Pull Up a Chair

December 6, 2013

Maryland in Late Fall

I can already feel December whizzing by. Is it the same for you? Despite all the busyness, I’m determined to enjoy this month, especially since it’s the first holiday season my girls really understand. Last year we were together for Christmas, but this year feels like our first.

In my recent post about how to have the “best” holiday season ever, I mentioned creating a list of things you want to do and putting them on the calendar before you suddenly wake up and realize it’s New Year’s Eve and you never did X, Y, or Z. I really want to make memories and start traditions as a family, so on my list this year is making gingerbread cookies with the girls (a tradition in my own family growing up), visiting a neighborhood here in Baltimore famous for its Christmas lights, and seeing The Nutcracker ballet together (live or on video). This Sunday, we’re going to a local production of Amahl and the Night Visitors – a one-hour children’s opera.

There are also Advent-related activities I love… I made an Advent wreath last weekend, and it’s the centerpiece on our table. I also picked up an Advent calendar, and this one has stickers rather than windows — right up the girls’ alley. And today we observed St. Nicholas day: The girls got a few treats in their shoes when they woke up, and we talked about the story of St. Nicholas and how he relates to our modern-day Santa Claus (or “Father Christmas,” as S and H call him, because they’ve watched too many British shows).

What I actually find most stressful about this time of year is the gift-selecting and buying and mailing. Unless I decide on a “no gifts for anyone” policy, it’s pretty much impossible for me to avoid some craziness when it comes to gifts. That’s just what happens when you have an enormous family spread around the continent, four godchildren, and friends you see over the holidays. The answer would be to finish all gift-related stuff by Thanksgiving — but it just didn’t happen this year. Something to aim for in 2014!

To relax a bit today, I’m reaching for this gingerbread martini. I’m a fan of anything gingerbread right now. On to my high and low this week:

Low: Sluggish mornings this week, which always make me feel like I’m behind all day. I really wish I were a morning person…

High: Catching up with some friends we haven’t seen for a few months and hearing about their recent trip to Ethiopia.

Bonus Question: If you put a Christmas tree up, is it already standing proud and decorated, or are you a “no tree until Christmas eve” kind of person? Since I like to make Advent a distinct season, I prefer to put up our tree close to the 25th. But because there are no trees left if we wait too long, we usually get our tree two weeks beforehand and decorate it gradually.

Please grab one of those martinis and tell me about your first week of December!

Before signing off, I want to share this recent interview I did with Alexandre Havard about leadership. I love his ideas, and it was a good refresher for me on the kinds of things I want to instill in my daughters.

Have a slow(ish!) weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Monday.

Image: Zoe Saint-Paul

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1 Therese December 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Zoe, that’s a really great interview. I posted a link to it on the blog I keep for my adult students, on our FB page, and on our LinkedIn group. Thanks so much for sharing it!

Thanks also for the reminder that I am behind on getting our Advent wreath. My “high” this week took us away from normal planning. We led an overnight living history experience for 12 families that took us to 1838 in a Russian colony in California. It was impressive to see the kids working so hard cooking over open fires, doing night watches in the rain and then windy cold, operating a trading post on little sleep, etc. Felt as if I almost did go back in time, it took me so far from the normal routine.

Enjoy your St. Nicholas celebrations!

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