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Holidays here and gone in the blink of an eye

December 29, 2004|by BILL KOHLER

I can't believe I'm typing this, but I found myself this week pushing buttons on my Sirius satellite radio receiver looking for Christmas songs.

Where are the holiday tunes? My daughter and I were really enjoying the 24/7 Christmas programming on Sirius and on Lite 97.5 in Martinsburg, W.Va. Now it's gone - cold turkey.

I still need a little Christmas ... right this very minute.

Did it seem like the holidays were here and gone in a wink of an eye and a nibble of a snickerdoodle?

Perhaps it's just the whole so-much-to-do, so-little-time theory. You know, work too much, sleep too little, rush, rush, rush and rush until your head is spinning faster than a top and shop, shop, shop 'til you drop.

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Or the getting older thing, where time seems to fly by so fast when you're faced with the responsibilities of adulthood, mortgages, work and parenting.

I've always enjoyed Christmas. I like my family (and I think they like me - well, at least 50 percent of the time) and we always find a way to get together at my parents' house, eat food until we can't move, talk football, catch up on the latest family and small-town gossip, and exchange gifts.

To me, Christmas always has been about family. Now that I have my own, I share my time between my first nuclear family (Waynesboro Area Senior High School teacher Joe Mackley will be proud of my sociology reference), my wife and daughter, and my in-laws.

It's also about church on Christmas Eve and being reminded about the real reason for the season.

Even if you don't really like your family (they say you can pick your friends, but you're pretty much stuck with your relatives), the holidays can be a good time to renew acquaintances, call up that old college buddy and send a card to or call an aunt in Colorado who will miss the family gathering.

For many, Christmas is the toughest time of the year. For those who have lost loved ones in the past months, it can be very sad and dreary - far from the most wonderful time of the year.

I've heard tales of people who combat their loneliness by volunteering at Christmas dinners, getting involved with special projects or taking a once-in-a-lifetime trip to visit a great vacation spot or to spend the holidays with a relative or old friend.

I guess the biggest downer of the holidays is that the hype and anticipation many times do not pay off with the big joyous reward.

We have months, really, to prepare for the big day. There's a solid four or five weeks to listen to Christmas music, make our plans, hit the malls and eBay, bake our cookies, address and mail cards, buy the food, clean the house, put up the lights, and on and on.

Then it's here.

Gifts are ripped open and ogled. Guests are arriving in their shiny holiday best, dinner's on the table and before you know it, you're setting the alarm clock so you can get to Kmart at 6 a.m. to get gift wrap for next year at 60 percent off.

Whew.

It can be a big letdown for many. I think it's called the post-Christmas blues - all the hype and it's over in a flash.

Perhaps the key is to slow it down and enjoy the process. Find the things that make the season bright and focus on them - kids, grandkids, music, church, family gatherings, a warm fireplace and hot chocolate, shopping, whatever. For me, the Christmas spirit has been renewed through the eyes of my almost-4-year-old daughter.

Don't overdo it and don't get too excited about the process.

Easier said than done, but I know it's helped me enjoy the little things that make this time of year great.

Now, about that John Denver Christmas tape. Where did I put that?

Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Morning Herald.

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