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Dealing with holiday stress

We’ve got until Friday.

For anyone who doesn’t work well without a deadline, it has arrived.

Friday is Christmas Eve, and that’s the deadline for shopping, gift wrapping, and putting up the lights and tree, if you are so inclined. Probably too late to send those Christmas cards.

Yes folks, we’re in the final weekend before Christmas.

Stressful time of the year, all this running around; running from the post office to the mall to the ATM.

And trying to fulfill a mysterious gift request such as, “Oh, just get me something fun.”

It can be soothing though, to have the car radio on, and hear the Ronettes sing “Sleigh Ride,” or Darlene Love sing “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home).”

Susan Boyle does an incredible “O Holy Night.”

Or to see the Salvation Army bell ringer outside a Publix on Manatee Avenue West actually singing Christmas carols.

This is always a stressful time, even more so in the Great Recession.

As the great John Prine sings in “That’s the Way the World Goes Round”:

“You’re up one day and the next you’re down.

“It’s half an inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown.”

Manatee County’s jobless rate hit 12.6 percent in November, according to figures released Friday.

Somehow, despite all that stress, there are many who manage to reach beyond themselves to help others during the run-up to the big holiday.

There are many good hearts in Manatee County.

They help with everything from the Parrish Christmas party for underprivileged children, to the Angel Tree project to make sure that more than 2,000 kids receive gifts, to feeding the destitute on Christmas day.

They organize any number of candlelight services, living Nativity scenes, and cantatas.

They contribute blankets, food items, jackets and more to help those who have hit bottom to survive and hopefully get back on their feet.

There are too many Good Samaritans to name, and, besides, they have already felt the warm glow that comes with helping another.

This service to others gets close to the reason for the season and helps us understand that a lot of the stress we may be feeling is self-induced.

If you get a chance, drop a buck in that bell ringer’s kettle. And have a merry Christmas.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.

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