Ok, time for a break from the usual serious commentary for something more pertinent: how to get through the next two weeks! The “Holiday Season” is a delightful time full of landmines set to trigger all manner of small faux pas that can cascade into major catastrophes — including calling this the “Holiday Season” in the earshot of those who insist that only “Christmas Season” will do. (I love Christmas and grew up steeped in the Catholic tradition of the mystery, drama and beauty of the birth of Jesus. “Merry Christmas” is still my greeting to my Catholic and Christian friends. But I also have many friends who are Jewish or from other traditions, and I always wish them “Happy Holidays” — seems to me that the real spirit of Christmas means that we don’t start small wars over greetings, Christmas trees in airports, Menorah displays, songs and symbols of the many religious traditions we celebrate at this time of year. Let a thousand poinsettias bloom!)
So, having begun the stirring-up, here are my Top Ten Tips for Happier Holidays:
10) Checkout aisle #1 — If you’ve never used the self-checkout aisle before, now is NOT the time!
9) Checkout aisle #2 — Don’t stake out a place in the checkout line expecting to let your five best friends with full carts jump in behind you.
8) Checkout aisle #3 — “Ten Items or Less” means just that. (Ok, it should say “Ten Items or Fewer” but our concern here is courtesy, not grammar!)
7) Take the first available parking space — the walk will lower your blood pressure and offset the damage of those tasty Christmas cookies!
6) Definitely enjoy the Christmas cookies.
5) Smile and thank the salespeople, even if they’re grumpy — they’re working to support their families and to make yours happier for the gifts you are purchasing. Be a generous tipper in this season.
4) Say “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” to everyone often — don’t stress about political correctness, people of goodwill will appreciate your kindness. Go to Midnight Mass. Pray for those who find fault.
3) Hang some lights against the darkness.
2) Make a financial gift to charity. Make several! Make a gift to Trinity!
1) Go home and celebrate with your family and friends. Enjoy them, even the weird ones, even those who annoy you, even those you wish would be different — they are all we have in this stressful world. They are the reason we have Christmas.
And I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight
Happy Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night!
(Thank you, Clement Clark Moore!)