One of the worst things about Christmas is watching people work too hard at Christmas. People do it in different ways, but they do it all the time.
Normally a moderate man, my father once Christmased up a big decoration for our rooftop. It was pretty cool, and as we lived just off Highway 18, people all around Victor-Valley, California certainly noticed it. So, of course he tried to top himself the next year, and again the year after that. I don’t recall when it got to be too much (though it might have been when we moved to a colder place). I do remember at least one year when the whole thing was more trouble than it was worth, …to him, I mean. The stress was apparent. Afterwards, we settled for a few strings of light.
And it was good!
Of course, Christmas lights can be a whole other kind of Hell. They could be a really special Hell back in the 70s. Hell, it was Hell just being my dad’s assistant in the annual battle of the Christmas lights. One bad bulb could ruin a whole string, and some of those could hide really well. I swear some would work only when you tested them, but when you moved on, they just conked right out. The struggle to find the one bad bulb was just the battle you fought after the one to untangle the strings in the first place. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen some amazing Christmas displays. Really wonderful stuff! I only hope the people who made them actually enjoyed working on the project.
…and I suspect there have been a few who didn’t.
And then of course there is the competitive gifting. As they say, it’s the thought that counts. Yes, but money too expresses a thought of its own, a thought that doesn’t go away just because we sometimes talk like we don’t care about it. So, we dollar-up our Christmas love and double down on the price of our holiday thoughts whenever possible. It isn’t just the individual presents though; the spectacle around that tree can be a project in itself. That project got out of hand more than a few times when I was a kid. I noticed the beauty of the result, and I enjoyed playing with more than a few of those gifts. If I noticed the crankyness of the tall people around me, I didn’t always make the connection.
Some people just try way too hard to fill the space under the tree with as many gifts as they can. It really doesn’t have to be a mountain of packages that will take all day just to get through.
Well, for some people it does, which is precisely when Christmassing up the gift-giving gets to be a bit too much yule-tide cheer.
…and more than a few folks end up paying the cost of the holidays off well into the new year, the interest paid on credit cards being just one more holiday gift.
Hell, if a corporation can be a person, I suppose, it can receive a holiday gift just like the rest of us! It can even get that gift in the form of 21% interest paid well into late Spring.
And then there the tree itself! It can always be bigger, can’t it? At least it could if it weren’t for the ceiling, but then there are ways to flesh out the total tree display. You can Christmas up a tree a little more each year, making it bigger, brighter, full of more tinsel, decked out in brighter ornaments with each passing holiday happening.
A well decorated Christmas tree can be a beautiful thing.
Getting it there can be more trouble than it is worth.
Did I mention that special ornaments have a special way of falling from a tree branch? Seriously, the chance of breaking an ornament is directly proportional to its cost multiplied by its sentimental value.
…and the cost of the carpet.
And then of course there is the baking! A few Christmas cookies can be a lovely way to celebrate the holidays. But of course you don’t just need the sugar cookies (though you need lots of those). You also have to have the cinnamon stars, and those powdery white cookies too. Don’t forget the chocolate candies, and the hard candies! Maybe, some…
Give it a rest!
You’ll be too tired to eat them!
It’s funny, the way this holiday with all its themes of family and sharing can bring out the worst in people. Black Friday doesn’t seem to produce a body count anymore, at least I hope not, but the holidays can still deposit a whole butt-load of stress under the tree. Between the fake war on Christmas, obnoxious relatives at the dinner table, and the usual holiday loneliness some folks experience this time of year, the holiday season can sure produce a lot of strife and misery.
I suppose that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Make a point of any virtue and you create a special room for a little vice to grow. What makes Christmas especially troublesome is just how earnest people can be about it.
We really do work at this damned holiday!
At least some do.
Christmas can really be too much!
Among all the other hazards of Holiday Hell, the ones we all know, there is also the hazard of those trying too hard at this Holiday. We don’t talk about this holiday hazard too much, I don’t think, possibly because it doesn’t give us anything to fight about. The fake war on Christmas gives us that, at least. Holiday depression shapes up a good story to tell a therapist, a bartender, or at least a divorce lawyer, but being up till 6am putting the holiday cheer in proper order just seems too natural to some of us. Obnoxious relatives give us gripes to last the whole year. Those we will tell our friends, perhaps even the friends we will gripe about with our relatives over Christmas dinner. Hell, Holiday hell, gives us a lot to gripe about, and a good gripe is a gift well given. But working too hard at the cookies? There is nothing to complain about there.
Perhaps not, but there ought to be a little cautionary tale in the matter.
For those who may be in the midst of trying to put together that bicycle before you go to bed tonight, still struggling with a troublesome string of lights or just working at another pan of cookies, don’t forget to save a little time to enjoy it all.
Save a lot of time to enjoy it.
Someone I love is downstairs working a little too hard to clean up an already clean house so that we can enjoy it tomorrow. I better go see if I can help her.
Happy Holidays everyone!