Life Face First: Negotiating One Calamity at a Time Holiday Hustle


My husband Brian returned home from work to find me sitting on the living room floor. I was surrounded by sticky notes, a calendar and a white board on which I’d tried to draw a flow chart.

“What are you doing?” He bent down to remove a sticky note from my forehead.

I didn’t answer and instead, focused on the note. “There it is,” I exclaimed with relief. I added it to the collection on my left thigh.

“I’m planning our holiday schedule,” I answered.

I pawed through the pile of sticky notes on the corner of the white board. I found a blue one and tugged. I passed it to Brian.

“Here are the dates you need to take off from work if my travel plans are going to work.” I laughed and pretended that using the word work twice in the same sentence was a clever pun.

It wasn’t.

He ignored me and looked at the note. “This is a grocery list,” he said.

I snatched the note away and rummaged through the sticky notes on the arm of the couch.

“Here it is,” I exclaimed in triumph. I passed him the correct note.

He glanced at the schedule. “I can probably get these days off,” he said, “but is that going to be enough time?”

“Since you started a new job just a few months ago,” I said, “I thought we shouldn’t plan on taking too many days off. I think I’ve figured out how we can see everyone during the holidays and minimize our time away from work.”

“Ok,” he said slowly. Plainly, he doubted my flow chart and sticky note collection.

Silly man.

“I’ll show you,” I said. “If we both work the day before Thanksgiving, we can hurry home in time to pack for me, you and the dog. The three of us will depart our house by 7:00 that evening and make the two and a half hour drive to my mother’s. We’ll arrive at her house by 9:30 which gives us time to drink a glass of wine before bedtime at 10:00 — I’ll need my rest after that crazy day. Then, we spend Thanksgiving morning at Mom’s, eat lunch, depart by 12:30 and make the three hour drive to your sister’s where they will just be putting a late lunch on the table. We can fill ourselves with stuffing, and, again, a glass of wine and be in bed by 6:00 pm so we can get up at 3:00 am and drive home in time to work on Black Friday, because I am not going shopping in that crazy mess!”

“What about Christmas,” he asked innocently.

I led him to the office where the walls, the computer desk and the lamp were covered in sticky notes.

“Christmas is tricky,” I said.

“Clearly,” he replied.

I replied wryly, “The biggest irony about the holidays is that they’re supposed to be a vacation from work, yet they create so much more.”

Nora Blithe

Nora Blithe is the author of the syndicated humor column “Life Face First.” Read her blog online at or contact her at