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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Take time to enjoy one another this Christmas

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Okay, so let me voice my annual complaint about the holiday season. It's too late for this year but folks, at some point, we need to return the Christmas holiday to the real meaning of the season. Granted, that is about as simplistic as it gets. But we all know it's true.

I have spent countless hours reading this week about the troubles and concerns generated by Christmas. And the irony of course is that we have created this monster ourselves. We -- you and I -- have over the years created the stress and anxiety of balancing family and friends, co-workers and others into this holiday season. We have ourselves to blame for removing much of the joy that should mark this holiday. And we have replaced that joy with a hectic pace that never equates to peace and joy and tranquility. And sadly, it may never change.

I just finished reading a fascinating article on how to remove the stress from the Christmas season. Believe me, put my name near the top of that stressed list. It is self-imposed stress for the most part but the balancing act that this season has become generates much more dread than joy, much more anxiety than anticipation.

As many of you know, our newspaper has phased out the annual holiday charity campaign that we began 30 years ago. There's a reason for that move and, without exception, when that reason is explained every single person fully understands why. The bottom line is that in our community there are far too many people who make no effort to provide for their families for Christmas but instead look to others to fulfill their responsibility. And for every exception, there are a hundred who fit this example.

We're still going to help people as much as we can. But we're going to do that privately and effectively. And others are picking up the slack. They, too, will learn the hard lesson we learned through the years. But that's a different story for a different day.

It's not that I dislike the Christmas season. Quite the opposite. But we make it tough on ourselves with unrealistic expectations, extremely hectic work schedules for most of us and a break-neck change in routine that is anything but pleasant.

There is pure joy in spending time with friends and family during this time of year. But as families change -- and they do -- there is that balancing act of trying to do far too much in far too little time.

And let's face it, Christmas can threaten your pocketbook as well regardless of the size of that wallet. That is self-imposed. We have come to expect far too much and we collectively make the mistake of stretching ourselves beyond what we should. And then we pay a price throughout the next year. That applies to virtually everyone at some level.

The stress-free article I read suggests limiting your holiday giving substantially. Well that may look good on paper but, in the end, we all break that idea. And we promise that next year will be different. And it rarely is.

The one commodity we should most enjoy is time. And yet time is exactly what we sacrifice during Christmas celebrations. We should blame no one but ourselves. I most certainly accept the blame when it comes to my personal decisions and the way I try to allocate time. And then I promise to do better. And then -- just as quickly -- I forget.

I think I want to start a new holiday tradition. I want all family members to write each other a hand-written letter and explain how that recipient has impacted their lives. It must be hand-written. And over the years that collection will hold more meaning than any other bobble or trinket under the tree. And by golly, next year I may just start that tradition. Better late than never!

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen