Stop And Smell The (Faux) Pine Trees

Look deep into the lights...relax...

This time of year takes a conscious effort so I don’t fall into the “hustle and bustle” of the holidays.  Of course, the hustle is just the marketing ads that promote “must-have” deals that we’ll be sorry if we don’t buy, and the bustle is shoppers getting cranky at crowds who left their manners at home.

Shopping aside, there are dozens of other “to do” items that I have scrawled out on scrap pieces of paper littering the top of my desk.  I flipped through two magazines on Tuesday just to get them off my list – and my desk.  I scanned the list for any other easy ones to scratch off.  After I drew lines through ‘pay bills’ and ‘check kids’ homework’, I glanced at the first item on the list that I had been avoiding:  ‘Christmas cards.’

Tempted to skip it again, in favor of something a little less time-consuming, I wondered when writing to friends and family became a task to procrastinate, like scrubbing the toilets or vacuuming floors.  Sure, it takes some effort to write the name and address and affix the stamps and mailing label after I write a short message on the card, but it’s not an arduous or miserable task by any means.

I think it’s the handwriting part that gets me.  My writing is not the prettiest in the world, but I just can’t bring myself to type a family update letter.  It seems so impersonal.  We get a few of them every year, and I do read them, but I don’t feel any warmth or connection because I know the letters weren’t written just for me – they were for a broad audience.

I wrote eight cards on Tuesday night, and two on Wednesday – each time enjoying a cup of hot tea as I wrote.  Breaking up the writing helps the legibility and seeing my quick progress takes away the stress I fabricated about not having started them.  The lemon and apple cinnamon herbal teas I sipped at each sitting were gifts for my taste buds and made it a pleasure rather than a chore.

Speaking of gifts, Sammy and Lizzy sure do enjoy their early Christmas gift.  (It’s not actually for them, but they’ve claimed it as their own…we’ve already had one ornament casualty.)

Even as I receive cards in the mail from people who have it more together than me, I am not flustered.  I know by Monday, my cards will be in the mail, hand written, with a family picture.  Since we have not seen many of them for a year or more, at least they will know what we look like!

What creates stress for you?  What do you do to avoid holiday stress?  Do you still mail Christmas cards?

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21 thoughts on “Stop And Smell The (Faux) Pine Trees

  1. Carol Ann Hoel December 8, 2011 / 8:38 AM

    I’m doing my best to avoid stress this year. Avoidance is difficult when what one avoids abides within. Ha! If only I could look at seasonal traditions with a sweet spirit rather than feeling I must deal with date-sensitive tasks. One reality has helped me with this issue. Being confined to our little apartment, with a cold virus for company, we spent our first holiday alone. I thought I wouldn’t mind, but I thought a lot about holiday cheer with famy and turkey dinner with all the trimmings on that day.

    Beautiful tree! Blessings to you, Janna.

    • jannatwrites December 8, 2011 / 10:14 PM

      You’ve got a lot to do without the added stress of the holiday trimmings. I’m sorry you’ve had a cold – that’s not a nice way to spend Thanksgiving. I hope you have friends and family nearby so you can spend some time with them on Christmas.

      I’m glad you stopped by, Carol Ann…I’ve been wondering how you’ve been doing. I hope your husband is showing signs of recovery.

  2. Carl D'Agostino December 8, 2011 / 9:05 AM

    Always felt those family update letters were so tacky-yuppie. Like I care if Timothy lost his first tooth and the cat has a new flea collar. But that’s just me the cynic. In this day of email and texting and whatever all that other stuff is, hand writing a few dozen cards is intimate and very special.

    • jannatwrites December 8, 2011 / 10:18 PM

      Well, Carl, some of the letters can seem obnoxious, but others don’t strike me that way…it all depends on how they are written and what they write about.

      I like getting stuff in the mail that doesn’t come with a return envelope for my payment. I like to send cards in case others enjoy it, too 🙂

  3. nrhatch December 8, 2011 / 1:54 PM

    We used to enclose the “main news” in an illustrated holiday newsletter and add a handwritten personalized postscript to each card we sent. That way I didn’t get hand cramps from writing the highlights over and over and over . . . but we also had a chance to connect one on one.

    Of course, we refrained from sending family updates to cynics (like Carl) who might have viewed the highlights of our year as “tacky” or “yuppie.” 😛

    • jannatwrites December 8, 2011 / 10:22 PM

      Ha, ha! Glad you were sensitive to not offend with your holiday update, Nancy 😉

      My writing amounts to three or four sentences in each card. I figure if anyone wants more details, they can call me!

  4. pattisj December 8, 2011 / 6:01 PM

    I do still send Christmas cards, and they’re sitting on my desk. I like your idea of sitting down with a cup of tea and doing a few at a time…I have the same handwriting issues.

    • jannatwrites December 8, 2011 / 10:24 PM

      I didn’t get any cards done today, but hope to get back to it tomorrow. I need to at least get the out-of-town ones done before the post office gets crazy.

      Glad you liked the tea idea, Patti. I enjoyed it!

  5. suzicate December 8, 2011 / 7:09 PM

    Please don’t bring the Christmas card guilt over here; I’m trying to avoid it! I didn’t send them for like three years, even hid the cards under my bed! Last year I sent them…this year I’m on strike AGAIN! I’ve done all my shopping, srapping, decorating, and baking. I have time on my hands and still I just don’t want to do them…what’s wrong with me? Wonder if I can pay someone to do them for me?

    • jannatwrites December 8, 2011 / 10:27 PM

      No worries, SuziCate – I’m not sending out any guilty vibes. No one should feel like they have to write cards.

      You’re way ahead of me. I’ve done no shopping or baking. I won’t be able to do baking until the 23rd. Nothing like getting things done at the last minute! It should be even more interesting because my boys want to “help” me 🙂

    • pattisj December 8, 2011 / 11:23 PM

      Next year, I’ll come to your house Suzicate, to BUY my cards! lol

  6. sufilight December 8, 2011 / 8:22 PM

    Oh, dear… I have a box of Christmas card to send out, haven’t started yet. Will start tonight after reading your post. 🙂 I like to add a personal note to all my cards, and I dislike writing by hand as my handwriting is also not the best and it’s slower.

    • jannatwrites December 8, 2011 / 10:28 PM

      No pressure, Sufilight. There’s still time to do cards. I received my first card right after Thanksgiving, so since then, I’ve thought about doing them daily (actually starting them is a new thing.) Have fun!

  7. jeanne December 8, 2011 / 9:39 PM

    I will probably send out Christmas cards this year, however I have not purchased them just yet. MY excuse is I don’t have everyones mailing address as we communicate through the email these days. NO excuse…I will send out my cards. decorating, shopping and baking are in the works!

    • jannatwrites December 8, 2011 / 10:32 PM

      I’ve seen your posts on your decorating and baking, Jeanne. Lots of holiday spirit going on at your place 🙂

      You can always do e-cards…I’ve gotten a few of those. The ones with games are quite entertaining!

  8. pattyabr December 9, 2011 / 6:03 AM

    I am totally stressed right now with work. I have also been practicing with a choir for Christmas for the past 6 weeks. I am wearing thin on energy. One more week of work then I will have the week before Christmas off to be crazy busy with preparations. The only good news of stress reduction is that we caught the mouse who refused to be caught for weeks. I am sure if we had a cat like yours ( with a bow on his head) we wouldn’t have a mouse problem.
    At least you have received some cards. I have only received cards from businesses so far. I bought my cards and they are sitting in the box still.

    • jannatwrites December 10, 2011 / 11:02 PM

      I’m sorry life is so stressful right now, Patty. With so much going on, it can be difficult to even find a moment to step back and take a deep breath. The world won’t come to an end if you don’t get the cards sent out, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that!

      I am glad you caught the mouse. I’m not sure if cats like ours would do much good…they would probably just play with it. Ew!

      Hang in there…one more week to go 🙂

  9. Debbie December 9, 2011 / 8:10 AM

    This year, I promised myself I’d do the Christmas cards EARLY — I wrote and addressed the ones I send for business during our vacation in July (yep, July!), and I did my personal ones (complete with hand-written messages) over Thanksgiving. I can’t help sighing with relief, now that they’re done and mailed. Don’t feel bad, though; too often, this is one of those things I tend to over New Year’s, haha! You’re absolutely right about the stress — I think it comes whether we’re on top of things or dragging. You’d think somebody would have figured out a better way by now, sigh.

  10. jannatwrites December 10, 2011 / 11:05 PM

    You’re so organized, I can’t help but feel a little bad, Debbie. Maybe I should do my cards over New Year’s too….my Christmas cards for 2012!

    I’ve received cards in the mail right after Thanksgiving, so I don’t think you’re the only one who used their time wisely. If I get them mailed next week, I will be happy 🙂

  11. sonsothunder December 11, 2011 / 12:32 AM

    Meow!!!
    Oh, Sorry, thought I was still talking under the tree…Yeah, it gets tougher and shorter between Christmas deadlines every year don’t it? Or, is it just me? Anyway, we do what we can and that’s the true spirit. Bless You
    paul

    • jannatwrites December 11, 2011 / 8:21 PM

      You’re right, Paul…every year does seem to be more difficult than the last. It’s like we drop a few days each year. As long as we don’t let the rat race wear us down and we find time to recognize the true meaning of the season, I think we’ll be okay 🙂

      Those kitties won’t leave the tree alone…they haven’t figured out where the stream of water comes from that chases them from the tree!

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