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We Won't Let Season Catch You Off Guard

November 24, 1994|WENDY MILLER | Wendy Miller is editor of Ventura County Life

Yes, that is Santa Claus you saw on the cover. And, yes, this is the holiday edition of Ventura Life. I know, you haven't even gotten the Thanksgiving meal out of the oven let alone onto the table, and here we are dumping you right into holiday music and plum pudding.

For readers who observe Hanukkah, this edition might be considered a blessing. Or it could just be considered late, since the holiday, which runs according to the Jewish calendar, shows up early on this year's Gregorian calendar--Monday evening the first candles will be lit.

But readers who celebrate Christmas--especially those poor souls who think they can sort of creep up on the season and find it, warm, welcoming, gift-wrapped and ready to go--may feel they are being held hostage by an early preoccupation with holiday hysteria. Don't panic, we really are here to help.

"Each year the Christmas season seems to come upon us earlier and earlier," said free-lance writer Leo Smith, who wrote the cover story for this issue. "Yet the fact that we all know it's coming makes no difference. Hordes of us are still rushing around at the last minute, going crazy buying gifts, making food and trying to pull the holiday together."

Which is why Smith and the rest of us at Ventura County Life thought that besides providing a vast array of information on where to go and what to do this holiday season, we would offer a centerpiece story specifically for the terminally frazzled, a story that would provide timesaving tips to help readers enjoy rather than suffer through the holidays.

"The big countdown used to be the number of shopping days left before Christmas," said Smith, "but with the hectic lifestyle led by the average person nowadays, it comes down to the number of minutes left."

Besides helping you get in and stay in a festive mood, Smith's story provides a list of people and services that will, for a fee, do some of those holiday tasks that tend to put a hum at the end of your ho ho ho. The story may also revive the entrepreneurial as well as the holiday spirit.

"One of the guys I interviewed who hangs lights, just did it for family members for a number of years," said Smith. "When people saw the work he did, many asked him to do the same thing for them. And a business was born."

If after reading Smith's piece you are tempted to chuck much of this holiday season, along with the guilt, right out the window, you'll be in good company. Judith Sitko, the family therapist mentioned in the story, has done just that.

"Sitko stopped inviting the extended family over for holiday dinners a while back. It was too much work and too much pressure," said Smith. "She actually tries to enjoy the holidays instead."

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