Today, August 28th, is the beginning of the HGP, the Holiday Grand Plan. The idea of this is simple. Each week, starting today, you do a set of tasks the computer tells you to do. By Christmas, you will — without any other effort besides following these directions — have a house which is clean, tidy, and decorated, all the holiday food, and gifts and so on. You will, in other words, be ready for Christmas, without any stress in the areas of time and money which usually provide lots of stress for those of us who prepare for holidays. You will not have to obsess over the holidays all fall, you will not have to rush around like a madwoman come December. You just look at the message the nice ladies at HGP send you, spend about an extra 20 minutes a day following orders, and relax.

There are basically three areas of preparation. You clean an area of your house thoroughly. This week it’s the front porch, so I will out there with my broom and cleaners before it gets too hot. You cook and bake things for the freezer, but not till next week. This week you just make lists of the things you will want to put in the freezer. You also buy things, so that you can sort of slip the extra food for charity, and the extra baking supplies, and so on into your regular grocery shopping painlessly. This week there is no extra shopping, either. We just make lists. This spreads all the cost and effort out over a long time — but not so long that it is all undone when you need it.

I have done this for some years now, and it works. There I am, in December, observing Advent and feeling calm and joyful, while all around me moms are going mad and complaining about the commercialization of the holiday. The HGP also has participants who observe Chanukah, Yule, or Kwanzaa, or combinations of these. If you are responsible for holiday preparations at your house, you owe it to yourself to check this out.

If you are not responsible for holiday celebrations, if you just wake up on Christmas morning and find that Santa Claus has been, then don’t you worry your pretty little head about it.

There have not been many knitting pictures of late, and this one shows you nothing particularly new, so I am making it BIG in an effort to make up for that. 🙂 This is the right front of Brooklyn, from Denim People. I have had a relaxing weekend thus far and made some good progress.

My husband fixed my car (he is like Angus McGyver, except that in this case he just bought the part and installed it, which is less impressive than his usual creative arrangements, and more expensive, but also more reassuring to me). I was therefore able to ferry my boys around easily. We went to the fair, to the cell phone place so #1 son could figure out a way to join the crowd, and to a birthday party for a friend of #2 son.

For the party, we drove up into the hills a bit, and went around a curve to be met by a wonderful explosion of flowers. I wanted to stop at the gardener’s house and tell them how much I enjoyed that — and I probably would not have been the first. However, we then immediately saw the party house. Young teens were standing in the road like a herd of deer. Had they been less slender, they would have better resembled a herd of cattle, though. They had that expression: “Oh, look, it’s a car coming through the bit of road we’re in. Ah, well, nothing to do with us.”

#1 son had gone camping, and my husband was out, presumably regaling his buds with his car repairing exploits, and I had the house to myself. This is rare, so I really enjoy it. I put my feet up on the couch with the cat, a stack of books, my knitting, and a pot of tea, and didn’t move till the end of the evening.