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Holidays: I love and hate them at the same time.

Every year when the holidays roll around, I get the same familiar feelings. Too much to do, too little time, what to buy, what to bake and what to wear — all mixed with excitement and anticipation.

I don’t think any of us ever get over the feelings we had as children — waiting for Santa to come Christmas morning, taking part in programs at school and attending countless church services to celebrate the season. There is always the feeling of wonder and expectation of giving. And we can never forget the birth of Jesus as the reason for the season.

But as adults those feelings were joined with lists and lists of what had to be done before the arrival of the season.

In my younger years, I remember thinking that all the hype was a conspiracy against women who not only had to take care of the holiday preparations but also fulfill all the normal household duties and work outside the home. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of year, but I had to downsize to survive. I still buy, wrap and bake, but when I hit the senior years and was still working full time, I made a few adjustments to not totally lose my mind. 

We have stopped putting up an enormous Christmas tree. We had some that we could barely get into the house and would have to be lopped off to fit our high ceilings. And taking them out was another real treat with needles scattered so that some would be around through the spring. 

Since we have grandchildren, we made the decision years ago to travel to our children’s homes instead of them coming to our house, so decorating is not a priority. We add ornaments to a small Norfolk Island pine tree and it works just fine.

Christmas cards were abandoned many years ago. With social media, I can send greetings via email and Facebook. It is not the same but reduces the time and frustration spent writing, addressing and mailing. 

Wrapping gifts is one job I have not figured out how to improve. But I start at least a week before Christmas and wrap stacks and stacks of boxes until I see the light at the end of the tunnel. And once again the mounds of gifts are ready to be tossed, shaken and ripped open in excitement.

I really like the shopping and actually do it all year. Finding just the right item is something I take seriously. I won’t stop until the mission is accomplished, which can be exhausting!

I also love hearing Christmas carols blaring from radio stations and sound systems in retail stores, playing the all time favorites as well as a few new renditions. There’s nothing like singing along with familiar carols and hearing others join in. It really helps get the season going.

My traditional pizzelle cookies cannot go by the wayside. I start a few days before Christmas and package them as jolly as I can. Off they go to neighbors and friends with a card tucked inside.

This is the first holiday season since I retired so I am hoping it will be a little easier and I will have more time,
but I am sure I will always have the feeling of too much to do and too little time.

Even though there is the excitement of what is to come, there is also the letdown after it is over. The days fly by and before you know it, the festivities are over and true winter sets in. All the glitter and glitz is put away until the next year while cold and snow take over. I have always felt it should be extended at least until the middle of January. 

All that fuss and muss and it is over in a blink. But I think that is the way it is supposed to be until the cycle
begins again next year. I only wish there was a magic wand that could be waved to make all the tasks quicker and easier.

Frances Lowe

Frances Lowe is a retired journalist and educator, most recently serving as lifestyles editor at a local newspaper.

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