This week is for the looking back, the reveling in what worked and the learning for next year what didn't work so well. Write yourself a note and put it in your calendar for next September 1.
This year I found a few things to be true. First, we cut way back on the amount of shopping, baking, and decorating. I left the Dickens Village in the boxes and only made three kinds of cookies; there were a few big gifts under the tree instead of a lot of little things. I found myself less stressed and calm, right up through the last minute. Best of all, I had a great time! And I think my family enjoyed themselves as well.
Second, we entertained slightly more. Not the grownups, because they are high maintenance, but we had more kids here. I love that my son's friends like to hang out at our house. I love that they feel comfortable here. The boys were surprised when I mentioned this, but the truth is that I'd rather feed them breakfast than have to wait up, worrying, for my own child or someone else's to get home safely. I'd rather buy Dr. Pepper by the case and bagels by the dozen than wonder if my son was at a home where the parents are friends instead of parents. I had a great time listening to Grace and her friends starting to whisper about boys and what they really wanted for Christmas.
Third, I made a concerted effort to appreciate what we have. Unfortunately we have a few friends who had a less than stellar holiday season. One is in the hospital with her son after a bone marrow transplant. One friend lost her dad suddenly the week before Thanksgiving. There are more stories like this all around us. Despite the economic hard times or the people who didn't make it home for the big dinner, I felt like it would be a horrible insult to those friends to complain that the kids left a mess or that The Pit Boss had to work late again. Life is good. Treasure every minute.
In order to get the family in on this, I asked them to write a letter to each of the four grandparents thanking them for the huge part they play in our lives. Shopping for them is a challenge, and no matter what I buy each year it never seems enough to express how grateful I am for their presence, support, time, and love. We are so blessed to have all four of them healthy, busy, and living within a 7 mile radius. I took a quick peek and welled up at the things they remember and love. Everyone likes to be thanked, and I know my parents and in-laws will appreciate it.
On the topic of thank yous, write your notes this week while everything is fresh in your mind, and have your kids write them too. Don't let them hang over your head into 2012.
Last, take down the tree and swap out your decorations for New Year's Eve. We don't decorate for New Year's because we typically go to a friend's house for a bit. However, the tree will be down before midnight on the 31st, in honor of The Pit Boss's
I hope the last week of 2011 brings you peace and reflection on the past year and the next one.