Stick a Fork in It: Thinking About the Holidays? The Time to Start Is Now.

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If you see this, you're working too hard.

Thanksgiving for so many people means the chance to gather with family, appreciate your blessings, and prepare foods that mean tradition for your family. It’s that for me, but it’s also something more:

A time of massive resentment. Consider your average Thanksgiving week. The day before Thanksgiving, you’re frantically cleaning the house and shopping for and preparing food. On Thanksgiving, itself, you wake at 5–everybody else in your family sleeps late, because it’s a holiday, after all–and you cook until your feet are sore for a meal everybody eats in 15 minutes.

Afterward, the men snooze before the TV while you wash dishes and prepare for dessert. Total time spent reflecting how thankful you are? Five minutes, at 8 o’clock, after everybody’s gone. Heck, by then, maybe the only thing you’re thankful for is that everybody’s gone. Then you’ve got to clean up, only to fall exhausted into bed at 8:15 p.m. Your husband is still watching football.

No wonder cars choke the streets on Black Friday. Women want to get the heck out of the house and all the work waiting there.

I know we can do better than this, and in my mummydeals posts, I’ll explain some ways to celebrate the holidays sanely, thankfully, and joyfully.

My emphasis is not on adding stuff to your calendar, but helping you get existing commitments done. Much of what drives you crazy during the holidays can be done ahead, and the time to start is now, so you can relax and enjoy the festivities.

If you have ideas, go to my blog at http://www.wormsoup.wordpress.com, and cursor to Stick a Fork in It: Thinking About the Holidays? The Time to Start Is Now. Leave your idea there, and maybe you’ll see it in the next guest post I contribute for our girl Clair.

My first suggestion is that, while you’re baking for Thanksgiving, bake extra for Christmas, and freeze it. Cookies, pies, turkey, ham–the big stuff and the kid stuff are a great place to start.

December is a thrilling time for a pastor’s family, with a Christmas pageant, a birthday party for Jesus, caroling–and lots of brightly decorated services. Did I mention it’s also super busy?

I cook simple stuff and cook ahead, because on Christmas Eve, my husband has 45 minutes for dinner, and if I miss that window, he’ll do the 11 a.m. service on an empty stomach and won’t eat dinner until 1 a.m. That means that, when he walks in the door at 5 p.m., the ham has to be staring at him.

Last year, I kept it simple, with ham, canned cranberry sauce, baguettes (a family favorite), a make-your-own baked potato bar, and of course, green bean casserole, the only element that required actual cooking/babying. It’s not Martha Stewart, but it’s easy and fills up my husband on the night he sees most members of the congregation.

Yes, my kids have trouble waiting for 5, so our Tea at Three consists of cookies congregation members have given us. (Thank you, bakers of Griffith Lutheran Church!)

Check out Clair’s next blog for my next post. And remember: Whether you realize it or not, you are blessed.

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About Rebecca Bailey

* Columnist, The Times of Northwest Indiana, for three years. * Professor for twelve years. * Mom of four teeny kids. * Voted "Most Dramatic," Castle Junior High School eighth grade, 1984. * Failed to diaper her first child before he projectile-pooped on the curtains. * Accidentally splattered her white Jack Russell Terrier with her red hair dye, which did not come out.

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