By Heather Mullinix
It's the most hurried time of the year, with kids presents to purchase and everyone telling you "be of good cheer," It's the most hurried time of the year.
With the leftover turkey safely stashed away in the freezer and the last of the lemon meringue pie fought over at Thanksgiving dinner, it's time to turn our gaze to Christmas.
Over the past weekend, as if by magic, yard decorations appeared and brightened up those dark roads in Lake Tansi Village, reminding us that it is the most wonderful time of the year.
It's also one of the most hectic times of the year. On top of all the usual work that must be done, there's extras. You have to shop for all those on your list. There are addresses to collect and Christmas cards to write and get sent off, preferably in advance of the actual holiday. And there's all those social functions. If you're hosting, you'll want to get the house cleaned up and decorated. If you're a guest, you aren't off the hook. You need to bring some sort of hostess gift, a dish to share or a bottle of wine to complement the dinner, and bring a good mood.
And it's almost guaranteed you won't be able to make all those dinners, parties and gatherings. If you have a large extended family, determining when to hold the family festivities can be a feat more stressful than negotiating an arms treaty, and the consequences even more dire if a member of the family feels his or her schedule was slighted. They'll still love you, but you won't feel the warm and fuzzies for a couple of years as that wound heals.
Then there's the shopping. After you make your way to the store, fight the crowds and find just the right gift for those special people on your list, you may start stressing over how much you've spent. And you still have to wrap the present! That can take so very long.
That can get difficult as shortened days make one wonder where the time went? Just when you need more daylight hours, that time gets cut short. It's enough to make one downright un-jolly during this holly jolly time.
But before you pull your hair out and hide under an elf hat, take a deep breath, count to ten and relax.
I'm a big fan of time management. It becomes even more important at this time of year, when time is a precious commodity and you can't pick up extra minutes at the store to get it all done. So, my first bit of advice this season is to make a list and check it twice of all the things you need to get done in one day. Lists are great. Not only does it help make sure you haven't forgotten anything that needs to get done, it really makes you feel a sense of accomplishment as you check those tasks off one by one.
But the secret to a list is not to get too ambitious. Don't make a list for one day that has enough items on it to fill up a week. No one expects you to be a superhero. If you have 50 major tasks on that list, you're not going to feel too great when you only check a couple off at the end of the day.
Your list is the starting point of your holiday plan of attack. Pick days, like “Next Saturday, I will go shopping.” Or, “I'll make all the cookies Sunday afternoon.” Your plan of attack will also include your budget. If you set a budget and stick to it, you won't stress about shopping, and you'll be able to give with a more joyful heart.
When it comes to your social calendar, it is important to make time for the people you love, but they'll love you more if you're relaxed. If you're stressing over everything else you have to do, you aren't going to be a lot of fun to be around. Be realistic and be flexible. Don't be afraid to turn down an invitation, or cut a visit short if you need to. Try to stick to the healthy habits you've built over the year. Feeling sluggish after overindulging in sweets or high calorie treats probably won't make you feel better. Get up and take your morning run and get the rest you need to keep from feeling like you're burning the candle at both ends.
Most importantly, don't forget to give yourself the present of a little peace and quiet. There's nothing wrong with sneaking in some “me” time to catch your breath and clear your mind.
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Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published each Tuesday. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.