Hello, and welcome back to The Christmas Calmdown with Nesty and Pattycake Manners! We're planning ahead for a peaceful December, and this month we've got some great suggestions for making time for those we love...both human and animal!
Once the hustle and fuss of the holidays is over, one of my regrets is often not having made enough time to visit and spend time with friends and family. So often it seems that we make the rounds of parties, levees, dinners and socials, but don't spend nearly enough time curled up by the tree or fireplace with a good friend and a cup of mulled cider. Since becoming a dog owner, I often find myself wishing after the fact that I had planned some Yuletide fun with my furry friends, too. And so, in the spirit of the Christmas Calmdown, I've thought about it and I've made a plan to incorporate quality time with pets and pals!
First, I'll deal with the humans. Now, if you're like me, despite how much you love the holidays, there is a part of you that is very happy and relieved to disappear for most of January. Indeed, once my party hat and noise maker are hung up after NYE, I'm ready to embrace my inner hermit for a few weeks. And yet, for all the people I do see during the holidays, I often find myself wishing I'd had a few more "good chats" with certain people that I really like. Here's my plan for reaching out in December 2011:
- Phone Calls - How many times do we say "I'll call you over the holidays?" and then never do? The trick, I've learned, is to pick the right times to call. Despite our best intentions, my family and I have learned during the two years I've been away that between the time difference and our respective gatherings, December 25 is never going to be the day for a long, meaningful holiday chat. We call each other and exchange "Miss you, love you, wish I/you was/were there/here's" and that's essentially it. But a few days later, mug of tea in hand, my mum and I will settle in for a long, newsy chat where we catch up on what we've each been up to during Christmas week. Also, there's nothing wrong with scheduling a call. We schedule everything else in our mad, busy lives, what's wrong with saying to your bestie "Phone date on Saturday at 2:00?"
- Skype - Skype is a great way to stay in touch, and best of all, it's free! Just be aware that some people need "prep time" to Skype. No one wants to sit chatting with a messy house behind them, or in their bathrobe, or with crying children in the back ground. So don't be offended if the person you wish to Skype with puts you off for another day. And don't leave your Skype online if you have no intention of taking calls...that's kind of a tease. As with the phone calls, why not schedule a Skype?
- In Person Chats - Each season, we start out with the best of intentions...for craft nights, Christmas movie nights, sushi nights, cookie swaps, tree decorating parties, tree cutting parties, and on and on and on. Let's be honest here, folks, to successfully coordinate everyone we know to all these events, we'd need to start before Halloween and hire Paris Hilton's social secretary. By all mean, aim to have a few fun get-togethers with your gang, but instead of driving yourself nuts trying to "do it all," why not aim to have a quiet evening with one or two good friends, just chatting and decompressing from all the frivolity? I enjoyed one such evening on the 22nd this year, making gnome / nisser ornaments with a friend. It was just a nice, quiet evening of wine, Christmas cookies, crafting and chat, but it put me in more of a Christmas-y mood than a lot of the bigger gatherings I attended this season.
As a total dog mama, I enjoy the presence of my three fur babies around the tree. It honestly doesn't seem like Christmas morning without a soft little nose nuzzling my new sweaters, or a paw batting at pretty paper. Our cats love snuggling under the tree, and we have to pay special attention to make sure that they don't eat the ribbon! Indeed, the one holiday we spent in Regina, the only thing we didn't like was the fact that we weren't with
We've had some pretty memorable holiday moments with our pets. One special outing during our first year in Kitimat was when we went Christmas tree hunting with some new friends. We took our little Molly along with us as we hiked through an absolute winter wonderland and she had a ball! When we look back at pictures of that day, it's like a form of "Where's Waldo?" with Molly taking Waldo's place! It turns out she's quite the photo bomber as she popped up in almost all the pictures!
Ainsley shared a special Christmas pet memory with me in preparation for this post. On Christmas mornings when their pups were younger, they would give the dogs their presents first. By the time the humans were ready to open gifts, the pups were tuckered out from the fun and were content to head to their beds with their new toys.
I'm glad to hear that my house isn't the only one where the fuzzy wuzzies are part of the holiday fun. We are always looking for other ways to include our pets in our holiday celebrations, since they really are our family! Here are some ideas:
- Take a Hike - Whether you're looking for a tree, or just enjoying the fresh, crisp December air, take your dog along. They definitely add some silly fun to candid shots along the trail!
- Gifts from the Heart - This year why not make some homemade gifts for your best friends? Gourmet cookies, toys, a new bed or blankie, even a sweater will mean even more if you make it yourself. Pet websites and blogs are full of great, creative ideas.
- Gifts that Keep Giving - Unfortunately, not all pets have a home for the holidays. Why not make life a little brighter for a shelter dog by donating food, treats, blankets, towels, leashes, collars, time or even cash to your local animal shelter?
- Photo Op! - I'm sure they hated me for it, but this year I found a few pairs of dog antlers and some Santa hats at the local dollar store and I just couldn't resist! The resulting photos were hilarious; Tinky loved his clothes, Max (fresh from the shelter) would've agreed to anything as long as he got to stay, and Molly, well, the photo speaks for itself...
|I hate my parents.|
All joking aside, clothes are really something you shouldn't force on your pets unless they are agreeable to it; we are lucky that our pups don't really mind getting all dolled up!
- The final, and perhaps most important thing you can give your pets during the holidays is your time. With all the coming and going, our furry friends can often find themselves home alone more frequently and for longer hours than they might be used to. Take an evening to stay in and snuggle with your furry friends by the tree, and for goodness sakes, don't forget to take them for lots of walks...it's a great way to check out the neighborhood's Christmas lights!