I was somewhat surprised by the number of people who posted on Facebook their utter amazement that I had already started decorating, shopping, wrapping, and in general welcoming the holiday season.I’ve made it pretty clear, I am a creature of habit and our family does not officially recognize the season until Santa Claus makes his way to the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade. No holiday music is played or decoration hung until that moment, and even then we ease into things. Usually, the Sunday of the long weekend is when the interior decorations come out of storage and we begin decorating the house. Weather always dictates when the exterior lights go up.Having said that, I should stress that by early November I am pestering Deb to allocate a weekend in the month to begin the holiday shopping. I want to enjoy the holiday and not spend December in a frantic mode. Instead, by spreading out all the elements, we can accomplish much and still take time for each other. We try and complete the shopping by early December so there’s plenty of time to wrap and ship, avoiding the lengthening lines at the post office and the stress of a potentially delayed delivery.We tend to write the family newsletter in November, cleaning it up and printing it in early December so we can begin the cards, again, keeping in mind the time it takes to address, mail and deliver (especially for overseas friends). This year, Deb has asked there be no newsletter and a tradition, dating back to 1996, appears to be at an end.By accomplishing all this early, there’s time for the baking, additional decorating, parties, socializing, and unwinding. Ideally, it’s all done by mid-month so we can really take advantage of time off. We need time to watch our favorite holiday movies and specials, after all.We’ve accelerated some of this given our impending vacation, costing us nine days in December. So, not only does all of the above need doing, but preparations for our departure also takes up some time. Still, it just meant blitzing through some stuff this weekend and taking a shortcut or two (a few less gifts, not as much baking, mailing labels to cut down on addressing time, etc.).I want to come back and not freak out that Christmas is just five days away. I will anyway, but I try and convince myself otherwise.