Stuff I don’t like about Christmas:
Conspicuous consumption at a time of year when many families are dealing with seasonal layoffs, high heating bills, childcare challenges, and the stress of holiday expectations.
Mall muzak. If I hear about grandma and that reindeer one more time…
The tsunami of sugar. I’m susceptible to sweets, and they are EVERYWHERE, and most of them have the audacity to be scrumptious.
Presents. I’m getting better about this, but receiving gifts is awkward for me, and I always worry that what I’ve gotten somebody isn’t right for them. I’m also haunted by that situation where somebody shows up with a gift for me, but I didn’t get them anything. Yikes!
Foster care meltdowns. The week between Christmas and New Year’s, foster kids fall apart, foster parents fall apart, even foster care social workers fall apart. The judges who have to hear the emergencies that week are often none too cheery, and who can blame them?
Domestic violence. Christmas Eve is the second most domestically violent night of the year (after Superbowl Sunday in the city that wins). Combine financial stress, fatigue, high expectations, wassail, and for too many families, holiday punch takes on a miserable meaning.
Holiday shopping. Thanks be to the Almighty for websites, because the Mall is a non-starter.
I’ll stop there, because there’s another side to the balance sheet. The winter holidays are also one of my favorite times of year, because…
Days and days of solitude and unstructured time. I get more writing done, more joyously, over the Christmas holidays than in any other two weeks of the year.
The theme of the great hope coming from humble, even unrecognizable beginnings, restores my perspective. Solutions to problems, conflicts, and miseries have germinated that we can’t yet see, but they’re coming our way, nonetheless.
Fresh snow. Now there’s a metaphor to warm an author’s heart.
It’s a good time of year to be a stranger, no matter if you dress funny, ride a strange camel, or got stuck with a name like Belshazzar, Melchior or Caspar. The outcast, the extra guest, the uninvited visitor all get a place near the hearth ’cause CHRISTMAS.
Angels. I think of angels in terms of positive intentions, classic holiday tales, goodwill toward everybody, great memories, and other gratuitous goodness, but for other people, an angel is a handsome winged dude in a white bathrobe. Whatever your concept of free-form goodness is, it’s often in the air this time of year.
So the holidays are a mixture for me, of the sublime and the challenging. I accept the challenges, while trying to focus on the sublime. What about you? How does the approach of the holidays sit with you? Do you look forward to them? Dread them? A little bit of both?
To one commenter, I’ll send an audio version of Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight.