Thursday, December 21, 2006

’Tis The Season

  I won’t say that I understand where Scrooge was coming from, but for those of us over the age of 15, the Christmas season is a stressful time.  Between decking the halls (with more boughs of holly than your neighbor) and enduring the maddening crowds at your local one-stop shopping mecca, it can be difficult to approach the holidays with the same pie-eyed wonder that we did when we were young.

  For me, it started shortly after Thanksgiving this year.  It started in the holiday home décor department, standing before rows of Christmas lights.  As I stood there, between grazing, pre-lighted reindeer and seven-foot inflatable snow globes, I had a decision to make.  Would I allow myself to be outdone by the neighbors again this year, or would I spend my Christmas bonus on reindeer, snow globes, candy canes and carousels that would just take up space in the garage for the next 11 months?  I threw in the towel, and bought enough lights to adorn the rooftop—seven strands—and some of those icicle light thingys for the front porch.  Guess I won’t be winning the United Way home-decorating contest this year.

  Then came the office holiday party, which can typically be tricky things, and the annual gift exchange.  Because I’m in radio, and work for a company that owns four stations, my office party is never short on entertainment.  Imagine 20 or 30 people with, let’s say “strong personalities,” and their dates, packed in to a small banquet room at a very nice restaurant with an open bar.  It’s always entertaining, but I often wonder how so many of us are invited back, year after year.

  Of course Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Christmas shopping.  This year, I managed to pack all of mine into three stress-filled days.  Finding the perfect gift for someone is hard enough, but doing it while creeping through aisles crowded with unfriendly people should have its own Excedrin headache number. 

  Then there’s holiday traffic.  Leaving the crowded stores and hitting the crowded streets is too much for most people to deal with in one lifetime.  I’d love to see the statistics on holiday fender-benders, because in my three days of shopping, I probably saw twenty accidents.  Nothing can put you in the holiday spirit like hearing the words, “Merry Christmas, honey.  I wrecked the car.”

  So let’s assume you survive the shopping and the traffic, and you make it home with your presents.  Then comes the wrapping--paper and ribbon and bows and tissue paper and newspaper and tape and gift boxes and gift bags and gift tags and scissors, strewn from one end of the house to the other, peeling off price tags, remembering gift receipts, hunched over a workspace that’s too low, paper cuts and backaches—for days.

  And then the family shows up.  Because that’s what the holidays are about, right?  Family?  Parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and nieces and nephews.  And cooking—turkey and dressing, rolls and cranberry sauce, gravy and pies. 

  Christmas is a wonderful time.  But it takes a lot of hard work, and sometimes the people around you don’t make it any easier.  I know it’s hard, but this Christmas try to remember what it’s all about—love and peace and patience and goodwill.  I know it’s hard, but don’t ruin it for the rest of us. 

-From Pulse
   December 21, 2006