For years, I had rationalized that my “Holiday Paralysis” issues evolved because of being busy and overwhelmed—i.e., a teaching job that involved an end-of-fall-semester rush that directly coincided with Christmas. I was generally grading huge projects and final tests at the very moment I was supposed to be decking my halls with boughs of holly at home. I always entered the Christmas season feeling overwhelmed, guilty, and behind.
This year, no excuse, right?
Retirement equals mountains of spare time in which to leisurely bedeck, bake, shop, carol, roast, and fa la la—all those activities that the Christmas songs and glossy women’s magazines tell you to do in order to achieve maximum Christmas jolliness.
“Country Woman” magazine suggests, “Have a Cookie Swap Party!!” (Show your love to your family with cut-out sugar cookies that take a mere half hour per cookie to cut, bake, frost, and decorate.)
Let me preface this by admitting that I beat myself up because I am not thinking of the true meaning of Christmas 100 percent of the time. I know what it’s all about. I understand how I’m supposed to be feeling. I realize whose birthday it is.
That being said, here’s the truth:
As of today, I haven’t baked a cookie, constructed a gingerbread house, or rolled a single piece of my mother’s bedsheet-thin lefse.
I still have shopping to do. I don’t even have a written list—just some vague notions swirling around in my head.
“Woman’s Day” giant holiday issue with festive centerpiece and stocking stuffer ideas!! (I feel faint.)
I haven’t written a Christmas letter, and I don’t have an order for 200 photo Christmas cards with matching envelopes ready to pick up at Walgreens.
I feel more empathy for Ebeneezer Scrooge than for that wretched little Tiny Tim creature. I even looked up the pronunciation of the word “Bah” on Webster.com so I could say it properly (is it “bay”? “baa”? “baw”?)
Christmas manages to bring out my most inadequate personality traits: aversion to shopping (I hate to shop), a pathological weakness for chocolate and sweet baked goods (keep it out of my house or I’ll eat it all in two days), that empathetic thoughtfulness so necessary to selecting the right gift for someone (my insight/thoughtful gene is missing), and a strong sense of entertaining inferiority complex (everybody else’s party is always tons more fun than mine).
How My Kitchen Table Should Look During Christmas, according to “Homemade Gifts for Under $10.” (This is NOT how my kitchen table looks.)
So there it is. The ugly truth, right out in the open for everyone to see. Christmas Paralysis.
If you personally do not suffer from it, I hope you do not judge me. I’ve tried treating it with drugs (well, Tylenol P.M.). I’ve tried reasoning with myself. I’ve tried putting guilt money in the Salvation Army bell ringers’ red buckets. I’ve tried playing Christmas CDs at top volume. I’ve tried lighting red scented candles in the kitchen. I’ve tried reading the Christmas story five times a day.
But I’ll still be relieved when Christmas is over and I can go back to my life where there’s no pressure to produce glorious, perfect holiday memories for friends and family to enjoy.
So p-l-e-a-s-e don’t think less of me. I’ll be back to normal in a few weeks. In the meantime, Bah! (or Bay! Or Baa! Or Baw!), humbug.
There—whew! I feel relieved now that the truth is out there. I think I may even be able to do a little shopping this afternoon if I bring along a small paper bag I can breathe into when I’m feeling dizzy.