It didn't take long for the Christmas grumpies to set in.
It doesn't take much for me, really. Here's a dirty little secret...now lean in close...closer...I HATE CHRISTMAS! There. I said it. Call me Grinch. Call me Scrooge. But don't dare say you love every single teeny tiny minute of the holidays. Do you honestly like standing in line in an overheated department store behind a woman who wants to argue that the Tommy Hilfiger jeans she's holding came off of the "$9.99 or less" rack to buy a sweater for a picky relative who will either store it in a closet with the tags still on to never ever wear or to exchange the day after Christmas? Do you really? Do you enjoy spending every free evening surrounded by wrapping paper and tape and tags and bows, fighting off the family cat, who likes to get in the middle of every expanse of wrapping paper as soon as you spread it out, trying to wrap a bathrobe that you miraculously squeezed into a shirt box and therefore is trying to explode out of the box like a can of snakes? Is that fun for you? Huh? Liar!
OK, so I know there are some people who truly love every minute of Christmas and the smile on the kids' faces and the family feasts and the drunken office parties and all that. I am friends with some of these people. Good for them! Just don't give me one of those disbelieving, wide-eyed, you-mean-to-tell-me-you-don't-like-Christmas looks when I confess I'm not one of them. It doesn't make me a bad person. It does make me a woman.
Men have it easy when it comes to the holidays. The little woman scrambles to get the vast majority of the gifts, do the wrapping, deck the halls, keep the master schedule of Santa breakfasts, parties, and church events, and tops it all off by cooking, baking, and cleaning for the big family holiday party. Then the men wonder why, come December 26, we just want to lay on the couch and drink leftover eggnog with a little extra "nog" thrown in for good measure. It's exhausting, and since I am a perfectionist who needs to feel inspired by each gift I buy, emotionally draining. I take it too personally when someone acts less-than-thrilled by a gift. I almost break down when Santa's cookies get a little too crisp, or the roast beast ends up dry. I don't handle stress well; when it's December 23rd, and there are still unwrapped presents, and stocking stuffers to buy, and that one last gift to get for that person I don't know very well in the in-laws' family name draw, I can't take it. I can't enjoy the pretty lights, the TV specials, or playing Santa. I'm too bogged down in the details.
I would like it so much better if the whole gift thing was thrown out of the equation for anyone over the age of 18. I like buying for kids, and I love Ainsley's face on Christmas morning. That, to me, is what it's all about. Imagine, if you will, a Christmas where it's all about the kids, and where adults spend their money on the less fortunate or on themselves. We wouldn't max out the credit cards. We could afford to do more for the homeless and the impoverished. Heck, if you want to think about it selfishly, you wouldn't need to ask Santa for a new iPod; you could afford to buy one yourself. Think about how much more enjoyable the holidays would be if our time and energy wasn't spent in the stores. Instead of spending hours buying gifts for your mom, you could spend hours with your mom. Isn't that what the holidays are really supposed to be about? Did all you Christmas-lovers pay any attention to Charlie Brown? Wasn't his whole point that commercialism sucks all the joy and meaning out of the holiday? Everyone talks about the Charlie Brown tree; I want a Charlie Brown Christmas, stripped of all the excess, back to the basics of joy and light and time spent with family. I want to start a minimalist movement this Christmas. Let's take back the fun of the holiday and leave the stress behind! Who's with me?
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Oh, alright then. Commercialism wins. I'll see you at the mall.