Okay, here we are, 12 days before Christmas (11, actually) and your holiday stress level is at DefCon 4. The tree is up, but it’s been cat- attacked twice, and now the lights that aren’t supposed to twinkle – are twinkling. Amazon refuses to send half the gifts you ordered until January 23rd. Uncle Jerry wants to bring his step-daughter, Blaster, to Christmas dinner cuz she’s on a day pass out of County Jail. And somewhere in the night, the tank on the toilet starting making a strange, chugging sound. So what else could go wrong — right? Don’t tempt the gods, because they’ve just moved your office’s Seasonal Celebration Party (“Oh, you didn’t get the email?”) to the same night as Grandma G’s 8 pm flight from Wisconsin, and in a couple of minutes, your youngest child, who’s 13, is going to announce she’s an atheist and won’t be participating in this year’s “hypocrisy.”
However, there’s no need to grab an adult beverage and hide in the upstairs closet until December 27th. Help is at hand. I’m going to tell you the two secrets of Christmas that will wipe away the stress faster than 2 Tylenol and a shot of vodka.
Secret #1 – The last perfect Christmas was the first one. Yeah, yeah, yeah! We’ve all heard the stories and seen the pictures on social media, but the truth is they’re all lies — there’s no such thing as the perfect Christmas. Not even Martha Stewart (the Queen of DIY guilt) and her army of serfs and servants could put together those magnificent offerings without divine intervention. Plus, Janet Perfect-Size-Zero down the street might think she’s wowing the world with her handmade canapes, but when you’ve got one kid in therapy, another one headed for Detox and a husband who’s addicted to football and Sharon from Accounting, wasting hours chopping olives is kinda counterproductive. Here’s the deal: the only person who’s going to notice that the twinkly lights aren’t supposed to twinkle or the veggie plate is from Costco is your sister-in-law, and there’s no satisfying that woman.
Secret #2 – Memories aren’t made of perfection. Think about it! Which Christmas do you remember? The one when everything marched along like a Nuremburg rally or the one when your sister got her head stuck in the dishwasher? Dishwasher — no doubt! I have friends who have mushroom soup for Christmas dinner every year. It’s a fine tradition that started when the holidays went so far sideways that the turkey actually caught fire from too much cognac in the dressing. I have some other friends who always throw their Brussels sprouts out the back door because – uh – I don’t know if anybody even remembers why. My point is Christmas is all about family, not symmetrical trees or perfectly-spaced lights — and families are flawed. That’s what makes them interesting, maddening and fun – just like Christmas.
So, now that you have the two secrets of Christmas under your belt, toss back that vodka, chase the cat away from the tree, book a taxi for Grandma G and a plumber for the toilet, tell your daughter atheists don’t get presents, phone Uncle Jerry and say, “Of course Blaster’s welcome for Christmas, but unfortunately we won’t be using the good silver this year.” Then sit down at your computer and cancel all that crap from Amazon because you’re going with gift cards — like you wanted to in the first place.