The holidays are coming fast, and we don’t want to miss them.

What I mean by that is, some of us have a tendency to run ourselves so ragged preparing for the holidays that once they’re here, we don’t enjoy them.

And when they’re gone, we shake our heads and wonder where they went.

I’m a runner and always have been.

Run here, run there, plan this, plan that, fall into bed, exhausted, and then get up and do it all over again.

My husband often tells me to stop.

“Can’t you just sit down for a minute?” he asks.

Always, when the holidays are three weeks out, I’m moving.

Scouring the stores for the right presents, wrapping the same, writing dozens of cards, hauling out the Christmas decorations, getting a tree, cleaning the house, making cookies, picking up last-minute gifts.

Don’t get me wrong — I love it.

It’s how to slow down time that is the big challenge.

My sister, Jane, has the same bug I have. She runs and runs.

I give her my books after I’ve read them and sometimes she falls behind.

“I don’t have time to sit down and read,” she says.

I tell her sitting and reading is one of my most effective antidotes to the running disease.

“It makes you stop and breathe,” I say.

Many years ago I made a pact with myself, that I would always have a book going, not only so that I could have an answer for anyone who asks me what I’m reading, but also because it would keep me in the habit.

Reading is a critical part of my life.

“Just make yourself pick that book up every day, even if you only have time to read one page,” I tell my sister.

When I visit her, we sit in her sunny, glassed-in porch that faces south and talk or read.

She always says, “It’s so nice to sit out here. I never do that.”

Case in point. It’s easy, I tell her. Just do it.

I know where we get this running sickness from — our mother.

She could clean a house faster than anyone I know, bake three pies at a time and then make a cake.

My mother was a whirlwind and a lot of fun.

She was a registered nurse and through much of her career, she worked the evening or overnight shift. She’d work until early in the morning, come home, get us out of bed, feed and clothe us, get us on the bus, clean the house, do the laundry, cook meals, sleep a few hours and then go back to work.

On her days off, it was nothing to wake up in the middle of the night to find her scrubbing the kitchen floor or baking cookies.

One day, Eddie, a young teen who liked to hang out at our house, called on the telephone. That was when my mother was working the three to eleven shift at the hospital, and he called about 2:30 p.m.

“Are you coming over, Eddie?” I asked.

“No sir,” he said.

“Why not?”

“Because you’re mother’s getting ready for work and she’ll run me over!”

Truth be told, I like being on the move, getting things done, enjoying the color, soaking it in, just like my late mother.

But when it comes to the holiday season, which, as my husband says, gives me reason to go faster, I have to remind myself to apply the brakes now and then.

Let that be sound advice for those of us who like to run. Stop and smell the roses.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter for 30 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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