The holidays are such a busy time of year. For me, this year is especially hectic. My self-pubbed book, Helpless Hearts was just released in October, and I’m finding it harder to promote than the books I’ve published with The Wild Rose Press. I don’t have a “support group” with my self-published title.

About the same time Helpless Hearts came out, my youngest daughter, Lauren, moved into her own apartment. There was the move and then the clean up of her old room following the move. Then, I signed a contract with TWRP for Embrace the Darkness , the long-awaited sequel to Out of the Darkness.

I was working on those edits when my youngest daughter elected me to have Thanksgiving at my house.

I wasn’t all that keen on the idea. I had a book to promote, another to edit, and I wanted to get the house decorated for Christmas before my oldest daughter and her soldier husband came home for the holidays.

Mike’s in the army and stationed in Germany. He and  Jennifer haven’t been home for Christmas since 2008. And Jennifer hasn’t been home for Thanksgiving since 2005. Jennifer told me they were flying home just before Christmas. And Lauren’s room was still purple. So, after Lauren drafted me to host Thanksgiving, she got her boyfriend to paint her old bedroom.

It’s now a soothing color called “beach.”

Lauren even promised to come over to help clean the morning before or family Thanksgiving luncheon, but she overslept…or so she said.

No problem. I got the house cleaned, got the food cooked, and was ready for my guests when Lauren called to say she was running late–not at all unusual for my youngest. She’s always running late.

The rest of my family arrived on time and were sitting in the living room talking when I saw Lauren’s car pull up in the front yard. I figured the driveway was too packed for her to park in her usual place. So,I went to the front door to open it before she knocked. I figured she’d have her hands full with the food she was bringing for our Thanksgiving feast. But when I opened the door, I found my oldest daughter, Jennifer. The daughter who was supposed to still be in Germany until December 23.

Lauren had been hiding her away in her apartment for three days.

I’ve never been so surprised in my life.” target=”_blank”>

my beautiful daughters

But now Thanksgiving is over and Jen is still here. I love having her, and her husband will be joining us a couple of days before Christmas. But visiting with her put me behind on my edits. Which, I finally completed late last night. Now, I’m patiently waiting for the art department to create the cover for Embrace the Darkness. And I’m trying to get ready for Christmas.

Then there’s the day job. I work as a mammographer in a local hospital and everyone wants to get everything done before the end of the year when their deductibles start over. So, I’ve worked late almost every night since Jennifer’s been home.

Life is hectic right now. And expensive. Besides holiday shopping, I had to spend over $500 on my car when it stranded us at a gas station as we were heading home from visiting my husband’s family for Thanksgiving. Luckily, I have towing on my insurance policy and Lauren’s boyfriend had driven separately so he could go to a race after church. The race was just a 1/2 hour drive from where my car stranded us. So, we didn’t have to wait long to get rescued and we had bathrooms and coffee. Everything I needed for a cold November night stuck in a car with my husband and 2 grown daughters. We even played Monopoly on Jennifer’s I-phone while we waited.

And now, the plumber is at my house, fixing a leak under my sink. There goes another couple hundred bucks! But I don’t want to get so caught up with money, or the lack there of, that I can’t give people meaningful gifts–even if I have to spend a little less this year. And I don’t want to get so caught up in making holiday plans that I forget to enjoy the season.

Christmas shouldn’t be so stressful. Hectic yes. Stressful, no. So I just need to slow down, take time to smell the Christmas tree (even if it is fake!) and enjoy my daughters’ company. Life is too short. And Christmas 2013 will be here before you know it…unless the Mayans are right and the world ends on 12/21/12.

Then, none of us will be here for this Christmas. So, why am I even stressing? Time to enjoy the most hectic, chaotic, wonderful time of the year.

So, before the world ends, share your most surprising holiday story for a chance to win an e-book of Helpless Hearts.