I took a radical approach to the holidays this year.  No, I didn’t start Christmas shopping in July – that’s always a pipe dream around here – and we didn’t shut it down with a no gift policy for the season.

Yet here I am on December 1st, calmly (-ish) going about my business because I am, in fact, done. Finished.  Finito.

Amen, hallelujah, how ’bout another cup of coffee with that celebration doughnut?

For those of you feeling icky because presents aren’t supposed to be the focus of the season, I get that.  Except we enjoy giving gifts to our family for Christmas, so if I haven’t bought them then they inevitably become the focus of December which makes it super hard for me to develop a genuine holiday spirit.

For those of you feeling annoyed by the sentiment itself, I get that, too.  I have a friend who finishes his Christmas shopping by September every single year, and few things kick up anxiety like someone who’s got his $#@! so completely together while I still have to tackle Halloween and Thanksgiving.

All that aside, though, you might be thinking, “Gee, Laura, what on earth could have turned it around for you this year?  You’re usually such a basket case at the holidays.”  (Trust me…if you know me, you’d be thinking it.)

Again, radical.

I don’t believe in leaving my house on Black Friday.  It’s not some altruistic protest for workers across America; I just believe preserving my sanity as we head into December is pretty dang important.  That being said, I wholeheartedly believe in Black Friday sales, which is why we’ve started doing a good deal of Christmas shopping online between that Friday and Monday.

It’s seriously awesome.  In my pajamas, on my couch, watching tv…so much better than risking an altercation that would land me on the local news.

Now in years past we’d wait ’til the kids were in bed then BrightSide and I would sit down for a marathon session with the laptop.  This had the benefit of twice the brainpower and no little people popping up to peek over my shoulder, but there were some serious disadvantages to the system.  Not starting until 8:30pm meant my energy was pretty much zapped when we were just getting started, and my decision making skills only got fuzzier as the hour grew later. Eventually I was one raw bundle of nerves ready to implode at the slightest provocation.

But this year?  Brand new approach.

BrightSide was assembling a wardrobe for Bear while T-man was off skating on his ramp when BOOM! – I had an epiphany.  It was one of those spotlight shimmering, angels singing, Aha moments that send you twirling around a room on your tiptoes.

Who said I had to wait until the kids went to bed?  The internet worked just fine in the daytime. I could close the laptop if the kids came in, they’re old enough to know better than to pry, and I doubted BrightSide would be too put out if I didn’t drag him through this particular experience after fighting with furniture all day.

So I shopped.  And shopped.  And shopped some more.  (Which basically means if you’re family and hate your Christmas present then you know who’s to blame.  Sorry.)

I awakened every dormant decision making instinct within and simply made choices.  Over and over.  On my own.  By day’s end I had finished all but two on my list, and by Monday I’d covered them as well.  Sweet!

I’m pragmatic about the holidays.  I’m not expecting angels trailing tinsel or chubby cherubs flitting around our tree.  My wish is for a December significantly lower in stress, one where I can enjoy anticipating Christmas with my family and friends without a constant loop of freak out running in the background.

Not setting foot in a single mall is a pretty good start.