If you are anything like me, you are stressed. If you are anything like me, the calendar change from November to December causes little beads of sweat to appear on your brow. It is that time of the year. Tis' the season, to be frazzled.

The holiday season has overwhelmed me ever since I reached adulthood, and especially since having children. The sad part about it is that I used to look forward to this time of year. Now I dread it.

It's not that I'm a Scrooge. I love getting together with family, I enjoy shopping for gifts, and I love Christmas music. The problem is that there are so many things to be done in addition to the normal day-to-day stuff, and there just are not enough hours in the day. With a full-time job and a part-time writing gig, the to-do list becomes a chore list.

There are Christmas concerts to attend, holiday cards to write, cookies to bake, parties for the kids and adults, holiday menus to plan, decorating (both inside and out), shopping, and tons of wrapping. In addition, my kids have been volunteering quite a bit this year. My son and daughter both volunteered to rake leaves, my daughter is teaching little ones how to ice skate and participating in volunteer events through her school, and my son is selling Christmas trees with the Boy Scouts. The Margulis sleigh, it seems, is constantly on the move.

I've gotten a little better with the biggest source of my stress, the holiday shopping. Historically, I would procrastinate. Not quite the last minute kind of shopping procrastination, but I would usually wait until December to start. Now October is when I usually start thinking about gifts, picking up dribs and drabs here and there. Once in a while, if I see something that I know someone on my gift list would like, no matter what time of year, I'll pick it up and put it away for the holidays. The only problem there is that come Christmas time I have to remember where I hid the gifts that I purchased months ago, if I remember the purchase at all. (There have been times where I discovered hidden gifts long after Christmas has passed.)

When it comes to holiday decorating, I start to feel the pressure around Thanksgiving as many start to string the lights and hang the wreaths. Having a Monday through Friday work-schedule means I generally leave the big jobs for the weekends. And every weekend that I don't get to the decorating, my stress level spikes.

I'll acknowledge that some things are easier now than they were my kids were little. Because when you have little ones who are not self-sufficient and demand your attention at all times, it is nearly impossible to do get anything done. I recall years when I hardly did any decorating for the holidays because I just couldn't fit it in. Now my kids are old enough to do most of the work. For that I am truly grateful.

Some people admit that they love everything about the holidays, including the chaos. These are the people that love shopping on Black Friday and have a house that looks like the Griswold's. These are the people that start decorating before Thanksgiving and have every animated decoration that has ever been made. These are the folks that somehow manage to get it all done and never look at all harried. I envy them, or hate them ... I'm not sure which.

I admit that I always feel a sense of accomplishment and excitement once the big day gets here. I enjoy seeing smiles on the faces of friends and family as they open gifts. And I love spending the day enjoying a festive meal with family. It seems like so much work, though, for one day. And, admittedly, I'm always happy when it's over.


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