’tis the season that separates the truly gregarious from the xenophobes among us. You know who you are. Some people spent all last weekend baking cookies and treats to share lovingly with families and friends. Other people spent last weekend at Jiffy Lube reading a 1999 issue of Popular Mechanics. Some people hung Christmas lights while cheerily greeting neighbors doing the same. Other people made a long day out of defragging their hard drives. Some people went early and boldly to the mall-filled heart of Tysons Corner while others wondered if they could just re-gift those gloves and Totes from last year’s stocking.
The hard part about the season is that all of those people have to be together at some point, no matter how briefly, and often at family gatherings where too much eggnog might be available. So, here’s a Seasonal Survival Guide for all who are making merry, or planning a reasonable pantomime thereof, over the days to come….
1. Who drinks eggnog anyway? Bad for your hips, your insides, your brain. Now is not the time to experiment with your beverage of choice! Forget the double espresso, too, there’s enough jingling and jangling of nerves this time of year. Consider the true benefits of water. Collect hero points by being the designated driver.
2. Express delight and surprise often… no matter how weird the gift. Even singing socks deserve some gratitude.
3. Don’t give singing socks. Ever. Not even to your crazy sister.
4. Go caroling. Shout out “fa-la-la-la-la” and sing all the verses in Latin to “Adeste Fideles.” Do the harmony for “Gloria in Excelsis Deo.”
5. Self-service checkout: not for newbies. Not for children. Not for people who want to chat with their girlfriends and family members who have fanned out through the store and keep bringing stuff to ring up. Do your thing to promote “goodwill toward men and women” by filling up those carts BEFORE you snag a place in the checkout line.
6. Let the driver behind you have that choice parking space. A small gift of kindness to another harried human being.
7. View Christmas lights by night. Go out to the countryside to see them across the broad fields, enjoy the vision of white paper bag lumieres illuminating miles of fence posts and long driveways.
8. Share religious and cultural traditions across many different expressions of faith and community. This is the season of Christmas and Hannukah and Eid ul-Adha and Kwanzaa and other communal, faith and family traditions. A world in so much pain needs a lot more celebration of the qualities that make us a human community, including the need to believe, to have rituals laden with meaning, to wonder at mystery, to respect the amazing diversity of the human spirit and soul.
9. Take a break from the political season! The IowaCaucusNewHampshirePrimaryPresidentialElectionTalkathon will resume shortly. Don’t ruin a great holiday with your declaration of candidacy.
10. Do find a way home, wherever home may be, wherever friends and family can share the ritual joys of the season with you.
In a flash, the world in late December takes a deeper breath, sleeps an extra minute, smiles a little brighter, winks merrily at the innocent awe and delight of toddlers waiting for Santa, remembering what it once was like to believe so completely.
In another few weeks, the new year will be already old. So, enjoy this brief moment of joy and hope for peace.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, May the Joy of this Season be Yours!