Life and Laughter
Joy to the Whirled
By Peri Kinder
For a holiday that screams “Joy!” it seems perplexing that I meet some of the grumpiest people in the world during the Christmas season. Exhausted cashiers, strung-out mothers, screeching children and Jack-Danieled Santas seem to collapse their way through December, too stressed to enjoy any type of holly, jolly Christmas.
Frazzled school teachers dread the beginning of each day in December, as hyped-up students come barreling into class with eyes glassy from lack of sleep because they’re SO EXCITED for Christmas morning.But by December 12, and often earlier, children are nearly catatonic as they realize Christmas will NEVER come. Their emotions range from absolute fury while watching a TV commercial promoting the latest hot toy to overwhelming sadness that Christmas is still more than 10 days away. Might as well be forever.
Mothers/wives are frantically decorating, baking, wrapping, shopping, crafting, dieting, drinking, cleaning and sobbing into their homemade Christmas dish towels, trying to hold it together long enough to survive the chaos of Christmas day. Their voices get louder and shriekier as the month plods along. Fathers/husbands are . . . well, I’m not sure what fathers/husbands are doing. Watching football? They’ll start/finish their shopping on Christmas Eve.
Teens trudge through the month, connected to their iPods, trying not to act excited, but putting in requests for new iPads, iPhones, iMoney, iCredit Cards, etc. They refuse to show any enthusiasm or emotion about the holiday. Not cool.
While standing in line at Walmart, I mistakenly smiled at the woman behind me. I guess she thought I was either judging or ridiculing her because she acted like I had stabbed her dog. She stormed off in a huff to stand behind someone who was NOT going to smile in her direction. Lesson learned.
We drop a few coins in the Salvation Army bucket or buy an extra pair of socks for the local Sub for Santa, call it good for the “charity” aspect of the holiday and harrumph our way through the rest of the month trying not to make eye contact with any other human being. We might as well mutter, “Bah, humbug” under our breath.
Shouldn’t a holiday based on peace, love and charity make us feel good instead of homicidal? Shouldn’t we feel like we’re being wrapped in a warm blanket instead of whirled around in a Magic Bullet? (On sale at most department stores.)
Maybe we’re just trying too hard. We picture our families harmonizing Christmas carols around grandma’s heirloom piano, even though no one plays the piano, and no one can carry a tune. We expect grateful children opening packages one at a time on Christmas morning, exclaiming their great thanks with tears in their twinkling eyes. Instead, we get a frenzy of present attacks, followed by, “What else do I get?” We presume our spouses will notice all the hard work we’ve put into making this holiday the BEST ONE EVER!!! Then we’re despondent when they don’t.
Perhaps it’s time to step back, unclench our fists and ask what’s important. Is it necessary to make every cookie and candy recipe in your cookbook? (Well, for me, the answer is “yes.”) Do you need to buy presents for EVERY person you’ve ever met? Do you need to attend every festival, concert, sale and parade, or will your family appreciate you being NOT psychotic this year during the holiday?
As for me, I’m going to keep smiling at complete strangers, send holiday cards that promote “Peace,” give a schoolteacher a hug, and even refill Santa’s flask if necessary. Instead of screaming “Joy!” let’s create it.