Making a list

I think it’s time to settle into the reality of what’s happening here.  The tree has been up for a week and we’ve transitioned into full-on Christmas breakfasts around here which you would think should have installed a full-on sense of panic in me about getting ready, but it has not.

(Elliot is seen here eating Santa Strawberries and Snowman Pancakes and wearing Santa jammies after his first sleepover here last night, and It went great, thanks for asking. He slept between us in a deep cuddle, and we were prepared to run him home at the first sign of trouble- I think Joe slept with his car key on the bedside table. Ellie did really, really well. Meg and Alex thought he was ready and I’m glad we trusted their judgment – we all had a great time.)

I’ve been plugging away, getting organized and getting ready and consulting the spreadsheet, but in a really relaxed way.  I went to River City Yarns to work for a few days (what a great shop and such a fabulous team) and felt like (despite full days) that I’d have tons of time to knit.  I felt so good about it actually, that when Joe suggested that if I was going to be in Alberta anyway, maybe we should grab a quick ski- that seemed totally reasonable too, after all, I’d have lots of time to knit. I did find time to knit in both places and I came home inexplicably feeling like there was heaps of time to get Christmas together, and then something about the day before yesterday got to me.

Joe came home from work on Wednesday and told me that he needed to go to Calgary for work on Friday (that’s Alberta again) and asked if I wanted to come along for a ski. I flipped open my calendar and super casually said “let me just check…” and suddenly, I got it. I looked at the date, I looked at the date on Friday, I looked at the date we’d be back and I… I got it.  There, in the shadow of the Christmas tree, with four days of my yarn-ish advent calendar open, with the smell of balsam fir wafting through the air, having already attended two parties and noted that my evening walks are snowy and lit by pretty lights all around me… I GOT IT.

“Dude, I can’t go anywhere” I told him, and what I meant was that I can’t go anywhere that isn’t going to help me make a Christmas, and skiing is not that thing. (I saw him open his mouth to say something about how much knitting I can get done on a flight, but we are so far past that – I think he saw something in my eyes and stowed it. If you were a witness to this marriage, I promise that you would be stunned at how often Joe saves his own life based on a glance I give him without really any sense of what’s going on. It’s an instinct.) I thought about it for a few minutes and then came up with a plan.  “You go.” I told him, and opened the spreadsheet. *

Joe is leaving in an hour and he’ll be gone for five days. Our annual Gingerbread Party is in 13 days. I get back on a plane in 15 days, and I won’t be home until the 20th (although there will be lots of time to knit on the flight.) The way I see it,  I need to have this whole thing wrapped up (literally) except for a little bit of knitting (for the flights) before I hit the road on the 16th or my whole world will be regret and I will guarantee myself no damned fun this Christmas at all. I can tell you (or the family can) that if I’m not having fun, ain’t nobody going to have fun, so today has been all about the spreadsheet of Christmas power, a series of lists, a plan divided by zone, stores and tasks, and a huge pile of yarn.

Yeah. That’s my yarn plan. That there is roughly three pairs of mittens, two pairs of socks (one started.) A small sweater (half done.) A stocking (half done.) One ornament (not started.) Four towels (that’s weaving, it’s fast don’t panic.) Not pictured, one optional sweater which is my last priority because it’s very small and the recipient isn’t even born yet and couldn’t care less, and four pom-poms, for which I do not have yarn. (Don’t ask.)

I know, that’s a big pile of yarn, but somehow it seems manageable to me – and actually like the least of my problems- Christmas wise.  I’m going to spend the next five days shopping, wrapping, cleaning, knitting and weaving and I think… I think I might have woken up just in time. Maybe.

Knitters. it’s go time.

*This is like the Hunger Games.  I volunteer as tribute.

(Also, like in many good rescue missions, I think I’ll be faster if I go alone.)

(Also I will have a list for him to do when he comes back, don’t you worry.)

53 thoughts on “Making a list

  1. Time to make the popcorn! (Chime in with your additions to the menu, everyone.)

    And buckle up.

    [They’re watching. Had to touch the clock.]

  2. OK, Stephanie. You do this every year, driving yourself insane while demonstrating why gift certificates were invented. So, let’s add to the crazy: Meg’s expecting, so you’ve got a ginormous baby blanket in your future. Presbytera, start the popcorn. Maybe we should order pizza this year…

  3. Love, love, love the Strawberry Santas, have to remember that! But the pom poms, I got wonderful fake fur on Amazon, really cute and so much easier!

  4. I am there with you in the craziness…. after having my gifts down to finishing a crocheted baby blanket (for the granddaughter, in the past month I have knit 3 adult size hats, 1 baby hat and 2 pairs of socks) I decided to tell my nephews that sure, auntie stacy will make them mittens (for the 3 year old) and fingerless mitts (9 yo)…. then while shopping thought that I have plenty of time before giftmas to also knit my dad and brother hats….

    Fortunately I live alone and no one is going to notice that the housework is going to fall by the wayside while the knitting commences here in Albany, NY…. I have 2 weeks before I go to Maine for Christmas with the family.

  5. Elliott is utterly charming! Along with the snowman strawberries. Wait…wasn’t it just last week that your nephew was his size and we watched his eyes light up over Christmas cookies and mad holiday dancing?

  6. OH, what a relief!! I was just chatting with a friend about how “spooky quiet” you’ve been. “It’s quiet”, we whispered to each other, “… TOO quiet”.
    We tried to shake off the possibility of terrible scenarios.
    And just like you heard our fretting, you’re here today to assure us that all is well, it’s just that Christmas has waged a sneak-attack.
    Given the options we’ve all had to deal with lately, that’s the best possible scenario! Onward, HO!!

  7. OMG! My grandkids are coming tomorrow for a sleepover and cookie baking. Now I’m going to have to go to the store and get some strawberries before they get here so we can have those Santa Strawberries.

  8. Have missed you and your Christmas insanity, so I’m glad you’re back now, in spite of that huge pile of yarn to turn into gifts so quickly. Knowing you, you’ll get it all done in time, and probably start on that next baby blanket before Christmas as well! Welcome back! We’ve missed you!

  9. I am currently weaving as well! I looked at my yarn stash, looked at my gift list and time and promptly used a couple cuss words before deciding that handdyed-handwoven was good enough.

    It isnt quite the satifaction of knitting… but I want to enjoy some christmas.

    • We can get strawberries all year here in Toronto, in fact I have fresh blueberries and blackberries in the fridge!

  10. Having been a reader of the blog for many years, I can honestly say that I don’t think there has ever been a Christmas when you did not get everything done, and yet every year there is a panic about it. I know telling you to relax is not going to be productive because that’s not your MO, but I can assure you that everything will get done and everything will be good.

  11. Hi Stephanie, I am glad to hear from you and know things are well for you.
    On recent visits to Mission Services (2nd hand stuff) I purchased:
    – an almost new robe for my husband for $2.50 (1/2 price ! on “Black Friday” sale)
    – 2 T-shirts for Christmas gifts @ $4.00 each = $8.00
    – a usable single bed flannelette sheet for $2.00
    – 3 ¾ balls of a mohair look acrylic yarn for $4.00 (several test swatches needed to figure out how to make lightweight driving mitts for senior … and I think it’s not too old to be used)
    Total for all these items: $16.50
    There is a world where a fine weight yarn costs between $13.00 and $29.00 per unit. My world is above.
    I am feeling depressed and jealous this morning. Taking a second look at Elliot and the Santas does help. Very Best Regards. Maureen

    • I often shop in your world, too, Maureen, and am at home there. My most recent purchase at Value Village was 8 100 gram balls of a fine acrylic yarn for $12.00. I’m using three of them to knit a soft, cuddly baby blanket. But I did visit a yarn shop for wool for a baby sweater, ans was dismayed to find it would cost nearly $60. Even my grandchild doesn’t get one of those.
      Hoping you can find joy in your excellent bargains and the smiles on the faces of the recipients.

    • Truth to tell Maureen, I am happier shopping in the 2nd hand or reuse stores – I feel like I’m saving not just my money, but my sanity (especially at this time of year – have you seen the malls???) and, in a small way, the world. Never worry about shopping that way – you put more thought and work into your gifts than many people with an un-budget.

      My deal yesterday at Value Village was 4 100g hanks of chunky 100% wool from Norway in the most beautiful Christmas red. For $20 I am going to have 4 beautiful cowls to give for winter birthdays. Just need to get the needles going.

      15 years ago one of my deals was a beautiful thick black hooded terrycloth bathrobe for me. $7 on a 50% off day – and it is still going strong.

      Keep shopping the way that works for you and let it make you happy.

      • Go Maureen! Go Tine! Go Trish! Go Chris! I’m in your league! This year I’m mostly giving books off my own shelves that don’t look too used.

  12. I just started my shopping yesterday. I’m taking huge comfort in the fact that I did a big fall clean and finished right before Thanksgiving, so it’s just regular cleaning between now and Christmas. Also, I’m not hosting anything this year. Just my kids home the week bw Christmas and New Year. Maybe next year. I’m also not knitting anything gift wise this year either. That’s rolling to next year either. This has been a year, and I’m issuing myself a free pass. Kind of like a get of jail card.

  13. You’ve learned so much over the years! You’ve really made progress! I think you should find five seconds in the spreadsheet to congratulate yourself on your growth.

  14. Elliot has that look of a toddler who’s discovered that this is a great time of year when people are doing fun things.

    My two and a half year old grandson, having moved three weeks ago, excitedly pointed to every pine tree in their new area and called it “Christmas tree!” so the kids took theirs out of the box and set it up so he could have the joy of looking at those lights right away. And putting a whole bunch of ornaments at the bottom where he could reach.

    Those Santa strawberries are adorable and about to be copied. Thank you for the idea!

  15. I hear you, but, and it’s a big but, you should go on the trip. Delegate the work, the kids are grown and can help, they’re dying to help, just ask them. Life is short, go on the trip, be with your husband, Christmas will be wonderful, just because you’re all together. You don’t have to do everything. And, you can knit anywhere.

  16. And so the annual Christmas panic begins!

    Always entertaining for The Blog.

    Glad you have the spreadsheet. I just wish you would relax…Christmas/Solstice always comes. Everyone has a great time. Relax and enjoy.

    (And I got the chair to further emphasize my message…and aren’t you glad you had the year of socks?)

  17. I have so enjoyed experiencing the holidays through your family over the years. You surely deserve an especially great season after such a tough couple of years.

  18. Like the first snow of the season, now all is right with the world. Spreadsheet pressure, maniacal knitting, and flurries of flour for cookies. Yep the season has finally truly begun.

  19. Did you know that you can use a pool noodle under a fitted sheet to help keep a toddler from rolling/falling out of bed? It acts as a little bumper. I use it for my visiting toddlers and also for my dogs (Shelties). I like the bigger pool noodle, if there is enough room in the fitted sheet (deep pocket sheets). But I’ve used the standard pool noodle with equal effectiveness. Easier to store than a bed railing or crib when not in use, you don’t have to worry about rolling over on them in your bed, etc.

  20. Well Steph, this is what happens when you stay off the Blog for too long (imho it was too long!) Your readers keep you grounded … I think! ;-D

    Best of the Season to you and family …
    Have FUN.

  21. Send Joe to the mall with a list. You know how you hate that.
    Minimal cookie making. maybe just those decorated ones you like. The other ones from a good bakery. Maybe there are a couple of chocolate lovers on your list who would prefer a box of chocolates to something hand knit. I have one nephew like that.
    Stollen (German Christmas bread) from Aldi is as good as mine. Only do the things yourself that make the holiday, like the star lights made of ice.
    Julie in San Diego, where it is raining (our idea of winter)

  22. I was just wondering a day or so ago why the spreadsheet hadn’t been mentioned this year… Presbytera I bought Christmas trail mix this week. Save me a spot.

  23. I need to send you a BIG ‘Thank You’ for your post several years ago where you mentioned having a Christmas Spreadsheet. It inspired me to make my own 3-page spreadsheet: To-Do, Gifts For Us, and Gifts for Others. It has lightened my holiday stress level considerably since I started using it. People laugh when I mention it. However, because of The Spreadsheet, I was able to go visit my daughter at college this weekend and see her holiday concert with no guilt. AND I was “exact yarned,” finishing my charity knitting project while I was there. Bless you, Stephanie!

  24. I love you, Stephanie! You will get it done, I know. Or close enough that it makes no never mind. 🙂 Enjoy the whirlwind prep for the holidays, I know you’ve already looked at what’s important to you, and that’s what’s on your to-do list. It’s stressful but in a weird way it’s also fun. I know you are doing stuff you enjoy, and I hope you enjoy it and have wonderful holidays. I look forward to the ice lanterns (but no pressure on making them).

    Hugs and thanks for motivating me to get my act together! 🙂

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