You’re in the thick of the holiday season and you’re up to your neck in To Do lists….but you’ve gotta forge on. Cause that’s just what we do.


By Lisa Sugarman

So I’m feeling a little guilty and I need to purge a little to clear my conscience. Never mind the fact that whenever I need to come clean about something I do it to roughly 25,000 people. That’s completely irrelevant. I realize that most normal people write in these little things called diaries when they’re feeling especially guilty or emotional, but not me. Guess that makes me some kind of an exhibitionist. Oh well.

Back to why I’m feeling guilty.

I guess, if you peel the onion back to the core, I’m guilty because I’m a Jew. Relax, it’s not because of the whole pharaoh and Exodus thing. It’s a little more benign than that.

I’m feeling a little guilty because Chanukah is over and I’m D-O-N-E, done with everything holiday related. And so are all my people. While most everyone else is not. And for the last few days I’ve been watching everyone else I know scramble around in that kooky little Bermuda Triangle place in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And everyone’s racing 100 mph for the finish line and trying to stay upright when they break the tape.

And it’s a haul. I get it. I just finished wading through the same madness. So the feelings are all fresh.

But now that I’m on the other side of it, relaxed and with most of my faculties still intact, I really have only one thing to say, “Na-na-na-ne-naaaaa-naaaaa.”

Ok, that was childish. I’m sorry. I should be more supportive of the stress you’re under as you scramble around trying to do all your holiday shopping and wrapping and hiding. But the circumstances are so unique for me this year with Chanukah coming so early and me needing to do all my shopping back in August in flip flops and board shorts. I’m really pretty much left sitting here with absolutely nothing to do. I mean, what are my choices now? Fold laundry and scoop out the ashes in the fireplace, or sit here with a cocktail and make fun of your living hell? I mean, cummon. The choice is obvious.

The whole Chanukah-falling-directly-on-top-of-Thanksgiving thing was just nothing I could be prepared for. Never saw it coming. (Clearly I spend most of my time in the Here and Now and not flipping through annual calendars of years that haven’t even happened yet.)

Usually, I set my holiday shopping deadline for Thanksgiving. That way, everything’s bought, wrapped, and in a secure, undetectable location before we start stuffing the turkey. Bing. Bang. Done. But this year, everything was off. Because of this bizarro blip in the Jewish calendar, I practically had to back everything up to Labor Day. Which, at the time, seemed like all kinds of ludicrous. I mean who shops for turtleneck sweaters and Uggs in August? It just didn’t seem right. But what choice did I have? The calendar says what the calendar says.

But now that my holiday has come and gone and my personal cloud of shopping madness has lifted, I’m honestly feeling pretty damn good. I’m not going to lie to you. I whistle now when I go anywhere. And when I think about going to the mall over the next few weeks, I imagine myself meandering around aimlessly, sipping my skinny peppermint mocha, watching the chaos swim around me. It’s liberating, really. It feels like what I’d imagine running naked through field of high grass would feel like. Not that I’ve spent much time fantasizing about tall grass and running naked. But at least that gives you a frame of reference.

Understand, I’m not saying any of this to taunt you. Well, not blatantly anyway. I’m actually trying to motivate you to keep pushing on, even when you feel like you can’t stomach another trip to Target. And that’s because pushing on is just what we do. You just have to take solace in the fact that, like me, you’ll eventually check everything off your list and the madness will end. I promise. And you’ll have a whole 364 days to relax and unwind.

Look, it’s what our parents and their parents before them and their parents before them all did. Someone did it for them and they did it for us and we do it for ours. It’s almost like a rite of passage to endure the holiday season, especially when you’re a parent. Because god knows none of us are really doing it all out of the sheer joy of schlepping to the Burlington Mall on Black Friday at 2:00am and waiting in a two-hour line just to get a ticket to get into the Apple Store to buy the pink iPad Mini.

We do what we do for our kids during the holiday season for one reason and one reason only, because we love them. We do it to see their faces and to share, even for a second, that feeling of sheer joy when they get exactly what they wanted when they tear open that box. Because we all remember what that feels like. And every one of us longs, in some way, to recreate that thrill and that feeling of magic and wonder. Because it’s beautiful and it makes everything that we all do behind the scenes worth it for that brief moment in time.

So when you feel yourself getting short tempered and cranky and exasperated over things like wrapping paper and cookie swaps and crowds and lines, just remember who you’re doing it all for and that you’re in the home stretch with the finish tape in in sight. Don’t forget that you’re running this crazy holiday race for the people who matter the most. And that, at the end of the day, you wouldn’t trade all the chaos and stress you’re feeling right now for anything in the world (except maybe a quiet beach, a chaise lounge, and an open tab). Nah, not even that.

And just think, after it’s all over, you’ll have at least a good 24 hours to relax on Christmas Day before you’ve got to pack up everything you just bought and hit the return line. Or, you could’ve just converted. Then you’d be done by now.

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead. Read and discuss all her columns at OR follow her blog at


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