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MARTHA SEZ: Are you eschewing the holidays? Bless you.

November 25, 2016
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

I don't mean to alarm you, but holiday stress is real. We might as well face up to it, because, really, there is no getting around it; at least not if you have what passes for a normal lifestyle in the United States. True, you could always decide, either for religious or purely practical reasons, to eschew the holiday season, but it is highly unlikely that you will ever be able to get away with it.

-What do you mean, eschew? Is that like chaw? My friend Biff chews tobacco.

-No, eschewing the holidays has nothing whatever to do with tobacco.

-New eschews, new eschews, Janey's got some new shoes! We're going to have to send for the veterinarian to eschew that horse of yours.

Actually, to eschew the holidays means to avoid the holidays, to stay right away from all of that stress-inducing glitter, gourmet fare and drama. Easier said than done.

Even if you have taken a solemn vow, even if you have told your friends, family, students, employees, employers and coworkers-in no uncertain terms- that you will not be participating in any holiday festivities or activities, the season is going to intrude upon your life, making itself known and causing you stress.

You will be fighting traffic, waiting in line and putting up with the cancellation of your favorite television shows to allow tired old Thanksgiving and Christmas specials from years gone by to air, over and over and over again. You will be subjected to tunes like "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus," "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Grandma got Run Over by a Reindeer" blaring out at you every time you turn on your car radio, visit a shopping mall or run to the store for a gallon of milk.

Yes, you will be refusing invitations, explaining that you don't exchange gifts, turning down eggnog and cookies and insulting your secret Santa. Your children will be sent to the alternative activity room while other children are singing carols and making wreaths. It isn't easy to go against the tide of an entire gigantic holiday culture.

My point is that holiday stress is real, even if you imagine that you are not going to participate. Of course if you do participate, the holly jolly aspects can also induce stress.

Gift giving is so intricately complicated in all of its social, cultural, financial and psychological aspects that it requires its own column, or volume. But even something as mundane as housecleaning can be stressful.

If you are planning on entertaining guests, whether they are friends, family or strangers, you know what you are getting yourself into. Even those people who habitually keep their living space neat as a pin will make themselves frantic over imaginary dust motes, cobwebs and fingerprints. Just think what it must be like for the rest of us.

Around the holidays, time goes faster and faster, exponentially, so that the things you think you will have plenty of time for-like for example cleaning and organizing the spare room where all of the craft project overflow, unpacked boxes from the last time you moved, objects from the last two missed Bulky Days at the transfer station, things you can't decide whether to take to the thrift store or white elephant sale (tip: if they are in the spare room, the answer is yes, take them), important papers, not so important papers, papers of uncertain import-once again, you simply can't decide- become unwieldy and impossible to deal with properly. Just put a padlock on the spare room door. That way you can throw in questionable items as you run round and round like a whirlwind before company comes, then quickly lock it up when the doorbell rings.

I must warn you, though, that the stress will increases later, when you enter the spare room and find it worse than ever. There is also the problem of where you put the key or the combination to the padlock.

On the other hand, it may be just as well if you leave that room locked and never enter it again. You probably don't need anything in there. You'll never miss it.

After the holidays, I am going to finish doing a lot of things I don't have time for right now, like for example studying the true mathematical definition of exponential so that I can use it correctly and accurately in a sentence.

Have a good week! We're just getting started.



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