You know how when you use those teeth whitening stripes they make your teeth extra sensitive to cold and pain? Like you’re normally fine eating ice cream and drinking soda, but after two weeks of white strips either is excruciating? I develop a similar sensitivity to ‘over-sentimentality’ the closer it gets to Christmas. Usually I can sit through an entire Hallmark commercial with just a slight wince, but around Christmastime merely being in same room as a Precious Moments Nativity scene tends to activate my gag reflex.
Yep, I’m a scrooge. And with Thanksgiving early this year and the general public intent on celebrating for a full 6 weeks before we actually partake in my least favorite holiday, I’m already completely wound up about how much I want to take your decorative Santa-wearing-jams lawn statue, douse it in lighter fluid and burn it in effigy.
So I thought I’d get this out of the way before we get too close in and people are drunk enough on eggnog they decide it’s a good idea to lynch me.
Here are my complaints about Christmas:
1. When we were kids, Christmas was all about getting up early to open presents and then having friends and family over all day to just eat and hang out. We had new outfits to wear and new books to read and there was like a whole bunch of junk food out for us to gorge ourselves on. Usually by the evening, when the festivities had tapered off, we would all go see a movie together (or just rent a movie and fall asleep on the couch). It was fun and carefree, is the point.
But now that I’m the mom, I’m the facilitator of all things fun and amazing. It’s my responsibility to ensure a joyous and happy day for everyone. It’s SO MUCH PRESSURE. If my kids don’t feel like the whole thing is magical and fantastic, there’s really no one to blame but me. All I want for Christmas is to not ruin Christmas for everyone else. Is that too much to ask?
2. I feel like I need to brainstorm The Perfect Gift for all 892 people on my list. I never shop early because you can’t just buy The Perfect Gift when it’s on sale in June or the day after Thanksgiving. No, you have to be struck with inspiration to find the gift that simultaneously reflects how much you care and shows that you know what he or she is really interested in and might love. That takes true effort and genius. You can’t rush genius.
But of course once it gets to December 22nd and my head is exploding with the stress of things that haven’t been accomplished, 75% of the people on my list end up getting The Mediocre Gift I Found At The Discount Mall Near My House rather than The Perfect Gift.
Every year I tell myself, ‘Start early! Get it done now!’ and every year myself says back to me, ‘I just need some time for it to marinate in my brain. Then I’ll know just exactly what to buy for the men in my family that isn’t an old-fashioned shaving kit or tickets to a sporting event they probably don’t give a shit about.’
3. I actually sort of like driving around looking at Christmas lights (especially in the passenger seat with a peppermint mocha liberally spiked with peppermint schnapps). However, to get even a string of small, tasteful white lights up on my house, I have to have this fight with my husband:
Me: Can you put up Christmas lights this year?
Jason: Sure. As long as you arrange for me to have a large block of time on a weekend during which I am responsible for nothing else. Just point me in the direction of that block of time and don’t bother me at all during it.
Me: OK, that sounds good. But just so you know, I can no longer take the kids to the doctor or make dinner unless I have an appropriate block of time during which to do this where I’m not responsible for anything else and no one bothers me. So the kids won’t be looked after medically and we won’t be eating dinner until you can arrange that for me, cool?
And that argument is tedious and I’m tired of having it. So sometimes I just don’t and then our house is bare and my kids are sad and feel like the holiday is magic-less.
4. THE MUSIC IS AWFUL. No, like really THE WORST. If I hear a sleighbell I start to twitch. Any mention of a ‘yule log’ set to a tinkly tune causes me to repeatedly smack myself on the side of the head until I’ve gone deaf and it can no longer torture me. Stop the madness, People.
(Except for Peace On Earth sung in a round to the lighting of candles at the midnight service at church. That makes me a little misty just thinking about. And also The 12 Days of Christmas, but only because Gray and I sing it 1000 times as loud and as fast as we can every year even though we can never remember the order of the last 5. OK, some of the songs are acceptable. But so many others are so bad they ruin it for all Christmas music.)
5. Oh the Christmas Cards. The horrible, never-ending process of mailing cards to my 200 closest friends, relatives, colleagues and clients. My very least favorite part of Christmas. So far this year I’ve done not a single thing to prepare for this beast of a project. No family picture, no calendars ordered, no contact database updated. I just typed out all of the steps it will take to get them into people’s houses, but I almost hung myself with a holiday-patterned tie over the tedium of it all, so I figured I shouldn’t put you all through it. Just know it involves a lot of death threats, bribery and paper-cuts on my tongue, which, now that I think about it, isn’t really that different from anything else in my life. Just kill me now.
I think that’s mostly it. Those are the worst parts of it. Maybe I just needed to vent it all and now I’ll be able to get through the holidays with a smile on my face. *Snort* I know. That was a funny idea, right?