|(Photo Credit: Chris Bannon)|
In the spirit of all things yuletide-y, here are a few things you can start on now:
* Start dropping the "S" bomb when you spot your kids, or even your spouse, behaving badly. A simple "Santa's watching" can curb just about anything from sloppy table manners to poor car-borrowing etiquette (leaving my car on fumes, re-programming my radio station buttons and re-adjusting the driver's seat).
* Carry a small notebook to record any conversations that start with a whiny "I want..." or a wistful "I wish I had...". That way, you can get a jump on your Christmas shopping well in advance of the holiday rush.
* Avoid those stiff, carefully posed family holiday photos by vigilantly watching for impromtu group photo ops. While photos of the family plopped in the middle of a pile of just-raked leaves is popular, they are clearly staged. Savvy plate spinners, forever bent on killing two birds with one stone, are likely to take it a step further by capturing their kids in the actual act of completing chores. I myself plan on getting a shot of my family from an upstairs bedroom that looks down on our driveway while they're washing my car. Nothing says "ho, ho, ho" like a couple of drenched kids sporting bubble beards.
* Start drafting that dreaded Christmas card letter now. Again, in your handy-dandy little notebook, record your family's accomplishments. That way, you'll have plenty of time to embellish if need be. With a candy cane pen and little holiday spirit, even the most mundane year can be spun into one that will make you the envy of your friends and family. That weekend spent pumping out your basement after a sump pump failure can be described as finally getting around to that "dream" home improvement project. And that weekend spent at the in-laws? A weekend getaway in a foreign land...
* Finally, what better way to cool off on a hot summer day than by having a Christmas in July party? Invite your friends over to decorate your tree and hang your Christmas lights outside. Wacky fun, right? But clever plate spinners know better. After the last guest heads home, leave it all up and don't have anyone over again until December.
Now, if you have trouble staying focused in the balmy sunshine, just put on those jingle bell earrings, pop in your favorite holiday music CD and fill a bowl with some peppermint ice cream. You'll be ready for Christmas in no time flat.