Learned the Hard Way

Discussion in 'Christmas Magic' started by jollykelly, Jun 9, 2017.

  1. jollykelly

    jollykelly Active Member

    Christmas lessons I learned the hard way. Maybe someone can learn from these and maybe I can learn from yours - please share

    • My dogs love wrapping paper.
    It was the first Christmas with my two puppies (Great Dane and English Bulldog). My daughter was young at the time and still believed in Santa so I put all of the presents under the tree on Christmas Eve after she went to bed. It looked so pretty, like a Norman Rockwell painting. By the morning, it looked like something from a comedy movie. Presents all throughout the downstairs, some with holes, some shredded, some completely unwrapped. Thankfully the presents themselves were all OK. Of course, I was completely devastated, but my DD and DH laughed and found it quite amusing. Lesson learned: My dogs love wrapping paper, so on Christmas Eve they get locked in our bedroom!

    • Don't wait to wrap
    That about says it all doesn't it? Before I discovered the wonderful MHH site I would wait to wrap. I would be up late at night wrapping presents. I would be so tired and develop a bad case of "good enough" if the corner ripped, if I just threw it in a bag, etc...all good enough. One year I ran out of paper and resorted to using Happy Birthday wrapping paper. (It is to celebrate the birth of Jesus, right?) Lesson learned - don't wait to wrap, it will always take you longer than expected, you will be more tired than expected, you will need more supplies than expected. Trust me

    • Do not try out new recipes Christmas Day
    I am not sure what I was thinking one year. It the first year that I drew the line in the sand and said "Christmas at our house, all invited, we are not traveling with the baby" Maybe I wanted to make a great first impression, maybe I was sleep deprived from having a breast feeding baby with colic, who knows why but I decided to make a gourmet Christmas meal and it was, well.....horrible. First time out of the gate and I attempted Boeuf en Croute, twice baked garlic potatoes, and Beet and Onion Compote. Never tried them before, but my magazine said it was the way to go, I clearly made a wrong turn. Lesson learned....we are not a gourmet family, we are a meat and potatoes type of family, stick to the what everyone likes, and try the recipe months beforehand, a few times.

    • Christmas trees always look smaller on the lot
    He warned me, he did. DH said that the tree was way to big. Nah I said, its not that big. I should have known I was spatially challenged. I should have known that standing in the middle of the parking lot the tree would look smaller than in the middle of my living room. I should have known that when I picked out the monster ( forever known as the incredible hulk tree) and DH rubbed his hand over his face, sighed, and said OK, if you say so... that it would not end well. I knew there was a problem when we brought it home, but still determined not to admit defeat I said, well lets take out the recliner, and the table, and the magazine rack. We got it in and I kid you not about 3 feet of the top of the tree was curved up against the ceiling, you couldn't see the TV from any seat in the house, I only had enough lights and ornaments for a quarter of it. Perfect, I said, but I couldn't keep a straight face. Lesson learned - go big or go home does not apply to Christmas trees

    • The most important lesson....it is what it is
    This was probably the hardest one to learn. Sometimes you just have to say, it is what it is and be happy and grateful. Whatever the circumstance.....imperfect dinner.....incomplete decorations....not getting or receiving the perfect gift...not having every nook and cranny of the house cleaned....gaining 5 pounds.....no matter, just say it is what it is. Be happy, Be grateful, Count your blessings one by one, enjoy the day and if with family, enjoy them as well!
    RoniJo, teachermomof2 and Minta like this.
  2. Minta

    Minta Administrator Staff Member

    • My first Christmas as a mom, my DD was only a couple months old, we also decided we are not taking the baby out of the house Christmas Day so everyone decided to come to our house to dinner. Great! Dinner was fine .. desserts not so much .. in dealing with my baby brain I forgot to add sugar to the pumpkin pies so from now I always taste before I bake.
    • After a few times of misplacing and or forgetting about stashed gifts/stocking stuffers that I now have totes in the closet for these and this year I am placing a small tote inside the trunk of my car. So if I see something while out and about I can buy it and place it in the tote so no one can see what it is. I am bad for hiding things in my car, at the bottom of my work bag, in my office at wok, somewhere in my closet that I forget about them or I forget where I hid them. A couple years ago I forgot all about a small bag of stocking stuffers for my youngest and I found them right before Easter so guess what went into his Easter Basket.
    • For a few years we would always change our schedule to accommodate last minute plans from extended but close family. All it did was stress us out because we missed out on doing other things that we were looking forward to. Now if we are available great, if not sorry maybe next time as we already have plans.
    • What I have learned is that we will never please everyone, will never be able to accommodate everyone so we no longer stress ourselves over it. I also have learned to let the idea of "magazine or movie perfect" go and we focus more on having fun together as a family.
    RoniJo, jollykelly and teachermomof2 like this.
  3. tanya

    tanya Well-Known Member

    Make a List

    I was so excited for Luke's first Christmas that I think I forgot he was 9 months old and that there was only one of him- not 10! I shopped early pretty much from a month after he was born til mid December buying everything I saw. I kept adding and adding and adding. Instead of having a list or even looking- I just threw all the purchases into the bottom of my wardrobe. It turned into a toy store. I came to get it all out to wrap and even I who was used to ridiculous excess at Christmas was blown away by how much I had. I liked some things so much that I had purchased the same item several times over because I had forgotten that I had already bought it! The charity gift trees did really well that year! The people running the trees thought I was go generous to donate so much. I did not have the heart to tell them that it was because I had bought some items 3 times (must have really liked them!) and none of my friends had small kids.

    Don't promise a tree before you have it.

    Our tree was missing several branches. Another branch fell off as I was putting it into its box to pack away. I knew that we would need a new tree the next year- I put the old tree away anyway because the collection for old trees had already happened and it was just easier to pack it away and get rid of it the next year. Come the next Christmas, I tell Luke that we will put up the tree. He was so excited! I spent the afternoon with him swimming ( even at less than 3 he loved the water) then take him to buy a tree. No problem I think to myself. Im not fussy with which tree we get. I did not have a real preference. In our house the tree is really to hold the decorations! We also have 2 shopping centres really close to home. I had seen heaps of trees in both centres in multiple stores the week before. EASY I think I've got this covered! Nope, we get there. Luke is super excited! Not ONE of the stores has anything near the right size and I was happy to be flexible with sizes, styles etc... Every single store has sold out of the big trees and only has tiny desk top sizes left. Several stores offered to transfer in a tree from one of their other stores but it would take a couple of days. But I had promised that we would put up the tree THAT night. Luke was not happy that we get a small desk top size and do that one tonight then wait a few days for the bigger one- because, "Mummy you PROMISED!" So not having any other option, I got out the tree with missing branches. Luke thought it was lovely. The tree was backed into the wall to attempt to hide the missing bits. It was ok but I knew there were chunks missing. Luke did not give 2 hoots! He was happy. Santa came just as well with a broken, bare branched tree rather than a shiny new tree.
    So make sure you can deliver a tree before you promise to put it up. The next year I purchased a tree in October as soon as I saw them in the stores!

    Make sure you check the Santa snacks before you put them out.

    When I was little, we only fed Santa. The feeding of reindeer was not popular here. Apparently in the years that I grew up, people became more aware of the long miles reindeer fly and started to leave them carrots. Nobody told me! Somebody at pre-school must have told Luke though because he KNEW that without carrots the reindeer would become upset and cry! Apparently the reindeer would not be happy with apples, lettuce or ANYTHING else I had in the house. No idea why we did not have carrots- we usually did. Not wanting a devastated grandson or upset reindeer my Dad was sent on a mission at 6 pm Christmas Eve (when the stores had mostly closed) to find carrots. Good old Grandpa came through- after several stops at service stations and 7/11's the only stores still open Dad came back with some rather bedraggled carrots that he had paid a silly amount of money for to feed the reindeer! Happy child, happy reindeer and happy Grandpa and Mum!
    jollykelly and Minta like this.
  4. sweetpumkinpye

    sweetpumkinpye Well-Known Member

    Plan early!!!!
    One year when DD was just a little girl she asked Santa for a "Whats her face Doll". I had bought all the gifts on layby and they were all in my wardrobe ready to wrap. What in the heck was I to do? It was the "if Santa is real" moment. After a lot of ringing around and driving from toy shop to toy shop we finally found one about 30 minutes from our house. Thank the stars!!!!
    After that, we would make our Christmas pudding in October and I would give the kids 10 threepences to throw in the pudding. As they were doing that they would have to say what they really would like Santa to bring them. It gave me a few weeks to run around and find "THE GIFT". Thankfully this only lasted a few more years.

    Wrap early!!!!.
    One year I had planned to wrap ALL of the presents about 4 days before Christmas thinking that I could knock it all off in one day. For some reason that I cannot remember I was going to be home alone this day and I thought it would be a great wrapping day. I woke up that morning with such a sore back that I literally could barely move. I was determined to stand and wrap though. Got the first gift wrapped and just burst into tears knowing that I would not be able to manage to do it.... CHRISTMAS WAS RUINED!!!! I thought that I would just have to throw the gifts under the tree and let the kids fight it out.
    Of course with help from my mum, DH and some hefty pain pills the gifts got wrapped and the kids woke up on Christmas day none the wiser.
    This is why I am such a fan of the MHH wrapping parties. I have never wrapped a parcel in December since!!

    Always have a back up plan!!!.
    One year just before Christmas DH lost his job. It was a horrible time as we had both the kids, a few things pre bought but really not enough to give the kids a great Christmas. Somehow our neighbours found out and some gifts turned up on the doorstep for the kids, which was a beautiful thing.
    We were going to my mum and dads for Christmas eve and we bought some left overs home to have for Christmas lunch. Christmas was still great but I have always had a contingency in place since then. We now have a Christmas Club account and through planning and shopping the whole year we will always have enough food and gifts so that we can still have a great Christmas.

    Just remember that even the "worst" Christmas days are beautiful and create memories that last a lifetime.
    RoniJo, jollykelly and Minta like this.
  5. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    Excellent thread!!!

    Allow For Exhaustion/Sickness:

    Over the years I have noticed a pattern towards the end of December – as the big day FINALLY approaches – I am exhausted! Which probably means I have been taking too much on.

    Things should be less hectic this year due to the fact that I will not be organizing and implementing Christmas for my entire workplace – that got pretty crazy. Took a lot of time and effort!

    With new job/workplace I will keep my contributions to the festivities more reasonable and give myself a break!

    But, regardless, there is a LOT going on in late November, early December, and by the time actual Christmas Eve/Day rolls around the chances of getting sick due to an over stressed immune system goes up. It doesn’t happen every year but often enough that I my goal this time is to have back up plans.

    What if I am sick Christmas week? What “Plan B” options can I have ready? Initially my thoughts here are mostly around food related tasks, but there may be other things to consider. The goal, obviously, is to have all wrapping done by that point – but having a supply of gift bags to use at last minute might be another thing to consider. Just in case!

    Don’t Wait To Buy Key Items Because They Aren’t Going on Sale

    Last year it was Rhodes Frozen Bread Rolls, the year before Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry…for some reason my brain just kept passing on these items thinking they were surely going to go on sale before the holidays! And then it was the last grocery shop before Christmas and NADA – no rolls, no puff pastry. Rookie mistake! UGH!

    Finally, Never Use An Oven Bag in an Electric Roaster Oven

    Ask me how I know this! {facepalm} This actually happened years ago when we were making a turkey in our big roaster. DH takes the lead on turkeys and we discovered quickly that the super hot metal of the oven doesn’t play nice with the plastic oven bag.

    The hilarious part is that I made a big bold note on my Christmas planning documents to never do this again – then a couple years later DH and I were planning on making a turkey in the roaster oven and he started talking about using an oven bag. We had a nice little “discussion” about whether or not it would work – he had forgotten what had happened completely. But because I had it in writing, so to speak, I was able to avoid another meltdown. lol
    RoniJo, Minta and jollykelly like this.
  6. MinnieCo

    MinnieCo Well-Known Member

    Don't put wrapped food gifts under the tree if you own a Basset Hound...or ANY dog for that matter..LOL I've done it more than once and then smacked myself afterwards for forgetting.

    Never walk away from your wrapped gifts without name tags attached in some fashion. One year I wrapped a ton of gifts and piled them in "organized" piles to tag later. Well a storm rolled in and I ended up at work for days. Needless to say I forgot what was what and literally had to unwrap everything to peak and see what gifts belonged to who. It was BAD!!! Now...I instantly apply a sticky note. I will NEVER make that mistake again!
    jollykelly, RoniJo and Minta like this.
  7. Holiday_Mom

    Holiday_Mom Well-Known Member

    Ladies, you have made my afternoon. I'm sure I have some things to add but right now my eyes are watering and my stomach hurts from laughing so much. I think I have done most of what was shared. I'm in good company. :D
    sweetpumkinpye likes this.

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