I'm writing this from a Starbucks, where I am being barraged with the demonic dissonance of "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas." In November. I saw my first Christmas decorations of the year at the hardware store in early September, and in my neighborhood, they'll be out until mid-February. Anyone who sincerely believes there is a "war on Christmas" evidently thinks that FIVE MONTHS is no longer enough for what was traditionally a twelve-day holiday. I'm done.
Years ago, I started avoiding the shopping mall during December. As militant decorators started pushing the boundaries of taste farther and farther, I started restricting my ventures more and more. I cannot bear Christmas music. It makes me clench my jaw. I have broken out in hives after hearing just one bar of one carol. You think you don't like rap or country or opera? Ha. At this point, I avoid going out at all. You can have my parking spot and my place in line. Please, don't thank me, not until March at any rate. I don't want to risk hearing any cheery holiday greetings.
The good thing about the cabal of constant Christmas coruscation is that it makes it easy to save money. I don't even want to go to the movie theater or the grocery store, much less the mall. Hyper-consumerist messages equate BUYING STUFF with love, happiness, and virtue. This reminds me that none of my personal values have anything to do with material objects. I love my family, and that's why I talked everyone into ending our traditional gift exchange and replacing it with visits, family dinners, and charity. Take that, holiday consumer machine!
What I do during the long, dark month of December is to focus on the New Year. New Year's Eve is my idea of a terrific holiday! A fresh start every year, a built-in milestone to guide my activities for the coming months. We usually get an extra paycheck in November or December, so this is the month when we get to put an extra check toward savings or our next vacation. I go through all the closets, drawers, and bookshelves and clear clutter. We plan meals on eating up everything in the fridge, freezer, and pantry so that we have a clear slate at the New Year. No more five-year-old mustard, no more salad dressing graveyard, no more freezer-burned mystery containers. Most people start the New Year in debt and overweight from the holiday bacchanalia. We start it out organized, energized, with the house gleaming from top to bottom.
I guess I have to thank this latest rendition of "All I Want for Christmas is You" for reminding me that I have better things to do in December. All I want for Christmas is an escape. Peace of mind. A couple of Skype sessions with my family. Snuggling with my pets. Catching up on reading. Maybe listening to some nice speed metal out in the garage, with my friend the elliptical. Thank you, Christmas excess, for returning me to my baseline of home comforts and frugality. Now pardon me while I run screaming out the door.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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