I have coined a new term. “Elfwork.”

elf·wərk/ n. preparations for Christmas, usually performed in a hurried or hyper manner.

Now dear reader, I do no mean to confuse you. This new term “elfwork” is very different from another term I’ve coined: “elf workout.”

elf·wərk·out/ n. An exercise regimen consisting of throwing snowballs and jumping over gumdrops, usually performed in a hurried or hyper manner.

So you see the difference.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of elfwork around my house. My beloved Annual Christmas Open House is next Saturday and I’ve been working.

And I think I’m up to it. I think.

I want my friends and customers to find a beautiful candlelit home, elegantly decorated with pine boughs and vintage glass ornaments. A good merlot and a bright sauvignon blanc accompanying delightful hors d’oeuvres, to a background of angelic choir-sung carols. Luminarias lining the walk, and festive merry-making by a crackling fire.

And gobs and gobs of Christmas merchandise to browse and buy.

Any sane person would have approached this event with a rational plan-of-attack: a long to-do list decided in June, and steady steps that lead toward Christmas Open House success. Not me. Nooooo. I prefer the approach of ten months of think-and-plan, followed by six weeks of scatter-brained chaos and glitter. But as stressful as my mode may be (and I know that it is!) I somehow get things done.

Yesterday (Christmas Open House countdown: 13 days) I should have had an Anne Tracker following my silly progress though the day. I accomplished a lot, and finished many projects, but so inefficiently! Instead of _plan project, gather supplies, and complete project_ I start one project, get a new idea, gather supplies for new idea, get side-tracked, and complete a step on an entirely different project. Retracing my own steps hundreds of times, I dabbled on many projects, completed a few, and started some that may never actually come to fruition. Why, why, why can’t I be a linear thinker?!

Today (Christmas Open House countdown: 12 days) I have an insane list of tedious half-chores that should get done. And some of them will, I hope. I have to make labels for the homemade vanilla and Reindeer Tracks mix, and cinnamon vodka. Rubber cement the rest of the paper garlands together (“Feliz Navidad,” “Happy New Year”!). Stage the last of the mason jar winter dioramas. Bedazzle edelweiss hairpins. Package the glittered reindeer (I don’t know how though). And price. Everything.

And I can’t forget to decorate. How could I forget?! The Rubbermaid totes packed with ornaments and garlands are all over my house. I can hardly step, let alone forget about the decorating! But it must be done, because I’m certain that all the Christmas touches – the wreaths on the doorknobs and the trays of pillar candles and the mercury glass ornaments hung from the deer antlers on the wall – are a necessary backdrop from making merry. I’ve got a vision for a perfectly magical night, and I just might gitRdone.

But for all these big plans, I’ve also got a secret weapon: my elves. Friends and family that go out of their way to help me put on my Open House. I have one friend who actually cleans my house a day before the Open House every year. And for the last few weeks my mom has baked and frozen hundreds of cookies for me to serve to guests. Hundreds! And last year, Crabby Cathy served wine all night with a smile on her face! My girls Liz and Sus are my Girls Friday, doing whatever I need, and Leah’s making and serving Caprese kabobs so I don’t have to even think about them. I love my elves!

And the funny thing is, when the first guest walks though the door next Saturday, everything will be just fine. What’s done will be done, and no one will know what projects never DID get finished, or how much anxiety I’ve choked down. It will be just fine.