Carolina Fernandez

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“We are not to avoid the Holiday rush. We are to avoid rushing the Holiday. ” Rev. Bill Pfohl.

It’s official. The world can be divided yet one more way: those who doorbust and those who don’t.

Surely you’ve heard the term by now. It refers to folks who get up pre-dawn— most notably on “Black Friday”—and literally bust through stores’ doors as they open in the morning for business. This lovely little ritual is just a few years old. . . and it appears that it’s starting earlier in the day and attracting more and more devotees each year.

As several of my friends engage in this practice, I can’t put it down. My understanding is that those folks who doorbust think it’s the most normal thing in the world; those of us who wouldn’t be caught dead doing so think they are absolutely nuts.

Talk radio on Friday morning was loaded up with discussion on this phenomenon. Shockingly, the calling audience overwhelmingly felt that doorbusting is actually a rather virtuous practice. That is helps teach kids the value of a hard-earned buck. That those who engage in it exhibit perserverance. Work diligently for what they want. Are willing to sacrifice sleep and comfort in order to get it. Are smart spenders. Exercise good stewardship.

Me? It was a mute point, as I needed to get Nick to the doctor for his weekly check-up (for leukemia). Couldn’t have doorbusted even if I wanted to. And I cannot imagine—even in my wildest dreams—the mere thought. Hate crowds. Hate standing in lines. Hate standing in lines in the cold. Hate giving up my morning coffee ritual. Wouldn’t dream of leaving my warm bed in the pre-dawn cold and dark.

I admit, however, to once again feeling overwhelmed by my long shopping list for Christmas and would love—as my doorbusting friends can now boast about—having it nearly finished. Gifts bought, wrapped and ready to ship. I face frustration once again as I contemplate how to most graciously allow the true spirit of Christmas to enter my family’s reality while meeting all of the season’s demands. Of heeding my pastor’s advice in this week’s sermon: “We are not to avoid the Holiday rush. We are to avoid rushing the Holiday. ”

Every year, at about this time, I make my gift list, review those of the past few years, and resolve to be more clever, more thoughtful and more efficient. Every year, at about this time, I under-budget the three most important factors—time, money and energy—for getting my act together. And every year, at about this time. I submit to some of the inevitable: mall-shopping, post-office waiting and last-minute ordering. I resolve—year after year after year—to “be better. ” And yet, to keep my eye on the ball. To remember that this season of Advent is to help us move closer to the Christ child. To deepen our relationship with Him.

So where does that fit in? Where, amongst the parties and the pageants, the cookies and the cards, does the message of Christmas weave itself into the fabric of these next four weeks? How does one remain true to the message and yet live in consistency with cultural expectations? Gift-giving is one of the mainstays of the Holidays. And yet it exacts an emotional, financial and physical toll. Whether we like it or not.

For whatever they’re worth, these are my guideposts for preparing for and celebrating the Holidays with vigor and verve:

Think natural. There’s just something about natural beauty. In faces, fashion and home decorating. Friends this year will get gifts from the outdoors or from my local garden center: flowers, bulbs, topiaries. Clay pots, sphagnum moss and all. No gloss. No shine. Simple.

Think small. It never fails: just when I think I’ve outsmarted the system and have figured out perfectly well the exact postage for my smaller packages, I wind up making three or four long trips to the post office with a half a dozen boxes in my arms each and every time. This year, I’m thinking small and lightweight. Gifts that can be easily stuffed into small padded envelopes. With pre-determined, pre-affixed stamps. Stationery, note cards, writing tablets. Jewelry. Smart.

Think homebaked. I adore receiving homemade cookies, as I almost never bake in my own home. (Not my thing. ) And so I assume that others love receiving them as much as I do. I never forget our family’s time-honored hands-down best Christmas cookie: Ritz-cracker-peanut-butter-sandwiches-dipped-in-dark-or-white-chocolate. Packaged in pretty tins or boxes, they remain a perennial favorite, and will find their way onto my kitchen counter as well as into a few brown packages this year as they do every year. Easy.

Think handmade. I always think that this Christmas will be different: that I’ll paint large quantities of miniature canvases in oils, hook multitudes of stockings out of hand-dyed wool, decoupage glass plates for all of my neighbors, or needlepoint belts for all four of our kids…. and then life gets in the way. Amidst the hustle and the bustle, I invariably wind up at my favorite local merchant, filling his counter with a dozen or so of my favorite things, and giving said item to each and every one of my girlfriends—whether she likes it or not. Not necessarily the most thoughtful approach, but certainly one of the most expedient. But if I can time it just right, I’ll be tinkering in my studio this year, trying to create something out of my heart. Using my own hands and investing time more than any other ingredient. Honest.

I admit: this approach only works for the grown-up set. Girlfriends are amongst the most appreciative set I know. But as for all the little tykes on your list: give it up. You’ll find yourself at more toy stores than you ever thought possible, searching for talking dolls, action-packed video games, new bikes and glow-in-the-dark balls. And you’ll spend way more of those special three—time, money and energy—than you ever planned. As for those teens on your list? My own daughter is so hoping for Juicy Couture and I am so hoping that they’re all sold out. Malls and madness. Yuck. The mere thought exhausts me.

If only I had doorbusted.

Carolina Fernandez earned an M. B. A. and worked at IBM and as a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch before coming home to work as a wife and mother of four. She totally re-invented herself along the way. Strong convictions were born about the role of the arts in child development; homeschooling for ten years provided fertile soil for devising creative parenting strategies. These are played out in ROCKET MOM! 7 Strategies To Blast You Into Brilliance. It is available on, in bookstores everywhere, or by calling 888-476-2493. She writes extensively for a variety of parenting resources and teaches other moms via parenting classes and radio and TV interviews. Please visit to subscribe to her free ezine and get a weekly shot of inspiration.

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