Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Your official holiday permission slip, compliments of Seekerville

Myra Johnson
This the time of year when I have to work really hard at shrugging off the guilt over not doing the Christmas season up the way I used to.
  • Composing lengthy, creative Christmas letters.

  • Whipping up several batches of fudge, divinity, and Christmas cookies.

  • Decorating inside and out with every last ornament and light string in my possession.

  • Agonizing over finding just the right gifts for each member of the family.

  • Running myself ragged attending Christmas luncheons, programs, and other seasonal events.

Okay, it’s probably a good thing I’m not cooking and baking like I did when the kids were young, especially since I spend 6-8 hours a day on my you-know-what in front of my computer. But you get the idea.

Because during the busy holiday season, it’s more important than ever to differentiate between what we want to do and what we really, truly need to do. Otherwise, we can drive ourselves crazy.

So here’s your annual permission slip to celebrate the Christmas season the way you want to. No guilt. No pressure. (Well, probably some, because that’s just the way most of us are wired.)

By the authority vested in me, a certified and duly sworn member of the High Council of Seekerville, I hereby declare unto all Seekervillagers, along with their heirs, assignees, and house pets, that for the duration of this holiday season you are granted the following freedoms:
  1. You shall have the right to forego baking Christmas cookies, fruitcakes, pies, and other assorted goodies and instead purchase them at your local bakery or deli.

  2. You shall have the right to ooh and aah over your neighbors’ elaborate outdoor Christmas light displays and not feel like Scrooge for putting up minimal decorations yourself.

  3. You shall have the right to watch all the sappy Christmas movies you can handle, without feeling guilty over sobbing when that adorable yellow Lab saves Christmas or Mrs. Miracle brings Christmas joy to yet another deserving couple.

  4. You shall have the right to do all your Christmas shopping online and let the gift recipients worry about mailing back items that do not fit or are the wrong color.

  5. You shall have the right to do absolutely NO Christmas shopping in December and instead give all your loved ones an IOU for January 15 after the crowds have dissipated and everything is on sale again.

  6. You shall have the right to send your electronically savvy loved ones a Christmas e-card instead of a paper card with envelope and stamp.

  7. You shall have the right to keep this year’s Christmas letter short and sweet, or even to abstain from this practice entirely if so desired.

  8. You shall have the right to order Christmas dinner prepackaged from your favorite restaurant or deli, serve it on your own fancy china, and never let your family in on the secret.

  9. You shall have the right to expect lots of help with dishes and after-dinner cleanup so that everyone shall have equal opportunity for fun and relaxation on Christmas Day.

  10. You shall have the right to expect everyone to understand that you are not cheap or lazy or lacking Christmas spirit but rather you are a very committed writer on deadline (and it doesn’t matter if it’s a “real” editorial deadline or a self-imposed deadline for completing your work-in-progress and getting that proposal off to an editor, agent, or contest organizer).
And finally, you shall have the right to disregard any or all of these freedoms and enjoy Christmas any way you want to!

Let’s talk. What’s your favorite Christmas activity? Your least favorite? Is there something you’ve always wanted to do (or not do) over the holidays but haven’t gotten around to yet? What’s holding you back?

Join the discussion and you can be entered in the drawing for a surprise package of inspirational novels! Just include the words ENTER ME in your comment.


Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. She is a two-time finalist for the ACFW Carol Award and winner of the 2005 RWA Golden Heart. Her novel When the Clouds Roll By won the historical fiction category of the 2014 Christian Retailing’s Best Award and was also a Maggie finalist. Married since 1972, Myra and her husband have two beautiful daughters, two great sons-in-law, and seven grandchildren. Although Myra is a native Texan, she and her husband now reside in North Carolina, sharing their home with two very pampered rescue dogs. 

Myra’s latest release is Every Tear a Memory, book 3 in her Till We Meet Again series from Abingdon Press. You can also read her novella, Designs on Love, in the Seekers’ Hope for the Holidays historical collection.  Subscribe to Myra's e-news updates here.


Wilani Wahl said...

Great Post! I love Christmas and all the many things associated with the season. However as I have gotten older I have learned that I don't have to do it all. Instead I do what I want and not worry about all the rest. After all it is all about the message of Christmas. I find myself more relaxed with this new attitude I have developed over the last few years.

Please enter me.

By the way. Myra I loved your Novela in Hope for the Holidays. Actually I am loving all of them and enjoying reading them

Lyndee H said...

HI Myra! Thanks for the permission slip. I'll be sure to use it!

Our Christmas has evolved to an easy more contemplative season of dedication and service. If the tree isn't perfect and we only have one kind of cookie on the tray, it just doesn't matter. We've learned to enjoy the Reason for the Season.

Our neighborhood has a party at our elementary school the second weekend in December that includes sleigh rides with a wonderful draft horse pulling a red ride with lots of jingle bells and I love that the driver encourages us to sing a Christmas song. Then we it's into the school for hot chocolate, snacks and a visit with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Wonderful memories for my grandkids, too.

ENTER ME, please. And thanks for your post.

Mary Preston said...


I do love to decorate the house and the Christmas tree. So many wonderful memories and traditions.

ENTER ME thank you.

Cindy W. said...

I love Christmas and the spirit that feels the air every year. I wish we could bottle it up and sprinkle it around all year round.

When I was very young our house was always decorated to the max,but as we have all gotten older, less and less is done. I don't really know if it is for lack of time or lack of dollars but now it's just a small tree and stockings. But the most important part is still there...the Christmas Spirit.

Please enter me.

Have a wonderful Christmas spirit filled day!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I'd use the permission slip, but then I would lose ammunition to make fun of MARY.... and you know how much I love to make fun of Mary!

So yes, I decorate to the hilt and we plan cool Christmas things like bell ringing and adopt-a-family and this year we're doing a day-long "Help the Homeless" festival here on our farm with our daycare kids. They're getting pledges and spending 12/20 OUTSIDE in tents... to get a taste of what it's like to be uncomfortable. Hungry. Cold.

Working with kids all week, I love to grab the holiday/holy day and show them the true meaning of Christmas, so I'll hold off on the permission slip for a while, because that decorating and baking and getting things done is part of how I welcome my children home for the holidays. And I think of all the commuters that pass by my house and see Great-Grandma's full-sized reindeer and Santa, all lit up. The Nativity scene in the stable Paul and Mandy built for me. The windows, framed in twinkle lights, and an old-fashioned rustic ornament hanging in each little pane. And in the middle of it all, an American flag, lit up at night.

I like to think that makes people smile and if one person smiles and feels better about life when they drive by at night, then it was worth every single minute.

That probably sounds silly, but (raises hand high in air!!!) yes... Guilty as charged!

We Martha-types are a pain in the tush. Myra, I loved that last line where you gave people like me permission to ignore the permission slip, LOL! Perfect!

cathyann40 said...

Great Post. I never look forward to the holidays. I have no one so I'm always alone. I'm debating if I should put my tree up. It's just a little one. I always hope something shows up under it and it never does. lol
Enter Me please.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Remember that silly Captcha is not needed to comment. Ignore it and eventually it will find some other Blog to haunt.

Tina Radcliffe said...


Here's the thing. I like Jesus 24/7 and 365 days a year. Tinsel or not.

Eventually I really want to do a John Grisham Skipping Christmas trip too.

I long to be on a beach instead of fighting the crowds.

Jackie said...

Thanks, Myra. I needed that permission slip. Before I sat down this morning lists had been running through my mind of all I need to accomplish today. I already feel more relaxed.

Rose said...

Thank you, Myra!

Now to get my family to read this.

I have cut back on baking because there are only two of us around to eat most of it. However, I do still make goodies and I try to make easy recipes that take less than 30 minutes to put together, not including baking time.

My favorite thing activity at Christmas is wrapping. I love to wrap gifts. I don't mean bags either(although I do use them for odd shaped items).

Tina Radcliffe said...

I have never heard of someone who likes to wrap gifts, Rose. You could quit your day job and open a gift wrapping business.

This is very unusual. Must go process this information.

Mary Hicks said...

This is so much fun, Myra! I do less and less each year and I enjoy Christmas more and more.:-)

I have so gotten past any guilt! I was THE Christmas person all my life. You name it, I did it and loved every moment. I still love Christmas, but now from afar.

I'll share this with those who are still struggling with 'Christmas guilt'. :-)

Glynna Kaye said...

Good Morning & Merry Christmas, Myra! And thank you SO MUCH for the permission slip!

Having just send in a finished manuscript and now working on the art fact sheet and leaping into writing the NEXT proposal (synopsis and 3 chapters) that is due in January as I race to beat the edits that will be coming back on this last book, I've been reviewing my massive "To Do List" and trying to figure out what can realistically take place in December and what can't!

I'm seriously thinking of sending a New Year's greeting rather than Christmas greetings -- and wondering if anyone REALLY wants to hear from me this year anyway??? :) And I'll be buying goodies for the day job office rather than baking.

What I want to "fill in" to the tiny windows of time available needs to be weighed on a "value added" scale--which means PEOPLE TIME needs to rank high (meaningful time, not superficial drive bys). And GOD TIME.

But in order for that to happen, I have to say NO to some things and SCHEDULE INTO MY CALENDAR the meaningful things. If I don't, the urgent and daily demanding stuff will force out the people time, the God time, and before I know it this holiday season will be a thing of the past.

So thank you for the reminder, Myra!

Tracey Hagwood said...

Wonderful permission post, Myra! I made up my mind this year I would not get stressed about the to-do list and would only do what I truly enjoyed doing. It's amazing how that one small self-declaration changed my outlook on my Christmas busyness. I've never enjoyed it more either.

I'm a lot like Ruthy, I love to decorate and bake and spend time with the family. That's what makes Christmas, well Christmas.

We've also talked about one year, for variety, taking a destination Christmas trip like Tina mentioned.

Until then, I'm watching those movies, baking and buying, attending church programs and waiting on God to show me who I can do something for this Christmas. I'd adopt cathyann40 if I knew how to reach you. Can I do that seekervile? I'll send you the book of your choice for Christmas to put under that little tree.
No matter what it may seem like, we all have a family, a family of fellow human beings, so you are not alone and without someone to share Christmas cathyann40!

I was the winner on Myras recent book launch Amazon card contest and would like to thank you again for your generosity, Myra!

LeAnne Bristow said...

Myra!!! I love the way you think and I accept every single one of the permission slips. Yep. Love it! I always find it sad that during this happy time of year I see so much stress and anxiety on everyone's face. Many of my friends spend the entire month fighting with their spouse about how much to spend, who to spend it on, etc. It makes me sad. So I'm sending your permission slips to everyone I know!
By the way, please enter me.

Myra Johnson said...

Good morning, Seekerville, and Merry Christmas! I'm still in my jammies, sipping my Earl Grey, and struggling to type this comment with the itty-bitty keyboard on my iPad, but I'll be back soon to respond to each of you.

Until then, thanks to all you early birds for kicking of the conversation!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh Myra, How sweet. I've already given myself permission for most of those things.

I quit baking years ago and run to downtown Phoenix to the Sees Candy distribution center where they give teachers (even retired teachers a 40% discount) My family has not complained yet. chuckle

I love all the parties and luncheons though and manage to squeeze time for that. Our church is doing a workshop on the song Mary Did you Know which is my favorite Christmas song. I should not be taking the time to go to that, but will go instead of pickleball. smile

Oh I love Christmas.

Have fun everyone. And Myra is right. Don't let the season become stressful.

Cindy Regnier said...

Thanks Myra - keeping that permission slip nearby . Every year I write a Christmas poem in lieu of a letter telling about our family's activities in rhyme and throwing in a little message about Christ in the manger. I've been doing it for so many years everyone looks forward to it. Expects it. Demands it. Insists every year be better than the last. I am so out of ideas and rhymes I can barely think about it without going all fruitcake. Can I add Christmas poem to the permission slip or must I endure what I innocently began all those years ago?
Thanks for a great post!

Marianne Barkman said...

What a delightful start to a new day! Thanks, Myra. In that case, I've done all the Christmas Shoppiing I'm doing. Without little ones in our family, though, we haven't done that for a long time. We buy our gifts for each other throughout the year ( it's just myMom, my brother and his wife and me) so the permission slip is great! I did do cards, but they're all in the mail, and I put out mywintervillage and so.. Now I'm having my coffee, looking forward to seeing Sandra next week, wondering how I can hook up for tea with our own wonderful TINA, and taking that permission slip further to doing nothing but read this morning! Thanks, Myra. Ned yes, please enter me! Thanks

Myra Johnson said...

Okay, semi-alert and sort of dressed!

WILANI, I'm so glad you enjoyed Designs on Love! It was a fun story to write.

I'm with you. We DON'T have to do it all to really enjoy the Christmas season. The one ornament I always make sure is front and center on my tree says it all:


Myra Johnson said...

Hi, LYNDEE! What a fun neighborhood you have! I love watching kids get into the Christmas spirit!

That's the hardest thing for us this year--no grandkids anywhere nearby and no chance of visiting them. Instead, we're taking joy in the Christmas events at our church.

Carolyne Aarsen said...

Oh the pressure we put on Christmas and ourselves to make it all perfect. I'll admit to over-extending myself on wrapping and decorating and still feeling like I've fallen short. Each year I pare down something that, at one time I thought would make the perfect Christmas. Slowly I'm realizing that my kids don't need the perfect gift. They just need time together and time to reflect on Christ. That can't happen when I'm rushing around trying to achieve perfection! Thanks for the reminder.

Myra Johnson said...

MARY P, even without our children around this year, we did some decorating and put up our tree anyway. It just really helps to have those traditional reminders of the season.

Myra Johnson said...

Yes, CINDY W, as long as we cherish the spirit of Christmas in our hearts, it doesn't matter how much or how little of the outward trappings we surround ourselves with.

Myra Johnson said...

LOL, RUTHY, why did I know you would NOT need this permission slip! Maybe we should all just fly up to your house and eat your goodies and enjoy your decorations? You've got enough room, right??? ;-D

Myra Johnson said...

CATHY ANN, I'm so sorry you are alone for the holidays. I know it's hard. The first couple of times we had none of our children and grandchildren close by to celebrate with, I was horribly depressed.

I think the only antidote is to surround yourself with good friends, especially if you have a church community you can connect with.

Another thing that helped us was volunteering to deliver gifts and food to families in need. Nothing cheers you like lifting someone else's spirits!

Myra Johnson said...

TINA, yes--a beach!!!! Let's go find one and escape together!!! You bring your kitties and I'll bring my doggies. They'll get along great, right???

Myra Johnson said...

JACKIE, I'm glad my permission slip helped you take a step back from your to-do list and relax a little! In Seekerville, we aim to please!

Myra Johnson said...

ROSE, I used to do up the Christmas goodies by the Tupperware-full! Can't do it anymore. Number 1, too time-consuming. Number 2, my rear end can't afford the calories!

I confess, I've gotten much more into gift bags in my "elder" years. I used to enjoy wrapping gifts and tying fancy bows, but then I realized my grandkids couldn't care less. R-R-R-R-R-I-I-I-P-P-P-P-P and it's over!!!

Myra Johnson said...

MARY HICKS, congratulations!!!! You've got the right idea!!!

Myra Johnson said...

GLYNNA, you nailed it. If we don't schedule in the important things, they get overwhelmed by the urgent.

And isn't it crazy how editors--who seem to take off the entire month of December, and sometimes even longer--manage to give us editing and revision deadlines right up through the holidays???

Myra Johnson said...

TRACEY, what a huge heart you have!

See, CATHY ANN? Here in Seekerville, nobody celebrates the holidays alone!!!

Another confession--I really get into those sappy Hallmark Christmas movies. Well, most of them anyway. There have been a few that start out sooooo insanely inane that we make it through fifteen minutes and then shut them off.

Myra Johnson said...

Yay, LEANNE, feel free to share all you want! It really is sad how a season that is meant to be joyful ends up causing so much stress for so many.

Sherri Shackelford said...

Well said :) I'm not a big Christmas person. I do like all the lights on the houses when it's dark early and everyone is grumpy!

Myra Johnson said...

SANDRA!!!! You get a big See's discount???? I am SO coming over to your place for Christmas!!!!!!

Speaking of pickleball, this is my usual day to go over to the club with hubby, so I'll be stepping out shortly for an hour or two. Gotta work off all those goodies I plan to eat this season!!!

Tracey Hagwood said...

I've been enjoying the UP channel movies, last night's Paper Angels was fantastic and full of the true meaning of Christmas, GIVING, just like God gave His Best Gift in giving us JESUS!

Myra Johnson said...

CINDY, so you're a Christmas letter poet! Yep, you set everyone up to expect them now. I never waxed very poetic, but I used to try to outdo myself creatively with every Christmas letter. Then around Thanksgiving I'd stress and stress about what my approach would be for that Christmas. Ugh!

Myra Johnson said...

MARIANNE, it sounds like you've got the season under control--good for you! If you do connect with TINA and SANDRA as hoped, give them hugs from me!

Myra Johnson said...

CAROLYNE, truer words were never spoken. We have to consciously set good examples for our families about how to keep Christ in Christmas!

Dora Hiers said...

Least favorite? Decorating the tree.
Favorite? Decorating the tree.
Yeah, I know. Crazy, right? I hate detangling those stinking lights, but I just adore the tree when it's done. Covered with pinecones and cranberries, cinnamon and pine scenting the entire family room, a decorated tree really ushers in the season for me.

Thanks for the reminder that we really don't have to do it all, Myra. It's tough to give up things we've enjoyed doing for years or that silly obsessive need to clean before a houseful of guests arrives, but I'd much rather spend the holidays enjoying my family than feeling pressure or guilt. Well, I feel better already. :)

Oh, and please ENTER ME!

Myra Johnson said...

SHERRI, it's fun to drive through the neighborhoods and enjoy everyone ELSE'S outdoor lights and decorations! We used to do those up fancy, too, but hubby doesn't need to be climbing ladders to reach our eaves anymore.

Kav said...

I want a permission slip to read winter away. :-) A bibliophile's version of hibernation.

Thanks for the permission slip -- I need to print it out, laminate it and flash it a thousand times between now and Christmas. I've really pared down this year. It's been a yucky year healthwise and I just don't have the umph to do a whole lot of extra stuff. So...no tree or decorating this year. Gasp! I did put up my nativity scene though. And I'm baking. And my daughter and I always do a toy shopping excursion for the angel tree. I'm also enjoying Christmas specials on television and reading Christmas books so I haven't gone totally Scrooge.

And egads, the blogger numbers are getting longer and sneakier.

Deanna Stevens said...

I love to get out and see the Christmas lights at night! Haven't yet.. Chocolate covered cherries are my favorite..
please enter me..

Jackie Smith said...

What a fun post, Myra....loved it.
I am reader....have to pare down nowadays due to health/age! lol

Enter me!

DebH said...

Love the permission slips, Myra. There's so much I WANT to do, but know I'm not going to be able to do it. I used to make egg ornaments for all the family for Christmas gifts. Of course, I was single at the time - no problem.

Now, married with little one, I've given myself permission to only create the Christmas egg ornaments for hubby and child. I know the rest of the family is disappointed, but they do understand. Now that we "kids" are grown up with kids of our own, we've been focusing on the littles. Makes things a lot less stressful.

What's funny is my five year old has been insisting on getting ready for Christmas since he saw the neighbor's Christmas lights up and lit. "We must get ready, Momma!" For him, that means Christmas tree, nativity scene, outdoor lights up and cookies baked for baby Jesus and some extra for Santa. He's willing to wait until a couple days before Christmas for the cookies. He wants them fresh for his special visitors.
He's helping me keep focus on what's important.

oh, p.s. enter my name in the draw please.

kaybee said...

Enter me.
K. Bailey

Pam Hillman said...

Myra, I accept your permission slip with gratitude! :)

Donna said...

Thanks Myra! My favorite thing to do for the holidays is baking. My least favorite is sending out Christmas cards. I'm not sure why, but boy do I procrastinate!

I am reading your Hope for the Holidays story right now. I'm loving them!! Please enter me.

Janet Dean said...

Myra, love the freedom you've given us to do whatever feels right. I buy the cookies but go all out with decorating. I love to receive cards with everyone's news so I send cards. I'm blessed to have a husband who loves all that, too, which means the work is cut in half. When I've been on deadline, he's done the lion's share. No, he's not for rent. LOL


Janet Dean said...

Deanna, chocolate covered cherries are a Christmas tradition at our house. My bus driver gave each of us a box on the last day of school. What a treat that was for a kid whose family bought hard candy. Anyone remember horehound? Tastes like medicine. Oh, and hay stacks, which were at least chocolate, but for some reason I never liked them.


Julie Lessman said...

MYRA!!! This is JUST what I've been looking for, girlfriend, so THANK YOU!!

As a woman of extremes, I have gone from baking 60 dozen cookies and 25 rum cakes, and setting up two major trees and seven minor ones each year to NO BAKING and one prelit pencil tree that we cover and put away sans ornaments.

One of the benefits of age (one of the very few) is being able to simplify all things holiday-related, especially when the grandkids are 3,000 miles away and not coming to our house for Christmas, so no need for lots of decorations.

So I guess you might say I've given myself my own permission slip this year, but you can never have too many, right??

Hugs and a happy, healthy, and holy holiday season to one and all!


Natalie Monk said...

I love this post. :)

I especially love freedom #10.

Hmm. I've always wanted to have a "fancy dress up" Christmas dinner. My family and extended family has always been very casual, none of this dressing up business. But on TV and in Facebook I see these huge families with pretty Christmas sweaters and fine china eating their Christmas dinners. We have always visited our relatives one family at a time instead of all getting together. (Guess it means we have four or five Christmas dinners instead of just one, lol!) I love our small, cozy, casual atmosphere, but would love a big, loud family get together where everyone is in the Sunday best, eating, playing board games, singing around the piano, etc. :)

Jill Weatherholt said...

Love this, Myra! I think everyone should keep the permission slip handy, just in case. I decorate very early in November and start writing Christmas cards, so I have time to relax and enjoy the real meaning of Christmas. I refuse to get sucked into a stressed out mindset this time of the year. I'm asking your permission to please enter me!

Courtney Phillips said...

Haha! I still live at home, and my mom's one of the most creative people I know (she made a sleigh for our front porch out of a cardboard box). So she handles the decorating. We potluck for Christmas dinner, so that's not too big of a hassle either.
But, I've only bought ONE present so far. Yikes.

Hoping everyone has a merry Christmas!

Courtney Phillips said...

Oh, and please enter me. :)

Myra Johnson said...

KAV, you have my official permission to read all you want to this winter!

We've shopped for angel trees before--very rewarding! It was especially fun the years we didn't have little grandkids to shop for. Nothing like picking out toys and cute clothes for little ones!

Myra Johnson said...

DEANNA--chocolate-covered cherries--YUM!!!!

The neighbors are gradually getting their outdoor lights up. It's neat to arrive home from an evening event or meeting and see what everyone else has done. Because all WE have out this year are three wreaths and some red bows!

Myra Johnson said...

JACKIE S, paring down can be a good thing. Choose what's most meaningful to you and forget the rest!

Myra Johnson said...

DEB H, sounds like your little one has the right idea!

Your Christmas egg ornaments sound fun! I bet they're so pretty! Is this one of those crafts where you poke tiny holes in the egg and blow out the innards, then decorate the shell? I remember doing that a loooooooong time ago, maybe in Brownies or somewhere.

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, KAYBEE. Hope you're having a lovely holiday season!

Myra Johnson said...

You're welcome, PAM! ;-D

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, DONNA! I procrastinate on Christmas cards, too. The past couple of years we've experimented with e-letters for anyone with an email account, and only send snail mail to those who don't. Not sure whether the Post Office is grateful or not . . .

Myra Johnson said...

JANET, isn't it great to have a helpful hubby? Mine pitches in, too, especially when we get around to addressing envelopes and sticking on stamps.

Myra Johnson said...

JULIE!!! You get it!!!! It's hard, though, when we know we won't have any kids home for the holidays. This is the year for one of our daughters to have Christmas with her in-laws, and the other, a missionary in Africa, is just too, too far away. Really glad we have our church family to celebrate with.

Myra Johnson said...

NATALIE, big family gatherings can be lots of fun . . . or very intimidating for us introverts. My husband comes from a big, close-knit family, and when we used to all live within driving distance of each other, his sister would host the big Christmas dinner (or Thanksgiving some years), and we'd each bring a dish. She had folding tables and chairs set up all over her house!

Myra Johnson said...

JILL, getting an early start is certainly one way to cut down on the stress! Too bad I never seem to think of this early enough!

Myra Johnson said...

COURTNEY, your mom sounds like a fun lady! And for a big family, potluck holiday meals make the most sense. Why should one person be stuck with all the cooking?

The other good thing about our extended family is that the guys know their place. Once dinner is over, kitchen cleanup is THEIR responsibility!!!

Keli Gwyn said...

Gwynly and I have changed some things this year. We have our first-ever artificial tree. If the cats' reaction to it is anything to go on, it must look a lot like the real thing because they're going after the ornaments with gusto.

Another change is that there are no presents under our tree. Yup. Gwynly and I decided not to exchange gifts. We have so much stuff that I'm looking to unload some, so why add more? The cats like this because they can nap under the tree. I'm not sure the new tree skirt from last year's after-Christmas sale will survive their battles for the best spot, though.

The biggest change is that we won't be spending Christmas with our grown daughter for the first time since she joined our family. She's living in Austria this year, where she's working as an English language teaching assistant. That change is a hard one, but thanks to Skype, we will still be able to "see" her on Christmas.

Myra Johnson said...

DORA!!! How did I miss your comment? Must have slipped past me as I was catching up after getting back from pickleball. Sorry!!!

Untangling lights--an awful chore! Right up there with cleaning house from top to bottom for company! :-/

But you mentioned one aspect of the season that's so meaningful--all the lovely scents that remind us of Christmas!

Myra Johnson said...

KELI, I so understand what it feels like to have your children far, far away at Christmastime. Yay for Skype, though! Wish we had even that with our Ethiopian branch, but their internet is so horrible that it won't work. We have to rely on Facebook messaging.

And how smart to skip the gifts when you know you already have everything you need. With just the two of us, if there's something special we really want and we can afford it, we call that our Christmas present to each other. The rest will be just little things we think of between now and Christmas.

Missy Tippens said...

Thank you, Myra! I'm going to print that certificate and put in on a button to wear around!! :) :)

I want to say right now that I gave up sending Christmas cards years ago when I was overwhelmed with small children. And I haven't taken it up again. So please know you're not forgotten. You're all in my heart and mind! :)

Meghan Carver said...

Enter me! Okay, just wanted to get that out of the way before I forgot. :-)

Favorite -- decorating or cookie baking or re-reading favorite Christmas novels. Better yet, eating the cookies in the decorated room while reading the Christmas novel.
Least favorite -- dealing with a grouchy husband when the lights tangle. But he helps in so many ways that I can't complain.
Most wanted but haven't done -- taking all six children to the special Christmas symphony concert, dressed to the nines with a nice dinner out first. You know how much that costs?? Crazy amounts of money!

Merry Christmas!

Myra Johnson said...

MISSY, I envy you! I think it's probably too late for someone my age to get away with stopping sending Christmas cards altogether. People would think I probably died!!!!

Myra Johnson said...

MEGHAN, I could go for your plan of eating cookies in a decorated room while reading a great Christmas novel!

Your "most wanted" idea reminded me of going to a live performance of The Nutcracker with my adult daughter several years ago. Someone had given her two tickets with almost-front-row seats, and she took me!!! (Not all that surprising since she's the mom of three strapping boys.) It was amazing!!!!!

Jeanne T said...

Great post, Myra! And I'll take you up on your Permission Slip. Last Christmas season was crazy for us because my hubby was gone for five weeks for work. He arrived home just before Thanksgiving. We almost always write our Christmas letters in the beginning of November. We gave ourselves permission to skip it last year. And it was the right thing to do. But I confess, I missed sharing bits of our lives with friends.

This year, I am focusing on being intentional in how I spend my days leading up to Christmas. I've even given myself permission to put writing on a back burner until the Christmas preparations that are important to my family and me are complete. Not having an editor's deadline makes this possible. ;)

I love decorating out house for Christmas. Right now it's a mess, but hopefully by the time the kids tromp through the door after school, it will be more orderly. I like preparing for our Christmas Eve and Christmas day celebrations. Looking forward to spending "free" time with my three guys with no outside expectations. :)

Oh, and I plan to watch lots of Christmas movies. ;)

DebH said...

yep. those egg ornaments is the Brownie craft poking holes and blowing innards out. my little guy likes trying, but the blowing is a bit tough, so mommy gets to finish.

again. thanks for the permission slips. somehow that makes it easier to give myself permission.

Myra Johnson said...

JEANNE, you've narrowed down what's most important to you and your family, and that's what counts. Enjoy your three guys this holiday season!

Myra Johnson said...

Yes, DEB H, I do remember how hard it was to blow all the egg insides out that tiny hole! Do you save the insides for cooking or baking? What do you use to decorate the shell?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I would hire Rose in an INSTANT.

I'm not invested in wrapping and presentation. I'm a slug.

But I can't imagine doing the John Grisham thing. I like being part of things, it's the Celt in me.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Sees gives teachers... even retired ones a 40% discount?

I hate Buffett.

Christina said...

Absolutely great post, Myra! I especially related to shopping online and being thought of as lazy. I started shopping online 3 years ago and love it - despite the hints from family members about not being 'truly' in the spirit or being a hermit. Thank you!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Myra, yes!!!! Come on up! We're possibly in line for this new storm and we might get rain... or a foot and a half of snow. They're still uncertain but we'll know by tomorrow, sweet thing!

You know, honestly, though, we have simplified greatly by taking the focus off of us and putting it on others. So our fun Christmas outreaches are to help others as a family, and even friends donate now. So that part has changed. We give our children gift cards but this year, 3 of them are donating their gift cards instead.

So that's a pretty cool thing.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Wouldn't you think Sandra would be sending us all See's chocolate????

I'm just sayin'...

Myra Johnson said...

No kidding, RUTHY! It's almost worth going back to school to get a teaching degree to get the See's 40% discount!!!

Except I despise homework.

Okay, I'll pay full price and enjoy every last morsel!

Myra Johnson said...

CHRISTINA, I shop online every chance I get! About the only things I can't get by with are certain items of clothing, like jeans, that I really, really need to try on.

Everything else? Amazon Prime!

Myra Johnson said...

Hey, yeah. What's up with that, SANDRA??? I'm gonna be watching for the UPS guy to deliver my HUGE box of See's truffles!!!

Terri said...

I love reading Chrustmas books and watching sappy Christmas movies! I totally dislike cooking.

Valri said...

ENTER ME!!!!!!

Great Post, Myra! The holidays are stressful but I love them! For me, my favorite thing to do is the Christmas cards....I love to write them and to send them! It's my favorite part of the holidays, along with decorating and other things. My least favorite - baking! I just don't enjoy it and as soon as my kids all left, I didn't do it anymore! My husband still wanted to do it so I said, "go for it on your own"! Just not my thing. I like baking at other times of the year but during the holidays it's just too much!

Myra Johnson said...

TERRI, I'm not much into cooking anymore either. I've turned that job over to hubby in his retirement. He doesn't do any holiday baking, but as long as supper gets on the table, I'm happy. :)

Myra Johnson said...

LOL, VALRI--if you can get your husband to bake, I applaud you!

I used to really love making pie crusts from scratch. Actually, I liked nibbling on the scraps! But who has time to haul out the flour and rolling pin anymore? Now if I need a pie, I'll pick one up at the supermarket or else buy frozen pie crusts and canned filling.

Susan Anne Mason said...

God bless you, Myra!!
I just had the 'talk' with my mother today and explained that I was not having a turkey, but instead a ham. You'd think I'd turned into Scrooge right in front of her. Hopefully she'll get used to the idea by Christmas!
So far, no decorations, no baking, a few cards and (woohoo) online shopping! I love it!

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, SUE, a ham is so much easier to prepare! When we used to do the big family Christmas gatherings, we'd all pitch in for a ham and then each family bring a salad, vegetable, or dessert. Who wants to spend all day in the kitchen on Christmas?

Sandy Smith said...

Well, I have a few minutes between jobs, so obviously don't have much time. Our Christmas boxes are out cluttering the family room, but it will be the weekend before I can get to it. But I love having my decorations up, so I will get it done. I will postpone my card until after Christmas and will not make much more than my fudge which I must make if I want to make it through the door at my parents' house at Christmas.

Sandy Smith said...

Did anyone else have trouble getting onto the Seekerville page today? I could not get on by entering in the address bar. I could only get in by clicking on the link Mary posted on Facebook.

Debby Giusti said...

Love this, Myra!

Spent the day driving to and then watching our grandson's Christmas program...he's 4 and so precious! Lots of traffic on the ride home, but worth it so see him on stage. :)

Thought I needed to bake cookies for book club tomorrow night since we're having a cookie exchange, but after reading your post, I just may buy something yummy at the store! :)

Hope to get the tree up and decorated by week's end.

Watched "The Red Tent" last night and enjoyed having a night off! Was anyone else watching?

Myra Johnson said...

SANDY, you can always send some of your fudge my way!

What decorating we do is usually Thanksgiving weekend. It does take awhile to get through all the boxes, pack up what we don't use, and get everything out of the way again.

Myra Johnson said...

Hmmm, nope, I haven't had any problems with Seekerville today. Not sure what could be going on.

Myra Johnson said...

How fun, DEBBY! Children's Christmas programs, especially when it's our own kids or grandkids, make the season so special!

How did you like The Red Tent? I haven't seen it and our paper had mixed reviews.

Cara Lynn James said...

Thank you, Myra, for giving me permission NOT to all I used to for Christmas. I'm a different (and more tired ) person than I used to be when my kids were little.

Now I do the things I want to do and save for next year (LOL) what I don't want to do.

Myra Johnson said...

Good for you for doing what you want to, CARA! As for the tired part, it's aggravating, isn't it? Sure would be nice to have the wisdom and experience of this "certain age" but the energy of my 20s!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Did you say you "pick a pie up"?????

Didja really say that?

Because that's wrong, sweet pea, darlin' girl.

You're a Texan, honey.

I'm.... sad right now.

Myra Johnson said...

One does what one must to keep things simple and stress free, RUTHY-KINS.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I hear you....

When I come visit, I'll bring real pie.


Chill N said...

Fun post and comments. To quote Mary H: I do less and less each year and I enjoy Christmas more and more.

Nancy C

Audra Harders said...

I love permission slips like this, Myra. It helps massage the guilt of NOT doing all the things you've just given me permission NOT to do, LOL!!

Make the most of our time and enjoy the Christmas season while it lasts, that's my philosophy. And humming. I love to hum Christmas carols : ) Especially as I slice and bake Pillsbury cookies and serve them when guests drop by : )

Wonderful post, Myra. Thank you!

Tina Pinson said...

Great post, Myra. We actually aren't pulling out many decorations because we're traveling for Christmas. And partly because i've had touch of the blues thinking about this being the first Christmas since my mom passed away.
Still out if a bit of guilt we have put up some things and bought a small tree. Hubby and I don't think we should be complete Scrooges
Anyway, thanks for the post and the permission. Would live to be entered for your package

Blessings Tina.

hopetolerdougherty said...

I love baking cookies and sending real Christmas cards with a family picture inside.

Please enter me.

jubileewriter said...

Thank you for the permissin slip. In recent years I have cut back on many of the things you mentioned. Some have been because of dogs or small children. (Chewing up Christmas coffee table books or playing wiht decorations.)There is afreesom in seting aside some of these things. The few things that we try to keep are a traditional candy we make every year. Or rather my hubby makes every year. And making Christmas cookies with the grandchildren. We try to have family gaem night on Christmas eve when work schedules allow. And we try to put a large jigsaw puzzle together through the Holiday season. Many of our traditons have faded becasue my children are grown and have theri own family traditions. So my hubby and I have chosen to take the grandkids out to see the lights or help them shop for their parents. Writing dealines are not as stricked during December either.

Elizabeth Van Tassel said...

Thank you for the permission slip! If you know people having a difficult Christmas season, please see my blog today. 10 Tips For A Resilient Christmas.


We, too, have had to adapt our expectations and are doing more presence than presents this year with our kids. After so many difficult holidays surviving large losses, I've tried to share my biggest lessons and appreciate your pass here too. It's so important to connect on a meaningful level. Happy Holidays! I'd love to be entered, too.

Becky said...

Yay! Now I don't feel guilty about not doing half the things I feel like I should do during the holidays! I have always planned on doing Christmas candy with my kids, but never seem to do it! I bought ingredients for Crock Pot peanut clusters and they are really simple, so plan to do that at least! Please ENTER ME for the giveaway! :)

Sandy Smith said...

I just realized that when I commented yesterday I forgot to say ENTER ME for the drawing. Hope it's not too late.

Myra Johnson said...

NANCY C, your philosophy sounds good to me!

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, AUDRA! Can I come over for cookies???

Humming Christmas carols . . . my brain is humming like crazy with the music for the church Christmas concert we've been rehearsing for! I may be singing those songs in my head until Easter!

Myra Johnson said...

TINA P, I'm so sorry you'll be missing your mom this Christmas. Praying the season will bring you renewed peace, joy, and hope.

Myra Johnson said...

I love family pictures in Christmas cards, too, HOPE. Thanks for visiting!

Myra Johnson said...

JUBILEE, our family used to always put together a jigsaw puzzle sometime during the holidays. Whoever needed a break from something else would sit down and work on it for a while . . . and then, when it got close to the end, everyone hovered around vying to be the one to place the final piece!

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks for sharing the link, ELIZABETH!

You know, so many holiday disappointments are the result of inflated expectations. Sometimes we might need to tone down our expectations and then be happily surprised by all the good coming our way.

Myra Johnson said...

BECKY, those Crock-Pot peanut clusters sound yummy! Let us know how they turn out!

Myra Johnson said...

You're in, SANDY! ;-D

Deanna Stevens said...

My least favorite holiday thing is the undecorating :(
please enter me :)

Myra Johnson said...

DEANNA, I'm not real thrilled with the undecorating part, either. We usually save that for New Year's weekend when we're trying to chill out from all the holiday activities.

I have to admit, though, by then I'm ready to get both the house and me back into a semi-normal routine!