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the ‘to don’t list

December 5th, 2011 | 8 Comments »

I’m most frantic with trying to handle all the red-hot details of so very much these days. And I’m no different than anyone else who makes an extensive list that helps organize and pull it all together. The process of extracting it from my brain into line by line visuals takes it from a jumbled mess in my head to categorized chaos on paper, and sometimes it helps pull it all together. Sometimes.

And then, inevitably, I just make more in my head and it starts all over again. Or the list is paralyzing in it’s length, or breadth and it causes me to stare, incomprehensibly at what I think I should do.

Then I lay there this morning, much as I do every day, thinking about the hours ahead and the things I want to do, and a thought struck me so profound and immense that I sat up, quickly, and reached for my phone. Because in this season of ‘To Do’ and ‘To Decorate’ and ‘To Bake’ and ‘To Cook’ and all the other ‘To Do’s we force ourselves to create, I started to think of the ‘To Don’t’ items, the ones that I wish to shut the door on, both this season, and all to come.

They might be something like this:

~~Don’t fall in to the hype of a commercialized Christmas.
~~Don’t get caught up in piteous little daily things and ignore your coffee when it’s hot.
~~Remember, every single day, why we celebrate Christmas. The real reason.
~~Don’t buy anything that you don’t think you will use for 12 months a year.
~~Don’t bake anything you don’t like.
~~Don’t say ‘Yes’ unless you absolutely can.
~~Don’t forget about you, your son and your husband.
~~Don’t wait to decorate if it’s what you want right now.
~~Don’t think you have to be there when the perfect tree is found. They can do it too.
~~Don’t pass by that beautiful light display, glancing at it out of the corner of your eye. Stop the car. And really LOOK.
~~Don’t think you can’t go for a walk when it’s cold; bundle up and suck it up.
~~Don’t forget your camera, regardless.
~~Don’t ever forget where you came from, ever, when you start thinking you don’t have enough.
~~Don’t forget that when you gather, it’s about the company and community and not about the food,
the treats or anything else.

And oh my word, could I fill these pages with my ‘To Don’t’s. Because, really, Β this list is never-ending. And it doesn’t just apply to Christmas time, with all it’s frantic rushing and shoving through my days, exhaustively pressing pencil to paper in an attempt to slow it all down and control it. I have the same 24 hours as anyone on the planet. And no memories are made when I’m racing around in a panic, trying to fit it all in. And in among the massive endless ‘To Do” tasks that we think we have to accomplish, something will inevitably get lost, those moments forgotten in a mad rush or ‘this’ thing, or ‘that’ thing. And what are you willing to forget, to let go and push aside because some list of stupid tasks is more important?

All we’ve ever done, since list-making was created was make our ‘To Do’ lists, scratching out what we think is some semblance of order. For a dramatic change in perspective, I encourage you to write your own ‘To Don’t’ list.

What would be on it for Christmas this year?

It’s Just Write Tuesday over at The Extraordinary Ordinary. I’m a bit early this week.

8 responses to “the ‘to don’t list”

  1. samara says:

    I love every single part of this, Kate.

    Two that especially resonate…don’t bake anything you don’t like. YES, why do we do this?!?!

    And also only say yes if you absolutely can. AMEN!

    Thanks for sharing! Need to pop over here more often, I am always glad when I do!

  2. Bridget says:

    To Don’t List. Fabulous!

  3. Christa says:

    I love this! I may have to start a daily To Don’t list!

    Thank you!!!

  4. Yes, yes, YES! I should copy this and post it on my wall! πŸ™‚

  5. Nicole says:

    YES, Kate. Perfect. Love.

  6. A “To-Don’t” List, what a great idea!

  7. Missy says:

    Nice perspective, Kate. πŸ™‚

    My biggest to-don’t this year: Christmas cards. I’m not doing them. I decided this a few months ago, and I’m sticking to it. Of course I feel guilty and keep getting urges to go looking for the perfect digital card. But I’m NOT going to do it. I simply don’t have the time to send all those cards this year and would much rather enjoy that time with my children.

    95% of those people on my list have the internet and know how to see pictures of us that I plaster the internet with each week. Also on my to-don’t list – don’t stress out about wrapping gifts. I’m thinking Santa is NOT wrapping presents this year… he’ll just be laying them out in front of the tree. Well, I need to give that one some more thought. πŸ™‚


  8. Renee says:

    Love the to-don’t list. I’m skipping the whole Christmas decorating this year because I will be out of town for Christmas. It is more important to me to take my mom on a trip and give her a distraction for the first Christmas without her husband of 68 years (my dad passed away in October) than anything else. What is important is family. All the holiday hooplah is secondary to the important stuff.