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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bah Freaking Humbug!!

It’s official…the Grinch has stolen my Christmas spirit.  I’m really not sure when it happened, or even how it happened, only that it definitely happened.  It is now 11 days away from Christmas, and while I did drag the tree and decorations out of storage, and put the tree together, I have yet to force myself to decorate it, or do my Christmas shopping.

When the kids were little and there was that magical anticipation of Santa bringing the toys, eating the cookies and his reindeer eating the carrots we left for them, there was a certain excitement which I find is now lacking (the lie is gone).  Instead, I feel a sense of obligation to put up decorations that add clutter to my already cluttered house; obligation to spend money I do not have and really cannot afford or be the “worse parent in the whole world” in the eyes of my children; and the inability to escape all the cheerful Christmas lights and music that are now everywhere I go. 

It all started around Halloween.  When looking in the holiday aisles, I was shocked and appalled to see scattered Christmas items around the Halloween items before it was even the end of October!  I must admit to feeling pulling forces, much like that of the angel and Satan on opposite shoulders, only for me, it was more like the Christmas Spirit and the Grinch whispering in each ear.  One was saying “Yay!! Christmas music, beautiful lights, egg nog, presents…I LOVE Christmas!”  However, the other was much stronger saying, “Are you freaking kidding me?  Can’t we get through one holiday at a time?  Halloween, then Thanksgiving, THEN Christmas…or just skip Christmas altogether.”

The day after Halloween, I walk into Wal-Mart and see two of the closest cashiers wearing red and white Santa-style hats.  I stopped in my tracks and stared blankly for a few seconds before desperately fighting the urge to go snatch the hats off their heads, throw them to the ground and jump up and down on them like a mad woman yelling, “Bah Freaking Humbug!” over and over.  I had the mental image of the enraged turkey ordering Santa to get back to his sleigh and wait his turn.

So Halloween came and went, and at the beginning of NOVEMBER, the Christmas lights started going up all over town.  Everywhere I went, I was reminded that the big day was approaching.  Despite my desperate attempt to remain in denial, my attempts were defeated by the ever increasing number of holiday lights in the community, the Christmas carols being played on every radio station, and worse of all, the charitable collections at the entrances and registers of every place I go to shop, reminding me that there are those less fortunate than I. 

At this time of year, when I’m already feeling financially pressured, to be guilted at every checkout line and store entrance to donate to those “less fortunate” than me, I’d really like to ask, where can I put my name on the list to be considered for the list of “less fortunate”?  Does it come with some sort of membership card that I can flash discretely to the charitable collectors as a silent, “back off buddy” without the guilt associated with declining to give away my change after every purchase?  Sure, the “Would you like to donate your change today?” might be a harmless question meant only for the good of some family that is down on their luck this year, but how many other families are down on their luck and just barely getting by, yet aren’t really members of the “less fortunate club” YET? 

Feeling the financial pressure of maintaining our households AND providing the latest and greatest gifts for our children that we can’t afford, going further into debt so that the retailers can line their pockets during a holiday that has become more commercial than spiritual, we are further pressured by the constant barrage of donation requests at every checkout and store entrance, usually in front of long lines of our neighbors and fellow holiday shoppers.  Then, not only do the entrance collectors hit you up when you go into the store, they hit you up a second time when you leave (because you should now have more change). I swear it’s almost maddening! 

In a final effort to find some small spark of Christmas spirit, I sat down to write a letter of my own to Santa.  It read as follows:  “Dear Santa; For Christmas this year, please bring me a large bottle of valium, understanding creditors, and a Less Fortunate Club card to brandish to the constant barrage of holiday charitable collectors in lieu of merely showing them they are number one.”  Something tells me Santa has another gift in mind for me this year.

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