If you’re like me, this time of year you start seeing articles on how to have a stress-free holiday, create meaningful holiday traditions, nurture yourself during the holidays, and so on. You start thinking about how to get things done ahead of time, how to juggle all the events and parties, and how to be better at everything. And if you’re like me, you start to feel a lot of pressure and like you may be a downright failure when it comes to having holiday fun.
It all starts with Halloween. Now instead of just a simple jack-o-lantern, you’ve got to decorate the entire yard, littering it with fiberglass cobwebs, lighted witches, little ghosts in the trees, and bloodied hands that move when their motion detectors are activated. And of course you have to get the Trick or Treat candy. Lots of it. And it better be the Hershey’s, not the “milk chocolate food” at the Dollar Store.
Around Halloween, you also start preparing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, even New Year’s. You buy, buy, buy and plan, plan, plan! The American culture of consumption consumes you and then belches, satisfied.
You work yourself into a veritable stress-frenzy! Here are some tips on how you can have the most stressful holiday imaginable:
1. Be a perfectionist. In the kitchen, this means making everything from scratch. You wouldn’t dare use one of those horrible mixes would you?? Doesn’t your family deserve only the very best?
2. Take Martha Stewart’s lead and make everything you use to decorate. Grow your own holly. Sculpt your own menorah. Cut out your very own doilies in beautiful snowflake patterns, each one a completely original design. Sew the stockings-no, crochet them by hand-for your friends, your neighbors, their friends, and for your entire family (first cousins to third of course). Don’t forget your step-family or your godchild either. Or Bubbles, the goldfish.
3. Wait until 11 pm on Christmas Eve to do all your shopping. Don’t you dare buy anything before then! Have a fabulous time fighting for a parking space at the mall, and then enjoy the rush of buying stuff your loved ones will gladly give to Goodwill.
4. Whatever you do, don’t give anything to charity. Don’t cook at the soup kitchen, don’t create an angel tree for donations of gifts for needy children. Don’t put a nickel in the Salvation Army’s bucket. Don’t do anything but contemplate the bump on the end of your nose.
5. Get really, really worried about that bump. It seems to have changed shape. What if it’s cancerous??? Do research on skin cancer for hours and neglect your family while you worry about your “cancer”.
6. Spend the holidays with your least favorite family members, the ones who wouldn’t mind backing over you when they cruise out of your driveway. Hey, what are family for?
7. Forget old friends. They’re from the past and the past is past. Live in the present. Don’t get nostalgic, and for goodness sakes, don’t even think about those who have died. Life is for the living. Forget about everyone else.
8. Finally, refuse to believe in reindeer, Santa Claus, Jack Frost, the Grinch, and any of the other magical things about the holidays. Be sure to tell everyone that those are just cultural icons. And whatever you do, don’t think about what the holidays meant for you when you were a child. Bah, humbug!
I guarantee that if you follow all of these tips, you’ll not only ruin your holiday season, you’ll also ruin everyone else’s around you! So, give it a try. Or maybe, just maybe, if you’d like to enjoy the holidays (a novel idea these days!), you could just spend them visiting, playing games, exchanging stories, looking at old photos, reminiscing, and TALKING with your loved ones.
If you really want to be radical, you could unplug the TV, turn off the computer, and bury your cell phone in the back yard. And if you want to be downright revolutionary, you could stop the gift-giving frenzy and give the gift of love, heart full listening, beautiful caroling, and funny family stories to those you care about–and yourself.
It’s your choice, isn’t it?