The burning question on everyone’s lips this past week has been, “Are you ready for Christmas?”

My answer is short and sweet: “No.”

That’s not surprising. I put off purchases, preparations, decorations, etc., until I either have to do them in a last-minute panic or I simply throw up my hands and do nothing at all.

The older I get, the easier it is to convince myself to simply skip the panic stage and go straight to doing nothing at all. From what some of my friends tell me, they have the same mindset so I don’t feel too badly. I wouldn’t feel too badly about it, anyway, but it’s nice knowing I’m not the only one.

I do have to get a few gifts, and when I say “few,” I mean only for the grandchildren. They will get a small gift to open along with some money. Shopping, a task I abhor, becomes much more palatable that way. As an added bonus, the grands can use the money for what they really want and their parents don’t have to wade through the after-Christmas gift exchanges.

This year, for the first time in several years, I am hosting Christmas dinner instead of my daughter. When I got groceries a couple of weeks ago, I bought the ham and ingredients to make some of the side dishes so I would avoid the last-minute madness. The guests will provide other side dishes and desserts to round out the meal. I’m planning to do the majority of the cooking the day before so perhaps we actually have dinner at a reasonable hour on Christmas Day and I will have a chance to enjoy it without killing myself that morning.

Cleaning house before Christmas was something I dreaded, but thanks to the aid of my daughter and daughter-in-law, the main living spaces have been cleaned and organized. I also tackled the clutter in my bedroom and ended up with three garbage bags of clothes to donate. My DIL was kind enough to pack these in her car and take them to one of the charities that accepts good, used clothing. We also filled several garbage bags with junk. The girls quickly carried them to the trash bin and wheeled it to the road so I wouldn’t be tempted to dig things back out.

The girls came back a second day to work in the kitchen. After the great mouse invasion of earlier this year, I knew the cabinets needed scrubbing and sanitizing as well as purging. Four trash bags of plastic cups, old butter bowls, plastic dishes, skillets that long ago had lost the nonstick coating and just plain old junk went to the trash bin. Again, the girls knew they’d better get it out of the house. A few of those things may have sneaked out of the bags otherwise.

We had a bit of excitement in one of the cabinets. After all the stuff was taken out, and after DIL had scrubbed it down, my daughter discovered something most unwelcome. “What’s that?” she said, peering into the dark cabinet, then shrieked, “It looks like a dead, hairy animal!” She got the flashlight and saw a nice ball of hair attached to the back of the cabinet, in a dark spot where we had not seen it … where DIL had been scrubbing without realizing it was there, so close she could have touched it. It was not a dead animal, thank you, Jesus! It was “only” a mouse nest that had been abandoned when all the residents were evicted by my son, who set traps for the ones who eluded the exterminator months ago. We all may have freaked out just a little bit before we determined that it was empty. Daughter bravely donned gloves, covered her face with a dish towel, crawled into the cabinet and used plastic grocery bags to remove the abandoned nest. Then DIL scrubbed the cabinet again.

That leaves the decorations to worry about. The tree is up, as I mentioned in an earlier column. It still looks very nice with the lights on. Perhaps I will actually get some ornaments on it. We’ll see.

Even with all this activity, even though much will be left undone, it doesn’t matter. This is not the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is found in Luke 2:11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” This is what we should remember, and why we should hold Christmas in our hearts every single day.

Merry Christmas, friends.

Contact Linda Braden Albert with story ideas at

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