It is insane to me the amount of preparation goes into the Christmas holiday. I had never stopped to think about it until this year, but when you compare Christmas to the other holidays we celebrate, it is absolutely mind-boggling how much prep there is before Christmas day.
Think about it. For example:
Halloween: You create (or buy) a costume. Buy some candy for the trick-or-treaters. Maybe go to a party to show off your costume (and when you were young, you went trick-or-treating). The preparation and celebration takes no more than a few hours.
Birthday: You plan a party, buy a gift, make some food, celebrate. Again, totally possible to prepare in an afternoon.
Thanksgiving: You could argue this one takes more than 1 day to prepare for, depending on the type and amount of food you’re making if you are hosting. But still…you spend a solid day making food, cleaning the house and maybe decorating, and then you spend a day eating and relaxing with family and friends.
Then think about Christmas. How many hours do you spend shopping for gifts for everyone you care about? Then you wrap them. And there are decorations to go up, and holiday baking to be done, and traditional events leading up to and after Christmas Day. At my house, at least, it’s a month long event. It’s crazy!
Every year, my mom takes a week of vacation in December in order to prepare for Christmas. When I got home last week, we spent her vacation days together throwing ourselves into the Christmas frenzy. She had already set up the tree and put lights on it, but we spent an hour or two putting on ornaments. Then we hauled down six boxes of Christmas decorations from the attic (and I’m talking big boxes—like the size of full-size suitcases) and transformed the living room, dining room, and kitchen into Christmas wonderlands. We cleared all of the normal trinkets off of the shelves and replaced them with the collection of Christmas music boxes, the Nativity scene Mom bought herself when she moved into her own apartment for the first time, the Christmas village, and a collection of dozens of other decorations she’s accumulated over the years. It, again, took hours.
|Nativity scene and table of snowmen figurines|
We spent 3 hours one day and 5 the next shopping, running all over town to pick up gifts for those people she hadn’t finished buying for yet (and most of her shopping was done before I got back from Guatemala!). Each night, we made one or two Christmas goodies: fudge, nut goodie bars, salted nut rolls, Great-Grandma’s famous chocolate chip cookies. And on Saturday, Mom and Liz and I spent five hours at Grandma’s house for our annual baking extravaganza where we whipped up 8 more varieties of Christmas treats.
By the evening of December 23rd, most of the presents were wrapped and under the tree. The house was almost clean. The food preparations had begun. By Christmas Eve, we were finally prepared and ready to begin our traditions.
On Christmas Eve, we made Swedish meatballs to be eaten with lefse and mashed potatoes before the Christmas Eve service at church. We opened presents as a family when we get home. Christmas day, our home was full as we hosted the Rosendale Christmas for the first time. We ate a huge noon meal, opened presents one at a time, around in a circle, until each of the 12 of us had opened everything, and we munched on Christmas cookies until dinnertime.
|Christmas day dinner|
|Our cookies got their own table.|
On Sunday, the celebration continued as we headed out to Grandma’s for Christmas with Mom’s side of the family. Last night, we opened presents with the California cousins, laughed ourselves sore over a game of Telestrations, and once again had a mini-feast and multiple cookies.
|Drawing for the game Telestrations|
|This is a drawing of...|
And in a few days, too soon, I’ll be on a plane back to Guatemala, leaving my family to take down all of the decorations and shuffle the tree outside (which probably won’t happen until late January…because what is the point of all that work if you can’t enjoy it for at least a month?!).
I love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday of the year. And a big part of the reason is the preparation, the amount of work that goes in to make every year’s celebration perfect. The fact that we put so much love and energy into getting ready for it makes it mean that much more. There’s a reason we start playing Christmas music as soon as possible, a reason we love the sweet treats and decorations and presents. But it still boggles my mind the amount of time, effort, and money that we put into it each and every year!