There are two ways to approach the steam train barreling toward us with Christmas aboard:
1. Sitting peacefully, cocoa or mulled cider in hand, gazing contentedly at every last hall and wall decked with boughs of holly and listening to an endless loop of carols streaming from a perfectly curated i-playlist, all while reveling in the scent of 30 different kinds of home-baked cookies, festively swaddled in plastic-wrap clothes, and beholding your gleaming farm-fresh tree guarding a geometrically correct tower of perfect presents festooned in elegant bows and hand-made gift tags.
2. Removing the so-called “bladder” from a box of budget wine, squeezing out the last drop at 2 a.m., then promptly falling, exhausted, onto the couch in front of your artificial tree with visible spine (despite your most valiant efforts to “shape” those blasted branches), and preparing to contemplate your messy mound of unevenly wrapped, bow-less gifts while enjoying a plate of reject cookies whose number is too high to cop to.
Instead of a festive playlist, you instead might turn on a Hallmark Hall of Fame rerun and secretly, just this once, root for the bad guy not to see the light in two hours. If you’re tired and cranky and it takes an anti-hero to boost your esteem about what you did pull off this year, you are forgiven.
Maybe these two scenarios are somewhat extreme, and maybe — OK, definitely — there are about a dozen other ways to approach this blessed yet blistering season.
If you’re anything like me, though, you lean toward 2, but you’re a striver and you really want to be a 1, even if you say that every year and nothing ever changes.
You can do two things about this, too. You can: A) Accept yourself and your life both as is or B) Ask, beg, pray and hope for real change, even in the simplest ways.
Let’s start with one tiny request to our higher powers:
Dear Lord and/or Santa Claus, can you please do something about this Pinterest already? Don’t misunderstand; this bountiful idea-sharing network is great in theory — and thank you for bestowing it upon our needy world — but it’s actually not helping me become a better person. Or a wiser one. Only a sadder, more neurotic one.
If perhaps you’d crash the computers of those valiant, well-meaning folks who regularly post all these pictures that illustrate how glorious Christmas and, truly, every other day of the year, can be if we work hard enough, I’d be most grateful. I don’t want you to kill their hard drives forever, mind, just temporarily disable them, at least until the rest of us get through the holidays with our heads in the game instead of the clouds.
Here’s the thing: With such little time left until the Big Day, I could be drinking cocoa, tree-front, and reading Christmas cards and watching Hallmark and rooting for the peace and light. Except I never got around to cards this year, again, so why should I expect many in return? As usual, I wasted too much time, effort and money trying to be someone I’m not: master chef/interior designer/gift-wrapping guru, whatever role best applied to whatever popped up on my Pinterest feed in a given day. So count me among the many responsible for the steep decline in mailed holiday cards, despite my regular preaching against a paperless society.
Today is Saturday Dec. 21, and time sure is running out, but I have three days to turn this jitney around. Today is holiday menu-planning day, in fact, and reason must prevail. Still … my head says “safe” — meatballs, lasagna, red wine, highballs — but my heart says risky — trendy, “craft” cauliflower, tree-shaped homemade biscuits and maybe some of that cranberry-apple-rosemary sangria that looks so lush on my computer screen.
Uh-oh. This isn’t looking good, is it? Dear Lord, or Santa, or anyone else who can help, save me from myself, please. The train’s getting ever closer, my car is filling up with crazy, and it’s heading straight for those tracks …