The 720 Hours of Christmas

Did you know that there are 720 hours between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year? The calendar is about to slam into this festive season (which is culturally festive, even if one doesn’t celebrate Christmas in a religious fashion). For many of us, it’s a busy time, as every group we’re involved in has their own party or gift giving occasion. Plus, we try to send out cards, deck the halls, buy and wrap presents and otherwise make merry.

With all that, though, I’m really looking forward to this December. For starters, I have two little kids, and they’re going to be fabulously excited by trees and stockings and presents. And second, as I’ve now spent two years thinking seriously about my hours, I’m starting to ask what I’d like to spend those hours doing. What do I want to remember from this holiday season? How can I get the things I don’t want to do off my plate so I can spend time reveling in the things I do?

We’ll be exploring these questions and more during a free webinar I’m hosting called “Peaceful and Productive Holidays” on December 2 at 12:30pm eastern. Click on that link to sign up – all you need is a computer with speakers or else a computer and a phone line. If you can’t stay at your computer, you could actually just dial in and listen as well. It should be a lot of fun. I’m already making my list of holiday “want to dos” which includes:

  • Going to the Nutcracker, and possibly the Rockettes (debating that one)
  • Visiting the Holiday Train Show at the NY Botanical Garden
  • Baking cookies with my 3-year-old. Very simple cookies.
  • Singing in the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus Lightbright concert (Dec 4!)
  • Caroling at South Street Seaport (also with YNYC, weekend of Dec. 18-19)
  • Doing an Advent calendar with my 3-year-old
  • Many, many presents under the tree. I’m hosting this year, and so I don’t have to worry about hauling presents anywhere, which means I don’t have to think simple. And I don’t plan to!
  • Listening to more Christmas music in the background — more classical stuff than cheesy pop though.
  • A more coherent and thoughtful donation strategy.

Anyway, 720 hours is quite a bit of time, especially if you consider that a full-on baking session will only take 3 hours or so. The key is to spend them on activities that are meaningful for ourselves and our loved ones. I hope you’ll join me for the discussion on the 2nd, and ponder these questions as well.

In other news:


Late afternoon light.

The old man’s hat blows away

like one more lost leaf.


8 thoughts on “The 720 Hours of Christmas

  1. I have re-thought my holidays and plan to do more aligning of activities. We are all going to stuff, stamp and label our cards together this year. I am getting rid of decorations that I no longer feel joyful about too.

    I’ve had to re-think my cookie baking, as my boys aren’t as interested as they once were. I will do the dough with the 3 yr old, and then we will all cut out shapes and decorate them together, on another day.

    Definitely do the Botanical Garden train show. It is truly a wonder to behold, for the children and adults.

    1. @Denise- we are definitely hitting the train show! Especially since we’re in such a train phase right now. I think it will be a ton of fun. And I’m glad to hear you’re thinking of alignment. Really, the season is so much about friends and family, it doesn’t make sense to do a whole lot of activities which can’t be aligned!

  2. Not to mention Hanukkah starts December 1 this year, right after Thanksgiving!

    And just to further complicate things, in addition to City Ballet’s Balanchine Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, ABT’s doing a new Nutcracker choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky at BAM.

  3. I think a big thing is figuring out what you want to do and what is practical

    On my list of 100 dreams is to be able to take 2 weeks of stress free vacation a year and we had booked a time share for one week from this Friday to next.. but I am so pregnant and my 2-year old is only good in the car for up to 3 or maybe 4 hours

    Sooo what I realized I really wanted to do was go see my best friend from childhood who lives in VA and spend T Day weekend with her and her husband andchild who is the exact same age as ours — free play dates all weekend and some built in girl time for me since two husbands around for the weekend means guaranteed girls lunch… maybe a spa day or something

    BUT I feel guilty about the $300 I spent switching the time share week around two or three times to try to fit in a “vacation” that seems to not fit ..

    As a small business owner with young kids it is hard and I am working on aligning what my lifelooks like with what is really fun and practical at this stage.. yes elaborate cookies are great but I noticed you qualify them like yes we will bake cookies but simple cookieseven things like putting up the xmas tree are going to be abit taxing for me this year pregnant with 2 year old.. decorating with a 2 year old is obviously different from doing it with older kids who can actually help… but having a tree is the only decoration I care about …

    1. @Cara- I agree with Denise: vacation is something not to stress about. $300 can easily get eaten up with vacation meals and incidentals, so just let it go, and enjoy your week of being with friends.

  4. @Cara,
    the weekend with your best friend sounds like the perfect respite from all that you’re feeling overwhelmed with right now. We did that this summer and it was the best vacation I’ve had in years. Truly stress free.

    Two year olds are really good at doing the bottom of the tree, all on one branch. It’s also a good time to talk about the ‘baby’s first Christmas’ ornaments if you have them, or the memories attached to what you put on the tree. Play some Christmas music and dance while you decorate.

    Enjoy your long weekend. Think of the $300 as money you would’ve spent on meals at the time share.

  5. Thanks guys! It’s more for me about figuring out what I want, what works for the family and what makes everyone happy… not what you should be doing or what others are doing… I think Laura’s ideas about making lists is dead on, such that you have planned ahead for the kind of weekend or leisure time you want as well as the kind of workday or workweek you want etc. I have a lot of really good childcare this week and my husband has a slow workweek so I have plenty of time…

    Since I am self-employed I do have a lot of control over what my life looks like even though sometimes I feel like I don’t… So if finishing the photo album is more important to met this week than making 50 cold calls today, I just do it and I don’t have to justify it to a boss (thank god!)

    Also rest and exercise … and going to bed are going on my lists… When I go to bed at 8 or 9 — and I am so embarrassed to say that some days pregnant after 12 hours with a toddler it is 8 p.m. bedtime for me, I wake up at 6 a.m. or even 7 raring to go and with so much energy to tackle everything, that is the one thing I have learned as a working parent and I am so greatful for being able to make my own schedule and wish more employers would get this for others.. so say you didn’t have to commute but could get up at 6 a.m. and work for two hours before your kids get up or whatever your individual schedule is.. it is so much better, and it isn’t laziness, it’s flexibility.

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