It's sneaking up on me, isn't it?
It really is like that commercial where the giant gingerbread man creeps up behind the woman at her desk. (Except I have four gingerbread girls who sneak up behind my desk as I type. They cough up Christmas lists and expectations.)
People ask me how we do holidays with four kids. We do it with tradition.
Tradition one: Happy Friday
One such tradition begins each year on the day after Thanksgiving. It's how we manage to buy three identical everything and sometimes four identical everything and still manage to pay the mortgage.
Some call it Black Friday.
I call it "Get-me-out-of-this-house-once-a-year Day."
I literally take it in stride. I take a mug of coffee. I drive slowly through the traffic. I get a cart at the big stores and lean over it ever-so-gracefully and scan the aisles. I enjoy the sounds of Christmas music and ignore the ladies in front of me fighting over the $5 bag of Legos.
It's all good.
I hit the mall. (Not literally, mind you.) I leisurely enter some major department stores I never enter the other 364 days of the year. I happily pull from clearance racks. I get a donut and some more coffee. I roll my ride back into the driveway in the late afternoon. Life is great.
Besides the peace and quiet, I love the bargains. It's when I get most of my shopping done. I start looking online at BlackFriday.com in October. Yep, October. I get ready early. I save newspaper ads. I compare prices. I take it very seriously early - so I can enjoy it later.
Tradition 2: Christmas ornaments
I used to love buying new Christmas decorations every year. That was before we had children. Now, I let them (the children) provide the ornaments. All of those lovely popsicle-stick snowflakes and glittery snowmen with glue crusted on the sides?
I get a black marker and write the child's name and year behind it. And I save them for every year. And those picture frame ornaments? So precious.
The best part is, I save so much money. And my tree is artificial, so I never have to buy a new one.
We get excited to look back over the ornaments and play Christmas music as we decorate. It truly is fun.
Tradition 3: Christmas Eve
One tradition I have kept from my memories of growing up occurs on Christmas Eve.
When I was a kid it was a big deal to go to my aunt's house to eat and eat and open presents and eat.
So, when I ended up being the one with the biggest house (because of all of those children), I ended up being hostess. And we eat. And eat. And open presents.
It's a time when my kids can see both sides of the family (grandparents and aunts), and we can celebrate together under one roof, one time a year. It truly is my favorite day of the year.
We also make it vital that we attend Christmas Eve services. I don't want to neglect the significance of that time of year and what it truly means. The presents and food wait until at least 9 p.m. The kids like to stay up late, and the family gets to worship together. What is better than that?
Tradition 4: We remember
I mentioned we attend Christmas Eve services. We also attend Thanksgiving Eve services, Christmas cantatas, and everywhere in between and throughout the year. Our faith is important, and if we instill anything in our kids' minds - such as how to save money - we want them to know WHY we choose to live the way we do. We put our faith first and foremost. We remember WHY we have Thanksgiving and Christmas all year round, even when those holidays sneak up on us like a creepy gingerbread man.
Tabitha Goodling is a freelance writer from Juniata County. She and her husband, Jeremy, have been married 11 years and share four daughters: Lydia, 8, and triplets, Hope, Melinda and Lily, 6.