Here's how it starts:
"Ever notice how the month of December flies by when you're in search of the perfect gifts, tastiest hors d'oeuvres and 'just right' decorations? How can you truly relax and enjoy the holiday? Simple! Don't save it all for December!"
It goes on to say that if you want to be "Peggy Planner," you can start your Christmas preparations three to six months in advance. You read that right. If you can imagine yourself sweating away in late July making candy to freeze for December, congratulations, you're Peggy Planner.
However, if you only can bring yourself to start working on Christmas two months in advance, you're just "Olivia Organized." You're already a month too late to be Olivia Organized.
And, while it's not specific, I get the impression that those silly enough to wait until December to prepare for a December holiday are just out of luck.
If that's you, then welcome to the category I call "Lizzie Last-Minute."
Try this: To relax and enjoy the holiday, allow gifts not to be perfect, make hors d'oeuvres that are edible, and use decorations that are decorative. In short, give yourself a break. Pick your favorite part of the holiday and put the rest on the back burner.
Now, elsewhere on this page, you will find something that many people consider a major holiday pressure point - Christmas cookies.
Some people love baking Christmas cookies. The folks pictured in this section apparently do. If you don't, however, we here at Lifestyle don't want to do anything to add to your holiday stress, so you have our permission not to try any of the recipes you find today or Wednesday, when we publish the rest.
I love decorating a Christmas tree. I always thought my parents let me decorate the tree because they liked the way it looked. It turns out they didn't like decorating. Go figure.
Our cookie makers may find decorating a tree tedious after they've spent all their time creating delectable confections (OK, so I tasted some - one of the perks of being in Lifestyle at Cookie Exchange time). They have our permission to forgo the Christmas tree or let someone else do it.
What are your priorities?
Something's got to give. There are only so many hours in the next 25 days, and after working, sleeping, doing laundry and the like, that doesn't leave many extra hours.
It's worth sitting down and thinking about what your Christmas celebration priorities are, because if you don't, every "traditional element" - and everyone else's priorities - will have the same weight. Eventually, someone will find you whimpering in a corner with visions of sugarplums dancing in your head.
My list is down to: going to church (oh, right, this is a religious holiday, isn't it?), singing in the church choir, purchasing and giving presents (wrapping optional), visiting relatives, putting up a Christmas tree, "It's a Wonderful Life," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown." A tradition with my new husband is having chowder on Christmas Eve with my in-laws. Sending Christmas cards to distant friends can stretch into mid-January.
You'll note that's still plenty.
So here's the bottom line. Do not bake Christmas cookies because you feel you should. Bake cookies to spend time with your kids, because you get aesthetic pleasure out of icing cookie snowmen, because you love the way they make the house smell or because you go weak-kneed at the sight of warm, runny chocolate chips. If none of these applies, you have my permission not to take on that or any other celebratory burden.
If anyone complains, tell them you read it in the newspaper. But don't give them my name.
Liz Douglas is assistant Lifestyle editor.