Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lydia's Plan for The Holidays

Go ahead, holidays. Try it.
As you know, I'm totally obsessed with First World Problems. You also know that I'm a fashion trainwreck. And kind of a jackholian mess; disorganized and constantly behind on everything. The holidays make this much, much worse. Thanksgiving is next week and I'm already feeling it.

I turn into a raging B. I'm miserable to be around because "CAN'T YOU PEOPLE SEE HOW HARD I'M WORKING TO MAKE THIS A WONDERFUL FREAKING FAMILY HOLIDAY?!"

But this year things will be different because I have my new Beyonce Perspective Program for Not Losing My Schmidt. And the perspective I've gained from joking about all my first world problems has given me something. A sort of nudge. It's been happening a lot.

Here's a flow chart of what's going on in my broken, deeply disturbed brain:

A cold latte used to make me mad. I just paid $5 for a cold f*cking coffee? I don't think so. Now I sort of shrug and move along. Trust me, this attitude adjustment has made me much easier to live with.

But I'm also smack dab in the middle of the Halloween to Holidays Death Spiral. And there are a few things that raise my blood pressure and give me an eye twitch when I even think about them. So in an effort to get my schmidt together this year, I've spent a lot of time talking to people and reading stuff on the interwebs. Let's call it research. I think I now have a plan to get things under control this holiday season. Most of the strategies are stupid and some involve wine. You can read about them here.

Basically? I'm slowing it down. I'm cutting it back. I'm doing less of everything. Except for one thing. My sorry, fat, over privileged first world ass is starting a new tradition. This is the last item on my list:

Every week between Thanksgiving and New Years, I’m doing something service-oriented. I’ve heard people brag about doing this and even heard of celebrities who have their assistants do this for them. And I’ve always thought, “Sure Gwenyth, right after naptime I'll just take all three kids down to the methodone clinic and we'll donate our time."

But this year is different. My kids are a little older. I have a tiny bit more autonomy because no one is breastfeeding and even my littlest is in preschool two days a week. I really can do something. And I’m going to try and do as much of it as possible with my kids. Here's the thing - I'm a giant, idiotic boobstain and I still think I can pull this off.

We’re filling stockings for children who might not get any other presents this year. My church is hosting a Homeless Hypothermia program the week of Thanksgiving and they need a lot of help. There will be caroling at the nursing home.       Each kid is going to go through their stuff and find things to donate. Collecting donations for the food bank? Yes. Cards for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed? Even yesser. If you have any suggestions for me for things that I can do with my kids (ages 3, 6 & 8) - I would love to hear them. You know by now that I need as much help as I can get.

And for the record? I'm not trying to make anyone else feel like they need to do what I'm doing. This is the first year in NINE YEARS that I haven't been preggo, nursing or had a tiny, toddling devil cupcake in tow. This year it makes sense for me. I know we're all doing the best we can.

And this is me trying to do that.

xo, Lydia

PS: Special shout out to Momastary, for all the amazing work she's doing with her blog. She's helping put the people in her little corner of the blogworld together, those who have a little extra in touch with those how need a little extra. It's pretty amazing. And if you click on her site? You'll see that Beyonce is murthfurkin everywhere. It's like magic.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

28 comments:

  1. We are a military family and recently moved from Germany to Hawaii - oh, the misery, right? We are very fortunate to have our airman with us this Christmas. Anyway, look up Project Rudolph and consider that as a service project. They make bags with ornaments, candy, letters and cards and pass them out to military members leaving home during the holidays. I've been there myself to pass them out and seen big, tough men tear up over the cards from kids. Also Fisher House, which provides a place to stay for families that are with an injured troop at the hospital. They are located wherever there is a military hospital and can always use more everything. And there are lots of care package charities also. I've eaten MREs, and can say with certainty that almost anything is better, especially when it comes from someone expressing true gratitude for your sacrifice. And you're awesome for wanting to do it in the first place!

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  2. At my son's preschool, they have the children earn money by doing small chores (admittedly, chores they already do, like sorting the silverware into the drawer or moving the laundry from the washing machine into the dryer) and then taking them shopping for food to donate, or books or pajamas for a local progam (you can always find a "kids need books" program in any area). I think the idea is that they are more involved with each part of the process, so the idea of giving is made more personal to their tiny, self-centered little brains. They can do everything from choosing which canned veggies to buy, to handing their own money to the cashier.

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  3. My favorite thing to do WITH the kids is Operation Christmas Child. Fill a shoebox for a kid in a 3rd world country. Details here: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/Pack_A_Shoe_Box/ You have to get on it, though. This is drop off week, so you'll have to pack your box(es) and drop them off at a drop-off location by Monday(?). I'm going to take my 3 kids to Target this afternoon to pick out box contents. They'll each get to do a box for a kid of their age and gender.

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  4. The kids and I are baking cookies (and buying candy and such) and sending boxes of goodies to random armed forces units- you know "Any Soldier, Screaming Eagles, Yadda Yadda Yadda"- as Holiday Happiness packages. There are lots of guys not getting to go home for the holidays here on Stateside, and they deserve love too. Also, we have a blast seeing just how much stuff we can stuff into a flat-rate box.

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  5. We are going to bell ring this year for the first time. My kids are 7 and 9 and are totally excited! We also go see all the christmas lights with a friend and the last house we see is a family that decorates to the 9's and then puts out a donation bucket for Make a Wish. The kids get to get out, see the lights up close and put a donation in the bucket. Its actually their favorite part.
    Good for you with the service mindset. That is truly the reason for the season.

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  6. I think 3 (even through the terror) is the perfect age of understanding to start a good tradition like that. Next year I fully plan to do so. This year I'm *trying* to do a few things for our youth group that can include the kids (ie, teen girls oogling my 14 month old and teaching my 25 month old how to bake cookies) but next year will be really great. You know, If I haven't had another one ;) In which case, you'll find me with the teen girls again.

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  7. My girls love going to the dollar store and filling a plastic shoebox full of stuff. Samaritan's purse then collects them and ships them to 3rd world countries. (there is a $7 charge per box). You can drop them off at many churches. Just look it up online.

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  8. We celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6th. The kids get a small wrapped present of something they need (because St. Nicholas gave the money that girls needed so they wouldn't be sold as slaves). Then they get a small something (PB cups or similar). You can have your kids think about something that someone else needs, and do or give that to them. They can focus on those around them, and you get something early!!!

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  9. Our group of ladies at work this year is putting together a "mom" basket for our local women's shelter. The toy drive gets (and deserves) a lot of attention around here and we decided that the moms often get forgotten. So we are doing something for them...just a thought... :)

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  10. A few years ago we started adopting one (or two -depending on finances at the time) angels that were the same age as one of the kids. We shopped for him/her together. They really understood that and we enjoyed it together.

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  11. I've been seeing a lot of people suggesting sending cards to Walter Reed Hospital addressed to "any wounded soldier". Unfortunately, Walter Reed cannot accept any mail to an anonymous recipient. http://www.snopes.com/politics/christmas/walterreed.asp
    I would hate to see all those good intentions and effort go to waste! Please look into the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program instead. There are guidelines on their website.

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  12. Does not drinking while pregnant count as a public service? I mean, it is benefiting someone and surely not something I WANT to do.

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  13. 'But Kate will' LOL. I almost missed it.

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  14. Our church has Bells of Hope with different color bells representing groups of people (homeless, families of people in prison, etc.). Each bell has gift suggestions for the person the bell represents with the suggested $30 minimum that you spend. I like to grab as many bells as my family can afford to. It's a nice way of "giving back." :)

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  15. Check out Socks for Vets.... Great program and a good place to send cards to random vetrans... A friend of mine runs this program with her amazing son. :)

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  16. We brought cookies and muffins to the police department, fire department, and Labor and Delivery at the local hospital to thank them for all the wonderful things they do for us throughout the year. We did it this summer to keep from totally loosing ourselves in Nick Jr. and play-doh.

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  17. You were talking about books that make you ugly cry and I agree with all those and those of your other readers. Just thinking about some of them causes me to tear up and get that lump that won't go away. But MAN! I just spent the morning reading Momastery's blog...you talk about a sniffling, snot running, hiccupping, UGLY cry! Had to go into the bathroom and turn on the shower so my 5 year old would not think Mommy has totally lost her schmidt or someone is dying! And then later nursing my 4 month old, brought it all back! That woman is a saint and if I can feel a tenth of what she is doing/feeling, I may just make it through this Death Spiral yet!

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  18. Turkey Overindulgence Day survival tip: two or three smaller birds cook much faster than a ginormous one, and you can stagger their cooking if you're having an open-house style schindig. Plus, kids like drumsticks, and more of them equals less fighting :)

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  19. I used to haul my three kids one Friday a month( when they were off) to serve food at the homeless shelter. Little ones passed out plastic silverware, big served food or helped clean. I think it gives real perspective. Congratulations

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  20. Rather than give small items none of us really want (or need, and don't want to shop for anyway), our extended family goes in together for a Heifer Project animal. Fun to sit around and choose which one - sheep, chicken, whatever - and kids love helping make the decision. And less stuff from the dollar bin to break, inevitably, later.

    Although there is a place for the dollar bin. I speak not against its holy usefulness.

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  21. Lydia, I absolutely love it. As an adult, the things I remember most about Christmas are the experiences, not the stuff, and you're about to stuff the kidlets' heads fulla great ones. Fabulicious!

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  22. Soldier's Angels is a good program, they are on FB. Another awesome program a lot of communities have is a Coats for Kids collection, typically the items collected stay in the area. In my region of the country, the Eagles auxiliary or other charities collect $ for gas cards for families with medical bills.

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  23. Love all the suggestions so far. We have done many of those, too. Some others...

    Send mail to kids with chronic and terminal conditions through Make a Child Smile (google for info).

    Ask your local children's oncology floor for their wish lists (through ChildLife). My daughter is a cancer survivor and we know first hand what a difference this makes.

    Sign up for a shift to ring the bell for the Salvation Army. Your kids can be loud, sing, and talk to strangers for a good cause.

    Have them save their own money to pick out an item for Toys for Tots.

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  24. We've done Operation Christmas Child for years. Now you can track your boxes (if you pay the shipping donation online). Last year we were notified that our three boxes went to three countries in central Africa, and our kids were so excited to know where their donations went. We also like the Angel Tree Project through the Prison Fellowship ministry, which provides presents to children whose parents (in the U.S.) are in prison. You can check them out at http://www.angeltree.org/helpangeltree

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  25. Soldiers Angels does special stuff for the holidays for troops overseas (and all year round, as well), if you're looking for someplace to mail off Christmas cookies to or a reason to start a make-a-blanket project with the kiddos.

    (Just google it, they have a website which I'm sure is a thousand times more informative than my totally-not-doing-it-this-year-because-I-am-LAME-and-pathetic-and-sooooo-sleep-deprived lazy ass.)

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  26. Check with your local social services to adopt a family or a senior. Here in Wake County, NC, we have 70,000 families that need assistance. You can pick the family (maybe you find someone with kids about yours age). Basically, you get a list of things they would like/need and you shop for them (hell, you are out shopping anyway, right?) including food. Then you deliver the presents. You want to feel the joy of the season? Have a single mother with 2 kids tell you "thank you" because she wouldn't be able to give gifts to her kids. Even better? Your children meet her children. Even bester? It's right here in your neighborhood.

    I did a senior 2 years ago and still keep in contact with her. She made a lovely blanket for my daughter when she was born...it's a connection I will always cherish.

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  27. In Chicago there is an organization called One Brick that does all sorts of different types of charitable things all through out the year. I just checked, there is a chapter in the DC area as well. They have a calendar of events, some are specifically for families to do together and some are more oriented to just grown-ups or people with specific types of skills. Check out their website, I am sure that you can find exactly what you are looking for.

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  28. You could so take your kids to a homeless shelter to help serve dinner to teach them to be gratefull for what they have! good luck! :)

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