The turkeys have been sacrificed. The pumpkins have been pied. It is the official start of the holiday season. I like to think of it as Jingle Bell Ragnarök.
I think it is pretty clear that as an adult, I suffer from a little bit of Grinch syndrome when it comes to the holidays. I liked them fine as a kid. Then they just turned into one of those things you don’t look forward to so much as get through. You spend money you don’t have. You have the obligated time with relatives that you don’t speak to the rest of the year. And of course, you get to listen to people all over point out how their holiday is better or their holiday is overlooked or under attack or blah blah fart fart blah.
I don’t like this feeling. I actually really want to enjoy this time of year. So in the past couple of years I have been trying to focus on the things about the holidays that I like or the things I’ve added to make it better. I will share those in hopes that maybe this will help the festively impaired like myself.
1) Holiday Reading: I love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. My fellow fans will not be surprised that I have made it a personal tradition to reread Hogfather during this season. This year I plan to follow it up with another read of Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel. Should the mood strike me afterwards I may just reread L. Frank Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. These are all great books I recommend anytime but particularly now.
2) Little Family: I will clarify that I’m not talking about the big holiday extravaganza with way too many relatives. Or hanging out with the relatives you have little in common with. Oh, I will be doing those things and being an introverted personality, those exhaust me. However, my wife loves Christmas. And I have two little girls who are just starting to experience the holidays. Phoebe is old enough that she gets very excited about it, which I honestly love. This helps me remember that at one point I would look forward to Christmas. So now, I look forward to her being excited. I look forward to Zoe getting excited. Also, I have a few close friends who we try to include in our holiday plans. One is going to be spending Christmas with us and that makes me very happy. When I think on the small-scale and focus on the family I helped build it makes things special again.
3) Eggnog Ice cream: I like eggnog. I like ice cream. This is a no-brainer.
4) Seasonal Viewing: I have a soft spot for the nostalgic TV specials, like the Rankin-Bass classics and the animated Grinch. I am not particularly religious, but I love “A Charlie Brown Christmas” so very much. I have it on DVD in addition to “Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas” and “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street”. Then there are the holiday movies that will be on constantly. I like “Elf” so I make a point to try to catch that. I also am a firm believer that “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is both a Halloween and Christmas movie. I will accept no argument here!
5) Avoid the Mall Crazy: I think part of my holiday grumbling comes from having spent too much time in the customer service industry, especially retail. Do you want to see some of the worst of humanity? Work in retail during the holidays and it will happen. Now that this is no longer me, I intend to spend as little time in malls as possible. Yes, there is a little shopping left that needs to be done. If I can’t get it online or at a small store, then I will brave the mall. And I will be as nice as I can to everyone working.
6) Thank the Greetings: People can wish me whatever the hell they want. I have no issue with Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, or anything. Wish me a Festive Goat-Wrestling Day if that’s your thing. I appreciate any well wishes that you care to take the time to give me. I will thank you and wish the same to you.
The last thing I want to say is I’m well aware that there are much bigger issues around than my own curmudgeonly leanings. There are people who want to spend this time of year with others and they can’t. There are people who feel completely justified in being a modern Scrooge and will never change, no matter how many ghosts haunt the crap out of them. But if you are like me, and you want to enjoy the holidays but have trouble doing so then maybe this gives you some ideas. So Happy Whatever and may this be the year our hearts grow three sizes. Just not literally. That would be bad.