Coffee Talk 12.13.20

Well, here we are. Christmas is less than two weeks away, and 2020 is on its way out. I’m not one to wish away time, but this is one year I won’t mind seeing in the rear view window.

I am *almost* finished with my holiday shopping. The kids are all done, and I have one more extended family member to buy for, but I know what I’m getting. Then there are just a few random things to pick up for friends and work colleagues… They are the hardest. At least the kids tell me what they want.

Am I the only one who gets stressed out by gift giving?

I’m not one of those people who has a knack for creative and thoughtful gifts. I might pay attention and notice when someone mentions something that would make a good gift idea, but I never remember to actually go back and get it and put it away for the next gift giving occasion.

And with so many people in the position to buy whatever they really want for themselves, it gets harder and harder to buy things that really please them. So often, it just feels like more stuff,  but money and gift cards feel impersonal, and experiences aren’t always possible as gifts.

I realize the irony, as I put out gift guides for every person imaginable as part of my job, but when it comes down to actually shopping for the people I love and care for, I often feel stuck.

Anyway, I’m headed to the mall this afternoon to see if I get inspired for those last few people on my list. When you don’t really know what you want to buy, I think it’s easier to get inspired when shopping in person. Plus, I’m hoping the decorations and music and some in-person shopping will get me in the Christmas spirit.

Now that work is winding down for the year, I’m trying to take some time to enjoy the season. I’ve been listening to Christmas music when I run, and we often have it playing in the house when we’re making dinner, so that’s been nice.

It’s unseasonably warm here right now, but we’re expecting a major snow event on Wednesday, and I’m here for it. I enjoyed running in these mild temps today, but I’m more than ready for a good snowfall. I just hope it’s not enough to take down power lines and all that. That’s really not how I want to close out 2020!

There’s one more photo shoot I need to fit in this week, and I quickly scrambled when I saw the weather forecast. I had everything ordered for a Wednesday delivery and was planning to shoot on Thursday, but I’m going to try to get everything I need at the mall today so we can shoot on Tuesday.

After that, all my contracts for December will be fulfilled, and I feel like things are finally starting to wind down. This season is always such a frenzy, no matter how hard I try to manage it better each year. I wish I knew of a better way.

I could really use a full-time assistant for the months of October — December, but I don’t really need that level of help the rest of the year, so I never act on it.

So many bloggers doing what I do have full-time help, but I can’t quite see how that would fit into our home office situation, especially with Covid restrictions and my entire family schooling and working from home right now. It’s a zoo around here, as it is. I can’t imagine adding a full-time in-house employee to the mix, so I keep on keeping on.

Thank goodness for Amy, my virtual assistant! She’s been working with me for a few years and helps with all the graphic collages, the email newsletter, compiling gift guides, moderating the facebook group, and more.

Just so you know, I am always the one writing comment and answering emails, and also the choosing products I feature. No one ever pretends to be me in any of my communications and content creation. But Amy does help with some admin tasks, and she’s a big help.

Well, I need to wrap this up! I hope you’re getting your holiday shopping buttoned up, or whatever other Christmas preparations you’re making, and if you celebrate Hanukkah, I hope you’re having a good week!

Let’s all try to take some downtime over the next few weeks and really enjoy the season for what it’s really all about… really soak in the peace and joy of the season.

Put on some music, put a fire in the fireplace, watch your favorite Christmas movies or make your favorite holiday cookies… whatever it is that makes you happy. And try to shut out the rest of the world and all its demands and disappointments.

For those of us who are believers, our hope is not in the things of this world, and there is no better time than now to remind ourselves of that. Have a restful and blessed Sunday!

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39 Responses

  1. #1-yes I get very stressed over finding meaningful gifts AND I get stressed giving people ideas for me.
    #2-cant wait for this blizzard Wednesday!
    #3- we always know students from our church at Valley Forge Christian college who we could vouch for and would love a pre Christmas job, if you would like suggestions for next year.
    Loving this message about enjoying the true meaning of Christmas, this year we really have time!

  2. Have either of your girls ever shown any interest in working as your blog assistant?  I remember reading once that Cassie Sugarplum had her son interning with her and handling all her boxes and returns or something like that. I always thought that was fairly amazing, given that I believe my teenage son would sooner die 😂😂

    1. Ha, so would mine! I do have a young lady who comes in once a week to help with returns, and she is a life saver.

      I actually need someone more like a project manager, to help plan content, and keep me on track with various deadlines and commitments. I’m not sure what that would look like, though… It’s almost like I need someone to manage me. But I’m also the business owner and the content creator, so I have to be the boss. It’s an odd position I would be hiring for. I have no experience running a business, and planning is not my strong suit, so I keep muddling along. I love the flexibility and freedom, though. 🙂

  3. Thank you for your cheering up message.  I needed it!  We are going through severe restrictions in my area: malls and stores open at only 15% capacity, church/ mosque services at 15% capacity, only take out or delivery for restaurants, no socializing indoors or outdoors with anyone outside your household…… Plus the weather is very cold -6F so not very cheerful at all.  It is very tough not to go for outdoor, socially distanced walks with friends.  I really do appreciate that deaths are on the rise, hospitals are at max capacity, health care workers are exhausted… I get it so please no one berate me or think I am insensitive.  I just hope our small businesses can survive and our mental health can endure.  I personally love gift cards; don’t find them impersonal at all.  It gives me a little treat to look forward when shopping.  Will take your advice: put on some Christmas music, turn on the fireplace, make some comforting soup and read a good book under a blanket.  This too shall pass.  God bless you and your family. 

    1. It’s hard to stay the course when everything is so NOT normal. But it will get better, and yes, so many on the frontlines have it so much worse. I am so grateful for them. I hope I never come off as insensitive either, but there are other ways to suffer, and mental health issues are a real thing right now, as are loss of livelihood and businesses. No one is unaffected, but we all experience it differently. I appreciate the kind and empathetic comments from everyone, coming from different places in all of this.

  4. Jo-Lynne,

    Wishing you a relaxing and fun Christmas! I can’t imagine how hard it is to do your job and also get your Christmas shopping done. I think in person shopping helps when you’re a little lost on ideas for people. I shopped yesterday and enjoyed hearing the Christmas music and seeing people wearing Christmas sweaters and Santa hats. In normal times all of that might seem a little silly to me, but it made me smile and I really needed that!  When I think of the reason for the season, which is celebrating the birth of Christ, it brings me such peace. Take care and thanks for sharing your fashion knowledge and posting your Coffee Talks. You do a wonderful job and I look forward to reading them every weekend. 

  5. Hope you enjoy the mall. I went to Dillard’s a few weeks back, in and out quickly. Agree with you on this year. So ready to start on a new one. Have a blessed Sunday! 

  6. Thank you for your upbeat post, Jo-Lynne. I’m envious of your trip to the mall! I did no Christmas shopping in-store, except for a trip to TJ Maxx and Target for stocking stuffers for little ones in the family. I’m all done shopping, which I never do. I love saving a few items to buy in stores to enjoy a little holiday shopping right before Christmas. I was worried about receiving items on time through the mail, though, so I ordered everything and am only waiting on a couple of items now. I keep telling myself and anyone who will listen that we just have to hold on a little longer and our lives will improve. In the meantime, we need to find joy in the blessings we have.

    1. I agree, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we need to just hang on a bit longer. And I, too, like to save some shopping to do at the last minute and enjoy the experience. But this year, everything seems so much more stressful. I did enjoy the mall today, though, and I did get some inspiration I needed. YAY! 🙂 Glad you got your shopping done early and stress-free.

  7. I like to buy and gift give at times least expected when I find something.  Christmas is stressful cause you buy just to buy and I dislike that.  I’m not super creative with gifts either. 

    1. Yes, exactly. I would rather surprise someone when they aren’t expecting it too. But then, I’m not that thoughtful, and it usually doesn’t happen. Ha! I really need to get better about buying ahead.

  8. Well said Jo-Lynne!  We have streamlined our gift giving a few years back, as at my age, I don’t need more stuff!  I really LOVE clothes, so I try very hard to limit my spending in that area these days!  I’m sure Christmas will be different for most everyone this year.  We just  found out our grandson and nephew were exposed to a staff member at their preschool who tested positive for COVID.  And so starts the watch and wait……we had him on Wednesday and then was with our immediate family that night as we dined all together…..so who knows what we’ll be doing for Christmas Day. Will be glad to see 2020 in the rear view mirror!! Happy Shopping! 

    1. Oh, dear. I hope it turns out to be nothing. I know so many who get exposed and nothing comes of it. But of course, there are the others… seems more and more people we know are getting it. Usually seems to come in with the college kids. Hopefully they were all masked and everyone will be fine. Keep me posted!

  9. Amen to the last 2 sentences! The reason for the season. Merry Christmas to you and your family Jo-Lynne and may God’s blessings be upon you in 2021. Thanks for making my 2020 a little more tolerable and much more fashionable 😊

  10. Yes, ma’am…gifting has become very stressful for me in regards to my parents and my in-laws. Both sets of parents are all over the age of 70 so it’s getting really difficult to choose items that they want and need – and don’t just end of collecting dust. I always vote for no gift exchange but my mom insists…then proceeds to ask me to create a list for her! It’s both funny and frustrating! Nonetheless, I give in and make the list. ha ha I’ve definitely enjoyed listening to Christmas music and I pray for snow every year but rarely are we blessed with it here in southern Louisiana – close to New Orleans. Oh well, I’ll take cooler temps though! Have a blessed day!

  11. Amen Jo-Lynne. I just told myself it was time to settle my mind and focus on my Lord and Savior. I was giving to much mind space to my worries of my Christmas Day allergy friendly meals for my family to plan etc etc etc. Last night I watched White Christmas with Bing Crosby and I’m playing Christmas music daily and turning off the news and being in Scripture, as I usually do as it gives me the most Peace. Times are hard right now and we can’t take our eyes off of HIM. As for gift giving I hear you. It’s always hard to think of new ideas. Along time ago my friends and I decided to stop exchanging gifts. Once we all had growing families with our kids marrying and grand kids to buy for it just made sense to help take away the stress of busyness at Christmas. Yes, it was fun to receive gifts and give them too but we all don’t really need all that. Also our extended relatives quit exchanging years ago. We just did the kids until they got older then quit that too. It really has helped me focus on what Christmas really is about and my friends etc agree too. I’m always amazed how many people some people buy for. I couldn’t imagine that many. One group of friends and I from bible study go in to give to a needy person or organization helping the needy or we do Operation Christmas boxes etc. Your going out shopping today sounds so wonderful but in our area just not safe. I told my husband Id love to go get my Starbucks red Christmas cup coffee and roam the mall, mask free with the sounds of Christmas music playing. Something so simple we use to take for granted. Oh, and stop in Sees Candy to get chocolates….. only he can eat by the way. Lol. I’m allergic to chocolate. Bless you and thank you as always for being so real in your post so we all can relate. So many blogs are like the Christmas card letters where you feel the family is all perfect and no trials. We all know it’s not like that. I had a friend threaten, to one year write a letter just telling all the bad as a funny joke letter. As she pretended to recite an idea I was laughing so hard. Don’t think she ever wrote one. Enjoy your day. Merry Christmas!!!! 

  12. I would love to wander the mall but I don’t feel it’s a safe environment during these times. I always get my shopping done early, then go to watch all the people scrambling to find that perfect gift. It’s very satisfying to not be in that situation and to just enjoy my surroundings. 

    We no longer exchange gifts with friends. We’re all at that stage were we can buy whatever we want when we want it. It became too difficult to find a good gift that wouldn’t be regifted or donated and it just added extra stress. I do buy hostess gifts though. This year there won’t be any shared dinner parties, happy hours or Christmas parties. It makes me a tad sad. I enjoy entertaining, especially at Christmas. Oh well, it’s just one year! 

    Our weather is mostly rain in the forecast, typical for the west coast. Occasionally we get snow but it never lasts long. A snow fall is so pretty and the whole world seems quiet. 

    I hope your time at the mall is productive and adds some cheer to your day. 

  13. Thanks for encouraging words and I also don’t think I am the greatest gift giver!

    But, let’s all think about the season is “really” about.  Not the most perfect gift bu

  14. We decided to do a cookie bake off with the kids…twins who are 17….Each of us has to make a cookie that we’ve never had before.  Then we will have the grandparents over to be judges…should be Interesting…I agree, it’s a great Christmas to really think about this holiday and enjoy what we have and each other.

  15. Well all but the Christmas stockings or should I say Santa sacks have been hung.,, I finished my shopping early this year as we never knew what restrictions might be put into place and I did the majority on line but still had my share of trips to the mall.  We really missed our yearly Christmas trip across the border. It’s nice to have it all done and yes even all wrapped.. that’s a first for that to be done so early but I’ll take it.. now we enjoy the Christmas movies which are on a constant rotation and focus on the true meaning of Christmas. There will be no church this Christmas as they are still closed at present. I hope you were able to get some inspiration at the mall… even that had seemed different this year🤷‍♀️. 

  16. Yes, gift selection is super stressful, and it’s just like you said…I and everybody else here already just buy what we want throughout the year. I have finally figured out that the only things I would like to receive are either super cheapo stocking stuffer little “happies” (a lip balm, maybe a fancy bar of soap, or a cheap bracelet that I’ll only enjoy for a few wears, or maybe those non-skid socks–just fun and kind of disposable) or else super expensive out of the question items. I don’t think those I’m gifting to feel the same way, and we have a recommended extended family spending range of $35-$45. To me, that’s no man’s land! Not enough to get anything they’d really want, but it precludes anything super inexpensive they might like. Argh! Oh well….we just have to try to keep focus on the Reason for the season. I hope that snow will be good to you all and just make everything beautiful and magical. Thank you for all you do all year long!

  17. I agree with you 100% on the gift-giving! I wish I could be better at it and get into it but I stress about it as well. My husband always needs to remind me to just enjoy it. But I never do that!

  18. I used to love Christmas shopping and would start in early October, shopping small boutiques, several different malls, a bit online for unique items, and toy stores (remember when there used to be actual toy stores? )… but then as my kids grew up, we all grew older, life got busier in different ways and in the past few years I found myself waiting ’til the last minute to get it all done. Last year I was at the mall on Christmas Eve …..and it was too stressful. I felt like I was shopping just because I had to buy “stuff” and it sucked all the magic out of the holiday. This year was totally different. Because of Covid, I’m working from home, so I didn’t have all that pre-holiday craziness to prepare for in the classroom; no parent volunteers or student gifts to shop for, no friend gift exchange ☹️, lots of changes. My extended family decided to not give gifts this year, except for my parents. The “kids” who are all boys and all in their 20s made a list of 3 favorite places to go, shop, and eat and they will each get gifts cards. My husband and I will still give one special gift to each other. We stopped doing stocking stuffers two years ago because it got to be where I was just buying a lot of “stuff” that really wasn’t all that special in order to fill a stocking. Once I found myself putting socks in my boys’ stockings I decided that it was no longer special (I mean, socks as a present? Really? 😄) I am totally fine with not having to shop as much this year. My list was literally cut in half and what I did buy was really nice and special. (Dare I say that was a positive outcome of 2020?!)
    I think you are 100% correct in reminding us all that the meaning of the Christmas season is not about endless buying of “things” but rather how we spend our time with those we love and for Christians, celebrating the birth of Christ.
    Hope your shopping day was fun and productive!

  19. I snuggled up to watch a Charlie Brown Christmas with my 5 year old today and it was so great. Such a great message in that short movie; seems perfect for the current moment. Merry Christmas! 

  20. Your message really hit home this week and I wanted you to know, very relatable.
    There is nothing like snowfall in December, and I couldn’t be more ready to see the flakes! 
    Have a wonderful week! 

  21. Thank you for your positive message, Jo-Lynne. Christmas this year will be totally different in many ways. My husband and I were supposed to be hosting my family Christmas this year but we cancelled it a month ago because of covid. The hall has been booked for next year (I have a really big family) so here’s hoping I can see my family in person next year. We usually go to my husband’s brother’s on Boxing Day…no decision has been made on that yet as covid numbers and restrictions will determine that. Because we have had huge expenditures this month (new hot water tank, new brakes on my vehicle, and a crown for a tooth this week for me, yay me! Plus we are trying to downsize our belongings.), my husband and I decided we would give each other no gifts this year and that includes no stocking stuffers. That will be really hard to only give him a card this year. But, we are both healthy and we have reserved our space for Christmas morning Mass, so I remind myself that that will be enough for Christmas 2020. I wish you and all of your readers happy holidays, however they are celebrated this year.

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