’Tis the season to be stressed out. We all know that.
So, why do we always let it blindside us?
This is just an off-the-wall theory, but if we could just decide to give in to the stress that inevitably comes with the holidays, if we accept that by the time it’s all over, we will have headaches, churning stomachs and potentially murderous impulses, maybe it won’t be so bad. Maybe with some anticipation, we can avoid the frustration.
Here are just a few things that are almost certain to happen at some point during this joyous season, and with two days to go before Christmas, there’s plenty of time for things to go haywire. Forewarned is forearmed.
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▪ You will forget to buy a key ingredient for the big Yuletide dinner and, when you think of it, the stores won’t have it or all the stores will be closed. So, for example, Grandma’s famous green-bean casserole with those crunchy little fried onions on top will become Grandma’s famous green-bean casserole with stale corn flakes on top. Pumpkin pie with whipped cream will become pumpkin pie. Homemade eggnog will become rum and almond milk.
▪ Your cat will knock over the Christmas tree. This is almost a sure thing, especially if you have more than one cat. Fluffy will be completely enraptured with the gold balls hanging on the tree, and leaping to the highest boughs, will upset the delicate equilibrium that took hours to achieve, and the tree will crash to the floor. Fluffy will then give himself or herself a tongue bath as if nothing had happened.
▪ You will watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the 800th time at some point during the onslaught of holiday specials and you will scold yourself for crying at the end like you do every time even though you know “Auld Lang Syne” is coming and Clarence will get his wings. How could we be such chumps?
▪ You forget to buy token gifts for the neighbors and it’s getting late. You can’t come up with a nifty, home-crafted gift like the ones your neighbors gave you, so you resort to passing out store-bought chocolate-chip cookies in those plastic bags that say, “Season’s Greetings,” and when you run out of cookies, you re-gift something you got at the office Christmas party. There’s always next Christmas for that unique baked good that looks like something made by a Swiss person.
▪ Family members are stuck at an airport because their flight was canceled or delayed due to bad winter weather. Santa had sent an early gift from the North Pole: an arctic blast that brought heaps of snow and treacherous roads to most of the northern part of the nation, causing traffic pileups and, of course, airline foulups. But don’t worry, your family members will get another flight. It arrives at 2 a.m.
▪ Your dog eats half the Christmas roast. You thought it was out of his reach, but Bowser climbed up on a chair and then onto the table where he went to work on the roast and sampled the mashed potatoes. Then he regurgitated it on the stairs.
▪ The kids can’t sleep. Of course they can’t! That’s a part of Christmas that’s almost fun. Almost, but not so much if it’s after midnight, they REALLY are too hyped up to go to sleep, and you have to assemble some complicated toys before driving to the airport to pick up your family members.
▪ Your spouse hates your gift. The reaction is polite. It even includes an almost sincere-looking smile. But you spot the clenched teeth, the pained look in the eyes, the almost perceptible sigh, the clenched posture signaling the angst of having to search through the pile of paper and ribbons for a return slip. “Huh,” he murmurs to himself, “I thought she would like a cordless hedge trimmer.” “Hmm,” she whispers to herself, shaking her head, “that’s a festive sweater. And it looks great with the matching socks.”
▪ Christmas is over. The kids are bored. What an anticlimax after what was nearly two solid months of buildup starting just after Halloween. You’re fed up to here with Christmas and carols and cards and candy and all the other Christmas stuff that starts with “c.”
▪ But wasn’t it really great in the end? Maybe next year we can have a stress-free celebration.
James Werrell is opinion page editor for The Herald.