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It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...because of YOU...

First, let's all have a moment of silence for those to work in retail leading up to and during the holidays. When I worked at Cheekwood, I was so sick of Christmas by the time it was actually here. When my oldest was a baby, I fell back in love with the holidays. Then, I put pressure on myself to do *all the holiday things* with *all the holiday outfits*. I felt like the worst mother when I saw my "friends" on social media flying on a real sleigh to the North Pole and drinking hot cocoa with fresh snowman poop marshmallows...and they looked amazing doing it! Well, it felt like a big deal to me, so I stressed over getting all the tickets/reservations MONTHS in advanced. You can't have Hand, Foot, Mouth!!! I have cookie decorating planned!!! I over committed and started dreading Christmas again. THEN, I HAD TO SPEND A FORTUNE BUYING THOUGHTFUL GIFTS FOR 482,937 PEOPLE...AND WRAP THEM. Decorations and a tree installed and fluffed in my house? Something had to change.

Well, the blessing of motherhood changed it and being 8 months pregnant with my second changed it all. Thank heavens.

So, here's how the Terrell family rolls now that there are 3 kids, a silly daddy who will never miss a day of work in his life, and an ADD, uber creative mother who finally takes enough Zoloft. (Mental health check: how ya doing? You good? Find your friend who will be honest with you or just listen. Okay, I'm done with that for now.)

1. Gift Giving System ON PAPER

I make tables for each category of lovely humans I *want* to buy/make gifts for. This helps me have a plan, save money and not buy a bunch of random crap because I'm visually overstimulated in a store. My big kids are old enough to start counting and comparing gift sizes, weights, etc. Annoying- but they are just prodigies with measurements...just kidding.

2. Amazon List All Year

I also make a "Christmas 2022" list in Amazon beginning the day after Christmas. As I see things out and about all year, I find them (or something similar) on Amazon and organize them in a list. I can shop small later, but this visual helps me.

3. Don't Over Complicate the Season

I have to remind myself that my kids don't have social media. They aren't as aware of all the happenings as I am. I plan one major Christmas outing for the family. The rest? We wing it. I wait until a kid asks for cookie decorating, gingerbread houses, ornament making, Christmas chain countdown, Elf on the Shelf, Reindeer bait, Christmas movie night or hot cocoa and Christmas lights. Until then, I keep my mouth shut and focus on my mental sanity during the holidays and really loving on and connecting with them while they are home. It's so much more fun when it's THEIR idea and THEY help plan/prep it too. This approach isn't for everyone, obviously. It's REALLY BENEFICIAL to show kids (and yourself) to be creative with the resources and materials you have on hand, every craft doesn't have to be perfect (looking), some ideas don't work like you imagined they would, etc. Again, I keep my mouth shut about the millions of activities available in Nashville around the holidays. They will see advertisements, talk to friends, etc. When they ask, I'll listen and may do it!

4. Gift Experiences & Materials that will help ME with the kids in the future

This year, that would be a lemonade stand. They ask me *evrey day* when the weather warms up, but it still involves so much of me with their ages. So, I'm going to prep "gifts" that make my life easier and encourage independence with my little entrepreneurs. More on all this, when I pull it together:) Last year, it was all about experiments and having the materials ready to go. Camp experiences, "day dates" with each kiddo, and Southwest gift cards are other items on the Terrell kiddos' lists.

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