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What Stinks About the Holidays and How to Make it Better

What happens inside of you when you hear the first Christmas song of the season?

Before I get all scroogy on you, yes, there are some really really good things about this time of year, things like…

  • Snuggling up with the kids and watching Home Alone movies and Elf over and over — with hot cocoa of course. (Any other good Christmas movies I should add to my list?)
  • Certain favorite Christmas songs get me out of my scrooge-like mood and thinking about the Baby who came here to earth for us.
  • The smell of the Christmas tree, now that is awesome. I’m glad Kent never let me talk him into an artificial tree. (Last year our tree didn’t have a strong enough smell so I bought some pine candles.)
  • Getting together with family and of course the excitement of the kids, that makes it all worth it.
  • Side note: I just asked our 13 year old what is his favorite part of the holiday season and I thought he’d say presents or something, but he said, “the snow”. :)

But alas, with anything good there is the not-so-good.

  • I detest figuring out what to get people. There are those, we all know them, who have the gift-giving gift. They find the perfect thing without even trying! They keep an eye out all year and just happen to find exactly what the person will love. Those people tick me off as I bumble through the stores, with no idea of what the heck I’m doing. Just tell me what you want and I’ll go buy it.
  • Figuring out what to make for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners, or get togethers with friends and family, is a pain in my backside. What can we make that is reeeeeeally good, but without all the crappy ingredients? If you have people with food sensitivities at your shindig then you’re extra screwed.

What about you, what do you love about this time of year and what stinks for you?

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  1. Gotta add It’s A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street (the old one with Natalie Wood) to the holiday movie list! Glad you mentioned Elf, or I would definitely have add it! :-)

    For Christmas gift ideas, here’s a link from last year to some easy, quick homemade gift items from Food Renegade: I made the lip balm, bath salts, and taco seasoning to give last year and they were a hit.

    Another great, easy, homemade Christmas gift I’ve done is cinnamon ornaments. Mix 1 cup applesauce, 1 1/2 cup ground cinnamon (I like to combine it with ground cloves), and 1/3 cup white glue (like Elmers) into a dough. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, then roll out between two sheets of waxed paper (not too thin) and cut with Christmas shape cookie cutters. I like to sprinkle with very fine gold glitter, but that’s optional. Poke a little hole on top for the string to hang it up with, and let dry for a few days, flipping over if they start to curl up around the edges. They smell amazing and are pretty darn cute! If you use small cookie cutters, you can make a ton of them cheaply (get the cinnamon/cloves in bulk).

    This year I think I will try making soap for the first time (and giving my first batch away as gifts)! I had been thinking about learning how and last week a sweet acquaintance of mine “out of the blue” offered to teach me! (Sort of out of the blue–I sell some handmade personal and home care items at our local farmer’s market and she is also a vendor. She was planning on making some soap for Christmas gifts and thought it might be something I’d be interested in learning, given the other things I make).

      • Definitely. Years ago, I actually did the cinnamon ornament project with a ton of kids at our local homeschool homemade Christmas gift activity day and the kids (and moms) loved it! I made a bunch of recipe cards up on 3 x 5 note cards to take home in case they wanted to make a batch on their own.

  2. Holiday movies we enjoy…. Miracle on 34th Street (the original), It’s a Wonderful Life, The Bishop’s Wife (both original and remake), Jingle All the Way, The Santa Clause, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Christmas in Connecticut… I know there’s more. Mike and I watch (very irreverently) Christmas Vacation every year. We also enjoy The Holiday, but I wouldn’t recommend either for kids.

    I’m glad I’m not the only Scrooge out there — I dislike all the buying. In recent years we’ve reduced it dramatically in our extended families — we just get together without a gift exchange. My biggest pet peeve is when I hear people say they are going to “do Christmas” with different family members. They mean they’re going together and exchange gifts, but I despise the wording “do Christmas”.

    Last year I spent lots of time listening to the Bible while I wrapped gifts. It greatly enhanced my Christmas spirit!!

  3. White Christmas and Little Women are two of the first Christmas movies my daughter and I watch. We also start the season with watching Holiday Inn from which the song White Christmas originated. My husband and I always watch midnight mass while we wait for Santa to visit. And yes, even though we have teenagers and a soon to be 21 year old, Santa still comes to our house!

  4. YES, those are my families favorites too, Elf and the Home Alone Movies! Of course I love all the old classics like It’s A Wonderful Life too. This year we’re doing Christmas differently, we’ve purchased tickets to The Lion King in NYC for March and we’re taking the kids there and spending a couple of days sightseeing (they’ve never been). The only “gifts” they’ll get at Christmas are their stockings (my kids are 11 and 16 btw). To make Thanksgiving relaxing for ALL of us we’re going to a local restaurant that does a home style Thanksgiving buffet. For years I stressed out over the holidays and trying to “do it all”. I’m so over that 😉

  5. Sorry to be Ebenezer Scrooge, but what about not buying any presents (except for kids)??? When you work outside the house it’s a juggling act (at best) – the few days off, school closed and what to do with the kids, the relatives, the gift buying, the cooking, the decorating, lack of sleep…it’s just not fun!!! It’s all about buy, buy, buy. I lost my holiday cheer years ago.

  6. I usually choose to buy or make a few small things for my family, this year the girls are old enough that we will be making ornaments with small pictures in them of the girls, they will get a few items that they need and maybe a toy. Last year I went all out and it was stressful. My biggest problem is getting presents in the mail and deciding what to cook for the meals.

  7. We only give gifts to immediate family and grandparents. The grandparents get…food! I make quarts of soup, stock and stews; cake-in-a-jar; liver pâté; any good, healthy food I can think of, and freeze it. All year long they can go get “fast food” from their freezer instead if the drive-thru.

    One of the great things about homeschooling is that you can make some traditions for your family that you never had time for before!

    My “Yay!” is cold weather, snow and fireplaces (none of which we get here) and my “Boo!” is the constant selling and discontent the season threatens to dredge up. It’s a battle we don’t fight other times of the year.

  8. I get so tired of Christmas songs that by the time arrives I could scream. One chain store in Canada started the music on the weekend and got so many complaints that they stopped. Power to the people!
    (most wanted the music delayed until December although a few people just wanted one artist’s song banned!)

  9. Besides White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life, two that haven’t been mentioned that are musts are Scrogged (Bill Murray at his finest) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the animated version). Growing up, after the Christmas Eve festivities with extended family were over, we would get in our pjs and curl up by the fire, watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas while sipping sparkling cider. My husband and I still do it even though we don’t have kids yet. :)

  10. I’ve been making more gifts and for some I also give charity donations. When I discovered Heifer International a few years ago I started making gift donations, and they give you cards you can print out and gift to the people. So this isn’t something like the Human Fund. 😉

    This weekend I am hoping to start a batch of homemade limoncello. Just need to figure out who will be the recipient(s).

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