1. Catholic Icing has an Advent / Christmas planning guide out, and if I were that type of person, I’d get one. Everything I have ordered from Catholic Icing has been top notch.
2. But I’m not that type of person. Which is why this Halloween about noonish my children quick went outside and hung white plastic trash bags in the tree (ghosts) in a last-minute attempt to show the world we were festive.
Most of the ghosts did eventually come back down, but we still have one up, reminding us that November’s the month for praying for all souls. Handy, eh? The ghost has to come down by the end of the month though, and by then I’ll have worked up the motivation to firmly insist it be done.
3. In this same way, you can hold onto the Easter theme all 8 weeks, and not be like those wretched sinners who put the bunnies away after just one or two weeks of Easter. After 8 weeks of looking at a smiling bunny, even the laziest procrastinators are moved by the Holy Spirit, and/or disgust, into putting the bunny away on Pentecost.
(Some of us are truly
an Easter a Bunny People, and thus there’s a rabbit on the mantle all year. But we put away the no-doubt-anymore-they’re-dead Easter flowers in mid-June, and leave up just the Ordinary Time Rabbit.)
4. So. Advent’s coming. You might be thinking, “I need to get ready for Christmas!”
Actually you don’t.
5. Here’s how lazy people are better, following this clever decorating scheme:
First Sunday of Advent: Scramble around your house looking for some kind of Advent-y decoration after you get home from Mass, where you were reminded the season is upon you. It’ll probably involve re-purposing the purple cape from someone’s Halloween costume. Go with it.
During Advent: Stay home from all those obnoxious Christmas events you never liked anyway. You’ll be happier, and more liturgically-correct, which gives you a Pleasing Sense of Smug Superiority.
Tip: Go ahead and go to the events that you actually enjoy. You can hold onto your PSSS by telling yourself that either (a) your attendance is an act of charity towards your hosts or (b) this particular event is the perfect way to prepare for the Christmas season.
Christmas Eve: Use the One Day Rule.
6. The One Day Rule is this: Do no more decorating for Christmas than can be accomplished in one day. You may start as early at the 23rd if your schedule dictates, but the 24th is better.
The One Day Rule is superior because:
(a) You’ll never worry you’re over-doing it and losing sight of the reason for the season.
(b) You won’t get angry at your spouse for sitting around eating popcorn while you slave for weeks getting all the decorations up.
(c) Your home will still be plenty festive.
(d) It will only take one day to un-decorate, come the languid aftermath of the Presentation.
(e) Actually, you’ll probably get sick of most of your decorations before you’ve completed your 40 Days of Christmas, so the post-Presentation clean-up won’t be that bad. But you do have to put away the St. Nick statue on Feb 3rd. Or else scoot him into a pleasing arrangement with the Ordinary Time Rabbit.
Note: The spouse and children may decorate all they please throughout the Advent season, and you must only scowl at them if they either (a) really go overboard or (b) have the temerity to try to make you put down your popcorn and help. You’re busy being holy this Advent, you’ll string lights on the 24th, thank you.
Also: You are allowed to remove the batteries / cut the wires from the Singing Christmas Elf at any time during the Advent season, or even before. Advent may have a penitential note to it, but Dark Night of the Ears it is not.
7. Wait a minute! You forgot to buy presents! Never fear, Liturgical Mom is here. You just need a couple cool things for the 25th and 26th, and you probably bought them on impulse because your kids are so cute you couldn’t help it. The morning of the 27th is the perfect day to go out and acquire your other 10 Days of Christmas Loot.
Tip #1: If you know for a fact that all your kids are getting on the 25th is a shiny box of paperclips, but you *are* planning to buy something bigger come the post-Christmas sales, because you are a red-blooded American, albeit a very frugal one, you can announce that henceforth the family will be celebrating Ephiphany as the big day for gifts.
Tip #2: Some of your days of Christmas don’t have to be Merchandise Days of Christmas. Around our house we have, among others:
The Baking Day of Christmas.
The Gingerbread House Day of Christmas.
The Going to the Zoo Day of Christmas.
The Eating at Waffle House, yes it’s that rare, Day of Christmas.
And so forth. This year we’ll have one of these Ornament Kit Days of Christmas, because the girls have one and they mean to use it.
Also, at our home, we invariably have the Naughty Children Day of Christmas, in which our over-festivated youth decide that housework is overrated, and since the living room is a mess, still, we send them to bed early and thus observe the Parents’ Peace and Quiet Evening of Christmas.
8. Bonus Take: Equal Exchange is a very good source for stocking-fodder. You can sign up as an individual customer or as an organizational customer (a small, private buying cooperative counts as an organization) depending on the quanities you’ll be buying. The cool thing about this is that in addition to the PSSS that comes with buying all fair-trade chocolate, you won’t be tempted to pick up those horrid overpriced impulse-candies at the store.
9. Bonus Take, Easter edition: If you live in the southern US, you have to order your Easter chocolate before Lent begins, because it may be too warm for the chocolate to survive the 5th week of Lent.
Piety Alert: Everyone will know you broke your Lenten penance if they end up with horrid grocery-store Easter candy in their baskets despite having seen the expensive stuff arrive at the door in March. Which terrifying thought will give you an infusion of self-control to help you through the long month and a half looking at the duct-taped box from Equal Exchange. (Your box does not arrived duct-taped. But, tip: Duct tape can really assist your quest for personal holiness. Just sayin’.)