With Halloween just around the corner, I’ve begun to mentally prepare myself for what is, in my mind, the most stressful time of the year.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. The weather finally becomes pleasant, you get the chance to spend time with your family, and there’s a seemingly-endless supply of good food. All are reasons to be happy and thankful, which I am, but that doesn’t change the fact that the holidays stress me out.

First comes the planning. Families and friends start to extend you invitations, hoping you’ll be able to attend their respective celebrations. Multiple get-togethers are scheduled for the same day and even if you had the ability to stop time, it just doesn’t seem possible to attend them all. I feel bad turning down invitations. And would-be hosts take it hard when you tell them you can’t make it. I’d love to see all my friends and family, but I can’t and I have to make tough choices.

Next come the expenses. I don’t spend lavishly around the holidays, as I think that flies in the face of what the holidays are all about. But no matter how frugal I try to be, it’s simply an expensive time. Gifts are an obvious cost, but there are little things that slowly start to add up. A pie for the family dinner. A tank of gas to get to the party. A new sweater — tacky or tasteful. It all stealthily combines.

Lastly, there’s the rush. Perhaps it’s our primitive selves telling us that we need to have all the resources to survive the winter, but it all just seems so unnecessary. Black Friday waits only for the clock to strike midnight and people scramble over each other for flat screens and other deals, that really aren’t so. Lavish meals are expected to hit the table at just the right moment and the traffic caused by well-intentioned party hoppers is enough to drive you crazy.

In the end, I find all of the chaos is worth it. I’ve just accepted that stress and the holidays are a package deal.

Happy birthday Monday to Cheryl Reynolds of Bells; Janet Stewart of Denison; Belton Kemp of Sherman; and Corie Brigham.

Happy anniversary Monday to Billy and Susan Vincent of Sherman, 35 years.