13 Week Countdown To Christmas: When Something's Just Not Right


As I walked into Costco, there it was–the Christmas aisle. Like a great-aunt showing up on my doorstep, Christmas in September brings a mixture of irritation, anxiety and familiarity.


It’s happening everywhere. Christmas stuff is quietly slipping in through the back door. I’m still mourning the loss of summer and trying to find my fall decorations–it’s just not right to start throwing Christmas at me. I’m not ready for it.

Then again, it seems I’m never ready for Christmas. You’ve probably caught a glimpse of me across the aisle and laughed. Yeah, I’m that lady. Shopping the last days, even minutes before Christmas with a closet full of unwrapped presents back at home. Sure, I’ll tell you it’s because that’s when all the great sales are–truth is, I always wait until it “feels” like Christmas.

This is problematic. I want to create the “magic” of Christmas for my family. I love the aroma of cloves and cinnamon mingled with fresh pine. Who can resist the warm glow of candles burning, a fire in the fireplace or a good excuse to dress up and go to a party?  The problem is, it seldom goes quite like I imagine it.


Christmas always takes me by surprise. Each year brings new excuses reasons. The common denominator is failure to plan. Instead, I let it sweep me away.

I’d really like this year to be different.

If I’ve just described you too, you are welcome to join me over the next thirteen weeks, as I attempt to create a holiday season that inspires family closeness rather than debt, feasts that bring communion and health rather calories, and beauty that inspires rather than commercializes.


Here is what we will accomplish together.


1. Track Days on a Physical Calendar. 

In my last 13 Week series, 13 Weeks to Family Financial Freedom, I learned that you must have a clear “yes or no” type goal to create the desired new habit using a Seinfeld calendar. While I don’t intend to bring Christmas in full force starting in September– I do need to be aware it’s coming like a freight train.

No more being caught by surprise– after all, I hear it comes on the same day every year. I will mark off my Christmas countdown calendar daily to make sure it does.


2. Send Out Christmas Cards.

This should be easy. I think I still have about three years worth, half addressed and some are even stamped.


3. Create and Stay Within a Small Budget. 

We’ve never been prone to putting Christmas on a credit card; however, we’ve usually had the cash to pay for it. This year it will take real planning and tight budgeting.


4. Find New Ways to Create a Meaningful Christmas.

In “How a Church Turned a Christmas Blessing Into a Curse: Why Good Intentions Are Never Enough” I wrote of our struggle through Christmas’ past. This year, I want to find ways to be the blessing I once prayed for.


5. Create New Traditions. 

As I’ve spent the last few weeks reading Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher JesusI’ve developed a desire to break from hollow traditions and religious assumptions. This Christmas season, I will trace the roots to some of our excepted traditions and attempt to redeem them or discard them in light of what is uncovered. My hope is that new traditions that deepen our faith will result.



6. Prepare Our Home and Hearts For The Peace of Christmas.

Creating an atmosphere of peace and joy is an intentional act. It can’t be bought. It must be created. This year, as financial and health constraints continue, creating a home that is a refuge for my adult children and grandchildren will take an extra dose of resolve and creativity.


7. Take the Distance Out of Being a Long Distance Grandmother.

This is probably the hardest. I’m a complete failure at being a long distance grandmother. I forget birthdays, (Yes I know there’s an app for that.) I seldom send cards. It’s not that I don’t want to, I believe that my failure is also due to lack of conscious awareness. If I’m right, my countdown calendar should help.

It must. When you have 22 grandchildren, that’s a lot of little eyes looking up.


When does it feel like Christmas to you?



Photo credits Shutterstock:  Khakimullin AleksandrwacomkaCURAphotography



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