A list.

Last year [coincidentally, at this very same time… the Monday following the first weekend of December], I wrote a post mentioning how I was trying to stay afloat … FOCUSED {spirited} in spite of the looming cloud of holiday-to-do’s.  Well, it all sorta went downhill from there.  The holiday blur, as I refer to it, hazed right on in- as it does each & every year.  As much as I feel “on top of it” heading into December, it never fails.  A few days in, & the calendar slowly gets swallowed up.  The to-do list mounts at lightning-speed pace.  CHEER is subtly (or blatantly) muted by STRESS.

I’ve been thinking about this… about the holidays... about why this continues to happen and how to End. The. Cycle [before my kids are grown adults for gods sake].  Then Thanksgiving happened.  And it sealed the deal.  “Traditions” need to change.  In spite how it may sound, I really do love this time of year.  There's so much that I cherish… and want to create the space to experience those with my kids… my family… my friends.  But when I reeeeally think about it- in a dead-honest way- for the most part, many of the traditions (must-do activities/events/projects) that are plotted on the calendar fall into the category of obligation… & not necessarily obligation imposed by others, but also by ourselves.  Doing what we do because it’s what we’ve always done.  Doing what is- or what we assume is expected.  Not because it works for us… makes sense… is something that we love.  

Of course, the other “stuff” is sometimes necessary and important.  Obligation is part of life, & is entirely okay!  But I don’t want it to continue taking the place of- or overshadowing what matters to… what works for us.  Because the holidays are then just one big STRESSOR and filled with frustration, exhaustion, and resentment.  And activities that we would otherwise enjoy- look forward to- are instead when-is-this-going-to-be-over-so-I-can-get-back-to-the-LIST.  

Stephanie (who is in the same frame of mind- & who I utterly admire btw :)) had the simple, yet brilliant idea of making a list.  Not a have-to list, but a want-to one.  A 'carefully curated' (as she says) list that includes only [ONLY] those activities/ideas/crafts/foods... that we truly love, that we truly want to be a part of- to create- to experience.  So that when that stress starts to creep its way in... when our auto-pilot say-yes-to-everything-mode turns on... when we begin to feel like we're losing control/focus/spirit... we have something to turn to- to remind us of where we want to be.  To keep {& make time for} what works & simply let go of- or adjust- what does not.  To create space for new.
The things I love about the holidays...

  • dim lights... white candles... mellow holiday songs
  • small get-togethers
  • making santa's cookies with the kids
  • disneyland
  • old-fashioned christmas lights
  • packaging treats {red twine... silver bells... metallic sharpies... fancy ribbon}
  • "ugly" christmas pajamas
  • picking out the just-right tree
  • leon
  • chipmunks christmas music & mulled cider while we decorate*
  • ...mulled wine while we decorate
  • eggnog (in all forms inc. but not limited to ice cream, latte, cocktail...)
  • homemade christmas cards with the kids (BUT, only if time/circumstances allows)
  • cozy scarves... tall boots... all kinds a' sweaters
  • family wine country day trip
  • christmas day at my mom's
  • panetone bread pudding
  • grandma's ham
  • christmas movies (from yogi's 1st christmas to Edward Scissorhands to Scrooged)
  • kisses under the mistletoe
  • coffee made by the hands of my children... before they get to open their presents
  • cranberry orange vodka
* Notice I did not actually list "decorate the tree."  After 10+ years of marital/parental/sibling discord over how- & how many- the lights are strung, how ornaments are placed (I'll take the blame for being a freak about the lights, but Jacob has a "thing" with how Hailey does [or does not] place the ornaments), how much breakage occurs, ... Let's just say (and I just finished meeting with a group of gals who strongly concur) that the tree-decorating-process brings out our true personalities... the good, the bad, & the ugly.  Hence the NEED for "happy chipmunks tunes & mulled WINE." 
Make sure you visit my pal Stephanie, and read her list as I am on my way to do the same.  I'm absolutely sure that my list will grow a little longer after I read hers.  She is responsible for last year's new tradition of "Leon" after all  =).                        


  1. see? this is why i brought this idea to you...because i knew you'd improve on it! love your list and your post. and i'm laughing about the tree decorating. tree decorating is actually ON my list (although not in my blog post) bc i don't actually do any of the decorating. i make dinner and my in-laws come over to decorate the tree with the girlies. but i, personally, don't care about how lights are strung. i only care about my wine glass being kept full as i sit in front of the fire and watch them do it. =)

    thanks for doing this with me! xo

  2. such a great idea. luckily i'm nowhere near as stressed as perhaps you have been in years past (i'm sure that will change once we have kids and lots of obligations), but i still want to make a list like this. it makes you focus on what really matters.

    and i can totally sympathize with you about the self-imposed need to stick with traditions. i LOVE traditions and nostalgia and it's so hard to give those up, even when they need to be given up. life changes and we have to as well - all it does is make room for new traditions to be formed. i'm sure this great attitude you have cultivated will help make the holidays especially merry this year! :)

    enjoy your wine :)

  3. This is a wonderful idea Torrie! I have been dealing with things by just saying no, but I think the idea of making a list of things you want to do is a far superior way of going about things. Maybe I'll take some time to make a list myself tonight!

  4. I absolutely agree - I make a list every year and try to focus on only the things we really love to do. Everything else is gravy, and I have recognized that it's okay to say no to things, even if it's something we've always done. Here's my list from last year...I'll probably post this year's later this week. (I'm a little late this year, but that's okay!)


  5. This is a mighty fine list. I'm especially intrigued with the cranberry orange vodka but I just can't get behind anything that has to do with panetone bread. Sorry. =) See if you can schedule one whole Saturday or Sunday morning to just sit around in your jammies and then of course, I always recommend a pedicure for some good old fashioned alone time. Hang in there.

    P.S. Are you coming up this way at all over the holidays? Not to stress you out but maybe we can meet up for coffee or wine...

  6. you took the words right out of my mouth torrie! feeling overwhelmed here, which is why i am so behind on my favorite reads!

  7. I think I might be the only one around who thinks eggnog is nasty! I totally agree with you on decorating the tree!

  8. You guys do ugly pajamas too? I remember turning to my sister one year (after putting on the awful jammies we had just gifted each other) and telling her that I hoped there would be no fire or other disaster that would send us out to the street. :)

    I like this priority list. We kind of did that this year as there are only 2 shared days off between my husband and I and we didn't want to spend them on obligations. Especially as I'll be working 12 hour days Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day. Off to read Stephanie's list. . .

    The Suburb Experiment

  9. Great post Torrie!!!! I don't care to decorate the tree..this year my sis took Ariyana to buy a tree and decorate it..then they baked. ha ha.
    I love ugly pj's too and easy and simple things like candles, small get togethers, easy crafts! Anyway I am off to check out STephanie's list too.

  10. I woke up at 4am having a near panic attack at all that I need to do in the next 2 days, let alone all the rest before Christmas! I am so behind on shopping/cards/photography work and unfortunately my problems can't be remedied by a list. Unless it's one that tells me I don't have to buy gifts for anyone or send out Christmas cards! (I skipped cards last year, so that's not really an option.) And then following Christmas are my children's birthdays.... Oh my, I can feel my heart beating faster already. Is it too early for some cranberry orange vodka?

    PS. I can't believe you like the Chipmunks Christmas! HAHA. Many many years ago I quit a job in retail over the holidays because I had to listen to that album day in and day out. I thought I was going to go completely nuts. EEK! :)

  11. That's a great idea to focus on what you like and go from there. Have to say it seems it was just TG and now its more holidays. Feel quite panicked by all the children's lists. How much should you let them have? This year there is no cards, no decorating and but still yes, I feel a looming sense of not coping...

  12. @180|360 Woooooow.

    Breath, breath, breath… & drink lots of coffee in the am & lots of ___________ (insert alcohol of your choice) in the pm. Maybe a list won’t help, but these vices just might… even if only a teensy-tiny bit. 

    And yes! Chipmunks music was a childhood tradition! (but I can totally see why one would feel otherwise… aka- the squeaky-sing-songy-annoying factor)

  13. I am totally being a slacker this year! (Evidenced by our Twitter convo tonight. Maybe I was channeling 180|360's nighttime advice? :)) It may be wrong but it feels soooo right. No guilt over all the stuff we are supposed to do. We are only going to do what we want this year (I hope)!

  14. I like how you changed it into something positive :) If it makes you feel any better, I have not bought 1 Christmas present yet!!! Ahhhh!


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