Today there are exactly 5 months until Christmas, 4 months until Thanksgiving and just over 3 months until Halloween.
For Halloween, I sit out with the neighbors and hand out candy to the little goblins and witches who come calling. Every year there seem to be less and less though. When my children were little, we got a little more into the spirit with decorating. They did things with construction paper in school that got hung on walls and windows when brought home. We did tissue ghosts. (Wad up 3 tissues, place in the center of a 4th. Gather the tissue around the wad. Use a twistie tie from a loaf of bread that is white to tie the neck and make a hanging loop for fishing line/invisible thread to hang by) I did things like mystery foot prints for them to follow. A treat was usually at the other end. Some years I tried to make them treat bags. Others they were given them at school as part of the effort to make everyone have their treats X-rayed for potential issues. treat bags
For November, like most parents, I focused on parent teacher conferences and a week or more of having the kids home. I also did most of the big dinner cooking once they were older. I was one to want all the table linens to be cloth and hopefully handmade by me, (napkin rings were nice. I did them in plastic canvas, crochet and beads on wire.) the many components of the dinner to be raised by our family (excluding the turkey since we lived in an urban area) or at least made by us from scratch. No supermarket pies or boxed stuffing mixes, please. I have relaxed a good deal since then. I still want to set a nice table, but I focus even more on the people around it. As the kids have grown and moved out and parents started to not be around, I have cut down on the number of dishes made. No longer do I need 5 vegetables, candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing and 4 or more kinds of pie. There just aren't that many people to eat that much. We still play board games and card games after eating. We also discuss where the various Christmas parties will be and when.
Thanksgiving weekend is also the weekend (4 days of help from kids and husband) I decorate for Christmas. There was only one year in all our marriage I didn't get decorating done. Now I'm more lax about this too. I still pull most of the stuff out and do most of what I did do, but it's more spread out. I also make sure to have my cookie list made up, but like everything else, that has shrunk. Not having an oven that works right now has helped with the lightening of this load. Since we moved 12 years ago, I started putting up snowflakes. See here and here for those posts.
By mid December, we try to have the gifts we wanted to buy all purchased. I work to make sure the gifts that needed making are done. Like some many women though, I have a lot of late nights finishing things. I have been known to weave ends on the way to a party and jam things into a gift bag. I have also been known to give only one sock when I don't have the recipient handy to measure and need to make sure it will fit. This is easier with immediate family than extended.
This year the gift I'm giving me is the gift of me. I don't have to be perfect. The Pope, Martha Stewart, President (insert your own imagined tough critc) won't be visiting. Yes, I want to make it nice for people, but being nice is more important that being stressed to the breaking point.