On December 1, I woke up to my alarm, looked up at the ceiling for a moment, then yelled: "Ready. Set. Go!" December is a sprint to the finish line. We're constantly being told to contemplate and enjoy the season, and that, even with everything we have to do this month, we should just get on with it as cheerfully as possible.
Being thankful was last month's problem.
This month we are supposed to focus on being cheerful. Holly and jolly. Merry and bright. Not naughty but nice.
So, let's do it. Let's go to 3 different kids' school performances all in one day with a smile on our faces. Let's go to three Christmas/Hanukkah parties in one week wearing a bright, happy Christmas sweater. (Do they have Hanukkah sweaters? Christmas has plenty of ugly ones to cover all religions, so maybe that's enough.) Let's spend more than the suggested budget for our coworker Secret Santa. And let us laugh merrily as our kids switch their entire Santa list on December 23rd.
Come on, everybody! Let's get going with the celebrating! Now is not the time to slow down and enjoy. We can relax in February after we spend January trying to lose weight and improve ourselves.
Before you stop reading, wait. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: This is great, but what if I don't know how to put the "jolly" into this "holly, jolly holiday?" What if I left all of my merriness in that 3-hour line at 1 a.m. on Black Friday?
Do not fear. I have some suggestions to help you enjoy the absurdities of the holiday season.
Never buy holiday-themed gift cards
This goes especially for kids' teachers. That way, when your children forget to give the gift cards to their teachers and you find the cards at the bottom of their backpacks in January, you can re-gift them for birthdays.
Simplify neighbor gifts
If you are running late on neighbor gifts, just dip something in melted chocolate chips. Take the half-empty packages of Oreos and Chips Ahoy! you have in your pantry, melt the rest of the bag of chocolate chips you have secretly opened and been nibbling on since Thanksgiving and put the goodies in a bag with a bow. If you are feeling extra creative, Google "Holiday poems for cookies," and add a little note.
Find alternatives to family Christmas photos and cards
If you forgot to get family photos, simply address and stamp envelopes, then rip and crumple them to look like you sent cards but they got ruined in the mail. (Kidding, of course! Well, kind of.) Set up a closed Facebook account with your close friends, so you can share what you would really like to for the holidays. You can then casually bring these things up when in conversation later.
Lose the stress from the elf on the shelf
If a certain elf is stressing you out, tell your kids not everyone has an elf, so they should share theirs. This is particularly fun if you can send it to your brother or sister with a note stating your kids will call their cousins every day to find out if the elf moved. (Warning: If you choose this, you have to finally forgive your sibling for telling you Mickey Mouse lived in the cupboard and for locking you in there when you were five. It's only fair.)
Finally, buy your favorite box of chocolates, and hide it in your underwear drawer. Every time you need to be cheerful, sneak a piece.
In case you want to find me this month, I'll be the one at the grade school holiday performance with a smile on my face, twinkling lights around my neck and a box of See's chocolates in my hand.
Have a great time making merry this holiday season.
I'll see you in January. At the gym.