December 23, 2009

Holiday Attitude Adjustment

It's a couple days before Christmas, and for those who celebrate it (or any other winter-time holiday), there's a lot of pressure right now to be feeling jolly. 'Tis the season, right?

I know for myself, there are lots of individual moments of peace and joy and happiness that occur on or around the holidays. I enjoy the traditional rituals and parties, the champagne and the cookies, and the good times with family and friends.

But somehow there's this expectation that for weeks and weeks we're supposed to be building up ever-increasing amounts of holiday cheer, until we reach an almost orgasmic burst of seasonal joy on a particular day, right around the time we exchange presents. To be followed, about a week later, by another burst of overwhelming ecstasy precisely calibrated to occur when the clock strikes midnight on Dec 31st.

The problem? I'm just not able to experience quite that much happiness on cue, all in a pre-determined time frame. Maybe I'd rather spread my happiness out all year 'round, and perhaps allow it to occur a little more spontaneously.

On the other hand, there is something about ritual gatherings that makes me want to at least try to be more upbeat than usual. Because who wants to be a Grinch, a Scrooge, or a Crab and put a damper on other people's festive season?

And so it occurred to me that to deal with the Forced Christmas Cheer issue, maybe I could use the same motivational system I just developed to deal with my new, involuntary cross-training regimen. Remember Cognitive Restructuring, Accentuating Positivity®?

I'm thinking maybe I should try to use the same C.R.A.P.® approach to better appreciate the holiday season!

So here's an attempt to forcibly replace each cranky holiday thought with more cheerful way of looking at things.

Holiday observation #1: I couldn't find the perfect gifts for everyone on my Christmas list. Some of them were already sold out, and unfortunately, some of them haven't even been invented yet. When are they ever gonna get around to making a cute little robot that makes coffee and brings it to you in the morning, anyway?

Oh wait, here it is. Didn't see it at Macy's though.

But on the bright side: If you're going to pick a year to come up short on gifts, this is a good one! With the sucky economy, everyone is trying to scale back on gifts. There's a lot more emphasis on the meaningful emotional stuff, like love and laughter and gratitude and togetherness, blah blah blah. So just pretend your inability to find and purchase appropriate gifts was on purpose, as a protest against the insidious commercialization of the holidays!

Holiday observation #2: I hate Christmas carols. Well, I do like a few of them--the really old, vaguely melancholy kind that sound grave and beautiful. Silly modern ones like Frosty the Snowman make me want to hurl. (And let's not even get started on "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' For Christmas," one of the most irritating holiday songs ever written).

But on the bright side: Harboring an intense and irrational dislike of Christmas carols is an effective way to stay out of malls and other retail spaces when they are the most crowded and unpleasant! There is no Christmas music online, you can shop there safely. Plus, unlike other annoying forms of noise pollution, Christmas carols have a time limit. Of course, it would be nice if the allowable period were more reasonable, like December 24th-25th. But at least sometime in January they usually stop. Jackhammers and car alarms, on the other hand, know no season.

Holiday observation #3: People who don't normally bake yummy cookies or fudge, or buy you See's candy, or otherwise tempt you with delicious concoctions made of butter and sugar, tend to do so during the holidays because they know you love these things and they want to be nice to you. This makes it hard to avoid consumption of said yummy things.

But on the bright side: You love treats! They make you extraordinarily happy. And there's nothing wrong with having a cookie or two, or a piece of candy, as long as you don't scarf them all up in a few days. Perhaps it's time to reacquaint yourself with the food-preserving properties of the refrigerator and freezer? These modern conveniences allow you to consume a little bit of your favorite treats over a long period of time.

Holiday observation #4: Many Christmas decorations are ugly and tacky. And, how come no one seems to care that red and green are clashing colors and look kinda lousy together?

But on the bright side: Some Christmas decorations are really quite lovely to look at.

Photo: Canadian Living, via Urban Debris Artlog

And anyway, who says tacky is a bad thing?

Peeing Santa photo: Huffington Post

So do any of you sometimes need to give yourself a pep-talk, or are the holidays pretty much all good?

(And if I don't pop in again before Christmas, have a wonderful holiday if you're celebrating it!)


  1. Bring on the C.R.A.P. The Christmas music tends to get to me, too. That said, treats are good.
    I don't have anything to add other than Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  2. Maybe my Christmas message will cheer you up! Otherwise, CRAP works for me :-)

  3. Have a Christmas, Crabby! Oh, wait.....


    Merry Christmas to you and the Lobster! (and the "Police Stopped My Car" song was, at least, amusing, no?)

  4. I always need to muster the jolly spirit. I hate this time of the year so I can only get a minimum amount of jolliness. In any case, happy holidays!


  5. I definitely could use some C.R.A.P. in my life, my humbugification seems to be increasing daily. I don't think that the "holiday" season is meant for those who live alone. Attitude Adjustment indeed!

  6. I hate the winter, and since christmas falls in the winter I hate it by proxy.

    But I really like buying things. It fulfills my primal need to kill things and bring them home. Except buy substitutes kill in these modern times. And Christmas is a perfect excuse to buy a TON of things. I also like giving presents. Which you get to do too! So I guess you could say I really like the commercial side of christmas.

    And I'm right there with you on Christmas music. I really like the old classical choral music, but all this new sexed up santa music is disturbing.

  7. I've taken to wearing my headphones when I have to go to a store. I'd rather listen to a "Two Fit Chicks" podcast than Frosty the Snowman!
    (Um... not that I wouldn't love a Cranky Fitness podcast with equal fervor... no favoritism here...)

  8. I can't believe how many horrible versions of Oh Holy Night there are. I like done classically by a great vocalist with choir. How rare is that?

  9. Crabby? Too many sweets with butter? Don't worry. Crabs are best with butter. :)

    I also was having trouble finding a gift to give for Christmas. But then I found a wonderful exercise tool that supposedly works and is hilarious to watch. I even put a video of it on my blog. I'm going to get one for hubby. Shake Weight. Google it or check out the video I posted. LOL

    Have a wonderful holiday. :) Cheers

  10. GREAT!

    You know, I sent that peeing Santa around to all my friends! Somebody sent it to me a few days ago & I thought it might offend some if I put it on my blog. I LOVE that you put it on there Crabby. My email had this on it though: Once again,
    I was disqualified from my neighborhood's "Best
    Decorated House" contest due to my bad attitude!

    On a serious note though, I do think the expectations of this season & moving into, for some, a better 2010 stress people out.

    Also, for me, with many family members gone, it sometimes is hard BUT we just try to remember the good times.

    I hope you have a wonderful.. or cranky holiday.. whichever you prefer! :-)

    PS: I got my hubby Sprinkles cupcakes for his bday today!

  11. I have been bracing myself for Friday since the day after Thanksgiving. Good thing there's plenty of booze around at the holidaze too or else I'd really be white-knuckling it.

    Have yourself (and the Lobster) a little Christmas - and I mean that in the nicest of ways.

  12. I love Christmas but my husband is a humbug. It balances out I think. I have learned to deal with the holiday stress and try and plan things out and get gifts and things well early to avoid the crowds and cranky people. Largely it's been possible this year. There's been very little shopping with the hubs who hates at the best of times...usually the spacing out is for both of our sanities. I keep the holiday tunes to my ipod until Christmas day (then I play them all day...oh yeah) out of humbug respect.

    I love the holiday blinky lights, and can put up whatever I like, providing hubs doesn't ahve to help. He loves them once they're up...he jsut hangs out and has nog with me while I set up the lights. As a bonus, this year (after years of askign about it) the family is either making gifts and drawn names for gifts or donating to charity on each other's's such a stress relief. I've enjoyed this year much more than others.
    This christmas day I can be alone with my husband drinking nog all day. First year ever with no obligations or company...awesome :)

    Merry Christmas to you and the Lobster.

  13. Most of the time I'm happy with the holidays. But some years I can be lonely for a significant other and it gets me down. My poor grandmother gets down every year at christmas time because my grandfather is gone. It's a tough time of year for many.

  14. I showed that photo of the cat to my cat, telling her to be glad she lives with someone who has RESPECT for her dignity! She could care less :-)

  15. You know me, I've been whining for a good two months.

  16. I also love the grave, melancholy carols and despise and destest the happy, peppy ones. ("Winter Wonderland" makes me want to put my fist through a wall. Or at least scream really loudly.)

    But on the bright side, it means that I have learned approximately EVERY SINGLE OBSCURE SOLEMN CHRISTMAS CAROL EVER WRITTEN. Plus all the verses to said carols. And the descants. And some of the harmonies. Thus making me a must-have at every caroling party. (Yes, I've been to caroling parties. Stop laughing at me! I have THEATRE FRIENDS, OK?! WE DO THAT KIND OF THING! ;D)

  17. I am a ridiculously cheerful person all year round, so the holiday season produces no noticeable effect on me.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  18. Crabby,

    I'm with you! PLEASE beloved friends and fam, STOP it with the CHOCOLATE already--sheesh!

    Hope you and the Lobster have a joyous Christmas!

  19. Crabby,
    Years ago, I stopped doing Christmas cards and scaled back on my gift purchases. Going so far as purchasing gifts for Salvation Army kids and giving that angel to the adults that have everything.

    I didn't put out the outside decorations this year and only my favorites on the mantel, since this is the first year in 10 years that I actually have a mantel.

    Today, at work, with many off for the holidays I listened to ACDC, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Annie Lennox in protest of Christmas carols.

    But I still enjoy the holidays, watching the little kids and their joy! And as far as New Year's, I usually don't make it to the witching hour anymore....

    But I still agree with your attitude about CRAP. There is something good in all the muck.

    Have a joyous holiday

  20. Your #2 item? Couldn't agree more!! Right down to the love of the melancholy carol. God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman was always my fave as a kid because it sounded so very grave. Merry Christmas Crabby!

  21. Sometimes I have a difficult time mustering up the "spirit of the season" also, but that last picture helped!

    Have a blessed and Merry Christmas.

  22. Ah, Christmas! That joyous time of year when I must buy gifts for people who I don't much like, in return for gifts of things I don't want.

    Ah, Noel! Obligatory time spent with people who, were we not blood kin, I wouldn't want to spend more than half an hour with, let alone the whole frickin' day.

    Ah, the holiday season! Christmas songs in every store, reducing usually-happy me to a bundle of jangled nerves within 2.5 minutes. Thank goodness for online shopping and my sexy UPS guy!

    Ah, the feasting! Surrounded by food I don't care to eat, with family members quick to take offense if I don't stuff my face with crap.

    No, I'm not a total grinch. I treasure holidays that are just me and my husband, exchanging gifts, going for an evening walk to look at lights and generally being cozy together. It's the obligatory merriment that gets me. I'm always so glad when this part of the holiday is over and I can get down to the business of relaxing!

  23. Merry christmas, Crabby, and thanks for holding this great blog together for those of us who need the guidance.


  24. I've definately needed the pep talk this year. It's been one of THOSE years.
    Thanks for the smile :) Happy Holidays (or CRAPpy hoidays!)

  25. I'm afraid I'm one of the annoying ones. My love of the holidays starts early (like mid-October) and doesn't cease until mid-January.

    My favorite holiday music is anything Bing/Nat/Frank/Dean-o and clan. Or the McKenzie Brothers. (See here:

  26. Although I normally love Xmas carols... I seem to be happiest singing them in, oh, July, August, some time like that.

    This year, as I contemplated the lighting of the Christmas tree, an annual task that fills me with dread, I decided I needed attitude adjustment in spades. I put my "The Grinch" CD on and started singing loudly about "arsenic sauce" and "Stink, stank, STUNK!" and "Stuffed the tree up!" and it put me in a VERY GOOD MOOD!

    And then after Christmas dinner, as we wandered back through the casino to the parking lot (No, we DIDN'T gamble on Xmas, it's just where one of the two best restaurants in town is located.) I sang a nice chorus of "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to play on a slot machine today, Hey!"

    Oddly, I kind of enjoy the annual present wrapping marathon. Christmas has never been about the food for me. My family did cheese n' crackers for Xmas dinner.

    Anyway, hope everyone at Cranky Fitness had a great holiday!


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