Let the rat race begin! Yes, folks, it’s that time of year. Officially known as “The Holidays”. No sooner do you have your jack-o-lantern carved than you have to start thinking about your Thanksgiving menu, while listening to Christmas carols and thinking about your New Years resolutions. It’s time to think of spending time with family, some of whom we don’t get along with that well. It’s the stuff that movies like Christmas Vacation and Home for the Holidays are made of. It’s funny when we see it on the big screen, but not so pleasant should cousin Ed’s dilapidated RV pull into our own driveway.
We are fed mixed messages this time of year. On one hand we are told that the over-commercialization of the season is largely responsible for us feeling overwhelmed, and that we should step back and try for quiet time that reflects on the true meaning of the day. Then we start hearing angry stories and receive chain emails filled with accusations of plots to take the Christ out of Christmas or take Christmas away entirely, based on people giving one another the wrong holiday- excuse me- CHRISTMAS greetings. There is ranting about stores having the audacity not to decorate properly or to recognize non-traditional beliefs or to sell more cards featuring Santa or pinecones than Mary and her newborn. There is hateful vitriol aimed at anyone who is not doing Christmas the way Christmas should be done.
Did you know that Colonial Americans considered Christmas trees a pagan mockery of Christmas? In fact, in 1851 a pastor decorated a tree in his church and had his life threatened by parishioners? It wasn’t until Victorian times that Christmas trees became widely accepted in this country. Now, if we don’t have a tree we are considered to be a Scrooge of sorts. My daughter, who has asthma attacks from pine, had a few nasty comments thrown her way about “ruining Christmas” for my grandson due to her lack of a tree. Maybe watching his mother gasping for breath would have upset him more than the lack of said tree?
With the economy recovering at a slow pace, many of us are stressed out about the financial impact the holidays will have on our already strained budgets. Try this little experiment: Ask your family to tell you what they received from you for Christmas last year. You may be surprised to learn they don’t remember. I was stunned the year I decided not to spend days polishing my grandmother’s antique silverware and setting the table with her heirloom china. Instead I used biodegradable paper plates. And NOBODY CARED! We still had fun. Christmas still happened! It was like a page straight from Dr Suess: “Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was singing- without any presents at all! He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming, it came! Somehow or other…. it came just the same.