A Slightly Cynical Look at the Ups and Downs of Christmas

16 Dec

4 things I hate about Christmas

(1) The long lines

Growing up in Pana, IL, we had to drive 40 minutes to Decatur to Christmas shop. For me it was like crossing over into a different universe. Nothing surprised me in Decatur. I expected long lines at the mall, in Venture, K-Mart, everywhere. Now that I live in a place people come to shop (though Edwardsville is no St. Louis or Fairview Heights), I can get caught holding just a loaf of bread and toothpaste in a crazy-long line of Christmas gift buyers at Target.

(2) Poverty and the pressure to spend

If you’re struggling this year and your Christmas budget was slashed, be thankful. People lose their friggin’ heads this time of year. We should all cut back. Kids won’t grow up to be serial killers just because they didn’t get that Xbox when they were twelve. Spend extra time with your kids. It’s all they really want anyway.

(3) Gluttony

The average American consumes five to seven thousand calories on Christmas day and will gain three to five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. People! Come on! Put. Down. The. Fork.

(4) Memories of certain Christmas things

How lucky my girls are to have what I didn’t: a father who doesn’t see Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as opportunities to get hammered. No slurred words. No fighting. No yelling. No crying. No tension.

4 things I love about Christmas

(1) Other people getting stressed.

Okay, I’m not talking about the people who don’t have enough money to buy anything for their kids or the people who are haunted by that Christmas when dad dressed up as Santa and got stuck and died in the chimney. It’s just mildly entertaining to see people freak out this time of year. They try to get everything “just right.” The perfect gift. The perfect tree with the evenly spaced rows of lights. Professionally wrapped gifts. Mountains of food. The outside of the house has been entered into an unofficial Christmas display competition. Just chill out. I picked out our “real” tree ($25) from Lowes in 30 seconds on Monday. It’s not the best-looking thing, it’s barely taller than me, but it’s working out just fine. I had that baby lit up in 120 seconds with three strands of clear lights. Don’t fuss on stuff, man. Maybe even let your kids do it the way they want. When you feel your right arm start to shake and your mouth opens to say “Hey, wouldn’t it be better if . . . ” just punch yourself in the face and let it go.

(2) Early Christmas morning.

Talk about pumped up. I remember the way I felt on Christmas morning, lying in bed waiting for mom to tell me “it’s time.” Give a kid some cocaine. Yeah, that’s how I felt, like I had spent the night smoking crack. I still feel like that, but now it’s not because I’m about to get a bunch of new stuff. It’s about the joy on the girls’ faces.

(3) A new moderation

I talked about gluttony above, and, well, I once thought I had to have a serving of ALL the deserts. I remember the bellyaches. This year on Thanksgiving, after the big meal, I could have ran three miles. As I shadow boxed around the family room, being silly with the kids, I stopped and noticed the adults passed out with pumpkin pie caked into nostrils, wine spilled down fronts, tongues hung from mouths. Don’t follow the crowd, people. I exaggerate. But, really, it’s nice to feel good.

(4) It finally ends

The holidays are fun and all, but it’s nice when January rolls ’round and people resolve to improve their lives. There’s something cool about an entire country collectively waking up on the second day of the year and going “Holy shit, I need to get my head out of my ass.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: