(this is a classic Crib Notes)

Here it is, weeks before Thanksgiving and already I know there is no way we can be ready for Christmas.

Sure, we should be thinking of Thanksgiving. We should be planning our leaf tour. We should be harvesting something. But since we didn't make our presents for family in July like we usually do, I'm in a PANIC.

Christmas with children takes on a whole different dimension, a stupendous increase in the production—and it's not just the gift side of the equation. It's the endless train of festivities—the creation and maintenance of a crazy number of rituals.

There's the ceremonial picture for the holiday card. Followed by the realization we are too late for photo cards and must run to the store to buy the box of holiday cards.

Then we have the sacred untangling of the lights, followed by the purchase of new lights because the old ones are hopelessly tangled.

We've got the traditional writing of the gift list and the also traditional slashing of the list when we realize our last name is not Dell or Gates.

Then we've got the ritual baking of 5,000 cookies. This is followed by the eating of 4,990 cookies, leaving precisely one for each neighbor as long as we don't count their children.
And that's just the tip of the tree, so to speak.

When I dreamed up these activities B.C. (before children), I always imagined it as a blur of tinsel and tradition, melding just the right mix of heart felt values with red and green paper chains on the tree. We'd sit there in the quiet fire lit living room, stringing popcorn for the birds, singing carols, and drinking hot chocolate.

As the big guy himself would say, ho, ho, ho.

At this point it's a Daytona 500 race to December 25th where all the drivers are already on lap seven and I'm still getting my fireproof suit on.

In the early stages of this pre-season panic, I can admit I created this monster myself. But since I worked pretty hard to get everyone to buy into it, now it's my monster. And no amount of eggnog is going to drown it at this point.

So, I have a plan. I'm going to par down the activities this year so we can have a relaxing holiday. No big parties. No huge shopping trips. No original holiday card. No over the top baking.

Okay, you can stop laughing now.

Anyway, I've got to go. I need a new rolling pin, we've got our photo session scheduled for Tuesday and the first party is in a week. See you at the finish line!