (I’m in Michigan, my older sister and her kids are in Texas, Chicago, and Oregon, and my little sister and her kids are in Colorado and Arizona), so I’ll be spending Christmas Eve with my mom, and my husband’s family Hanukkah party isn’t until Monday, so I get to relax tomorrow with no demands on my time at all. It will be LOVELY! I hope your Christmas is lovely also!

  101. Just last night I watched a movie called “On Strike for Christmas” about a group of women who felt stressed, overworked and unappreciated. You should watch it if you get the chance. (Bonus: The main character owns a yarn store.)
    Enjoy your holiday with your loved ones!

  102. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I a firm believer in crochet am actually KNITTING a wash cloth for my Mom. Let’s just say you inspired me! Happy Stress Free New Year as well. 🙂

  103. To Dixie @8:51a: I think there is a link in the post to the peppermint bark recipe; mouse over it to see. If memory serves, the blog is called Orangette. I was looking to see if the recipe was perhaps vegan, but no such luck. Or, actually, good luck–think of all the calories I’ll save!
    Happy holidays to all.

  104. I’d congratulate you, but I can’t see you…Invisible Ninja, you!
    All kidding aside, congratulations on making an important change! Enjoy it.
    I have no cooking done, and since I’ve come down with an upper respiratory something, it’s up to the kids. Thankfully, I taught them how to cook!
    Merry Christmas, Stephanie and family! Be blessed!

  105. I was totally falling apart last night, in spite of all the planning for perfection and finishing. This morning I realized that I was in fact finished, and even though I didn’t clean my house, no one was going to see it until I got back home after the holiday was over. Congratulations and Merry Christmas to you and your family. Thanks for all the laughs and good times. I so look forward to your blogs.

  106. Are we going to get pictures of all the things you made for christmas presents, once the receivers have opened them? I’d love to see the complete list! What fun. I admire. merry christmas.

  107. My husband and I planned our menu and bought all the groceries for the big day, and then, the phone call came. My parents won’t be coming for Christmas dinner because my dad ended up in the hospital. A strangely tight feeling in his chest and throat sent him quickly by ambulance to the emerg (he’s actually back home now but won’t be driving for awhile.) So all my readiness was for naught. It will just be my hubby, son and I around the Christmas dinner table. So this doesn’t feel like the usual happy holiday time at my house. The one thing that’s cheering me up is the thought of hubby opening his knitted gift from me tomorrow–a beautiful warm tuque with a magnificent pom-pom on top. Finishing the knitting and pom-pomming was strangely comforting. Thank God for knitting.

  108. Methinks the girls are old enough that learning how to make a perfect xmas day should be part of their “getting to be a grown up” learning.
    But that’s just me. We always made all Christmas doings a family affair. (cleaning, decorating, baking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping, cleaning…)

  109. Our first Christmas morning since we’ve been married that we haven’t had family of some sort immediately upon awaking. Weird. My eldest daughter, son in law, and 4 year old grandson will share some Christmas magic as they are coming up in the afternoon for dinner and games. Perhaps we’ll ski monday.
    In the meantime, while very nice, it is taking a bit of adjusting to the ‘new normal’ for me. I didn’t put out every single ornament (we have enough for two trees) nor my little dicken’s village, all the stockings and other Christmasy things. Just a Christmas quilt, some lights, a tree, and a Nativity. It is different, but it is good.

  110. I realize this is post Christmas, but I wanted to present wrapping ideas alternative to themed paper.
    We always took white paper and rubber stamps and markers and made our own.
    My boyfriend’s family kind of has this thing about using brown paper bags (if cut carefully and turned inside out it looks kind of nice).
    A piece of nice fabric held in place by ribbon is a wonderful gift, and doesn’t provide waste. Fabric and ribbon can be reused.
    As a kid, I liked to wrap my parents presents in the comics page of the paper.

  111. My sweet 17 year old daughter gave me a “gift certificate” written on a scrap of wrapping paper:
    “Good for one afternoon w/ [her name] @ the yarn shop.” 🙂 Isn’t she a doll?

  112. I completely understand. I was not quite ninja enough. I knit two tiny gifts on Christmas day and finished one for my husband at 1:30 a.m. on Christmas (but still before we opened presents). Other than those things, it was beautiful. It didn’t matter that I spent much of the day in the kitchen, because it was all prep work that allowed me to spend the evening playing games and hanging out with friends and family.

  113. Many years ago, feeling very stressed, and having my usual Christmas pity-party (women are dumped upon, alas!–all tradition depends on us!) I heard a story on Christian radio that urged all of us to simplify. It suggested: ASK your family members what exactly is their own particular favorite thing at Christmas. 3 kids? 3 favorite things. When we had this conversation… Oh. My. Goodness! I was beating myself up for no one but myself!!! I cut my work load down by 75%!! Truly thinking alllll this crap was what the family wanted. They hated me being all snarky & frazzled as much as I did. I put up a tree. If the babies are around, I have to put away the candles… but it’s temporary. They all will be of “candle age” soon enough! Have a wonderful holidays, Christmas, and New 2012! Knit on!
    Debbie, Appleton, Wisconsin

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