Countdown Daily Messages

Christmas Countdown Day 42: Holidays Ahead!

We did it! Time to look ahead to the holiday season ... because it's here!

For the past six weeks, we've been preparing for Christmas together. We've assembled a Christmas planner, organized gifts and giving, and conquered holiday chaos in the kitchen. Each day, we've pondered new innovations and old traditions, moving ever closer to our goal: a serene, joyous holiday season.

This is not to say that we're all ready! I'd venture that 98% of us still have more to do. Not only is this no surprise, but it's normal. That's why the Countdown ends where it does. There's still time to complete holiday preparation, and nearly all of us will need it.    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 41: Focus on Traditions

Christmas. For many of us, our picture of this holiday is a static one: we've "always" done this or we "always" do that.

Indeed, that idea of tradition and stability and connection is one of the deepest and most meaningful themes of the holiday!

I make Aunt Bill's Brown Candy or Mim's Texas Pralines because my mother did, my grandmother did, my great-grandmother did.

Celebrating that connection is wonderful, but don't let it blind you to the very real fact that Christmas also changes.

If I compare our current Christmas celebrations to my childhood holidays, I find that today's rejoicing is longer, faster, more intense and more expensive. Not better or worse, but different.

This is, I humbly submit, as it should be. Children grow. Families change. On growing older, many of us explore new spiritual depths, finding meaning in different places.    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 40: Plan Holiday Parties!

Will your family celebrate the holiday season with a party?

It's an occasion that can fluster the most experienced hostess--and if you're new to the art form, you can experience a royal case of the jitters.

We've got some tips and printable planning pages that will get you started, because hospitality goes to the heart of the holiday season. Extend yours today, with these ideas.

To Do Today

Plan holiday parties using the Holiday Party Planner.    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 39: Teach Children To Give!

Teach children to give

Today's guest editor, Cub Reporter Perry Bear, takes on a ticklish parenting dilemma.

How do you teach children to give during a holiday focused on receiving?

Today's essay focuses on how to model and teach giving during the season.

Perry has a suggestion, too, which is not so bad for a little teddy bear!    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 38: Make Room For New Toys!

cut clutter in kids rooms

Santa's coming ... will there be room to store new toys?

Adding Santa's bounty to overstuffed kids' rooms is a recipe for January clutter disaster--and don't even try to tell this Nana to scale back on presents for the grandchildren. Bah, humbug!

About this time of year, it's a good idea to contemplate the toy situation in your child's room.

It's a fact of modern life. Children's playthings have exploded in number, size, and complexity, while children's storage options have remained static.

Just try storing a Happy Meal collection in the average toy box! Even the best-organized kid's rooms can easily drown in today's toy avalanche.

And nowhere is the clutter more apparent than at Christmas. Time for a sneaky/secret/flat-out toy reduction!    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 37: Simplify Holiday Traditions!

Simplify Holiday Traditions

Here at the brink of the season, many of us find ourselves gasping for breath. Where did the time go--and are we ready?

Right about now, take a moment to consider your family's holiday traditions. Do they still fit, or have you outgrown them? Will each celebration add joy--or stress--to the season's celebrations?

Sure, take a critical eye, but also, take heart! Some of the most joyous holiday moments happen when you're off the clipboard, enjoying one another. Reach for them!    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 36: Celebrate! Week

Celebrate Christmas

We're in the home stretch! It's Celebrate! Week at the Christmas Countdown, a time to tidy up our preparations and shift gears into full holiday mode.

Take stock today! Find and tie up those loose ends.

This week, we'll complete and mail Christmas cards, finalize gift-buying and gift-making, and plan any holiday parties.

We'll finish holiday decorating, inside and out. We'll focus on family, bringing all family members into the holiday preparations. We'll consider the children, and find ways to teach children about giving, not just about getting.

Most of all, we'll rejoice. While the holiday season means many things to many families, for all, it's a season of joy and celebration.

You're nearly ready ... to celebrate an organized Christmas!    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 35: Catch-Up Weekend!

It's coming, it's really coming ... it's here? Oh, NO! The Saturday after Thanksgiving can be a time of flagging motivation. How is it that, despite cooking for three solid days, the leftovers give out less than 48 hours after the Thanksgiving feast?

In spite of all the preparations, no one feels really prepared for the Christmas season to come--and after the Thanksgiving holiday, it's no longer possible to avoid the obvious. Here it comes!

It's natural enough when you think about it, but nobody expects to be a bit depressed at this point of the season. But for many of us, there's no "good enough" when it comes to the holiday season. No matter where we are, plans, prep or purchases, this is the week we feel the strain.

Have you made a Christmas planner, gotten organized for gifts and giving, and done more holiday prep than ever before--but still, you feel anxious?

Time to relax--with a catch-up weekend!    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 34: Record Holiday Memories!

save holiday memories

Who says holiday traditions have to be "sweet"? Thinking about Christmas trees, I can't help but laugh at my childhood memories.

An Episcopalian home, our family kept a "good Advent". While we observed special Advent customs and decorations, no Christmas tree entered our home until December 24, the first day of the liturgical Christmas season. The tree then stayed up until Twelfth Night, and we'd make a little family party as we took it down on January 5th.

"Awwww!", I hear you say. Well, there was just one tiny little problem: our family lived in hot, dry Las Vegas, Nevada. Buying a once-fresh tree on December 24 was an ever-changing adventure!    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 33: Give Thanks!

Give Thanks at Thanksgiving

We are thankful! Today, America gathers for family, feasting and football. It's the purest of our holidays: a day set aside to be grateful.

Gratitude is an attitude. Psychologists have proved that Pollyanna was right: counting your blessings creates a blessed heart. Those who are grateful weather life's minor storms more easily.

So be thankful, America!

And our Canadian friends, and readers from throughout the world? You can be thankful, too--no assignments today on the Christmas Countdown!    Read More >>