If Christmas is supposed to be the happy time of the year, why are we so stressed, anxious and miserable?
Why does so much unpleasant stuff come up in bucket loads during the Christmas holidays? Ever notice how many deaths occur in December? How many people get sick? How many people are divorcing? Fighting? Separating? Angry? Pissed off? Pissed off to the max? People go searching for lost parents or children or take many more drugs, antidepressants or take stupid risks.
Sounds depressing doesn’t it and that’s because the holiday season comes with the evil twins anxiety and stress. We have to buy gifts, send gifts, exchange gifts, go to the odious post office, attend parties that we don’t want to go to, and the beat goes on. I almost went postal the other day waiting for the post office to open. It was ten minutes after eight when a postal worker finally opened the door and said, “Oh, I didn’t know you were out here. I just got here.” Really? You just got to work at exactly at 8:00 am when the doors are supposed to open? We all walked in disgruntled after having bonded for 15 minutes and the postal worker took her time getting to her cubicle and we waited some more.
No wonder the post office is going broke. The hostility was so tangible you could cut it with a knife. Fifteen minutes later, another postal worker sauntered up to her cubicle and after another 5 minutes she said: “May I help the next person.” I was on fire! When I got to her cubicle, she was rude and gave me attitude. Hey, lady, you were late and the crowd was cruising for a bruising. She gave new meaning to “going postal.”
Twenty-one days before Christmas and counting.
The irony is that the holiday season only lasts from Thanksgiving to December 31st – a total of 4 weeks give or take. And if you tack on new years, its 5 weeks – five weeks of gut-grinding toward the finish line of the holiday season.
As a child, I loved the holidays. I looked forward to Christmas and opening presents and showing off my gifts to my friends. But adulthood and grandmother-hood bring another dimensions to the holidays. Some people have loneliness issues because they are not connected to family. I spent more winter holidays alone than I want to think about – sons with their father skiing in Tahoe or Park City or wherever he took them. I stayed home, lonely and depressed, or I went to my parent’s house where my father often went off on a toot and played what I called, “Get the Guest.” Which family member was going to be the subject of his mean sarcasm? What if I were going to be the “guest” again? Where would I go to hide?
With grandchildren and the 8 days of Hanukkah, I’m not as stressed. I’ve learned how to give with an easy love and a pragmatic sensibility. But now I have the problem of each son living in 2 different cities with the subset of grandchildren. I’m on planes a lot during this time of the year. Flying has its own form of stress.
I just want to hang out and stop the insanity. My favorite Christmas was when I went to Jerry’s Deli with friends in Westwood. Then we went to a Spielberg movie. I don’t’ remember which one it was, but it didn’t involve a Christmas tree, a gift, a turkey dinner, a family brawl or a screaming kid.
I had a brief moment of holiday nostalgia yesterday after I got a polish change in preparation for my trip to New Orleans this weekend. I past several stores along the way to my car parked at CVS whose Christmas displays were simply gorgeous. I stopped – something I never do in front of a window – and admired the sentiment and beauty of the message: Holiday season is a time for good cheer, good friends, companionship and giving to others.
At least I think I got the message.