It's beginning to look a lot like...

In my previous life as a retail manager, the holidays were deemed largely something to get through, and not anything to enjoy.  At all.

It was pretty miserable, actually.

Non-stop work, very few days off, shopping for gifts in the few spare minutes I did have...  Yeah.  Most of my retail Christmas experiences have all melded into a blur of memories of crowded stores, upset customers who waited till the last minute to pick up the perfect gift because there was a whole stack of them RIGHT THERE sometime in November, and rushed family holiday celebrations because my one day off in the middle of all the chaos was too short to cram everything into.

Fast forward to today.

I'm coming up on my third Christmas season without a retail job.

I think the first year I was in some sort of post-retail PTSD and I frantically made all the cookies in the world and more candy than 12 sane families could consume and wore myself out with preparations and cooking and over the top decorations and basically when it was all over I felt pretty much the same way I did when I was working.

Last year was better, but I still swung wildly in the direction of trying to make up for all the years that I didn't really participate in holiday festivities.

But this year I think I've got it.

A little distance from my crazy retail days.

A little perspective about what's really important to me and to my family.

So yes, I will bake.  And yes, I will decorate.  And yes, I will entertain, and that will stress me out.  Some.

But I got an early start, and I've finished making and/or buying many of my gifts already, and my Christmas cards, which are usually a huge ordeal, are done.  Here's a sneak peek:

Anybody care to guess the theme?

I've been crafting up some special things for the boys, like these awesomely cool Christmas ornaments:


I found a tutorial on how to make them right here, and they were super easy - thank you Pinterest for once again making me look like a rock star.

And next up on my to-do list is sewing up some matching pajama pants for the boys to wear on Christmas Eve and morning.  I found some Grinch fabric on eBay for cheap that I think will do quite nicely:

I'm also in the process of looking for a service or giving project for me to do with the boys, maybe something like my friend Dianna is doing with her kids through Operation Christmas Child.

 So yeah, I feel saner this year, and less like I'm going to let Christmas consume me whole, as it has in years past.

Instead, I'm purposefully and deliberately picking and choosing what I will do based on what's important to my family.

And I'm not going to stress about it at all.

Well, not too much, anyway.

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