OK, even though I have basically abandoned the ‘Five Things Friday’ theme, I have been kicking around a bunch of annoying crap about the holidays since before Thanksgiving (maybe before Halloween!), so here goes … 5 things that are irritating me about the holidays that I just want to go off on a little rant about!
*** OK, before I get started, let me be clear that MOST people don’t fall into this. Most people like to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or other holidays their own way, not concerning themselves with how others choose to make their traditions. Most people are expressing genuine good wishes whether they say ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Hi Bob’ (and are often so nice I wouldn’t feel the need to tell them I’m not Bob), and so on. As with so many other things, it is the loud and obnoxious minority of people who make things difficult. I am a Christian (Catholic) and those are my traditions, I try to keep the spirit of love and giving central to Christmas instead of the ‘gimme gimme gimme’ marketing overload. Sometimes I even succeed.
1. The ‘Real vs. Fake’ Tree Arguments :
This is one of those debates that have been going on for decades now, with each side having reasons they are ‘right’. Fake trees are better because they prevent deforestation (that was the initial reason they were created in Germany … about 150 years ago! Now they are grown on tree farms), real trees are better because they decompose (prelit trees are almost entirely recycled to meet regulations). And so on …
Our family has severe tree allergies, so we’ve had a fake tree for the last 9 years – and it was the best decision EVER … even if we miss the real trees. For others, getting a tree is a huge part of Christmas (I know we always had a great time), or they aren’t allowed real trees due to fire hazards in their apartment / condo / whatever, and on and on. There are myriad reason WHY someone chooses real or fake trees … and since they are not YOUR reasons, perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick to judge?
2. The War on Christmas:
Every year we hear how the poor majority Christian population is being brutally oppressed by the evil PC overlords who are trying to force acceptance of non-Christians as actually having a right to exist between Halloween and New Year!
Put another way, I doubt anyone would have a significant problem with Christians everywhere going around on Christmas day saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to everyone. That is very different than attempting to mandate it as the official greeting for the nation once the first frost hits the lower 48!
There is NO ‘War on Christmas’ … and if there is, it isn’t being conducted by those of different or no faith, but rather by the two guys beating the crap out of each other trying to get that $99 TV at Walmart.
3. Rude people get RUDER, and more entitled:
WHAT? You don’t have free stuff for me? You expect me to stand in THAT line? You want me to to wait my turn? Hey, I saw that FIRST! It is really sad that people who are supposedly celebrating the ‘reason for the season’ are completely insufferable.
Traveling around the holidays is always worse, and not just because of the increased volume of traffic – but because people fail to treat others with any degree of respect. They will not only try to steer across 4 lanes of traffic to get to the mall turn-off, they will cut others off and then THEY get mad and affronted as if they were following an established pattern! Same for parking lots, walking, holding doors, and so on.
4. The Stress :
It really struck me when on December 5th I heard a radio ad about ‘last minute shopping’. Last minute. On December 5th. NO WONDER people are stressed!
Somewhere between all of the expenses, the shopping for the ‘right’ gift, the crunch of holiday parties and events, the load of year-end work and school priorities, relationship and family anxieties for pretty much anyone who is or is not involved, married, divorced, parent, childless or whatever.
5. ‘Holiday Letters’
When they first started the IDEA seemed great, rather than tucking a photo into a card with a little personal inscription about the ages of the kids and maybe a personal note, a letter would give a quick synopsis of what everyone was doing. It was efficient if impersonal.
But something happened … what started as a couple of paragraphs in total became a couple of paragraphs per person, touting accomplishment after accomplishment, and even bad things were set up as ‘personal victories’ over adversity. In other words, they were unrealstic brag letters. This isn’t reality, it is a smoke-screen, a total ‘look how great my better-than-your life is’.
Many people have (thankfully) stopped doing this, but to those who still do … it is like a beacon that speaks volumes about you rather being than a journal of your family’s year. Please stop.
But there are also some GOOD things …
1. Family Time – this weekend we have baking day. The boys have exited the ‘oh bother’ stage and are actually excited to work together, and we’re even bringing back the gingerbread train! So excited!
2. Lisa Time – every night this week, Lisa and I have sat down on the couch in front of the tree and the fireplace in the family room, sometimes with a drink, sometimes not. Is there anything better? I didn’t think so.
3. Charity – each year since moving to New York we have participated in something called the ‘Arctic League’, which is a group that collects names of underpriveleged kids, then shops, separates, and bags up toys and other gifts. On Christmas morning volunteers deliver the bags. It is quick and simple and cold … but very satisfying … even though sometimes the adults taking the bags don’t seem appreciative.
4. More Family Time – my brother is coming with his daughter for Christmas, which is always great and particularly great after we nearly lost him to his heart attack this year.
5. Reflection when it is all over – Because Lisa works in retail now, we are in the midst of a whirlwind of activity as her hours get wilder and her days more exhausting. I look forward to after Christmas, when things start to slow down, and we still have time to enjoy the decorations, the warm feelings, and the time together before the new year starts and we begin over again!
So what are the things that annoy you AND that you are thankful for during whatever holidays you do or do not celebrate at this time of year?