Shopping, decorating, and running here, there and everywhere to make sure every last holiday item is in place...it's exhausting! Then add in those can't-miss events like the kids' holiday concerts at school, caroling with the Girl Scouts, church pageants, and gift-wrapping marathons. It's time to take a break and treat yourself well. And to do that, there is a magic word you need to remember. That word is...SPA.

Just saying it aloud - SPA - brings a sense of peace and well-being. There is something about a spa treatment that relaxes the body and soothes the soul. The massage, the aromatherapy, the pedicure, the facial...these and many more calming, restorative treatments are the balm for what ails us during this frenetic time of year.

"But I don't like people touching my feet." "I'm shy in front of strangers." "I don't have the time or the patience to sit through a spa day." No matter what her objection, gently convince her that she will love her spa experience. Because she will, I promise.

The signature antioxidant grape-seed treatments at the Finger Lakes Wellness Center & Health Spa in Bath address many of our physical and mental issues. The magicians at the Wellness Center use the antioxidant properties of grapes to penetrate through the skin in body wraps, massages, facials and nail sessions. Grapes contain high concentrations of zinc, iron and calcium that help nourish dry skin and regenerate cells. Aaah, I can already hear my body thanking me.

Further west in Hornell are the pros at Salon 96 + Spa. Relaxation is an art they have fully mastered, from their Ultimate Retreat All Day Package to a simple but restorative manicure. I'm planning to take my husband for their Men's Retreat - a great day of rejuvenating services including a relaxing back treatment, the Men's Facial, a deluxe spa foot treatment and a man's spa manicure, finishing up with "The Tea Tree Experience" and a haircut. (Girls, he just says he doesn't want a spa experience. But he'll love you for it!).

Luckily, you don't have to commit to a full day of spa treatments to feel relaxed and pampered. Call one of the massage centers in the greater Corning area and stop in for 30 minutes or an hour of deep tissue massage or my favorite, a gentle hot stone rub. Check out the tranquil oasis that is Interludes (607.937.8129). Let the massage therapists at Four Feathers (607.936.4528), Steuben Professional Massage (607.936.0578), or A Touch of Tranquility (607.962.3387) work wonders on those knots and tight spots. Or stretch out your stolen moments with a massage plus one of the other facial or body skin treatments offered at The Spa. Other massage studios and practitioners can be found throughout the region.

If you really want to pamper yourself or your favorite someone, why not indulge in a spa package that includes a soak in a tranquil herb bath, a tension-releasing facial, and a hydrotherapy session that restores your energy and vitality. Many local spas offer unique and varied services that will indulge you from head to toe. And why limit yourself to a single afternoon or day? A spa package can include overnight or weekend accommodations in one of the area's unique B&Bs or comfortable hotels. (Fireplace-sitting after a day of spa treatments, anyone?).

Where else but in Corning & the Finger Lakes is relaxation considered one of the "arts"? I recommend that you put a spa experience high on your gift list.