This is our 7th holiday season. It hasn’t exactly been the kind of craziness where we’re running like chickens with our heads cut off or pulling our hair out in stress. Not yet anyway, but we did feel some of that holiday stress tonight. It’s always hard to gauge what kind of December we’ll have – order volumes change from year to year (and with it our sanity level), but every year proves to be a little different no matter how prepared you think you are for it.
I went back on the blog yesterday and read over the entries around the holidays, all the way back to our first in business. It’s something I like to do every season this time of year, I guess to see where we’ve been and how we got here, and to laugh at the memories of how stressful the holidays can be now that we have a little distance from those particular memories. Like how our fan belt fell off the car while driving during a delivery run; or the time the car stalled and wouldn’t start up in the middle of Times Square (another delivery mishap); or the year we did a holiday market for 9 straight days during our busiest days in December and nearly died trying to keep our booth stocked with product. There have definitely been years where tears were shed. Last year we made over 900 s’mores gift boxes and that was a big production we didn’t think we could handle, but we survived somehow with a little help from friends.
This year our shipping deadline is Monday, Dec 15th for Christmas delivery. I hope everyone is having a having a nice holiday season!
Posted by Jenna | 2 Comments
When you go through a life changing event, the first holiday season is often like a test. There are many conflicting emotions, so much so that you almost want to just turn them all off just to avoid the clash. I can understand why some people are numb to the holidays; I get it now.
But we had a really good Thanksgiving surrounded by many cousins. The girls love having a lot of family around and it isn’t often that we can all get together like this. Geography now separates many of us, but since our parents are no longer getting together like they used to, we make that effort to keep the family going, just like when we were spending every holiday together as kids. Even with so many us together over the holiday break, it doesn’t hide the fact that there is one missing. It may even magnify the absence of one.
I visited my grandmother on Thanksgiving. Her studio apartment is always too warm, in the way that old radiators in NYC apartments sizzle and clank as the heat travels through the network of pipes. She has photos upon photos of family on every surface, many of which are old snapshots that have faded through the decades and some that are newer pictures of great grandkids. My grandmother is 92. Whenever I see her she tells me to take care of my mom the same way that my mom is taking care of her now. She tells me it’s good that I had 2 girls because they’ll take care of me too when I’m her age. She always manages to say that it might be the last time we see each other every time I visit.
After all the cousins left our apartment on Saturday, we went to our local tree lighting ceremony. I don’t think we’d ever been in all the years that the neighborhood has held them and we were surprised to see such a crowd and even news crews covering the event. Local businesses donated treats and carolers sang holiday songs. It was festive and it definitely felt like we had stepped into Small Town America (by the way, who else gets verklempt at that small biz AmEx commercial with the Simon & Garfunkel song? Well played AmEx, well played). Our neighborhood works hard to promote Small Biz Saturday and encourages neighbors to shop local – and rightly so, but in truth, many local businesses in our area have struggled with rising rents and online shopping. So many of us are trying to figure out this new economy.
I guess we’re officially in the season now, though Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier every year so it all feels a little less special now? I don’t know. Or maybe I’m a little less in the mood this year. There’s still time – 23 days to be exact – to feel that holiday magic.
Posted by Jenna | 18 Comments
This year seems to be the year where I’m making good on some promises I made to myself early in the year. Some promises have come up empty when they don’t get fulfilled year after year, but for whatever reason, this one’s has been different. Maybe it’s some cosmic force at play that tries to balance the good with the bad – isn’t that a nice thought? Or maybe things come into your life only when it’s the right time.
The ironic thing about having a job is that I feel like I have more “free” time. Ok, scratch that because things are always busy around here no matter what, but what I mean is that I feel like I can schedule things without fear of every plan getting usurped by a last minute freelance assignment. What some people don’t realize about freelance is that even though you’re your own boss, you’re sort of a slave to your clients. It’s its own brand of “golden handcuffs”. You don’t want to say no because you don’t want to risk losing that client and you don’t want to say no because you might regret it when work dries up. What often happens is that you find yourself in an impossible schedule where you’re juggling too many things and working non-stop. It’s a perpetual cycle that breeds it own version of being on that hamster wheel.
So imagine my surprise when I realized that having a set schedule begets a different kind of freedom I haven’t had before (more or less – I’m still freelancing a bit on top of my job right now. What was that I just said about not being able to say “no”? Oy vey). I got rather excited when I realized that some of my time away from the office would be entirely mine again. That meant carving out regular time to work on our business, something that always seem to end up getting pushed to the back burner, and also making things with my hands.
I met my friend RJ in the early years of Etsy when the community seemed much smaller and we were all stumbling our way around twitter. I’ve been wanting to play in her studio, on her invitation, for quite a while now, but I was never able to find the time. I finally cleared my schedule this month for 2 sessions of studio time and it was the best time I’ve had in a while. Art therapy, I guess. There’s something really therapeutic about working clay in your hands and hand building objects. Can’t say whatever I made is good, but who cares. It wasn’t about making anything good and I suppose that’s the point of it all. Drawing and painting is still a bit too intimidating because these are things I studied for years, in a highly rigorous academic setting, no less. I *should* be able to do these things, right? Wrong. Insecurity, self doubt, and lack of practice does a number on anything that should make sense (hi, piano), no matter how many degrees you’ve earned. All of that goes out the window. But clay. It’s something I’m not familiar with aside from a wheel throwing class I took while in college (doesn’t everybody take a pottery class at one point?). So here’s another check mark on the list of positives this year. I’ll take what I can get, but it was a big one.
Posted by Jenna | 4 Comments
The season is golden right now – the light, the trees, the leaves. It’s like the last bit of color before the winter grays sets in. Six more weeks left in the year and we’re all shaking our heads at how fast it all goes.
We’re still getting used to the rhythm of our days, but after a few months things have settled into something that I’d almost call routine. I get home around 7pm the days that I’m in the office, which gives me about an hour and a half with the kids before they turn in. I often find them finishing up dinner when I’m walking in the door, or sometimes practicing their instruments or reading a book. There isn’t much time left in the evenings for me to help with homework, and Mondays and Tuesday are the most hectic after school days because of lessons and activities, so Mark shoulders much of the parenting responsibilities those days. Somehow, we seem to be getting by. I wouldn’t say we’re knocking it out of the ball park, but we’re getting it done.
I think the biggest transition, at least on the home front, is that I have less time to be involved in their school work, and with these years being pretty critical in that grades are starting to really count, it’s been tough to admit. And this is where all those thoughts and questions about “doing it all” come in because really, it’s nearly impossible to do it all well, but damn if I’m not going to try. But all those random school holidays and half days and vacations throw us off, and each day that isn’t routine needs to be planned for. Well, what about when your kid feels sick in the morning and can’t go to school? Thankfully, we all seem to have freakish immune systems and we haven’t been sick in years, but these are the things that are taking up space in my mind now when they didn’t occupy it before. Welcome to every working parents’ dilemma. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a woman and a mom with a career. I’ve always thought about it, yes, but I’ve also always had the upper hand. Taking a job, even with lots of flexibility, comes with its own rules and the rules aren’t necessarily mine.
On the work front, the commute can suck the life out of you. 40 minutes door to door ain’t bad, but when you’re spending half of those minutes packed in a subway car like sardines in a can, it’s not the most pleasant way to start or end a day. This, coming from a person who sometimes went weeks without getting on a subway. But 5 months in and I can no longer remember what it was like to work at home every single day, all those hours spent alone. That’s the best part of working in an office, obviously – the social interactions, the sense that I belong somewhere. And the days that I do work at home now feel like a gift.
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This year’s calendar just be my favorite NYC calendar yet! I’ve used a different paper stock that is 100% post-consumer recycled paper and the weight of the paper is thicker than the stock used in years past. The calendars are available here and here.
The holiday season is already here as far as cookie production goes. Mark’s been super busy in the kitchen churning out massive amounts of cookies for our retailers and wholesale accounts who are stocking up for the holidays. We haven’t yet set our holiday ordering deadline since we’re still weighing production schedules, but it’ll most likely be around the 11th of December. You can always order anytime up until the deadline and specify that it’s a holiday order – we’ll ship it for you closer to Christmas. If you missed the news on any of our social accounts, West Elm is carrying our hot chocolate mixes in the marketplace section of select stores around the country.
It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away, isn’t it? Here’s to another year of HolidayCookieMadness!
Posted by Jenna | 3 Comments