Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bah Humbug!

Damn those Pilgrims – and the Indians too! Because of them I am forced to participate in mind numbing, excruciating, holiday rituals beginning at Thanksgiving. Although, before too long, I may have to start blaming the Founding Fathers and our Independence from England, for the holiday season seems to start earlier and earlier each year. Now before you jump to any conclusions about me colluding with Ebenezer Scrooge, I want to set the record straight, I generally like the holiday season, but I LOATHE all that goes along with it.

First, I hate anything that has to do with decorating: Fake leaves, fake trees, fake snow, fake flowers, glue guns, and styrofoam. You will find NONE of it in my house. I must admit, I do have Christmas decorations hiding in our attic. But I bring them out only because I have a sick obligation to do so, and, if I didn’t, that my children would suffer long term psychological harm from being raised in a home without holiday decorations – “So, Joey, what made you go and knock off 6 of your fellow employees at the holiday mart?” “Well, officer, it’s all because my Mother didn’t put up a Christmas tree during the holidays like the other Moms in our neighborhood.” You get the picture. If it weren’t for guilt – I would TOSS them all.

I mentioned to my husband, in a dire tone, that I couldn’t believe it was time to unpack all the decorations again. He looked at me gleefully and said, “Oh – I can hardly wait! Thanks for reminding me, I will get the boxes out next weekend!” Damn him too. What should I have expected? I married a man whose mother has a setting of dishes, towels, sweaters, flags, rugs, sheets, blankets, and goodness knows what else, to coordinate with every holiday celebrated in the United States. And, if I looked closely enough, she probably has Ramadan, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, gear packed away too.

Second, I hate lines. What has possessed people to get up in the middle of the night to stand in line with hundreds of others at the local electronics chain for a few discounted “Joe vs. The Volcano” DVDs? Following which, they must stand in line AGAIN with the same people to buy a movie that was bad when it was released – it’s not a bottle of wine folks – it hasn’t gotten any better over time.

On the day after Thanksgiving this year, my husband and I went to the local mega-toy store chain looking for the only pair of “PRINCESS” slippers my daughter says she would wear. After we found them, we were directed to the front of the store to get in line to check out. The line snaked through the store twice, with line “guards” (they might as well have been armed with AK-47s), stationed randomly to maintain order and to keep people from “cutting.” When asked how long it would take to purchase our priceless slippers, we were advised, “1- 1 ½ hours.” Immediately abandoning the slippers in a pile of Legos, under the glaring eye of the “line guard”, we dashed to the front doors to make our escape. My husband and I have come up with a formula for “line costs” – when the time spent in line costs MORE than the item in hand, all items are immediately discarded. Our formula won’t win us recognition like Einstein’s E=MC² -- but is serves us well.

Finally, I hate presents. Bows, ribbons, paper – they are immediately ripped off and thrown away. What a waste! Why can’t we just give gifts equitably throughout the year? Why do we have to indulge children, family and friends, with useless objects never to be used -- or in our home, immediately broken -- once a year?

One year I bought a sibling a DVD I just knew he would love. On Christmas morning, when the gift was opened, he immediately went into a tirade about how it was the WORST movie he had ever seen and he would NEVER watch again. Although I appreciated his honesty, I decided then I was never buying him a gift again. Not because I was offended – but that the guessing game involved in trying to find something someone wanted just wasn’t worth the effort.

So, to those Pilgrims and Indians who were celebrating a harvest and a year of bounty, you had NO idea what cycle you were setting in motion!