Holiday Overachiever Meets Christmas Disasters

Like most of you, the holidays require time for planning, cooking, baking, shopping and celebrations. I add drawing illustrations to that list. No matter how organized, there’s never enough time and mistakes can be made. Add four birthdays to the Lindau mix and my Type-A, overachiever, perfectionism is really tested. But that doesn’t stop me from setting lofty goals. Nope.

illustrated christmas cards

Looking back on November, I can’t believe I signed up for NaNoWriMo. I knew I wouldn’t write 50,000 words like I did in 2014. I didn’t need to. My new book is almost done, but I signed up for the camaraderie and the word counter. Still, I thought I would write at least 20,000 words to hit my own 50,000 word mark. I was dreaming. I fell 4,500 short of that wimpy goal. I guilted out day-after-day over Thanksgiving for not carving out a little time to write. Then I faced that whiney voice head on and turned it off. I spent time with my family.

After taking my mom and brother to the airport and helping my sister with her paintings for a show, I finally sat down at 7:00 Monday night. The house was quiet. My husband, Danny, watched the Packer game in the other room. I planned to catch up with blogging. It would be nice to sit back and relax for the next few days.

Then it hit me.

IT WAS CYBER MONDAY! December 1st would arrive on Thursday! I scrambled to click on deals until Amazon read, AAmmaazzoonn and my credit card was maxed out. Not really, but I got a lot of shopping done.

The next day, I made a list.

  1. Decorate the house.
  2. Prepare for a holiday party.
  3. Bake cakes and cookies.
  4. Draw the family Christmas card.
  5. Shop for everyone.
  6. Wrap presents before Christmas Eve.
  7. Keep up with writing projects.

At the end of every holiday season, I take pictures of my decorations to make it easier for the next. The following year, I never look at them. I’d rather try something different. Decorating a couple of Christmas trees and evergreen swags which hang on almost every surface, then setting up several tablescapes should be easy. (In other words four solid days of work, at least.)

Fifteen years ago, Danny and I hosted a humongous Christmas party for a few hundred guests. I made ninety-three different delectable dishes, sweets and treats. Ninety-three! I kept the list. I told you I was Type-A, I mean OCD. That stands for Obsessive Christmas Decorator, right? The inside of the house was trimmed from stem to stern. The outdoor decorations made Boulder’s Top Twenty list. I splurged on a velvet Ralph Lauren dress complete with a train. I hired help to pass out appetizers. It would be elegant.

Christmas Table Settings from a Holiday Overachiever Meets Christmas Disasters! Click for a giggle and Holiday ideas! #holidaytips #Christmastablesettings Tips, life hacks, and ideas #holidays #holidayentertaining #funny #humor #entertainment

Over-achieving had reached new heights. I planned the perfect holiday party. I hadn’t learned the fact that no matter how you fantasize about an event, it never turns out remotely close to your imagination.

A few flakes floated down adding to the Kincaid Christmas card mood. It kept snowing. The snow blew and drifts rose toward the windows. It didn’t stop until the next day. More than half the guests didn’t make it because of impassible roads. Someone tracked mud through the house from the garage. The kitchen, which is the focal point of my house, was trashed sometime during the second hour of the party. Unwashed dishes and containers littered the streaky counters. I tripped on my train all night and considered cutting it off. Some of the hors d’oevres, which took hours and hours to make, were never served on trays. My heart sunk when I found all of them in the refrigerator the next day. That was the last big Christmas party we hosted.

After that fiasco, I entertained my tennis friends with a ladies sit luncheon. It started with a very small group of five. Over the next few years the guest list grew. The last time I hosted the event, I invited seventy! Only half of them showed up. Key words, “The last time I hosted.”

I had a weak moment in November and we will brave entertaining again, inviting people who have kept in touch through the years along with some new friends. The last two nights,  I woke up in a cold sweat wondering how I’ll pull it off without a caterer. I’m relying on my old mantra: “You got this. You can do it.” I’m trying not to fantasize. Nothing will be served on trays. My new dress won’t have a train. My family is helping with the party. I’ll be “dancing for drought” before the party, just in case.

After brushing off my dusty cookbooks, I listed the dishes to prepare for the party. Cakes, breads, and my favorite cookies will be baked and frozen. I hope they don’t disappear before the holidays. I’ve developed a bigger sweet tooth than Danny!

My Christmas card will be tackled early. The first time I made a popup version, they were so complicated, each one took more than ten minutes to paste together. I missed two holiday parties to finish them. That didn’t stop me from continuing the popup time suck over the last few years.

pieces and parts of card diy

This year, I will create an old-fashioned illustrated card. (See card below from 2008.) No bells. No whistles. No pull outs. Just one fold down the middle. I hope. Okay, so if I do something remotely popup this year, take away my scissors next year. Please!

I still have lots of time before Christmas to shop for presents. Ordering online makes shopping so easy. I had a brilliant idea to wrap gifts as they are delivered or bought. Ha! That would be a Christmas miracle.

illustrated christmas card 06

So how will I balance my writing life through the holidays? I won’t. I wrote a new chapter yesterday and then studied my planner. There’s no way I’ll finish everything on time for the holidays with a 1000 word per day goal. It’s time to cut back, relax, and enjoy a season that only comes around once a year.

The most important thing? No matter how I plan, I’ll remember that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. “Do you hear that right side?” asks the left side of my brain.

illustration of boy and girl fighting

I’ll do my best and will enjoy the holidays like a normal person. What’s that like? I have no idea. I’ll let you know in January.


I have a gift for you! I’m hosting The #Blessed Project until December 17th. Blog a #Blessed Project list and I’ll feature your post on December 19th. Check out the details here. No matter how the holidays turn out, I’ve been blessed by having family and friends like you!

What could go wrong if I stick with my plan? Are you a holiday over-achiever?

48 thoughts on “Holiday Overachiever Meets Christmas Disasters

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  1. Susie, you have obviously been blessed with immense talent. I would sell my first born to have the perspective it takes to make drawings like this. Of course, I would need her permission since she is 47 and has kids of her own. Anyway, I get the impression that you excel at most everything you try, but maybe go overboard to please. Take it from an old geezer, slowing down a bit will bring you more pleasure than a frantic pace will ever do. As the man said, ” take time to love thine self.” That guy was pretty smart. Having said all that, we really appreciate the time you take to regale us with the stories of your wild ride. We love ’em! Here’s wishing you have a happy and slower-paced holiday!


    1. Awww! Thanks so much, Al. I just read your comment to Danny. He chuckled and then said, “That was nice!”
      I’m glad you considered the ramifications of selling your firstborn. Ha!
      As I told my mom, “I’m not like other people. I’m wired to keep moving!” As long as I stay on track and don’t head off a cliff or into a wall, I’ll be okay. I’ve learned to finish the major stuff first. Since I’m waaay ahead of schedule, we’re going skiing this weekend! Thanks for reading! Without readers like you, I would have quit blogging a long time ago. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I got stressed just reading about all your undertakings. It’s all I can do to have a few friends over and entertain family over the holidays. But good for you, if you can manage all those things you do. I love your Christmas cards!!


    1. Thanks so much, Anneli! Once I know exactly what I’m going to draw, I’ll start on them. I plan to brainstorm some sketches this afternoon. Hopefully I can listen to an old Christmas movie while I work. Yesterday, I listened to “Hello Dolly.” What a hoot!
      I cranked in hyperdrive gear the last three days. If nothing blows up, I’ll be in great shape by Monday!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Gee thanks, Susie. Now,look what you’ve done. I was actually thinking of not putting up the outside lights this year. It made sense – too cold, too much trouble, not even sure where they’re stored, probably need to replace a string or two… But nooooo… you just had to write this, didn’t you? I’ll try to forgive you for making me feel inadequate, but it won’t be easy.


    1. Ha! I’m pulling years of decorations out of storage. I was just telling Marcy in the comment above, when the kids were in grade school, I used to make and sell Christmas decorations, then host a huge party. I found an old notebook with a list before one of those shindigs and it included: Make curtains. HA! This year will be a piece of cake!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are straight out of my nightmares! Like Martha Stewart! :o) Do you have a hand-made bulletin board with color-coded notes written in calligraphy? Do you have a month’s worth of meal plans and corresponding shopping lists laminated and hung from a decorative Baker Dude hook? Does your linen closet rival Bed, Bath and Beyond? Your laundry hamper isn’t even over-flowing, is it?! It’s women like you who give women like me a bad name. :o)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. NO to all of the above. I pick my poison. I’m into decorating for Halloween and Christmas. I used make decorations and sell them too along with entertaining and raising kids. I have a lot of energy!

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey Phil!
      That’s the way to go! I was super stoked when Courtney stepped up and hosted Easter. Some day I’ll pass the baton. For the time being, I’m decking the halls! It took another eight hours today and I figure there’s another eight ahead of me. Whew!


  5. I admire how lovely a home looks after it’s decorated for Christmas, but will admit that I do less and less every year. Plus much less socializing and travel, too. I’m an introvert who used to play along with all the frenzy, had the big parties, but now I say “no” more often than not. Odd thing is I love that which I do now, and never miss the rest of it. For me, less doing makes for more Christmas! It was kind of a revelation when I figured that out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally get that. After having cancer, I’ve isolated myself. I’m finding out the Christmas party is the best thing for me. I pulled out all my favorite things today and am looking forward to seeing everyone! I don’t plan on doing this every year. Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You are my favorite! You’re so talented and I am also a Christmas Overachiever so right ther with ya, lady. And big claps for giving yourself the space during this season – everything in its own time and all that.



    1. Thanks so much, Liz!! Glad to know you’re a fellow crazy person. I’ve spent the whole day decorating (three days in) and I’m still not done. Ha! Enjoy It! The holidays go fast. 🙂


  7. I’m so glad there’s someone out there with more Chi than me. It’s a good thing you save time for ten hours of sleep a night, LOL!


  8. You are quite an amazing artist! I assume they are pencil prints or are they ink? My mother is a pencil portrait artist so I appreciate the work that goes into such detail. And you write and host and live life to the fullest while trying to help others.


    1. Aww! Thanks Lisa! I just do what I love. They are ink drawings. I graduated in art and worked as a botanical and medical illustrator. That’s so cool that your mom is an artist. I used to do pencil portraits for my friends. 🙂 Looking back, I would have gotten into book illustration if the internet would have been a thing twenty-five years ago. I didn’t know how to contact publishers and I was too busy with kids to make the effort!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well…it’s never too late. I mean since the internet exists now and all. But only if you want to. There are several things I never had time to do that I would be pretty good at like motivational speaking with a book at the back of the room to sell and now that I have more time to do it it’s somehow not so important and I’d rather enjoy less stress and family and friends and be chill. Funny how priorities change as we go through what life tosses out. Anyway you’ve got the talent to do whatever you desire. Enjoy.


        1. Thanks Lisa! You’ve got your priorities straight. 🙂
          I’m writing books instead of illustrating them, but am waiting for the germ of an idea for a graphic novel. It would be a blast to illustrate my own!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Frank! I didn’t realize my post could be a workout! 🙂
      I graduated in art from UW-Madison (testing out of English-never took a writing class) and was a botanical and medical illustrator. I’ve painted a few murals, made curtains, stained glass, designed our build and remodels, then started writing five years ago. Geez. Now I’m exhausted.
      Merry Christmas to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m a holiday under-achiever! I buy presents over the course of the year (cause I avoid shopping like the plague this time of year!) I think about Christmas cards but almost never get them (making them is out of the question, I have little to no artistic ability!) I don’t decorate (I feel it detracts from the real meaning anyway.) I do, however, bake cookies (a family recipe/tradition I’m not willing to give up,) and wrap gifts (nothing fancy though.) I actually have a decent eye for decor and enjoy looking at pics of others work, I just can’t stop thinking about the pile of junk on my desk. Never seem to have enough time!!!


    1. I don’t have enough time either and I questioned my madness today. A swag I’d made long ago for a railing was a twisted mess and reworking it took over an hour to fix. It can be so frustrating! I think all the time I’ve put into decorating will be worth it when I’m done. *crosses fingers* It’s really pretty when all the lights go on. Note to self: buy more LEDs for indoor lighting.
      Thanks Michelle for weighing in! Merry Christmas!


  10. HA! All I can say is HA! (excuse me while I finish untangling this last garland… I know it packed it for easy use but some how…drunk elves must have been in here…)
    There is a season for over the top holiday – hopefully that’s past and left only the timeless jewels of fun and joy with whatever gets done. (Was wondering about your card design this year)
    And go skiing – you better go skiing! There will be times waaaaay down the road when you’ll stuck inside or in a chair – then you can go back wheeling around with manic decorating….you’ll still be popping up – one way or another…normal is so dull.


    1. You know me so well, Phil! I think those same drunk elves came to my house. The garland that had to be redone was my favorite- full of white doves, bisque angels and beads. After that frustration, I realized it was the first decoration I made, in my old house! Time to make a new one… in January. I hope I don’t put it off until next year.

      I started on the card yesterday. I’m trying so hard to avoid a popup, but I love how they look. I found an old post where I said the card took over 60 hours. I’m so not doing that again. Like you said, I need time to enjoy the holidays. 🙂 I’ll have to run a contest again this year!

      It’s funny. I read my horoscope in InStyle magazine last week. It said that I would get antsy for travel this week. Then I forgot about it. I woke up so hyperactive! It’s the last day of 50 degree weather before a snowstorm and temps drop below zero. I better get my work done, so I can play outside!
      How are you handling the holidays?
      Merry, merry, Phil!


    1. Ha! I’m still looking for that notebook! I’ll probably find it in April. I ran across it sometime in the last year and put it in a “safe place.” Someday, I’ll find everything I’ve “lost” in some random drawer I never checked. 🙂
      Great to “see” you, Lisa!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. There are moments in which my stroke is a “stroke of genius”. Sure it causes problems, however, there are good things. One of those is that, since my stroke, people won’t allow me to do much for Christmas. So, I decided to do just that. I relax on Christmas and enjoy what everyone else has done. I buy most presents online in 1-2 days, wrap them in an hour or two, and just sit back. I am happy and so is everyone else.
    Christmas can be nice, … just let it.


    1. You figured it out! I cut back the last three years after surgeries. This year, I’ve pulled out the stops! I’m enjoying it now that I’m ahead. Danny’s outside hanging more lights…
      Always great to see you, Scott!

      Liked by 1 person

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