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Holiday Guide 2014 

Finding the joy

Each year, the holiday season sneaks up on us, spreading stress and anxiety giftwrapped as joy. Then, we swear to ourselves, "Never again. Next year I won't let the rush to buy presents, or the constant scheduling get in the way of my enjoyment of the season." But it's inevitable.

It was drilled into my head as a child — as I expect it was with most people — that the holidays are for something special. I was told again and again that we shouldn't get caught up in the consumerist rat race, but should focus on time with family, reflection, and celebrations. Still, on the day before Halloween this year, I saw a row of red ribbons and Christmas decorations in the store.

I think it's time we took a deep breath. Why not make this holiday season the one time you actually take care of your own sanity? You should feel free to say no to anything that means you aren't spending the quality time you want with your family and friends.

Whatever occasion you celebrate between now and the end of the year — Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or any other— don't let it stress you out. Keep an eye on what makes you and yours the happiest.

We hope that City's annual Holiday Guide can give you a hand managing that stress — whether it is with gift ideas or ideas for activities to do with others.

Of course, it isn't the meaning of the season, but gift-giving is still without a doubt fun and can be significant. Our dining writers teamed up to give their suggestions on great food-related, locally-produced gifts this season.

By the same token, it's satisfying to know that a gift you've chosen is made with care: Arts & entertainment staff writer Rebecca Rafferty tells the story of a local artist who makes toys from upcycled, sustainable resources.

If you are looking to get out of the house to show visiting relatives around town, or just want to take a break from the hectic pace, check our holiday events guide. Also, writer David Raymond explores the history of that sacred oratorio, Handel's "Messiah," which will be performed numerous times in the coming weeks.

The season might be inevitable, but we can choose to relax a little and just enjoy it. -- JAKE CLAPP

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