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Julie’s Jabber: Sucking The Fun Out Of The Holidays

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Adam Berry/Getty Images

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Remember when Christmas was fun? I do, with perfect clarity. I remember writing letters to Santa and dreaming about those awesome Christmas cookies Granny made out of mashed potatoes. Seriously, mashed potatoes & peanut butter and they were freaking delicious. I remember searching the house, looking desperately for presents until the year I found them and it kind of ruined everything.

Christmas was pretty wonderful as a child, which is why it’s even more apparent today how much the holidays suck.

Look, don’t pull a Linus on me and start talking about the TRUE spirit of Christmas. That’s not what I’m talking about, but thank you for adding a dose of guilt to what is already a meltdown-waiting-to-happen. Furthermore, it’s difficult to be reverential when I’m busily writing lists. Oh yeah, you should SEE all the piles of paper on my kitchen counter and I’m not just talking about Christmas lists. I have calendars and recipes and menu plans and…this one might even be left over from last year.

There’s also the nagging question of the budget. Maybe you’ve been a good human and planned your gift budget this year, but things always pop up like holiday-light carriage rides or presents for teachers or omigosh! We’re supposed to give something to the mailman too, right?

My children also informed me that this year, they saved their high-dollar gift requests for Christmas so SANTA could incur the cost. I appreciate the thought, but I reminded them that Santa won’t bring gifts they don’t NEED regardless of the cost. My 9-year-old looked genuinely confused and said, “Are you sure about that? Because he brings us stuff we don’t need all the time. Sometimes stuff we don’t even WANT.”

Not to suck the fun out of Christmas, but what happened? That space between Thanksgiving & New Years went from being my favorite time of year to a black hole of anxiety.  No wonder I gain 10 pounds each year because I stress-eat my way through November & December. I wish I could talk to my Mom & ask her how she handled the holidays. They had to be even harder for her, since she was a single mother doing the Holly Jolly all by herself.  Then I recalled one of my FAVORITE photos of my Mom.

I don’t remember if it was Thanksgiving or Christmas but she’s standing in my Granny’s kitchen wearing a crisp white dress shirt & some nice black slacks. It also appears that a bag of powdered sugar Donettes has exploded all over her pants. It’s her holiday best but it now looks like something Cruella Deville would wear. Mom is faking a frown but you can tell she’s cracking up.

That’s how Mom did the holidays. She always had the best intentions but when everything went down the crapper (or spilled on her nice black pants), she didn’t have a Mommy Meltdown. She laughed. No matter how bad things got, Mom always looked for the joke in it.

Maybe THAT’s the vital thing I lose during the holidays: my sense of humor. Maybe I need to dig that photo out of the archives & keep it in my purse so I can look at Mom & laugh anytime I get twisted in knots. Giggling at someone else’s misfortune might not be the true spirit of the holidays, but I think that Mom would be OK with it.  And how much fun would it be to write a Christmas carol about “schadenfreude?” Oooo, I’m going to get to work on that one right now!

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