I was doing my regular weekly grocery shopping in my regular superstore. My list in one hand, my phone in the other, I was walking my usual route from the grocery side to the department store side because, of course, all the shampoo and aspirin is nowhere near the apples and Pop-Tarts. I was checking my list against my calendar on my phone, making sure I had all the necessaries for this week’s upcoming events, not even paying attention to where I was going because it was a Thursday morning, and I know exactly where I was going as usual.
I looked up from my list.
My heart began to pound.
I felt dizzy and slightly nauseous.
I thought I might pass out.
I had stumbled into the Christmas section.
Really? Already? Why does it always start so EARLY? It’s not Thanksgiving yet, doggone it! Why do we have to pole-vault over my favorite holiday, the best holiday, the least controversial, most inclusive, most relaxing holiday and skip right to Christmas, the most hectic, fraught, restricted, disappointing holiday on the calendar.
Yet there it was in its gaudy, green-and-gold glory – the Christmas section, complete with trees, ornaments, wrapping paper, stockings, toys, candy, snowmen, reindeer, Santa Claus, and the sweet baby Jesus.
As a Christian, I know I should love Christmas, but I seem to like it less and less every year. My fellow Christians insist on dragging out the moth-eaten “War on Christmas” and flogging it for all its worth. (What is it worth anyway? Ugh.)
Our family’s December calendar is already completely full. My family will be running from one event to the next, feeling guilty because we are late, or worse, had to turn down an invitation or two to attend the other three or four that weekend. There’s cooking, shopping, wrapping, and mailing to do. Not to mention all the family traditions we’ve accumulated through the years that are now more obligations than anything else.
Most of the activities I would like to do – the Cantata at the local Catholic church, the performance of “White Christmas” at the community theater, cozy nights by the fire – will be neglected because we’ll be so busy running to events, getting items checked off the to-do list, trying not to quash anyone’s Christmas wishes.
And then there is the rush of sheer panic I feel whenever I think of all the STUFF we’ll be bringing into our home. My children are the only grandchildren on both sides of the family; my parents, my in-laws and my sister insist on buying them stuff they can unwrap. They don’t need anything, of course, and my son would actually be much happier with digital media. My husband and I certainly don’t need anything, but we will get things. And we will have to find places for this stuff in a house already overrun with stuff. I can’t help thinking that, in five years when my son starts college, I will be quite bitter about all the money wasted on stuff he didn’t need when we could’ve saved it for his tuition.
So I have been feeling very Grinch-y these past few days, wishing there were a way to just skip “this whole Christmas thing,” and knowing, of course, it will come “just the same.”
Until then, though, I’m going to look forward to Thanksgiving, refuse to shop that day or Black Friday, and try to come up with a strategy for converting to Judaism.