Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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Well, it seems I barely got the Thanksgiving decorations put away and I was putting out Chanukah menorahs. Which means the year's almost over. Where did it go?


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You say that every year. But this year, I think everyone wants the year to be over.


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Now there's an understatement! But I still love this time of year. I just wish I could enjoy it more, but I know that the days will just fly by. Chanukah comes mid-month and I'll barely be able to celebrate it before making sure that I'm prepared for Christmas and then New Year.


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That is the holiday tradition, exhaust yourself getting "ready" for the holidays. Then, try your best to actually enjoy the holiday, which will be a challenge unto itself given the pandemic. And then, feel relief, and maybe a little sadness, when it is over.


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You sound like a modern-day Scrooge.


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If that were the case, I would have mentioned the people who go through the holiday season feeling overwhelmed, lonely, or even depressed. Which is probably more this year than usual.


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You're not helping the situation. I'm already feeling overwhelmed. Between parenting, work, and managing the challenges of the coronavirus, the holidays just add more things to my already long to-do list with deadlines that can't slide.


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Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the holiday season was supposed to be about spending quality time with family and friends. A time of fun and joy. Of giving and sharing. Of hope. And, maybe even magical. And, yes, I appreciate that the pandemic will require being creative, but it can still be done.


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What's going on? You're talking about feelings! You're supposed to be the pragmatic one.


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No need to be concerned. Remember, I am the one who can talk about relationships and take emotions out of the picture.


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Which always makes me laugh. You're truly the only person I've ever known who can use bullet points to explain relationships.


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But, do they make sense?


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Yes, but what does that have to do with the holidays?


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Everything. Think about it.


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I hate when you won't just answer my question.


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No, you hate when I make you think. Do you remember the first bullet point?


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Yes. It's about understanding your values and priorities – totally independent of the other person. But the holidays are about giving and sharing. They're about family and friends. Even you said that.


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True. But, first you have to get back to basics and determine what is important to you. Otherwise, you get too wrapped up in all the details and forget the big picture. And, it is all the details which cause the stress and fatigue.


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No kidding. Tell me about it.


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One thing leads to another on your list. Then you start adding things you would like to do if you have the time, which somehow become things you feel you have to do. The next thing you know, you have totally unrealistic expectations. Layer on top the over-commercialization of the holiday season and you now are set up for failure instead of success. And, that does not even address the financial aspects, and associated stress, of the holidays.


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When I said, "Tell me about it," I was agreeing with you -- not really asking you to tell me about it.


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Too late now. You know how literal I can be. Lists aside, can you think of one or two things that you look forward to every holiday season?


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That's easy. The first is I always make a conscious effort to spend more time with the girls. It can be as simple as just watching TV with Sawyer or FaceTiming with Natasha. The second is making a little time for me, which this year will mean being creative since I can't escape to the movies.


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We both know it is not the movie – it is the movie popcorn. Anyway, the answer is "yes." Now, can you think of one or two unimportant things that are on your holiday to-do list just because they have always been on your list?


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Yes. Definitely more than one or two.


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Does your list have any of those "it would be nice if I had spare time" items that you know will not happen?


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Of course, it does. I see what you're doing. You're making me admit that even though I understand and talk about focusing on what's really important, I sometimes forget to stop and think about it.


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I was not asking for an admission of guilt, I was merely helping you remember to … Stop. Think. And, most importantly … Enjoy.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by Dave Bolton on iStock

It's a little thing – just three letters – that can make a big impact. At least, it has for Red. Ok, that may sound like a bit of an exaggeration. But the reality is that once "discovered", it can be used in many ways that you may wonder how you ever lived without it.

For Red, it all began years ago when she turned to Black looking for time management advice, and Red, in her usual fashion, could have kept the email stream going on and on (rather ironic given the topic). Black, running out of patience, but knowing that Red can be overly sensitive (trust us, that's an understatement), simply ended her email with "EOM."

Black figured that would get a response but hoped it'd ultimately reap long-term benefits. As expected, Red was clueless about what "EOM" stood for, not even sure whether it was an acronym, abbreviation, or technical term, so when she questioned Black, she called it "alphabet soup", although she was pretty certain the "M" stood for money …

EOM = End of message. Internet slang so that emails or IMs or text messages do not go on needlessly. If used properly, they can increase productivity so you do not continue to babble back and forth. If it used in the subject line, it means the message does not even have to be opened; i.e., there is no message other than the subject line.

Even with her love of blah-blah-blah, Red immediately "got it", loved it, and agreed that EOM made a lot of sense, so immediately started using it. Not only with Black, but with other people, who, she discovered, started using it.

So, now that you've read this post, all we can say is … EOM.

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Did you know that April's Autism Awareness Month? I wasn't aware (pun intended) of it until I read our local homeowner's monthly newsletter and it caught my eye.


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Actually, last month the founding organization, the Autism Society, changed "Awareness" to "Acceptance" to foster inclusivity, as knowing about something is very different from accepting it. But I am guessing that is not the point of this call.


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Although it isn't autism, it reminded me of years ago when we found out that Natasha has learning disabilities.


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I think you mean DIFF-abilities.


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Of course, that's another thing I remember. I was focused on the negative aspects of her diagnosis until you asked me, point-blank, "Why are they called disabilities?" And proceeded to explain that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.


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Exactly! Imagine the world if everyone excelled at math, but flunked English. Or, a world of lawyers, but no musicians. Some people are better at social skills, while others excel at handling technical data. Why not just say that people who have different skillsets and abilities have DIFF-abilities versus making them feel like they have shortcomings?
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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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Well, the Oprah interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was over a month ago, but I still see plenty of articles about it. It's really "stirred up" things in the Royal Family.


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Well, I guess it put "a bee in the royal bonnet." Although, I would not believe everything you read. Right after the interview, I read several articles suggesting the monarchy should end with Queen Elizabeth. I cannot imagine that happening.


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Oh, that isn't anything new. It's been going on for a long time; there was even talk of it when I lived in England decades ago. All the interview did was further encourage those who are already advocating it.


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At the risk of sounding like a broken record, but as I said in our Banter Bite, Talk About Getting The Royal Treatment, the Royal Family does seem to have "issues" in terms of race relations and dealing with mental illness. I can understand why people are questioning whether the monarchy, with its "old-fashioned" traditions and beliefs, is still relevant.


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But it's not like that's the only place those issues exist. Just pick up a newspaper, turn on the news – it's everywhere! Unfortunately, the Oprah interview put a very public face on it – The Royal Family, or The Firm, which is how the family and institution refers to itself.


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Who nicknames themselves The Firm? It sounds like a Netflix series, but with less class than " The Crown."
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