It’s that time of year again!
Time for delicious holiday foodstuffs? Nope. Time for incessantly repeating carols on retail PA systems? Nope. Time to panic? Maybe.
My friend Lori Luza just posted her Annual Holiday Pre-Rant (http://texasbluelime NULL.com/wp/2011/11/16/annual-holiday-pre-rant/). This is not the kind of thing people look forward to, is it? I mean, there’s probably something wrong with me. However, I have to say that I’m relieved that I’m not alone. I used to think very few people “got it” around the holidays. Lori not only re-emphasizes that we really don’t need to hear “Little Drummer Boy” 187 times in the grocery store before Christmas, but that maybe a few of us have different priorities this year.
Picture this: New Orleans, 2004. My husband and I had saved up enough to move to what’s called a “mixed income” neighborhood. To us, this meant “longer walk to the bus stop, but fewer drug dealers.” It was great, but we had pretty much used up all our resources doing it. It was the end of the semester, so the student loan money was running out, and James (http://www NULL.ambardia NULL.com) didn’t really have a high paying job back then. I remember being sad because my grandmother had passed away a couple of months prior. A lot of stuff around late 2004 – 2005 is hazy for me, actually, but I’m going to tell this story anyway.
One night, I saw on the TV page in the newspaper that A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (http://www NULL.imdb NULL.com/title/tt0329737/) was coming on. We decided to splurge on two pizza slices and some tallboys and watch the movie. (Yeah, I know, a beer snob with a tallboy: we ate on $20/week back then. What do you want from me?) The message of the Christmas special, of course, is that as long as you have your family and friends, you have everything that really matters. The problem, I thought, was that throughout the whole movie, a Lexus commercial kept coming on. You know the one where the wife goes outside and there’s a big Lexus outside with a bow on it? (Not the pony one. The other one.) I can’t remember what the narration was: something about “What they really want for Christmas.” It was really depressing. No, not because I couldn’t have a Lexus, but because we were watching this cute holiday movie, and every ten minutes it was being interrupted by a message that said, “Fuck togetherness! What you really need is a Lexus.” Seriously? This is legal? What are we doing to our children? Not only could I not relate to the Lexus commercial, but that year, I could hardly relate to the other gift-giving and traveling commercials, either. The one where the nuclear family shows up to the huge well-lit house and is greeted at the door by three generations of other family members – and a dog – seemed like it came from another planet. And let’s not get started on the jewelry commercials. If “every kiss begins with Kay,” then my husband and I have broken laws in at least six states.
As my friend references in her blog post, even articles aimed at reducing holiday stress can seem like they are aimed at people completely unlike ourselves: What do you get the uncle who has everything? How do you deal with airport delays and visits to two sets of grandparents? I have a reality check for that sort of advice: your average person isn’t worried about that stuff. The average person is worried about whether or not he can even get his kid a present this year. She’s not worried if the pumpkin souffle will collapse; she’s worried that she can’t afford everything on the Christmas dinner shopping list. Another couple could both be laid off; they’d love to be delayed at the airport, because it would mean that they had somehow been able to buy airline tickets to see their families. Your average person may not even have anyone to go visit, and wishes she had to worry about stocking stuffers.
There are many people who face the holiday season with a sense of dread. The airwaves and environment start pummeling us with holiday messages before we even realize what’s going on. Maybe you’re not part of a culture that celebrates any holidays. Stop and think for a minute how it might feel if everyone was shoving Christmas down your throat if you don’t celebrate it. I’ve seen people handle these sorts of issues with a variety of strategies, from weeks of planning to “if it gets done, it gets done, otherwise, who cares?” I have friends who celebrate “Season of Giving” to “Season of Bitching” and everything in between. I hope you celebrate (or don’t celebrate) this season without stress. I hope you find time for personal reflection or at least a little quiet. Most of all, I hope you can keep your priorities at the forefront, and not let the small stuff get in the way.(http://www NULL.linkwithin NULL.com/)