In order to stress the importance and insanity of this time, I came up with the following quick explanation for the (American) Jewishly clueless:
"Imagine having Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years in four weeks. ...And add a couple of days to each. And then make one of them a week long."(If you've had prior conversations about Shabbat, you can add the part about most of those days having Shabbat-like restrictions.)
I've been surprised at how effective this explanation is. Clearly I never celebrated any of those holidays properly!