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Our family has it backwards. Every year, about the time the mall queues its first seasonal song track (August) — the one about the being home for the holidays — we start plotting our exit strategy.

And by early December, when normal people (normal people being defined as "people who don’t consider lockboxes fashion accessories") are in Code Red socializing readiness, we are holding a family meeting in which we map the emergency exits and review the evacuation checklist.

It’s not that there isn’t a certain appeal to living the dream of the sparkling beverage commercial — the one where the 257 handsome friends meet in the lucky hostess’s living room to share the love, laughter and cheese spread.

And it’s not that our family is an antisocial bunch by nature. Rather, sometime during the third quarter of each fiscal year, the real estate family has met its social quota. We are cooked.

For the real estate agent, every day is a party. We mix, we mingle and we meet new friends. We share anecdotes, kiss the babies, and deck the halls. We cherish our friends, of course — our clients — and like good friends, we are there for all of life’s ups and downs six days a week and on Sundays.

Dinnertime, during Superbowl overtime, and on my birthday, time is of the essence. Just like our purchase agreements, days mean days; they all count, and we are always required to be on-call and on.

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But sometimes you just need to disappear.

Vacation. Here we go again.

The plan this year, like every year before, is that the nuclear Bergs will pack up the essentials and retreat to someplace far away — if not a different time zone then a different multiple listing service region. And the plan is that on departure "D-day," we will seamlessly transplant our immediate kinfolk to the remote location and embark on a carefree week of downtime involving nary a property tour or termite inspection.

It’s what we call "The Real Estate-Free Zone," and it’s a thing of myth.

This past weekend, on cue, everyone who has ever contemplated living someplace other than where they do now heard their egg timers go off. I’ve come to believe it’s a nesting thing triggered by holly and half-off sales.

If scientists ever decide to study the phenomenon, I’m certain they will find the culprit to be a mutant DNA strand that looks suspiciously like a gift receipt with my phone number on it.

Undeterred, we continue our push to clear the decks. We know you can’t truly relax with loose ends dangling, but it becomes an avalanche we can’t outrun. …CONTINUED