Monday, November 29, 2021

Juggling Holidays Is An Art: Or a Catastrophe

I'm not going to talk about personality types.

I'm not going to mention we all had eleven months to get to this point, because I think the holiday crazies aren't about planning. Life interrupts the best of plans and when you're self-employed like we are, we have to keep that reality in the back of our minds.

Can we meet that deadline if catastrophe hits?

Can we volunteer for that Christmas play and get revisions done when that email comes in on December 4th and they need them by December 23rd?

Can we get those lights strung in the shape of a Star of David while setting up a Living Nativity with borrowed sheep and camels?

Okay, the camels might be a stretch! :) But you get the gist. It gets tricky.... and trickier yet when we worry that we're disappointing parents (throw in a nursing home or assisted living or illness into the mix, right?????) or disappointing children, spouses, editors, friends, neighbors.... the list is long and intense, my friends!

But life happens. Whether you're a Type A "Planned-to-the-minute" gal or a "Let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may" kind of person, the holidays have their own brand of pressure. 

My advice: Breathe. Blink. And breathe again.

Scale down. Trim back. Pray. Talk to God. Spend more time with your Nativity scene and less time with Amazon and QVC.... You can stretch your arms and your efforts toward the things of God... and shrug off the things of national advertisers.

Christmas is a beautiful season, but Lord have mercy! It has become its own temptation. 

I used to be a super shopper.... I blush to remember it! What was I thinking????

About fifteen years back I realized I was stupid. No, don't pat me on the back and say "Oh, you weren't stupid, Ruthy!!!!"  Trust me: STUPID.

And then God gave me a smack upside the head, said "simmer down, there, little lady..." and I took His advice. 

I still love to do things. Decorate. Bake. Laugh. Pray.... but I learned to never have a December deadline and if someone tries to push one on me, I say no. Nothing is going to mess up my Christmas, the prayerfulness of Advent, the joy of a Savior's birth... and I feel the same way about Lent before Easter.

I put out Great-grandma's handmade reindeer and Santa display.... I set up our thirty-year-old resin outdoor Nativity scene. Dave and the kids bought a piece each year for about three or four years... They haven't all weathered well! Kind of like me. They have their aches, cracks and pains, but passers by don't see that. They see the image of a family, struggling, tucked in a stable, having a baby... Lit by ground lights, they light up the night with the hope of Christmas. The meaning of Christmas.


I still work early in the day, like always. But removing deadlines and not overly-committing myself means that I can embrace the "Mary" part of me, the part that's often overshadowed by my Yankee "Martha" self. :)

And then if catastrophe strikes in the form of illness, breakage, sadness or grief, I can move forward.... share cookies from the freezer... Hugs from the heart.... the work of human hands to ease someone's heavy load.

I am here in cold, wet Western New York wishing you all the most blessed and beautiful of Christmas seasons! For, unto us a child is born! Unto us a Son is given! And He shall be called Wonderful! Counselor! The Prince of Peace! The Everlasting Father!!! And we can go forward together knowing that what we do for the least of these, we do for Him.

That makes it the best Christmas ever.


And to make this a lovely bit of relaxation, I'm going to send one lucky person a copy of my BRAND NEW WISHING BRIDGE STORY!!!!

"Embracing Light in Wishing Bridge", just released this week.... 


Leave a comment below and I'll tuck your name into the Sugar Cookie jar! 

We've got this!



Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne loves Christmas but she also loves embracing the spirit of calm she avoided for way too long as she raised six kids and did too much shopping.... She loves God, her family, her country (yes, she bleeds red, white and blue proudly), chocolate, coffee, dogs and so many things! You can message her at loganherne@gmail.com or visit her website at ruthloganherne.com. Sending Christmas blessings! 

37 comments:

  1. December used to ramp up my "got-to-get-everything-done-perfectly" mode. After all, how many Decembers do we get to have with our little children?

    But then I realized (a God-induced smack side the head for me, too!) that those childhood memories I was trying to make had very little to do with the trappings of Christmas, and all about the celebration of God's Light in the world (Isaiah 9:2-7.) What memories was I making? A stressed mother and very little peace, or a quiet time of reflection sprinkled with Christmas treats and the wonder of the nativity?

    I opted for the second.

    Now that the children are grown, I spend much of the first two weeks of December finishing up the year's projects, then the next week baking (not nearly as much as I used to!) and enjoying the Christmas season. Family. Friends. When Christmas arrives, it comes as a welcome friend, not a deadline to dread.

    Thank you for this great post, Ruthy, and the wonderful reminder. And wishing all a joy-filled Christmas season!

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    1. Why did it take me/us so long? I kept thinking that was what the best moms did... if I had it to do over, I would never ever host a family gig/party while my kids were small because I totally stressed them out to make sure the house looked good... when it didn't matter. I should have gone all Dianne Dengel <a href="https://fineartamerica.com/featured/home-sweet-home-dianne-dengel.html?product=art-print></a> because that's so normal!!! And nice.

      I was a dolt.

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    2. And I messed up the live link. SIGH.

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  2. Great post, Ruthy. I have to remind myself that not everything has to be perfect at Christmas time. One thing that helped is a few years ago when we started drawing names at Christmas in my extended family. Until then, we were buying gifts for EVERYBODY. That was way too much. Please put me in the cookie jar. I don't have this Wishing Tree book yet!

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    1. Ohh duh, I just read my stupid comment where I called it Wishing Tree. Wishing Bridge is better!

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    2. I love the story of the Wishing Tree.... I read it with my 5th graders last year!!!!

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  3. Thanks for the perspective, Ruthy! We all need a little perspective around this time of year. My epiphany came when my kids were grown and moved out and had kids of their own. I realized that by making a big production and buying lots of presents, my kids felt like they had to do the same. That's really hard when you are just starting out and have a family to support and money is tight. So I decreed Christmas to be a time of home made, hand crafted or even second hand gifts. Our time together is now so much more relaxed, so much more about the thoughtfulness of a gift, so much more about the spirit of giving itself. I wish I'd gotten a clue earlier in life, but I'm glad we finally got there. Hoping all of you have a relaxed, loving, Spirit-filled Christmas!

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    1. Samesies!!!! We're like twins, Terri. :)

      I look back and I just shake my head!

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  4. This is good stuff, Ruthy. I tend to be a plotter rather than a pantser for Christmas. I have a big old looseleaf notebook where I keep gift lists, an envelope for receipts, recipes and entertainment suggestions. Most everything is in place by the second week of December. I'm no poster child for efficiency, but I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and know if I don't plan and do in advance, I may end up in a fetal position sobbing at some point. So I rely on systems and organization, lots of it.
    And no, everything doesn't have to be perfect, or homemade. Everyone whisper the three little words, "Slice and Bake."
    Tip for younger parents: My husband and I never bought ANYTHING that had to be assembled, leading to remarkably peaceful Christmas Eves.
    I'd still avoid a December deadline if someone tried to shove one at me, because who knows what can happen.
    Thanks for the encouragement and reminding us what really matters.
    KB

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    1. We bought gifts for our son that needed assembled, but we never put them under the tree assembled. Of course, that made for a sometimes stressful Christmas day putting them together!

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    2. Oh, Sandy, that's even worse. You guys must be saints. We couldn't assemble stuff in the best of times.

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    3. Hahahahahaha! Oh my, we assembled many a thing over the years. And I'm good at everything (in English, if we can find the tools!!!) except bikes. My head spins at bike assembly and repair. I am so glad that's behind me!!!!

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  5. It's been a long time since you've heard from me. This has been a rough year. Knee replacement surgery among other things.

    I was updating addresses for Christmas cards and had planned to start getting cards done in November. But then tragedy struck. My best friend and I came down with Covid. We were both high risk. She passed away last Sunday. I'm still recovering and not sure how much I will be able to do Christmas wise.

    I'll do what I can and the rest can wait till next year. I did have a fleeting thought of celebrating in January Through all the physical difficulties this year I can truly say God is still good.

    Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.

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    Replies
    1. Wilani, I'm so sorry you have been sick with COVID, and I'm so sorry about your friend. Praying you regain your strength and don't have any long-term symptoms. Bless you, dear one. We've missed you!

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    2. Wilani, it is good to see you here, but so sorry you have had COVID and that you lost your friend. I will be praying for you.

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    3. Oh, Wilani, we've missed you! And honey, I am so sorry that your friend is gone (from this plane, not forever) and that you were sick. God love you, it's a nasty illness.... and you are in my prayers. Praying for you to grapple with all of this fully and a full return to health. Your name is in the cookie jar!

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    4. So sorry to hear about your loss, Wilani! Praying for your complete recovery!

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  6. I'm trying to get more done earlier this year, but also, I've cut back on many things. Still love to decorate and have lights and wreaths and a tree. I started shopping online when COVID hit and find that to be a timesaver when looking for certain items. Plus, my sweet adult children provide suggestions for gifts the grands would like. Having their input makes buying for teens and pre-teens much easier. Most important, I try to make Advent a prayerful time to deepen my relationship with the Lord. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

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    1. I am in 100% agreement with all of the above. The online shopping is a help.... and my close-to-college age kids will get money because they're going to need things. And they love getting money. And I agree on the decorations. They are for me. I love them. :) But Advent... Oh, holy night! Oh, blessed days... I love feeling like the time surrounds me to draw closer to God and faith, no matter what happens in the world.

      We are blessed.

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    2. Hey, I just ordered some of those gingerbread on Amazon. I might not have a Fresh Market, but I have the "ZON"!!!!!

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  7. So love Christmas at your place, looks so lovely each year! I have been doing online shopping this year, especially since I got covid two weeks ago! I can't wait to be well and decorate with the kids!
    Blessings
    Linda Marie Finn

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    1. Linda, I am hoping for your full recovery... and soon. God bless you. I've tucked you in!

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    2. Thank You Ruth, I so appreciate your prayers and being tucked in!

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  8. Oh Holy Night will always be my favorite as my mom sang it each year at our church...Linda

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    1. Oh, those sweet memories. They come back to bless us!

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  9. Hi Rudy our pastor just talked about focusing on Jesus your post is pretty much his sermon in your words. Me guppy and hubby are gonna focus on Jesus this season, THANKS for the confirmation of what our pastor suggested.

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    1. Deb, so good to see you! And the Gupster is getting BIG!!!! Oh my stars!!!!!

      And you're welcome. :) We count our blessings and use our hands to help those around us. It's all good!

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  10. What a great perspective, I would love to be entered in the giveaway!

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  11. Hi Ruthy, Don't put my name in the hat - I have a copy of the book and loved it! I just wanted to say you are so right in that we need to concentrate on the things that matter this season - to scale back and trim down, to give adoration to God for His precious Gift - Jesus, and to help others in need, which is, indeed, the true spirit of Christmas. Merry Christmas and the blessings of the season to you and your family!

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  12. Thank you for this post, I'm reading it as I just finished up 2 batches of cookies, after wrapping gifts to be mailed out, before going to a school rehearsal and then to work, and then to go back to work at 6 am tomorrow before driving 4 hours to Chicago... well, I'm asking myself why do I try to fill every minute? I have a devotional to start reading tomorrow, and will tell myself (probably many times) I don't have to do it all! And I will also tell myself I have enough work shifts, and to sit, enjoy what is already done, don't worry about what is not, and remember what the greatest gift is. And to read your latest Wishing Bridge book ( I have it on my kindle) - I want to move there!

    Merry Christmas!

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  13. Thank you for sharing the post Love the cover of your book! Please put my name in the cookie jar for this amazing giveaway Blessing and Merry Christmas To You and Yours!

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  14. To all those who are suffering ~ I am so sorry, and may the God of hope envelope you in His compassionate arms and bring you peace and healing.

    I have scaled back on my Christmas season "to-do" list, and the release is a lovely exhale. The one area I have not trimmed back on yet is decorating. I have quite a few trees (with different themes). But, I have help and I do it early...so, I am not "crunched" come Advent, and my family, friends, and I can enjoy the lights ~ that indeed, is a tee-tiny reminder that points to the LIGHT of the world.

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