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Christmas Countdown

I know it's early, but I'm already behind.

It’s two days after Thanksgiving. Some of you, no doubt, are just getting to bed after 24 hours of power-shopping. You can sleep for the rest of the weekend, knowing that you’ve accounted for everyone on your gift list. For you, it’s all over but the wrapping.

I didn’t set foot in a store yesterday. I’ve picked up some gifts here and there over the past few weeks, but am by no means finished with my Christmas shopping. This means that the next month will be very busy in my house, as shown in the timeline below.

Four weeks before Christmas: It’s early, so the “here and there” shopping approach is still valid. Make sure to put up the Advent calendar for the kids; they enjoy it, and it cuts down on the “how long before Christmas” questions. Online shopping is best done this week, so you’re not paying through the nose for express shipping.

Three weeks before Christmas: Finish up that online shopping. Plan to decorate the house, including the annual heated discussion about just how many decorations are necessary (my view: less is more; his view: more is more.) Finalize Christmas list. Refer all calendar questions to www.isitchristmas.com.

Two weeks out: Drag yourself, grudgingly, to South Shore Plaza for shopping. Spend 28 minutes looking for a parking spot. Lose one glove in parking-lot slush. On the way home, realize that you forgot to buy Christmas cards. Upon arrival, put kids in red shirts and make them stand in front of the tree. Take 43 photos; find one that you can live with. Post photo on blog, send emails to everyone you know with blog link. Merry Green Christmas, from our family to yours!

The week before: Whip yourself into a mad baking frenzy: pumpkin bread for all! Also, make six different varieties of Christmas cookies, for a total of at least 15 dozen. Eat 2 ½ dozen. Remember that you only have a few days to wrap before the kids are on school vacation. Get out pretty paper and ribbon. Take 45 minutes to wrap three gifts in pretty paper and ribbon. Take seven minutes to put everything else in gift bags. Congratulate yourself with a couple of cookies.

December 23: Suddenly remember you have nothing for anyone’s stocking, including the dog’s. Spend $54.76 at a 24-hour CVS on chocolate oranges, batteries, tube socks and Milk-Bones. Eat a few more cookies to cope with the stress.

Christmas Eve: Take down Advent calendar. Hang up stockings. Leave out the three remaining cookies for Santa. Put kids to bed. Make Christmas breakfast casserole. Put kids back to bed. Pour a glass of wine. Threaten the kids with the breakfast casserole if they don’t stay in bed. Suddenly remember you have to go to midnight Mass. Hand untouched wine glass to husband and swipe one of Santa’s cookies on your way out the door.

Christmas Morning: Hear the pitter-patter of little feet at 5:44, and wonder why you bothered to go to bed at all.

It’s the most stressful, sleep-deprived, wonderful time of the year. Enjoy!

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