Are You Ready? It’s Coming

Posted by in Christmas, Louise Behiel | 50 comments

I stopped at a store today, wanting to get some new hand towels for my half bath.  I wanted Christmas ones. Maybe penguins, since my youngest daughter loves “Happy Feet” or snowmen, because the older one loves the inflated snowman her dad put in the yard.  Or Rudolph, or…well you get the picture.  I wanted hand towels that would reflect the season in a child’s eyes.

Imagine my surprise when the store (you know the big one I mean) had none left! I asked for help and the clerk told me that they had been sold out for a couple of weeks already.  I said “What????” It’s not even December yet.  She said it’s less that a month until Christmas.

Good heavens! I am so not ready to think about the big day being less than a month away.  Yikes.  I am not ready.

I’ve been busy getting a book ready to release on November 15 (Christmas on the Run) and trying to catch up with my life. Work’s been crazy, Life’s been nuts and I’m not sure which way is up.  But Christmas is less than a month away.

So what to do? I really wanted to panic for a minute or two. But I’ve learned to do a few things first.  So I took a deep breath. I sat in silence in my car for a couple of minutes. And I said the Serenity Prayer – at least seven times. <VBG>

As I sat there, I realized I have a lot to do in a limited period of time. There’s the chapter party I’m hosting…gasp…next Tuesday. There’s my granddaughter’s birthday next week.  There’s a couple of big meetings at work next week. And that flashing light


image from Wikimedia Commons

blinking over and over.  On and off. On and off.

My heart started racing as I wrote this. What to do? Hmmm. Then I wondered what do you do about this time of year and how do you stay calm? What if your health isn’t good and you can’t keep up to your usual schedule? What if family demands are making you crazy? What if you have a book release that’s adding to your pressure? Do your kids, family and boss have expectations about the holiday and how you should manage it? What are the traditions you feel forced to keep?

What expectations are you setting to make yourself crazy? Stressed out? Fried? Will you begin the year totally exhausted from this season? Will you sit down on December 26, totally exhausted and completely relieved that it’s over? Is this the year you promised yourself that things would be different? Will it be different or will it be the same as always?

What I realized (again) is that it’s my choice.

So I made a decision.

I will take control of the season and ensure that I enjoy every moment of it. It’s okay to buy cookies and cakes, rather than bake. It’s fine to set my priorities and live them, regardless of others’ expectations of me. And it’s important to remember that if  I’m very, very lucky, I will have forty more Christmas Days. God willing I’ll be healthy for all of them. But forty isn’t many, is it?

So how am I going to enjoy, celebrate and honor this day? This season? This month?

By enjoying it.  By reveling in the time of good cheer. By hanging with my friends and allowing life to unfold as it will. I can’t control very much, but I can manage my emotions and the way I react to life. Including the Christmas Season.

That is my commitment to myself and to you – I’m going to enjoy the moments, hours and days. I’m going to celebrate them.  And I’m going to consciously prepare for the 25th in the way I want the day to be – full of joy, contentment and peace in my world.

I hope you’ll join me.


Credit for the image:



  1. Very inspiring. Thanks for reminding us that the holidays can cause anxiety and stress unless we take charge of our emotions and prioritize so we can Revel!

    • exactly, Kourtney. what is supposed to be a special time so often becomes anxiety producing and exhausting.

  2. You go Louise! We all need to follow your example, take a deep breath and savor the season.

    • Thanks Julia. It’s been a wonderful month and I’m looking forward to the next few weeks.

  3. That’s an excellent attitude. I applauded you, my dear. I’ve actually had your post open since you wrote it. It’s taken me this long to sit down long enough to write a response. How bad is that? Craziness, I tell you. I am not ready, but I will be. We are making things simple. Very few gifts and no big meal. It’s about the people and the memories. Not about all that other stuff. Thanks for the gentle reminder in your subtle way.

    • sounds like you’re super busy Debra. don’t forget to enjoy the season. take care

  4. Yay, Louise, good for you! Years ago, I made the decision to only bake what I wanted to bake, decorate as little or as much as I felt like (which means some years have resulted with just a tree and nothing else). Fortunately my hubby and boys hate shopping as much as I do, and since I don’t have daughter-in-laws or grandchildren yet, my shopping is minimal. This is the season to enjoy family and enjoy life (well, actually I think every season should be like that) and so, what happens, happens. What doesn’t, doesn’t. 🙂 May you enjoy your month and stay stressfree!

    • I always knew you were a very wise woman Sheila. Good for you for making this decision so long ago.

  5. My whole family simplified Christmas a long time ago. The most crazy-making thing was the first to go. Gifts. We are all blessed with incomes that allow us to buy whatever we want, whenever we want. I think we almost blew the house down with the collective sigh of relief from 19 people. In my house, we don’t decorate until December 20th, which keeps the feeling so fresh. We do have a big family gathering on Christmas Eve with lots of good food and good cheer.

    • Wow – that’s wonderful Joan. Good for you. I am single and have simplified lots but this year, I’m cutting back on the gifts a lot. It will be much simpler for my kids and grandkids this year.

  6. I don’t want it to be Christmas yet. I’m not ready, I don’t want to try and get ready, and I’d rather put it off a month and celebrate it in January. I lost most of November…and likely will NOT do NaNo again. It’s just a ridiculous time of year to have that challenge – at least for moms.

    But anyway…

    I’m with you and that it’s the people in my that matter. Coming behind that are driving around looking at Christmas lights, Christmas movies/romance novels/music, and snow. However, with the forecast next week including at least one 60 degree day, I may not have any snow again this Christmas (Alaska, here I come!).

    As for working my butt off, all I can say to that is…BAH, HUMBUG! Although I have to say that I haven’t done much baking for the past five years. I would like to do a little more of that this year. Well, any would be more than I did last year, but I miss the way the house smells.

    I’m rambling, I’m tired, I’m going to bed now. 🙂

    • Nano in November has always seemed strange to me. it’s such a busy time. I totally agree about putting people first. it’s way too importnat because we never know who’s going to be around and who’s not. My mom had a bad spell yesterday and was taken to hospital in an ambulance. she’s fine and was released a few hours later, but it serves as a strong reminder of reality

  7. Great advice, Louise! Deep breaths, enjoy every moment and don’t stress the things you can’t change.

    I left this big long comment and it didn’t post. So, if you get more than one from me, it’s just because I’m a goober.

    • I’m so glad you did, Tameri. For some reason certain posts are going to approval. Might be because of my new site, but i’m looking into it. take care

  8. Funny you should ask, Louise. Since I had a surprise surgery on my foot, I’ve had to re-imagine my holidays. I made a list and prioritized everything I like doing. Then, I went down the list and marked the items that could be left off this year *if needed*. Today my son informed us that all he wants for Christmas is to move his room downstairs. Um, yikes! That will take major planning and reconfiguring of two rooms, but thankfully, my husband and son are going to tackle it tomorrow while I’m off having a fun day with some fellow WANAs. Still, it wasn’t on my list and made me slightly panicked.

    I’m learning to just take things as they come and not stress too much over the things I can’t control.

    Merry Christmas, my friend. It’ll all work out in the end, keep taking those deep breaths and remember to enjoy.

    • you are such a wise woman Tameri and such a rich blessing in my life. thank you for sharing your peace and wisdom with me. good luck with the foot

  9. I LOVE this post!! Christmas makes people crazy but I always try to remember that is a time for friends and family. So I make that a priority at all times. A few years ago we started saying no to parties and events that didn’t fulfill our ultimate goal of what we wanted the season to be. And I gotta tell you, best decision ever! Sometimes it’s just staying in and watching Rudolph with the kids that makes the holiday, not a big party. 🙂

    • totally agree, Elena. aren’t you wise to have figured it out at this time of your life, rather than later. enjoy

  10. Great post, Louise! This season can definitely make us crazy if we let it. I was particularly struck by your comment about having maybe 40 more Christmas Days left. Wow! That hit right between the eyes because I’ve probably got less than thirty left. Definitely want to savor every one.

    Two years ago, when my oldest grandson was in the terrible twos, we had a cold buffet instead of a sit-down dinner to make things easier for my daughter-in-law (who always has to host Christmas since my son is a minister and can’t get time off to travel during what he refers to as his “busy season.”) It reduced our stress level so much that we’ve made it a new tradition. We skip the hot turkey dinner and go straight to the turkey sandwiches stage!! Because it’s more important to enjoy having the family together than be in a kitchen stressing over a big dinner.

    • yeah, that number is kind of scary, isn’t it? And it shook me up too. not that many of them left. so I’m going to make the most of each and every one of them.

  11. Well our family has some good things to celebrate but we also have a close relative in critical care and we are talking about whether to continue life support or not. I love the spirit of Love and Giving at Christmas but I will not go crazy trying to give lots of gifts or do all kids of baking etc. I have done both in the past and I have found our best Christmas’s were the simple ones. We have a special coffee cake I make just for Christmas breakfast. We all look forward to it and if I cut out all the other baking my sour cream coffee cake will still make everyone happy and feel that warm family feeling we have at Christmas. I know that The Lord has blessed us
    and continues to comfort and guide us. Louise I also look forward to another of your books and agree we need to make ourselves as much a priority as everything else. ((Hug))) to you and all here, this is a good place to share our thoughts and feelings.

    • Shirley, I hope your Christmas is filled with the presence of God and peace, in spite of the tough times you’re facing. it’s always nice to see you here.. take care

      • Thanks Louise we had some good news yesterday, so we are taking things one day at a time. The Lord is here and I feel like I am in this little bubble of calm facing what we need to. ((Hugs))

        • Excellent, Shirley. Thanks for letting me know. More prayers coming your way

  12. I am soooo with you, Louise! Last year, I evaluated all the holiday activities that add stress to my life, and looked at ways to reduce it. Of course the best one is planning ahead as much as reasonbly doable. But otherwise, I ask myself, if I don’t do this (or choose something easier), will someone I care about be disappointed? Is there a way I can make this simpler, that won’t take away from someone else’s enjoyment? And things like that. Good luck with your simplifying!
    Jennette Marie Powell recently posted..When the Other Half’s Away…My Profile

    • I have discovered that so many of the things I ‘have to do’ are things that I think have to be done. Others don’t miss them nearly so much as I do. I have simplified a lot over the years, but this year I’m going for minimalist. should be fun. and I found my christmas towels – lovely red ones with a frosty on them. Perfect.

  13. I totally get where you’re coming from, Louise! I’m not sure where the year has gone. I can’t believe how close Christmas is already. We do have to balance everything and try to stay healthy and sane. The truth is, most people don’t care if everything isn’t 110 percent perfect. I’d rather be relaxed and enjoy time with the people I love instead of trying to pull off some lavish feast and be too exhausted to enjoy it. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season! 🙂
    Denise D. Young recently posted..Black Friday: Good business sense or capitalism gone wild?My Profile

    • Thanks for the good wishes, Denise. Most people don’t care. It’s important only to me and ‘my standards’. but i’m giving that stuff up now.

  14. My Christmas celebrations have always been scaled back. Years ago, I heard some women complaining about the amount of jobs they HAD to do. Baking, putting up their Santa village, decorating three or more trees, doing all the gift shopping, all the wrapping, all the card mail-outs. So, I asked, “Why do you do all that when you obviously don’t enjoy it? When it stresses you out? ” I was met with confused stares.

    I can understand making a big effort, if you have young children at home. These ladies didn’t. They were in their 50’s. It made me realize that some people (women specifically?) put too much pressure on themselves to do it all, to live up to an ideal, to create the perfect fantasy Christmas they’ve imagined.

    I cook a nice meal, because I like to cook. And I like to eat. I might decorate – but after 90 minutes, I’m done. I get the gift buying stuff done early – before December, usually. ‘Cause I mail most everything to relatives to live in a different province.

    Makes for a much more relaxed and enjoyable Christmas. For me. And if I’m not stressed out and complaining about all the things I feel I have to do – doesn’t that make it a lovely Christmas for those around me, too?

    • right, on Roxy. Right on. That’s my goal. And this year I’m aware of it ahead of time rather than planning on Dec 27.

  15. Sounds like you’ve made a smart choice. A few years ago, I really toned down what I did for Christmas. I still have a few obligations I need to take care of, but for the most part, my husband and I prefer a quiet Christmas. I do bake because that’s something I love to do and this is one of the few times of year I can really justify spending the time on it. I don’t decorate much. I only do a tree and a nativity scene. I only have one present left to buy. I can enjoy this time of year much more if I keep things calm 🙂
    Marcy Kennedy recently posted..Would You Sleep In A Hotel Made of Ice?My Profile

    • I always knew you were a smart lady. Finished shopping already? I haven’t started, I have to admit. OOPS

  16. I’m with you Louise! I’m picking a few priority items to work on in December and then focusing on enjoying my family and the holidays. Excited to hear about your new release Louise!
    Coleen Patrick recently posted..Jump at the Sun and Reach for the (Pie in the) SkyMy Profile

    • thanks Coleen. I think we’ve got a sound plan.

  17. Gosh Louise, these past few months have been so very hectic that I didn’t realise Xmas is almost here! Today I’m off to England and once I’m back at West Cottage then the reality will start to sink in…gasp…really? Less than a month? This has been a very fast year, hasn’t it?
    Veronica Roth recently posted..Nice, soft FridayMy Profile

    • That was exactly my reaction, Veronica. Where did the year go? WHat do you mean it’s less than a month away? my goodness, that’s scary. Travel safely and enjoy the rest of the year.

  18. The stores around here are full to overflowing with Christmas stuff. I’m amazed you can’t find the hand towels and stuff.

    However, you’re right – enjoy the season. Don’t stress over it. It is about people, not stuff. We tend to forget that these days. If there was any gift I could say I cherish most it would be the existence of those in my life whom I love and who love me. Their steady presence, hugs, and being means more to me than any cookie, present or thing could ever mean. Just sayin…

    • You are so right, Marsha. I tell my kids the best gift of all is time. spend it with me I’ll love your company. I don’t need more stuff.

  19. I’m with you on this, Louise. Not a time to stress out, just enjoy what happens. Sometimes those years make funny stories for the future.

    • Amen, Gerri. sometimes they do make funny stories.

  20. Congratulations, Louise! That’s what the holiday is for, to take time to reflect and enjoy. But like you, I easily get caught up in all the things I ‘should’ do. Deep breath. So okay. I’m talking to the family tonight. Each of us gets to follow one tradition that we cherish and we’ll let go of all the rest. Have a joyful, peace-filled Christmas, Louise.

    • What a wonderful idea, Lynette. I did the same thing with my kids – the holiday will be much simpler this year. and much easier

  21. You’ve got the right idea. I also am trying very hard to enjoy the season. It’s one of my favorites and not let things out of my control impact me. Merry Christmas!! 🙂

    • I totally agree, Ginger. I love Christmas but this year, I’m going to enjoy the whole month.

  22. Love it Louise! You are so right. It’s about taking control and having the holiday season you want. We’ve done much the same this year. Scratched a lot of gift buying. Are switching to some new traditions to lighten things up. And I’ve decided I’m not going to feel guilty about any of the changes…I am going to max and relax and ENJOY!
    Amen to that! BAM!

    • AMEN Natalie – that’s what it’s all about.

  23. I had this very thing happen to me a few years ago. My response was to buy gold-tone hand towels, then go to one of the big hobby stores and buy seasonal appliques to stitch onto the towels. Worked perfectly. Best of all, since the design isn’t imbossed or anything, if I need the towels to go back “plain”, I can remove the applique, then quickly stitch it back on later as needed.

    Happy Holidays!

    • You are a very smart lady, JOanie. I don’t know that i’m so talented. But if worse comes to worse….Merry Christmas

      • Believe me, I’m no Martha Stewart, but like you I was amazed that they were sold out on the item already, and I had kids I wanted to delight–and this was an easy way to do so, with lasting versatility later. Plus, the craft place had wonderful fragrance options I bought to fill the house with scent at the same time. I totally get your message, Louise, honestly. It’s all about filling your space with peace and joy.__Joanie

        • exactly, Joan – filling the space with peace and joy. Enjoy

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