The Holidays are here, folks.

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Just my take on surviving the Holiday Season.

Submitted: November 22, 2016

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Submitted: November 22, 2016

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The Holidays are here, folks.

To me, the Holiday Season starts officially this week. I know many of us have already begun the process of shopping, decorating the tree, hanging lights, etc. Heck, even my own wife has already got the tree up this year; she was so excited to try out one of the trees we bought (at great discount) at the end of the season last year that she just couldn’t wait. I thought that might put me in the mood; but for me it all starts this week. You see, this is the week of Thanksgiving and the first of the short work weeks that fall at this time of the year. I know, it’s shouldn’t be about that…and I agree and it’s not. But to me, getting up today knowing that I will only be working a partial week marked the grand entrance into the most magical time of the year. I think that all springs from our school years; it happened much the same way back then as it does today. You knew it was getting close when the week came that held the promise of some extra time off. Back then, it meant Thursday through Monday…virtually forever to a kid. Now, a short week usually just lands me one extra day off; but that’s ok because it falls in the middle of the week breaking the week overall up into more manageable, bite size pieces. So with more than a little giddiness, I look forward to some extra time off, some good food, and some great family time at the end of this week. Then, in just a few more weeks we do it again. Yes, sir, the Holidays are here.

Now, with all that said, that’s good news and bad news. For along with the cherished parts of the season we have to endure the bad parts. In fact, the bad parts can often shrink even the most robust Holiday enthusiast into a weeping pile of miserly humbug that would rival even Scrooge himself. Make no mistake; the ugly parts of the season can break you down. But, if you hold on and persevere, you can come out the other side of even the most disastrous of seasons with a feeling of comfort and joy. How you ask? I’m glad you asked…it’s kind of the subject behind this essay.

I’ve had some amazing Holidays. Even the less spectacular seasons have still been pretty good…in retrospect. What I mean by that is that afterwards, at the end or very near the end of the season, the whole thing is usually revitalized and my spirit is renewed. We can take a beating this time of year, that’s for certain. But for me, for some reason, I get an enormous sense of well being and joy at the end for just having survived another one. My experience can be summed up in one scene from one of my very favorite Christmas movies… “Christmas Vacation” staring Chevy Chase. As anybody that has seen the movie can tell you (who hasn’t?) the Holidays are a mess for our hero Clark Griswold. All the requisite struggles of the season that we all endure are there for Clark, though magnified significantly. It is a comedy movie, of course, so he gets it worst than most. He has shopping to do, dealing with in-laws that are not just visiting but staying in his home for the duration, a boss who’s a jerk, surprise relatives showing up that nobody was expecting, and even a kidnapping. Then, he doesn’t get his bonus 

AND he ends up on the receiving end of a SWAT incursion into his home. Yet, despite everything, he manages to keep his cheer until the end. Granted, he does have one serious meltdown not unlike most of us if the truth were known. But everything manages to work out for Clark and in a quiet moment of reflection at the end he says… “I did it”. That basically sums up how I feel when I wrap it all up on January 1.

So how do I survive with that feeling of “I did it” at the end? How do I keep my sanity and somehow pull together a great Holiday Season? Well, I don’t know if any of it will work for you; but I have a few “gotta do every year” things on my list that help me make it through to January with some cheer still firmly in place. No promises here; my advice is based solely on my own meandering experience…but here it is nonetheless. I hope it helps.

  1. Watch Christmas Specials. I know; they are old and we’ve seen them all a hundred times, right? I’d bet not. Be honest, how many times over the last few years have you seen the old specials on the cable box menu and just moved right on past them? I know I have. But don’t. Not because they are masterpieces of cinema; usually they are anything but. No, do it because it will awaken that wide eyed child that sat and watched them with joy and hope that first time so many years ago. And if you can get in touch with that little guy this season, it’s going to be a good one.
  2. Spend time in the living room with the tree lit. No TV. Just you and the tree. I know it sounds corny…but try it. Turn the lights on the tree on and everything else off. Then, just sit there. If you’re like me, after all the other distractions are gone, the memories will start flooding in. You’ll notice just how beautiful the tree really is and you’ll remember the great trees your folks put up over the years. You’ll remember the fun you had watching and listening to your parents put the tree up...even when the lights wouldn’t quite work right and Dad got a little testy with everyone.
  3. Eat the treats. On a diet? Who cares? It’s the holidays! The key, I’m told, is in the portion size…you can eat the cake; just don’t eat the whole cake, right? So, be mindful of your diet; but do not let it ruin the joy that all the baked goods and candy can bring. After all, most of them were made with love especially for you and the family. And don’t forget those little white cookies that come in a box this time each year. I don’t know what they are called right off, but they can bring out the ho ho ho in anybody in record time.
  4. Watch the children. The wonder and joy found in the eyes of a child this time of year is priceless. Look around and be mindful of the little ones around you at the store or in the mall. See things through their eyes and you’ll be amazed how much of you still wants to rejoice in the sights and sounds of the Holiday Season.
  5. Drive through neighborhoods you don’t know just to look at Christmas lights. I know; it sounds stalkerish...but it’s not. Most people that put up Christmas lights do so because they want people to see them and enjoy them. So plan a few evenings this year to just go out with those you care about and drive around looking at lights. It can be magical.  
  6. Understand that everyone else feels the same way you do. We are all in this together, folks. We all hate not being able to find a parking spot, sitting in traffic, and hearing Christmas carols 24/7. It’s universal. But, since we know that, we should each be mindful of how we treat each other. A little kindness can go a long, long way. And do something extra for the folks in Retail…God knows those poor souls deserve it.
  7. Really think about the gifts you give. Remember, it’s not the cost of the gift that makes it special; it’s the love that goes into finding and giving that perfect gift that matters…even if it’s a .50 cent piece of candy. Make it a mission to find something small, but “significant” for everyone on your list. Limit the spending to only a couple of bucks or less. Handmade is every better. If it’s given with love; it’s an amazing gift. And no gift cards this year unless absolutely necessary (for example…teenagers. If they love cloths; give them a card. But, do your research and find out what their favorite store is. Do not try to guess what they’d like…it’s impossible. You’ve been warned.)
  8. Cook together. This is a joy that I myself have only discovered in recent years. Turns out, I love the spend time in the kitchen with my wife as we try to cook. Granted, there is usually some wine involved, but it can be very good for you to spend that time together working on something you both will enjoy eating and sharing. There’s a little magic there.
  9. Spend time with your family. I know, sometimes it sucks. Don’t get me wrong I love my family dearly. But, the hustle and bustle of getting up and dressed and ready to go only to hit traffic and make a long drive can sometimes put me in a bit of a snarl. But, it’s worth it. The bonds you share with your family are like no other you’ll ever have. They are the ones that have stuck by you in the past and the ones most likely to do so in the future. And if you’re like me, the older you get the more you need those that knew you in your youth to be around you. Helps to slow the aging process, I think.
  10. Live with an attitude of gratitude. Say a prayer of Thanksgiving every day. I think this goes without saying. But, the moment you realize that you are not in this alone is the moment you will truly come to understand what the holidays are all about. And in that moment, you know that everything you are as a person and everything you have in your life is a precious gift…and you must be grateful. So be mindful of what you have and give thanks often this year…especially when things are hectic and you want to scream. Instead, take just a second and say a little prayer of thanks for being there in that moment. It can change your entire outlook on life.

These are the things that help me. The trick I learned during some of my more tiresome seasons is to focus on the good and to take joy in whatever doses they are available…even if they are small. Sometimes the smallest joy can fill our heart with love more than the biggest gift under the tree. So yeah, relatives can be a pain. Shopping is insufferable and the traffic is relentless…even if you are just trying to get to the grocery store for some milk. And don’t get me started on the fact that they start playing Christmas music in the stores earlier and earlier each year. It’s not even Thanksgiving and a lot of businesses are already cranking out the Rudolph. But, if we try a little each day to understand and remember the reason for all the humbug; it becomes clear that maybe…just maybe…it’s all just a little worth it. And bourbon. Don’t forget bourbon. That helps.

My most sincere hope is that everyone reading this (and heck, those that don’t) have an amazing and safe Thanksgiving this year. Be kind to each other and take stock not in the hassle of the season but in the joy of living that it spotlights.

And be thankful, always.


© Copyright 2017 Mac Buckner. All rights reserved.

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