It’s Starting to Look a Lot Like Chrismukkah

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Golub / Flickr

All of these stupid holiday cards are really starting to get me peeved.

Growing up, I celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas. December used to be a month of joy — a month of storytelling and charity, of hot meals and endless presents, of chocolate in the shape of gold coins and in steamy cups with marshmallows. December used to be my favorite month.

But now December mocks me.

It turns out that though I was the gleeful recipient of holiday cheer, I’m not so great at creating it. And with every dang holiday card that enters my mailbox, December shames my holiday ineptitude all the more.

Two days after Thanksgiving, I received my first generic holiday card from one of those 12-packs you buy at the local pharmacy. If all the cards I’ve been sent had remained so impersonal, I might still be able to look at myself in the mirror. But no-o-o. My loved ones insisted on wallpapering my mailbox with pictures of their smiling families and personalized notes. The jerks!

I even received one homemade holiday card from a friend who included a page-length update on 2012 and a picture of her four kids (all younger than 6). As if that weren’t enough, the card sat in a pillow of homemade fake snow. Snow! I mean, c’mon! Is she trying to make me drown my shame in a bottle of Manischewitz?

I get it, people! You’re all goddesses of time management. Maybe Father Time has magically bent the rules of the 24-hour day for you eggnog-drinking, brisket-broiling senders of holiday cards, but I still am working within the normal Earth spin cycle. And 24 hours just isn’t enough.

It’s not just the holiday cards that shame me. It’s the parties. And the gift exchanges. And the lights. Good grief, the lights! We were never allowed to put up Christmas lights when I was a kid. I vowed that when I became an adult, I would string Christmas lights a la Clark Griswold. I wouldn’t stop until I caused a citywide power outage. But now I can’t fathom when I’d find the free time to attempt such a lofty endeavor. So naturally, my neighbor across the street is living out my childhood dream, complete with spelling out “Merry Christmas” in lights across his front lawn. I hate him.

Don’t you people have jobs? And families? And shopping to do? How do you find enough hours in the day?

Every night this week, I stared at the box of matzo ball soup in my pantry. I considered taking an hour to bring Hanukkah into my home. Then my baby would cry, and I would grab a frozen dinner instead.

And I was OK with that. I’d come to terms with my holiday dispirit. Or, I would have come to terms with it if my fanatical friends would let me. Though it certainly was not ideal that I couldn’t work into my schedule a rendezvous between my 3-month-old and the mall Santa, I wasn’t losing sleep over it. My friend, however, wouldn’t hear of such a thing. Two days after I kvetched about my tight schedule, he showed up at my house dressed like the big man in red — twinkle in eye and belly full of jelly in tow.

Do you see the kind of holiday extremists I’m working with? Every kindhearted gesture shamefully reminds me that I’m doing nothing to bring in the season.

Yesterday I was weighing whether a tree was even necessary, when the news anchorman on my television announced that this year’s Christmas trend is to have multiple trees. I laughed, fairly certain the universe was just sticking it to me. Message received. Santa’s shame game got me off my tuchis and into a Christmas tree lot.

My little family picked a 6-foot grand fir. We even found time to take it off the roof of the car. I got out my ornaments and menorahs from the garage and decorated my living room with holiday cheer. My husband and I toasted spiced wine as our son’s eyes transfixed on the Hanukkah candles. From the outside, I still look like a Grinch. But inside, my home is pungent from pine. There is chocolate in the shape of gold coins and in steamy cups with marshmallows.

It’s starting to look a lot like Chrismukkah.

I’d send you a picture, but heaven knows I’m not doing holiday cards this year.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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