Ready ... or Not?

Ready for Christmas?

Are we ready to get organized for Christmas?

It's the traditional opening greeting of the Christmas Countdown. Problem is, each year when I ask the question, I have to remind myself to duck!

I've seen it happen year after year: we careen into the first day of the Countdown saying to ourselves, "It can't possibly be time to prepare for the holidays!"

For many of us, the coming of the holiday season brings a feeling of panic in its wake--and I am not one whit different.

Where is your time sense stuck? Do you still feel as if it's back-to-school week? Are you stuck farther into the past, imagining sunny summer sunshine outside the bedroom curtains?

This year, I'm still mentally mired in July--and I wonder, with a sense of panic, how it ever got to be so late into the autumn without my noticing. With just 63 days to go, will there be enough time to create a warm and memorable holiday for my husband, children, grandchildren and friends?

But I also know a secret. No matter how "behind" I feel, how overwhelmed I think I am, how stressed, over-committed or distracted I may be, there is plenty of time to have the stress-free holiday of my dreams.

The Countdown works. I know it works, because I've shared it with thousands of families who have told me so, year after year.

Most of all, I know it works because I follow the Countdown right along with you, and year after year, it rescues me from the panic I feel today.

To get to our goal, we're going to ignore certain annoying friends or family members who go in for Christmas Year-Round. You know who they are: the mother-in-law or cousin who announces (smugly) that she's finished her Christmas shopping--at the July 4th picnic!

We're going to turn a blind eye to the Martha-Wannabe down the street, who has her Rudolph and Company lawn decorations assembled in ordered rows in the garage, just waiting for the last trick-or-treaters to leave the premises Halloween night so she can decorate for the season opening on November 1.

We're going to smile past the online holiday friends who've been making, baking, crafting and wrapping on a daily basis since last January--and who wonder, sometimes aloud, how we are ever going to pull it off.

Never fear! There is ample time to plan, prepare and celebrate. As we count down to the holidays, we'll prove that slow and steady sometimes does win the Christmas race.

Best of all, we will make our preparations at a natural pace, one in harmony with the shortening days and the rhythmic festivals of fall--and it will change us. As we prepare, so we will be prepared to accept a joyous holiday, a serene holiday, a holiday that resonates to our values, our faith, our family life.

In the week to come, we will get organized! Get Organized Week sees us settle in and focus on lists and calendars, consultations and decisions. We will create a Christmas planner notebook, designate a holiday calendar, and use the mighty power of pen and ink to allay those feelings of panic.

Whether we're ready, whether we're not, it's time to count down to Christmas! Are you with me? Good!?

Now let's get ready ... for an organized Christmas!

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