40-Day Challenge — Day 1


You probably would not add a family room to your home without a blueprint, knit a sweater without a pattern, or head off on a cross-country vacation without a map. But when it comes to preparing for Christmas, most of us hit the ground running the day after Thanksgiving—without a blueprint, pattern, or map. We get caught up in all the emotions of the season, and before we know it, we’re taking Christmas three stairs at a time.

Winston Churchill once said: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  Mary Hunt (yes, that’s me) has learned the hard way: Plans not written are only daydreams.

Today, your challenge is to address Christmases past and reduce your dreams to a simple written Holiday Plan. Get the family involved. Get out the calendar to make sure the season is evenly paced. It’s a great time to reaffirm that you probably can’t do it all, be you can do enough. Make those choices now while the pressure’s off.

Care to comment, share or discuss? We’d love for you to do that in the comments area below.



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  1. J says:

    Mrs. M’s comment resonated with me. We have law enforcement family members who have weird hours and are never off on the actual holiday. It always stresses me out that we can’t be together on the holiday -so MOVE THE HOLIDAY! Brilliant. This year I want to be flexible and calm instead of stressing and freaking.

  2. Anita M says:

    Dear Mary,
    At Thanksgiving time last year, I asked all my family to bring a christmas joke to share after we ate and we also gave a gratitude sentence before we ate. It was a lot of fun and I gave each person a candy box after; which I always set on the table beforehand, but kept for after dinner this year. Each child was anxious to share their joke because whoever shared first got his/her box first. Thank you for all your tips and encouragements throughout the years.

  3. Shelley says:

    Dear Mary,
    This is an excellent idea to help us organize thoughts,ideas, make a plan, write it down and discuss with the family what is most important and what can be left out. I have followed you for years and have referred both my daughters to your column and books! I just found out my sister has followed you as well for as long as I have! We talk all the time and never knew we were each following you.
    I love your tips and readers’ tips and look forward to the challenge!
    Thank you!

  4. Mrs. M says:

    One thing I believe that will make holidays (and life) less stressful is to be flexible.
    I’m from a firefighter family and with the shifts they work, we always moved Christmas to a day and time that worked for everyone.
    It’s okay to have Thanksgiving on a Saturday or Christmas on another day.
    Focus on family, friends, and WHY you’re celebrating, not WHEN.
    And, less is more (except in LOVE and your favorite holiday food).
    Thanks for your column and blog!

  5. Sally Davison says:

    Mary, I’ve followed you for many years and I have recommended you often! In the past 10 or so years we’ve felt lonely since we had very little family near to us. Nearly three years ago we moved to be near our granddaughter and her husband. We get to see our great-grandchildren pretty often (without being a pest). I love seeing those sweet little faces light up when I arrive! This year I hope we can spend more time with this dear family.

  6. Roseann says:

    This year is all about family and tradition but on a smaller scale. We all have enough things. This year we want more time together.

  7. Bonnie Waderich says:

    My husband (and a few friends) call me the calendar girl. I’ve said for years if you don’t put it on the calendar, it won’t happen.
    Love your column, advice and recipes.
    Bonnie Waderich-McGlone

  8. Karen says:

    Thanks, Mary! This just reaffirmed the direction we are going for this year. We had a discussion last week regarding ‘stuff’ and decided that we will plan to do more practical gifts that people actually NEED! Now I will get at it and write it down – that’s always a help so I have something in black and white to look at! Thanks again!

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