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(WGHP) — Most of us by this time of the holiday season will be in one of two frames of mind: Either we logically are completing the final details of our celebration plans or we are frantically running here and there to shop, to finish cooking and delivering or simply to get to that place where we plan to celebrate.

That’s the norm.

We also have this era of COVID-19 and the omicron-variant-enhanced renewed fragility of our public health.

All of that creates many more options, considerations and opportunities.

Not to cloud your mind, but here are a half-dozen hints to help you find some peace of mind this holiday season.

1. Do you need help this holiday?

The I AM Foundation will host a “Giving in the Community” food distribution – and more – event from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday in the parking lot of 2216 West Meadowview Road in Greensboro.

The group says packaged Christmas meals will be available, and those in need can receive blankets, coats, socks and gloves. But there also will be free COVID-19 PCR testing, vaccinations and booster shots for children and adults to be administered by Ottendorf Lab. 

For more information, you can contact Dennis Howard at (336) 763-2023 or Shannell Lucas at (336) 595-5995. 

2. If you want a special opportunity…

High Point University’s 11th annual Community Christmas Drive is underway 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Jan. 1.

HPU said in a release that more than 6,000 had attended since the event began on Sunday. The tour, which begins at University Parkway and ends at the Nido and Mariana Qubein Arena and Conference Center, includes what HPU says is the state’s tallest Christmas tree at 58 feet, more than 100,000 Christmas lights, a life-size and expanded Nativity scene, 206 nutcrackers and many holiday decorations, including ornaments that are 10 feet tall. At the end, residents will receive a book about HPU, a musical Christmas card and vouchers for a basketball game.

3. If you would rather walk…

The town of Elkin has a trail of holiday lights that you can experience through Jan. 9. The Holiday Light Show at Cypress Trails Event Center, 157 Interstate Way in Elkin, is described as a walkthrough of three trails that feature animated displays, singing reindeer – we assume not real reindeer – a giant ornament and thousands of twinkling lights. There also is a hot chocolate stand. 

Tickets are available at www.cypresstrailsevents.com or at the gate. 

4. Getting there should be easier, safer…

If you are traveling this holiday, you will find the roads a little less crowded by construction work but more closely monitored by the NC Highway Patrol.

The N.C. Department of Transportation announced plans to open lanes that have been closed for construction on interstates and federal and state highways, today and through Dec. 28 and again Dec. 31 through Jan. 4. That does not include bridge replacement or long-term work where barricades can’t be removed.

Before traveling, you can check the status of a route at DriveNC.gov. The NCHP is increasing its presence on heavily traveled state roads to promote safety and assist motorists. But that also means a crackdown on those driving while impaired through the “Booze It & Lose It” program. NCHP reminds drivers to ensure a safe ride home and encourages designated drivers to avoid alcohol and take that responsibility seriously. NCHP promises “extensive enforcement of impaired-driving laws.”

5. And cheaper

It’s Christmas week, and the usual trend of rising gasoline prices around holidays isn’t happening.

The average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the Greensboro area has fallen by 2.1 cents in the past week to $3.08, GasBuddy.com reported. Winston-Salem’s average is a little higher ($3.12), but its decline is greater (5.5 cents).

GasBuddy surveyed 586 stations in the area and found prices to be 11.7 cents per gallon lower than a month ago but $1.04 higher than in 2020. Prices range from $2.76 to $3.92, which matches the highest in North Carolina.

6. Surviving the COVID Christmas

And no matter if you travel or not, you likely will have to deal with COVID-19 and omicron and how they affect planned gatherings.

Duffy & Duffy, a medical malpractice law firm in New York, commissioned a survey of 3,758 respondents to ask how people will deal with unvaccinated family members who might be around their elderly relatives. Nearly 2 out of 3 (63%) of the respondents from North Carolina said they would consider not inviting unvaccinated guests to their family get-togethers.

Such decisions and the general frantic nature of the holidays could cause duress, of course, and David Gutterman, a clinical psychologist with LeBauer Behavioral Medicine, offers four tips for getting through the COVID-19-infected holidays:

  • Have reasonable expectations for the season. the following advice for navigating the holidays this year. Reinforce gratitude.
  • Set expectations about safety at holiday gatherings. Talk to each other ahead of time about what to expect.
  • Don’t dwell on disappointments. Focus on new experiences.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, reach out for support.