The holiday hoopla. The Christmas season shenanigans. The wonky winter wonderland of wackiness. Whatever you choose to call it, the holidays can be a bit strange at times. Let’s be honest. The three week stretch from mid-December through the New Year can be nuttier than a squirrel at a walnut festival. A few of us thrive during this time of year, although many us of simply hope to survive. I have no doubt that the holiday season provides endless humor and entertainment for those looking down on us in spirit. Allow me to paint the picture.
Your job. You participate in the “secret Santa” exchange at work (although you and your best friend rigged it yet again, so you could buy gifts for each other). The big office Christmas party is a hit, thanks to your boss drinking too much of the special egg nog and doing an Irish jig under the mistletoe. Lorraine from the billing department offers you the gift of a cold stare. She’s not fooling anyone. You know she’s a teddy bear of a human being underneath her Scrooge façade. Justin from human resources spills hot chocolate on his button-down shirt. Embarrassed, his strips down to his Motley Crue tank top, and exposes his Popeye the Sailor tattoo. He turns into the life of the party. Who knew? All in all, the holiday work festivities are a success, thanks in part to the unexpected.
Shopping. Your three-year-old tosses his shoe out the car window on the way to the mall. He cries. You avert the crisis by convincing him that Santa’s elves don’t wear shoes, either. Hand in hand, you walk through the jam-packed mall with your shoeless child, occasionally getting strange glances from other moms. At the counter, you’re informed that your coupon expired three years ago. The customer immediately behind you in line isn’t covering his mouth, and proceeds to cough on you with what sounds like a sinus infection – influenza hybrid. Your shoeless child spots Santa near the escalators, and has a stage five melt down, begging to sit on Santa’s lap. You purchase a stale pretzel from the food court to tide you over while you wait in line. After 45 minutes, your son’s up to bat. He leaps onto Santa’s lap with determination and purpose. He proudly tells jolly old Saint Nick that all he wants for Christmas is to be big like his daddy. You suddenly feel warm inside, and tears of joy form in the corners of your eyes. You feel your heart growing three sizes bigger, just like the Grinch on top of Mount Crumpit. This memory is seared into your mind. It’s simply priceless.
Family. Your in-laws drive into town on short notice and need a place to crash. You set them up in the basement, and are “thrilled” to hear they’ll be staying not one, but two whole weeks. As your mother-in-law “lovingly” critiques your parenting style, your father-in-law comes upstairs to inform you the toilet is backed up. “Must have been the pumpkin pie,” he says. The family dog shreds your youngest child’s angel wings before the school Christmas pageant. Your sewing machine is on the fritz. Still angry with your mother-in-law, you have no choice but to let her come to the rescue with her sewing know-how. Your anxiety is higher than the Himalayas. Come Christmas morning, your children tear into presents wearing their footie pajamas that Grandma bought them. Your husband bites into a burnt Christmas cookie for breakfast. He looks at you, and winks. The children are sporting smiles that would be visible from the edge of space. And there, in the twinkling of the Christmas tree lights, among a sea of wrapping paper, you say a prayer of gratitude. This is Heaven on Earth.
You see, the holidays are not amazing despite the mishaps. The holidays are amazing because of the mishaps. When we’re looking back on our lives, we won’t remember which presents we got from which family members on which years. We will remember the funny catastrophes, the unexpected calamities, and the hilarious disasters. The perfection of the season lies in its imperfection.
It’s not about the presents. It’s not about the pageants and shopping and who has the best lights display. It’s not about the good food (okay, the food is pretty awesome). No, the holidays are special because it brings out the human side in all of us. It exposes our true nature. The season simultaneously fills us with wonder and awe, silliness and stress, chaos and comfort, nostalgia and joy. It takes us back to a time when life was simple. It makes us feel like children again. Let out your inner-crazy this holiday season, and enjoy every minute of it.
Cheers to you and yours. Happy Holidays.