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!)