My experience is people don’t respond well to a 45-mph work zone speed limit. I get to witness this on a regular basis driving into Tucson on highway 19. There has been construction happening for an eternity (maybe less) just before 19 intersects with 10. The speed limit drops from 65 mph to 55 mph, then to 45 mph. When I drove this route yesterday, there were police with their lights on at the beginning of the work zone. People mostly drove the speed limit. What about, though, when the police aren’t there?

Most of the times I drive through this work zone people continue to drive around 65 mph. Driving the speed limit feels dangerous as people race around us (luckily, there are 2 lanes going in the same direction). Why do people continue to drive so fast? I’m suspicious it is tied to feeling rushed and stressed. I’ve been told before “I’m just keeping up with the speed of the traffic”.  Are we responsible for the speed we drive?

Can there be any consequences to driving this fast in a work zone? I tried to find the possible penalty on-line for those who are stopped by a police officer. Oh my! Trafficviolationlawfirm.com says: “A ticket for 10 mph over the speed limit starts at a fine of $250, and typically raises by $50 for every 5 mph over 10. At 20 miles an hour over the posted speed limit, the ticket can be raised by as much as $200, and the driver is subject to having his or her license automatically suspended or revoked at the time of the traffic stop”. Another site noted fines are usually doubled for speeding violations in construction zones. I don’t think most people are even aware of the consequences as they push their way through.

How often do we push our way through the Advent/Christmas season? Over the years I’ve heard from so many people who find this time of year to be rushed and stressful. Instead of being a spiritually uplifting season, it becomes something to be dreaded and endured. Every year I hear people complain about Christmas being too commercialized. The good news, though, is we get to determine how we are going to celebrate the Advent/Christmas season. We don’t have to “keep up” with how other people celebrate the season.

What can we control to change how we experience the season? I’m one of those people who loves buying and making Christmas gifts for other people. This year I bought most of my Christmas gifts in July. I had a lot of fun, and it took the stress off from “rushing” in December. Most of the gifts I’m making were finished in November. I have a few more to make, but it’s at an enjoyable level. Advanced shopping allowed me to mail gifts to extended family by December 2. For me, some of my joy starts to be sucked out of the season when I know I have gifts to mail. It takes me a long time to get them wrapped and ready. This year I wanted to change the focus and have them mailed early.

There are some things we have deleted from our plans. Last January I decided I was going to make our Christmas cards this year. A month ago, I determined it wasn’t going to happen. The plan was adding too much stress to my life. We also thought about putting up our Christmas tree, even though we will be celebrating at our daughter’s house. Instead, we will help our daughter and son-in-law to decorate.

The Advent/Christmas season is a time I value traditions. Advent wreaths, Christmas Eve services, new pajamas on Christmas Eve (my wife started this for our daughter when she was little), Christmas morning cinnamon rolls, Christmas stockings, and Christmas movies. This might be a good time to add some traditions!

Each of us have the opportunity to custom design how we are going to experience our Advent/Christmas season. All of us have our own situations. We get to determine if it is going to be “rushed and stressful”, or “enjoyable and spiritually uplifting”. The Advent/Christmas season is best when we don’t use a cookie-cutter approach (though I’m fully in favor of Christmas cookies!).

Your brother on the journey, Mark

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