By EMILY DOMINICI
It goes down the same way every year.
It's Thanksgiving. You share a beautiful meal with your loved ones. You enjoy a leisurely day of feasting and napping. How nice!
What you may not realize is that it's the last time this will happen until the next year.
Because then it's the day after Thanksgiving - Black Friday. You'll have to get up a 2 a.m. to go stand outside the mall in the freezing cold because your kid wants a toy that is impossible to find.
You'll have to sprint through the mall like a maniac taking out any opposition.
After you've shopped all afternoon, you'll have to go home and put up your tree. As per Murphy's Law, the tree will be too big for your dinky tree stand so you'll have to get some rope and tether it to the wall.
Next, your cat will remove the ornaments one by one and cart them off to obscure corners of the house.
Then you'll have to hang your lights outside. Make sure you get all of the bushes and windows.
What's next? Baking, of course. You have dozens and dozens of cookies to bake and decorate so that you'll have something to serve the guests that will be streaming in and out for the entire month of December.
Right about now, a major appliance will decide it's a wonderful time to break. Great!
THE CHRISTMAS?CARDS! Where is your mind? They should have been mailed out weeks ago! Hurry, hurry and type that family newsletter. There simply MUST?be a family newsletter - people will LOVE to read about your recent gall bladder surgery and that little Ricky needs sponsors for his trip to Guatemala.
Take kids for picture with Santa.
Make shepherd costume for church Christmas program.
Go get roots and nails done.
If this sounds like your typical holiday season, the following list from ehow.com may help to eliminate some unnecessary stress this year.
step 1 - Set priorities
Decide what is most important to you and your family, and focus only on the really important things.
step 2 - Assess traditions
Stick with some holiday traditions, but let go of others. Hang on to what's really important to you and your loved ones. For instance, maybe stringing up lights outdoors isn't so important to you but having a decorated tree is. In that case, let the outdoor lights go.
step 3 - Say No
You don't have to go to every party. You don't have to say yes to everything that's asked of you. Remember your priorities and gracefully decline other requests.
step 4 - Ask for help
You don't have to cook the entire holiday meal yourself. Consider preparing the main dish and asking everyone else to bring a covered dish.
step 5 - Use paper plates
Save yourself the work of washing dishes after the big dinner. There are some lovely but sturdy plates with holiday designs. Get matching plastic silverware for a festive table setting.
step 6 - Shop smarter
Make shopping for gifts easier. Consider shopping over the internet or by catalog. Try to think of one store where you can buy gifts for everyone. Take advantage of stores that offer free gift-wrapping. Consider giving gift certificates as an alternative to traditional gifts.
step 7 - Don't overspend
Don't overspend. That will only cause you more stress after the holidays are over.
step 8 - Have "me time"
Set aside time for yourself. I know it's hard to do at such a busy time of year, but it will make a huge difference in your level of stress.
step 9 - Take care of yourself
Do your best to eat right, get enough sleep, and get some exercise. Yes, it's hard to fit these things in at such a busy time. Make them a priority.
Now that you know how to stay sane for the rest of the season, pour yourself a glass of egg nog and be merry.