Time seems to move too fast these days, doesn't it? I swear, the kids just went back to school; I blinked and suddenly it was Halloween. Thanksgiving -- a day that for me has always been a nonstop celebration of food and family and fun -- was a flash this year. If I hadn't cooked all day I would have sworn we microwaved Thanksgiving.
Now the Christmas holidays are coming at me, and while I know I still have 24 days to finish my preparations, I suspect it's going to be more like 24 minutes. And then it'll be 2010, my baby will be driving (oh, yes. She's studying now to get her learner's permit at the end of the month) and I have a feeling the last few dark hairs on my head will be turning snowy.
Everyone is busy beyond the usual busy. My guy has so much work to do with his job in retail I've just cleared the next three weeks for him to come and go as needed, otherwise I might not see him again until January. At present my own work schedule is completely filled until March 16th. The kids have penciled in so much school and friend festivities on the calendar page for December that I had to start scheduling pickup and dropoff times. I've been asking people to call before they stop by during December to first make sure that we're even here.
There are things that do put the breaks on my warp-speed reality, such as waiting to see a doctor, shopping at malls, and wrapping packages, all of which take almost forever; my weekly physical therapy (forever plus a nice big side order of sweat and pain) and trying to talk to someone who isn't a robot at the mobile phone company (press one for service, press three if you have questions about your bill, press five if you are too stupid to use our automated FAQ service, press nine if we're driving you insane, etc.)
But there are good things that slow me down, too. When I write I forget about time until the stop-writing alarm clock goes off. Sewing, baking, listening to music, taking long walks with the pup and sitting by the fire with my guy have a nice timeless quality to them, too. Going out to photograph a sunrise or sunset. Hanging out with the kids and their friends on a Sunday. Going for a drive in the country to no place in particular. Game nights, when I shut off the TV, the computers and all the other electronics and take out the chess board, Scrabble or Monopoly.
I also read articles like Managing Your Holiday Stress to help cope with mine. I think I'm doing okay. I start working on my Christmas shopping lists in July so that once December arrives I don't have to live at the malls. I've been working extra hours to get all my contract work completed by next week, but I've also been taking time to do things like the NaNoNovel to keep my creative batteries charged. I also try to keep a sense of humor about all the things that can and will go wrong (my daughter is calling this Christmas CookieFail; I've been testing new recipes but so far every one of them has sucked.) And hard as it is, I accept that there are some things I'll have to gift bag instead of wrap, gift card instead of choose myself, and store-buy instead of hand-make.
The holidays will probably still fly by as fast as everything else has in 2009, but now and then I hope I remember to put on the brakes. It's the only way to get off the crazy train and spend an hour or an afternoon or an evening simply enjoying the reason we all work so hard this time of year: family and friends.
So what are you guys doing to combat the holiday rush? Have any really good tips to share? Let us know in comments.