I fully agree with comedian Dave Barry in his assessment of the holiday season as a “deeply religious time that each of us observes in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.” Of course there was a time when elements of magic used to be present for me during the holiday season. The whole “Carol of the Bells,” cool Vince Geraldi Christmas music, corny holiday specials, Dickonsonian “God Bless us every one” speeches and, of course, the abundance of presents was once quite appealing, but as I have gotten older, the month of December has come to be associated with the word “stress.” The stress of exams, the stress of possible weight gain from holiday food, the forced conversation at holiday parties – which this year, for all you lucky seniors will feature the really easy question of what you are planning to do with your life. Yes, you too, can star in your very own version of “The Graduate” minus the whole being seduced by a sexy older woman experience unless you want that and in that case I wish you the best of luck. Kookoocachoo.

According to a recent survey, 43 percent of women and 37 percent of men ages 18 to 34 reported an increase in stress during the holidays. Though there are many self-help Web sites and books – I am sure Dr. Phil has written one when not living in Oprah’s butt – I will gladly offer a few words of wisdom from my own experiences as one of the biggest holiday spazzes throughout neurotic history.

1) Exams – Everyone deals with the workload in their own way. All I can say is, find a system that works for you and make sure it is one that does not include locking yourself in your room and not coming out until you have memorized the complete works of Shakespeare. Have lots of snacks and be sure to have a support group of friends in close proximity in case you need to have a meltdown.

2) Weight Gain – I am not sure if I should really be dispensing advice about healthy eating since I am a person who considers eating only one box of Nerds a day to be a real sacrifice. Just remember egg nog, though quite delicious, is like drinking whip cream with some cream.

3) Annoying Conversation – Seeing people you haven’t seen in years or grown-ups who think it is their job to tell you what to do with your future is not very enticing to me. I would try the “Oh, damn that cursed shrimp! Excuse me I must go to the bathroom” or “Oh, I see someone else that I must talk to” or just drink the awkwardness away and then those conversations will go a lot smoother.

4) Overall Holiday Stress – Whenever I just can’t handle any more green and red sweaters, or have gotten too many paper cuts from wrapping presents, I just remind myself to take a breather. A breather could consist of just sitting quietly for a few minutes or going to a movie. In times of distress just think, “What would Frosty the Snowman do” or to save time “WWFSD?” We will get necklaces. They will make nice gifts.

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