If seeing this woman’s excessively large grin makes you want to snap her head off like an overbaked gingerbread cookie, you’ve come to the right place!
Holidays are about family
and friends, good food and drink, and, for a few pious souls, religion. They
are about generosity, love, friendship, and devotion. They bring light and
cheer to an otherwise dismal time of year.
Then why on Rudolph’s nose
do we stress so much about them? Let’s just list a few of the joyous tasks we
add to our already crazy to-do lists this time of year, and I think it becomes
1. Christmas cards. We
love getting them. Those red envelopes in the mailbox make us smile almost as
much as seeing our friend’s dog donning another ridiculous elf costume on the
photo inside. Hearing from relatives we wouldn’t recognize if we hit them with
our sleigh is oh, so sweet. Until the guilt creeps in slyer than the Grinch on
Christmas eve, and we realize we really ought to send a return card. You can
try the e-card, the Facebook post, the “I’m donating money to charity instead
of buying stamps this year” route, but it never works. That fridge full of
flapping cards will mock you like an evil elf-on-the-shelf until you finally
suck it up and send your own cards, now too late to be on time, to the
thoughtless people who started this awful chain letter ritual to begin with.
2. The cookie swap. Who
wouldn’t love going to a party centered around eating confections? What on
earth could go wrong here? Other than a sugar rush, there’s no headache to be
had just as long as…you have hours of your life to devote to finding the
perfect recipe on Pinterest, which no one else invited to the swap already
pinned; you didn’t forget one lousy ingredient and have to run to the store at
8 pm the night before in your pj pants, where you will undoubtedly run into the
hot guy from across the hall; the cookies don’t burn, stick, or otherwise suck;
and you remembered your mistake from the year before and purchased enough toss-away
Tupperware to transport the crispy critters. Really, why has no one invented a
wine swap where the only things baked would be the guests and the Brie?
3. The Christmas Tree.
This might not pose a problem to those who didn’t inherit a few too many anal
genes. But I did. Three hours of arranging branches literally left my hands
scratched and bleeding. That I didn’t poke out an eye (a pricey thing to do two
weeks after LASIK) trying to reach those ever-important inner branches was a
Christmas miracle worthy of a Hallmark movie. Now I’ll spend three weeks
rearranging ornaments, which are themed and need to go on the tree and come off
the tree in a particular order, because clearly after such precision placement
they couldn’t possibly look good. And for what? For no one but me to see it for
more than four hours before taking it all down. But could I ever go treeless?
Are there snowballs in hell?
4. Gift giving. There’s no
better joy than seeing someone’s eyes light up as she opens that perfect
present. And no greater pain than trying to find it. Assuming you know what
someone on your list wants, there’s finding where it’s sold. You hope to God,
which we’ve renamed Amazon, that it can be found online, so you don’t have to
deal with the rest of the state’s grumpy shoppers who can’t park, block every
aisle, and pay with check, which they will insist on writing out themselves
despite the fact nearly every register in the world has been able to print them
for decades. Then you curse when you do find it online only to discover it’s
backordered, out of stock, or comes crushed after the UPS driver bowled it down
the driveway. The gift card display at the grocery store is looking good, isn’t
5. Party overload. Aside
from the hangover headaches parties filled with crazy co-workers and crazier
relatives are bound to cause, there are other stresses to be reckoned with. For
couples it’s the sheer amount of obligations. His work. Her work. His family.
Her family. There aren’t enough weekend nights in December. Add to that the
fact babysitters expect to be paid an hourly rate above what most neurosurgeons
make, so that they’ll need to re-mortgage the house to pay for it all, and it’s
no wonder they’re fighting over who has to be the designated driver. And if you
think we singles have it easy, remember we need to put up with the nauseating
randy looks you’re giving your spouse when you realize your mom has the kids
and you’re going to be alone for the first time since the last holiday. No one
wants to hear the story of why your daughter born in September is named Holly.
6. And finally,
pine-scented candles. Okay, they’re not particularly evil, although after
seeing how expensive they’ve become, I’m inclined to think Yankee Candle may
have been bought out by the conglomerate of Scrooge and Marley. They just
literally give me a headache.
So why do we it? Why
accept the invites, send the cards, burn, uh, bake the cookies, and trim the
tree? It’s not because we all bought stock in the company that manufactures Aleve
this year. We go crazy around the holidays, because the holidays really are
about family and friends, generosity and love. If we didn’t love the people we
spend the holidays with, even the crazy card senders and wacky co-workers, we
wouldn’t care enough about the little things to let them bother us. But we do
care, and the little things are the way we show others we care. So let it out;
swear at the strand of lights that won’t stay on or the festive four-hour
recipe from the pits of Pinterest hell, but then toss both in the fire, and sit
down with those people great enough to make it all worth it.