I stayed away from the yarn sale, so I still have a one-skein “stash.” I spent the day quilting, with a few breaks to knit, clean house, and mail packages to far-away daughters. Today I have a couple of things to sing at, and — oddly enough — I have to make my Christmas lists.

When I was a single girl, I used to hear older women saying “Are you ready for Christmas?” to each other in November and December. I never knew what they meant — spiritually prepared for Christmas? in the mood?

Then I had a family and learned what the experts say about holiday preparations: the average American mom does so much work preparing for Christmas that it is the equivalent of her taking on a second full-time job for the month of December. This is why women are stressed out at the most wonderful time of the year. They are asking each other “Are you ready?” in sympathy.

Some try to solve the time and money crunch by getting ready really early. There are people who think about and work on Christmas all year. But I like to take the seasons in their proper order. I don’t want to see Christmas decorations at Michaelmas and hear carols at Hallowe’en.

I found the solution a few years ago: the Holiday Grand Plan.  It has two parts. First, there is a room-a-week deep house cleaning, fall and spring. This week is Front Porch Week. Second, there are holiday assignments. They’re weekly till 6 weeks before Christmas and then they shift to daily. This week is List Week. I know from experience that, if I will just do my assignments every day, I will magically be ready when Christmas comes, without stress.

In the spring, during Front Porch Week, we built this handsome bench and stenciled it and the side table, planted some pretty woodland plants behind the crape myrtle, and made a nice little private corner of the porch, screened from public view. I love it. So this week I just have to sweep and wash it all down.

I’ll wash the windows today, if it isn’t too hot. That should be a good contrast to standing and sitting most of the day, singing.

Then this evening I have the toe decreases to do on my sock, decisions about what gifts I will make for whom, and maybe a bit more quilting. Sounds like a pleasant and productive day.