The Day of Reckoning

A few days ago someone noticed that on Ravelry, in my notebook under "made for" I frequently write "the long range planning box", and they wondered what that was.  The Long Range Planning Box is a box I keep under my bed, in which reside all of the things that I acquire throughout the year for Christmas.  I’m trying to be the sort of person who has all the shopping and organizing done early, trying to lighten my load during the season, but truthfully it’s a pretty small box and I sort of suck at it.  Still, as I find little stocking stuffers, and as I knit little things through the year, I tuck them in there to get ahead.

Today is the day I open that box, and I’m already excited, and that’s a mistake, because I’ve lived this moment before. I get ready to open the box, I get my spreadsheet out, the one that has each person I’m giving a gift to on it. (I compare the spreadsheet to the ones from the years before, to make sure I don’t give the same thing by accident. The year I wrote the pretty thing pattern I gave away a bunch of them, and then a while later I think I gave someone another one. There are worse things in the world than owning two luxurious little things like that but it bugged me and I am just weird enough to need a system.)  I get a box or bag for every person who gets more than one thing (I don’t know how it works at your house, but here we buy the things for the stockings and then Santa swings by and loads it up.  We like to help him where we can so that he has the energy he needs for helping families who aren’t able to buy presents – which totally explains why you might find your stocking stuffers in my bedroom in mid-December if you forget which bedroom you’re in and for some reason get caught rummaging through my closet like the little sneak you are. It’s not like there’s no Santa.)  

Once I’m all organized I open the box, and I take the stuff out, and I look at what I’ve got.  I fill it in on the spreadsheet, and put stuff in the bags, and then I can sit down with the spreadsheet and see the real way things are.  Am I missing socks for someone? How many hats do I need? Do I need boxes? When I’m done I have a list of what’s left to knit, and who it’s for and I can start the last minute sprint.  It’s the day of reckoning- and here’s why it’s a bad idea to be excited about it.  Every year when I open the long range planning box, a wave of disappointment hits me like a truck when I see what the sum total of a year of planning ahead looks like. 

I immediately vow to do better in the coming year, and really I do try, and I even think I succeed, right up until that moment when I open the box again the next year and it turns out I’m still me. You would think I would learn, but I don’t, but I always think I have, so hope springs eternal.

So I’m going to open the box, and I’m going to deal with whatever’s in there, and then I’m going to make a plan.  Wish me luck.

(Happy travelling to all my American Friends. Safe journeys home to all of you.)

75 thoughts on “The Day of Reckoning

  1. At least you are organized enough to have all the items bought and made ahead in one location. I buy/make ahead…and there is always at least one item that develops a knack for hiding in my craftsroom! Sometimes I find it; other times, it ends up being a birthday or future Christmas present. And sometimes, I have to consume it myself (who wants year-old chocolate?).

  2. I prefer to think of the LRPB as your early Christmas gift to yourself. You get to open it up and see all the beautiful things you made and found. I don’t know about you, but I’ve rarely had an actual adult Christmas when I received gifts that really rang my bell. The exception is the year my dad bought me a ceramic yarn bowl.
    IMHO, when we reach adulthood, we tend to take our holiday joy out of making memories and finding things for loved ones that we hope will truly suit them and make them happy.

  3. I, for one, am greatly impressed! You are way ahead of me!
    You could whip up a couple pair of those lace panties a La Samantha! ??

  4. Sometimes you make me feel like such a laggard. My box is all but empty. But on the other hand, I filled up a couple of big boxes for Afghans for Afghans this year. My family can go without knitted presents (although my husband will whine pitifully) if it means some children far away in an inhospitable place will be a little warmer. Do you think I can start my box for next year, now?

  5. I do almost exactly the same thing. Gather things throughout the year, make a list, etc. It mostly works. Crazy early Chanukah put a kink in the works this year, but it’s an 8 day holiday – love the bumper zone!! I refuse to do the Thanksgivikah thing. Will gather the family when we can manage it and will squeak in just at the end of Chanukah which is really a minor holiday. For us it is about family time and some wicked dreidel games spinning for M&Ms. I cheat and palm candy from the center pile or whoever is sitting next to me. When the kids were little they loved to catch me at it. Took them a while…hehe…

  6. Good luck!
    What if you made that list in January?
    But I do the same thing – I gather as I see things, since that’s the only way to get items every once and awhile.
    And my parents always helped Santa out, too!!
    I’ve told my fiancee time and again that you have to believe in Santa, or else he’ll stop filling his stocking. haha
    Katie =^..^=

  7. You will end up doing the same thing again next year – you know you will 🙂 But it’s all good because you get it all done like a champ anyway! Can’t wait to see the next post.

  8. I love reading your blog sooo freakin’ much!! Wishing you an overflowing LRPB and looking forward to the posts in the coming months!!

  9. so you have Christmas sneaks too? I was clever this year – I had a new wardrobe built in my bedroom, and the top is SO high that i need a chair to reach, and even then it can be tricky if I have shoved the boxes to the back – as I do!
    HA – Xmas sneaks foiled for the time being!

  10. I bet you’re going to get a nice surprise. There’s probably lots of stuff in that box, maybe even some things you forgot you put in there.

  11. My Long Range Planning Box is a cubby in my closet. In January 2012 we went skiing at my aunt’s and she mentioned some stuff she needed. When we got back home, I told my husband we were going to be way on top of Christmas this year (Xmas 2012) and bought that stuff and tucked it away. In March I stashed some kitchen things for my parents and in November, I added a pair of socks for my dad (it was a bad year for knitting gifts). In December, I pulled out the stuff for my parents and the socks, wrapped them up and all was good, but I had no idea what to get my aunt and uncle. Then February 2013 came along and I reached in to my LRPC to put away a pair of socks for my sister (this year is much better for gift knitting), and lo and behold, there was a pile of stuff for my aunt! Clearly my cubby has a black hole entrance. It has since been moved to a lower shelf where I can keep a better eye on everything.

  12. Exactly, Bonnie Colleen @ 4:10, if you don’t believe you don’t get Santa presents. Nobody wants an empty stocking on Christmas morning.
    Austin Val @ 3:42, I’ll bring cheese and crackers. Good luck, Steph.

  13. I have one of those boxes in my closet… only as far as the rest of the family knows, it’s the “grandma box” and i’m making “baby items” to plan ahead with….
    Just remember, to take from your book… your family would rather have you sane and coherent on Christmas morning than feverishly working on finishing an item before it gets to being time for the intended recipient to open said gift…. gift cards are great too (especially with teenagers!) 🙂

  14. I have a box too, and a list.
    We only exchange gifts with a few family members at christmas, and only small gifts.
    Normally it is only the women I make homemade gifts for. Its just easier to think of something for them.
    Though this year I have been allowed by my brother to make a pair of fingeless mittens for him. (Whitin certain limits of course).

  15. I think that right when you feel disappointed about the meagerness of the existing Christmas box, you should make a list of everything else that you knitted for people during the year. You can just scan the past blog posts or your Ravelry projects to see just how amazingly prolific you are. Frankly, you are off the charts with your total knitting gifts. Don’t be sad. Rejoice!

  16. It’s still better than starting from ground zero. But I know what you mean. It feels like you’ve put all this work into it and you figure you have half the load done, at LEAST, and find four pairs of socks.
    It’s always discouraging to find you aren’t as productive as you felt. Ah well. It truly is better than a kick in the pants!

  17. I like the idea of the box under your bed, but the dust bunnies live under mine. My random items picked up through the year are tucked into drawers and closets, and then the week before Christmas, I try to find them all. Operative word being “try”.

  18. You with the spreadsheet and the box under the bed…you’re flying by the seat of your pants?
    I knit all year, don’t keep track until I have to start wrapping. This year some folks will be lucky enough to get a hand knit, or will they get a Starbucks giftcard? Will they get Solmate Socks? A gift from the Bath and Body shop? At my house it’s a crapshoot. You my friend, are the Master…er…Mistress!

  19. I have some shelf space in a closet that I use to store homemade items that are intended for a specific person and use a couple of baskets with lids for things I’ve made that I will likely give away but haven’t figure out who to give them to. The shelf space is quite crowded at the moment. Unfortunately, it is not crowded with my finished gifts for specific people. It is crowded with my encroaching yarn stash. Sigh, I ordered some more yarn on Monday (of course, it was mostly sock yarn so that doesn’t count right?) and the lys is having a sale on Saturday. I guess I’ll have to find another home for the gifts. Good luck with the box opening!!!

  20. We have a closet with the bought-ahead gifts in it for birthdays and Christmas. And I keep a master list in my wallet so we have it with us when shopping. It works well for us, but then, I’m not knitting a lot of things to give away. I do have a spot in my craft room where I keep finished items to keep as gifts. it’s a zipper storage bag a comforter came in. And then there’s the shoebox for dishcloths to give. Right now it’s nearly empty, but when I get on a dishcloth binge, it gets filled up. I have two more cloths to knit for neighbour gifts this Christmas and then I’m done. Good luck Stephanie! I know you’ll pretty much finish your knitting and shopping. Seems to me you usually do!

  21. When you quit believing in Santa Clause, you start getting underwear for gifts.
    Yes, I keep a spreadsheet for Christmas too — gift ideas, gifts purchased or made, routine tasks, the all encompassing list of goodies to make. I don’t always get all the goodies made every year, but it’s good to have a list with everyone’s favorites.

  22. For years I have stocked a small shelf in my linen closet with “just in case” gifts: scarves, cowls, hats, mitts, some unisex, some clearly for women. This has come in handy at times, like the year my brother showed up at noon on Christmas Day with his MIL in tow (he had forgotten to mention he was bringing her). Items purchased or made with specific recipients in mind also go here.
    I decided that today should also be my day of reckoning. There are more items than I feared, but less than I hoped.
    This year we are cutting back on Xmas, sort of. We are hosting a big family reunion gathering (at least 35 for dinner on the 25th) and have announced no (white elephant) gift exchange at the party this year, because it will be too crazy. Our house will be bulging at the seams with 8 (!) house guests for Xmas week, and we will be toning down our normal gift-a-palooza for the immediate family so our guests don’t feel overwhelmed.
    I promised hubby that all of our house guests would awaken to stuffed stockings. He promised to exchange gifts with his sister and her family as we usually do (I found out after the fact). They appreciate hand knit gifts and have come to expect them. I also promised Joe I’d get each guest a present for under the tree (they range in age from 4-78; none of them are on our usual gift exchange list).
    Oh, and did I mention that I am gift purchaser/maker-in-chief?
    At least I’m almost done with gifts for my side of the family.

  23. Leslie F @ 3:07 PM: That’s always my problem too, when I buy/make gifts ahead of time – I don’t always find where I put them or sometimes even remember that I have them!
    Adeline @ 3:37 PM: Happy Chanukah to you! I love your term “bumper zone” for 8 nights of the holiday. My favorite is when (unlike this year) Chanukah comes really, really late & I can shop the Xmas sales! My handmade gifts are *always* late – I have some quilted bread warmers that are on their 3rd or 4th Chanukah, and will probably be delayed until (at least) next year.
    I hope everyone has a lovely holiday season.
    — Buffy

  24. Gee, I thought I was the only one who did stuff like that. I fill my box with all kinds of little things so I can always fill a last minute stocking when Santa doesn’t know that someone has moved. It’s a great system if we work it right . . . but, I don’t either.

  25. You did well with your homemade “sock kits”. Next year, why don’t you go through your stash and set up a set of Christmas present kits: yarn, pattern, needles, all ready to begin. (We know you have enough needles 🙂 Mark whether it’s TV knitting or something you need to pay attention to. Then when you need some knitting, just grab a bag. You’ll know how well you are doing by how many bags are left.

  26. My very small family has become so disjointed we just give any gift we find next time we see them. I still find stashed gives from literally decades ago!! (that I bought to give but the gift still lives with me!!) One year for a small get together with my arty friends, I knitted flower shaped wash cloths – a chenille type yarn, not cotton – and purchased some hand made soap at a craft festival. Nothing extravagant but it’s now a little something I keep on hand for those unexpected moments.

  27. …your story why I have no long range planning box. I just know I will never do what I plan because life keeps getting in the way and I just could not stand the disappointment.
    I give on the spur of the moment and..if someone requests something. That is all I can manage with the schedule we run in our house. I have managed to keep sane this way and the guilt bug does not bite.

  28. Hi there! That you have a long range planning box at all, and actually put items in it during the year, is a marvelous feat.
    I am using this blog post as an opportunity to ask a question about a project in a recent twitter post. Specifically, I would dearly love to know about the green scarf in the ‘cold enough for two scarves’ photo you recently posted on twitter. Please, Please!
    I think it might be a Pretty Thing in cashmere…

  29. A spreadsheet? Wow, talk about pressure. But you are definitely capable of operating at optimum output. I wish you could give us a sneaky snapshot of what’s inside the box. I bet that box is more drool worthy than a freshly opened box of Godiva chocolate.
    I started my Christmas shopping today by buying myself something. 🙂 One-hundred and twenty-one dollars worth of yarn ON SALE. Man, what a sale! Alpaca and Merino. Enough for TEN new projects and to finish up five. I am so freaking happy. The kids are with the ex this Thanksgiving and I’ve decided I am doing nothing but holiday knitting. The tranquility is much deserved.
    Thanks for your example – I think I better put all this on a spreadsheet.
    Happy Knitting Steph!

  30. Mary S at 4:37 – Twist Collective is a free digital knitting magazine where each pattern is a separate pay pattern but the designs are incredible and the designers are top notch. Awesome articles as well. You can get an email subscription whenever it is published. Definitely re commend looking them up on google.

  31. I love the idea of the “LRPB”. I do something similar, Collecting & Crafting throughout the year, and then go through it like a treasure chest deciding who gets what. I find I often go on a bit of a jaunt, sometimes the box is full of mittens, gloves, socks and scarves. I also pick up little things like bottles of fancy jams or hand made soaps and the like. One of my recent years ideas is to buy one of those pretty boxes(large-16×16 inches or so) that has a lid and fill one for my Mum, and in laws with bits & pieces that they may not get for themselves over the holidays. Let’s be honest Parents can be tough to shop for once they get older. I fill my Mum’s with a nice alpaca scarf, and matching fingerless gloves, shortbreads, a special ornament for the tree, nice jams & maybe a scented candle from the farmers markets, a gift card from Swiss Chalet, herbal tea, and a special China mug etc. Each wrapped in tissue and the box is full of little thoughtful things instead of buying them some big gift I know that they won’t use. Sorry for the rant – but I get so much out of your blog I wanted to share something back to you that might help people with that hard to buy for person in their life. “The Box” works great for Birthdays, Chanukah, Eid, or just a pick-me-up for a friend. Thanks for all your inspiration throughout the year!

  32. i have a set of shelves in my bedroom closet and as i buy/make stuff throughout the year, i stuff things there to save for whatever occasion. i have two grands with birthdays between thanksgiving and christmas, so right now, it’s a lot of kids’ books and socks and underwear [no, i’m not a scrooge or a birthday basher. the kid needs socks and underwear desperately. i found this out last weekend.] i think i’m out of the mitten vortex. i only need to knit one more pair, for an as yet unborn baby, but i need to wait until the yarn is given to me, as she wants it to match the blanket. then i think washcloths and craft-made soaps from the local flea market will be good to have on hand. i’m just dreading wrapping everything. i have arthritis and my wrapping looks as if it was done by a six-year old.

  33. Well my day of reckoning involves a related scenario but the material is money: lots of money slated to spend, not as much available for said spending. I think that it’s perfectly reasonable to keep a spreadsheet and (in my case) a list that is built upon throughout the year. Everybody has their personal need for order. I only do it because I enjoy it – seems like a good thing to remember on the day of reckoning. Jingle jingle!

  34. I think you could change your box name to The Box of Optimism, because optimism is a wonderful and positive thing! My paltry long-range buying pile is on my son’s bed (he doesn’t live at home anymore, but still has a bed). I wish my pile was a little (lot) bigger, too!

  35. Frightening. I have the same box of things (quite small), and the same bags for each person. To top it off, the same spreadsheet system…

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