Christmas has now become so overwhelming, that it is almost impossible to get through without a total breakdown. For starters, is it really necessary to start Christmas carols, lighted trees and outdoor displays right after Halloween, guaranteeing us a long, long Christmas?

Do we need all the arguments on whether what we’re celebrating at this time of year should be called Christmas or just, plain “holiday”? Even the poor Kristkindlmarkt at the Daley Center got into the cross hairs this year over that point, when all it seeks to be is a retailers’ paradise.

Trying to keep up with the neighbors when it comes to outdoor holiday displays is now reaching McMansion proportions. I suppose, though, landscapers need work in winter, so this becomes something they can do, keeping poor civilians from falling off of roofs in a desire to get more and more lighted icicles into play. I can’t wait to see how this plays out when electrical rates go up some 25 percent!

Finally, the Christmas cards have been sent. I am determined to make this the last year, since, being out of office, there is no way that I am going to be able to move some 5,000 Christmas cards out on my own. Furthermore, they are such an expensive undertaking, that I would much rather give the money to charity or adopt a Brookfield Zoo animal at the same cost.

Christmas is just exhausting. It may be that way for most women, who are responsible for gift buying, wrapping, delivery, Christmas card writing and mailing, sending packages, cooking for home parties and getting ready for other parties out of the home. Whew!

This is truly a holiday marathon to see just who is left standing at the end.

I am delighted to note that my basement, the site of accumulated Christmas present “buys” from June to the present, is now empty. It is probably the only time of the year when I can go into the basement, unimpeded by boxes awaiting wrapping.

This year, I was helped by my daughter-in-law, Christina, who labeled the gifts, rather than allowing me to gamble that I was getting the right gift to the right person in the rush to wrap.

And, without the help of Liane Blauw of North Riverside, they never would have gotten wrapped. Many thanks to her for keeping the assembly line going.

I have made deals with my son and daughter-in-law, as well as friends, that we would not exchange gifts this year unless they were service gifts, things we could use or eat. I am seeking nothing tangible because, in breaking down five offices and my rented house in Springfield, the volume of “stuff” has become intolerable. There is just no more room for “stuff” (though there is always room for garage and estate sale goodies-I just can’t give that up!).

This year the kids will not be in town for Christmas and will stay at Ft. Lewis, so it will be me and the two dogs. If I act upon a whim, maybe I’ll be seeking a third pup to round out the family. There is always so much to do.

Frankly, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, as the song goes. With so much going on, no wonder Santa has gray hair and beard.