Have you been worrying, about your Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations for far too long? I know that in the Koff household, I’m the one my family looks to for nothing less than a great meal and meaningful memories. Even with the wealth of organizing knowledge this professional has at her disposal, I still wrestle with pleasing my family and balancing the “I refuse to feel exhausted this year” high wire walk.
Whenever I begin to ponder the myriad menu alternatives, I too grapple between preparing food favorites or cooking new ones that I know are healthier; after all, nourishment is important even during the holiday season. Menu planning, though, is only a small portion of the holiday preparations, as it is also the time of year when many of us organize and deep clean. It’s when we bring out the good stuff, not just the wedding china but also the crystal glasses. (I am always amazed at the amount of dust and grime that crystal glasses collect, even in a short amount of time.)
Did you ever try cleaning a crystal glass with a dirty cloth? Or try to use the vacuum when the bag was full? Do you struggle to understand why, no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to clear out the clutter?
“The Levites, too, purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes; and Aaron presented them as a wave offering before the LORD. Aaron also made atonement for them to cleanse them”.
Prior to cleansing the temple, the Levites went through a purification process, for only then could God’s tabernacle be cleansed with water, oil and blood and become sanctified. Nor was it a one-time event, but an ongoing process that continued until the sacrifice of our Lord on the cross. The point being, it is impossible to clean or purify something with an instrument that is defiled or dirty.
By now, you may be asking yourself: what does this have to do with holiday planning, or even deep organizing and cleaning attempts? I would answer: EVERYTHING!
Simply stated, relying on past ideas, devices or logical thinking to restore an area is just like cleaning crystal with a soiled rag. If we are to truly make a difference in our attitudes and levels of exhaustion at the end of the season, we must first become sanctified and cleansed from the inside out. This is a process not by our own attempts, but through the deep cleansing of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because nothing ever really changes until our thoughts do.
Sure, you may want to make your family’s favorites, as tradition dictates; but now ask yourself, what new and more nutritious additions may become new favorites? You may dread the thought of organizing your paper piles and closets, especially when you can just shove them into the spare bedroom or closet as you did last year; but consider, how much time is it really going to cost you to put those items away in their proper home, so that you won’t be trying to find them 3 months later?
The truth of it is, while your space may look organized for day, a week or a season, the clutter will inevitably creep back. After all, we cannot put new wine into old wineskins. So as part of your purification process, you must discard the old before you can start anew. True transformation of a space is not found IN that space, but in YOU! As your space is a reflection of your mind and heart, you have to change before it can.
Realize your new attitudes are the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in your life, and reflected by your Christ-like nature. So as you begin to plan your menu, de-clutter and clean for the holidays, keep in mind it’s the memories that make this time of year so special. Your heart attitude, cleansed from the inside out, will surely make your crystal shine! For when you allow the Holy Spirit to work through you, you become its sanctified instrument.
Here are a few tips you can incorporate into your traditions, in keeping with your new holiday attitude. Keep in mind there are hundreds of sites you can go to on the computer help you to further define your Holiday preparations.
One month before…
Empty your cabinets. It’s easy to forget what is actually in our cabinets because like everything else, we are creatures of habit and we get into a rhythm of buying certain things over and over again. Begin with your upper cabinets, and move either right to left or left to right and empty each one. Make sure you throw away items that are no longer needed or that have expired. This will allow you to see what you need and what you already have and don’t need to buy again.
Make space. Get rid of items you never use or don’t like. If there are things that are still good or are non-perishable but that you know you won’t use, set them aside and donate them to a charity or a soup kitchen. Thanksgiving is a great time to help stock their pantries.
Categorize remaining items. While emptying the cabinets, decide on categories to group similar items together. You might want to put group like with like (for example, carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and cereal), or things that you use together (such as a baking section of sugar, flour and baking powder). The key is to come up with a system so that you know where everything is and don’t have to waste time looking for items.
Turkey day drum roll…
I always begin with a Thanksgiving timeline.
Include, at a minimum, the following elements: breakfast, appetizers, sit-down dinner, and dessert. Here’s how we do it:
9:00 a.m. Breakfast. If you have overnight guests, make an egg-based one-dish meal ahead of time. It can be omelets, egg casseroles, frittatas, or quiches. If you have a crock-pot or rice cooker, nourishing oatmeal is especially quick and easy and will stick to their ribs.
1:00 p.m. Appetizers and drinks. An appetizer prevents you from having to serve a separate lunch. If you’re worried this won’t be enough, I have yet to meet a person who can’t make a meal out of several good appetizers. Your family will be thrilled to skip their usual sandwich.
2:30 p.m. Dinner. Let the main event begin.
4:00 p.m. Turkey Trot. My family just loves the idea of getting outside after such a big and caloric meal. We make this a mandatory event, strolling around the neighborhood; and we see many of our neighbors doing the same. It’s a great way to release that over-ate feeling and burn extra calories.
5:00 p.m. Dessert and coffee. Even if you don’t trot, give yourselves some breathing room after your meal. This has the added bonus of guaranteeing you won’t need to prepare an additional meal for supper. Any hungry people can always make do with leftovers.
This schedule is only a suggested timeline; make one to fit your lifestyle and family desires. Keep it fun! Adjust the attitudes!
My all-time favorite organizing tip is to label serving dishes. Label the name of each recipe on its serving dish with a post-it note. This way, if someone asks how they might help, the labels will make it that much easier to delegate.
The holiday season is a wonderful time of year to begin afresh. I pray that Holy Spirit will work His sanctification and cleansing process IN you, so that you can cleanse and organize the space AROUND you.