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The Itchy Skin of Christmas (plus a song)

An emailer asks: Why do you hate Christmas so? I don't. I know it may come off that way but I don't hate Christmas, per se. Christmas just happens to entail my least favorite activity ever, shopping. And I don't particularly hate shopping as much as I hate shopping in person. I could spend all day browsing Amazon or Think Geek, but put me in a mall or department store and you've thrown me into my own personal hell. Ok, so it's not really shopping I hate. It's people. Let's face it, I'm not a people person. As I mentioned yesterday, I have some kind of crowd phobia. More than two people is a crowd to me. I'm not much of a socializer and I'm one of those crazy people who values their personal space. If I could build a four foot invisible wall of solitude around me, I would do it. I even mentioned to someone the other day that it's a good thing I'm not independently wealthy, or I would be a recluse by now. Sometimes I just have to cast my phobias and hatred of humanity aside and venture outside of my home. Work is fine. I have my own office, I'm by myself most of the day and not in some cubicle where I have to listen to other people chatter away or hear their phones ring or listen to their music. My job is solitary and I like it just fine. It's when I have to do anything that involves being with people other than myself or my immediate family that everything falls apart. So I've made three trips to the mall this week, plus two to Best Buy and two to Target. I make these sacrifices so my son can have his electronic dart game and my daughter can have her Hot Topic clothing and the rest of my family can be all smiles and happiness when they unwrap their Christmas gifts. I broke out in hives at Best Buy last night, which is a good indication that Christmas is just a few days away. Sunday's trip to Broadway Mall had to be the worst experience ever. From the woman in Target (yes, there is a Target in the mall) who kept ramming my ankles with her cart, to the overbearing, aggressive salespeople in that gadget store (no, I do not want a sheep with a clock in its stomach, thank you), to the girl at the Taco Bell in the food court who did not understand that in English, two burritos means TWO BURRITOS and not one taco supreme, to the laughing, smiling little children playing in front of the escalator, it was a day that left me sympathizing with people who climb water towers armed with machine guns. By the time I got to the escalator kids, I was already jumping out of my skin. My poor daughter, who swore that she would never, ever ask me to take her shopping again, was hiding behind her packages because I was snipping at every person who rudely bumped into me. Just let it go, mom. No. I will not let it go. Is it really that hard to watch where you are walking? Is it really that difficult to put the cell phone down for just a minute or two while you are navigating through a very crowded mall? Is it asking too much for people to apologize when they hip check you into the wall? So when the time came to flee the mall and we walked over to the down escalator only to be blocked by three little kids playing precociously in front of it, I lost it. No parent in site. Just these little tikes, maybe six or seven years old, blocking my path and playing a game of chicken with the escalator steps. Their shoe laces were untied and I think they were attempting to test out the age old theory that if you get your lace stuck in the steps, the escalator will drag you downward to certain death. So I waited a few seconds for them to move. They didn't. That's when I leaned down so I was eye level with each of them. I put on my best "this woman is psycho" smile, stared straight at them and said in a voice tinged with a growl "Are you going down or are you just playing?" The three kids just stared at me and one of them giggled and turned back towards the escalator, putting her foot down on the first step. She said "We're playing." So I looked right at her and said "Santa's not bringing you anything for Christmas." She stared a me for a minute, grabbed the other two kids and ran off to find their parents, I presume, who left them there to play by this mechanical monster while they sipped lattes in Starbucks. Anyhow, what I started off wanting to address was not malls or bratty kids or rude salespeople, but the perceived absence of Christmas in the malls. Maybe I didn't see any life size nativities set up in the center square, but I certainly saw my share of Christmas-y decorations, heard my share of "Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas" and saw enough people waiting in line to greet the somewhat disheveled and tired looking Santa to know that Christmas was, indeed, present. As I drive down my local equivalent of Main Street, I see wreaths and garland hung from the light fixtures and banners proclaiming Seasons Greetings, said banners adorned with angels (who I assume you have heard on high). As an atheist who has already proclaimed that I am not offended by depictions of the holiness of the day on public property, I have to note that I am also not offended by the more secular greetings of Happy Holidays that adorn many stores. I take Happy Holidays to mean Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, not to mean Happy Non Religious Winter Days To You. No matter. Tis the season regardless of how many decorations are strung in its honor, right? We all know it's Christmas, the scrooges and grinches all know it's Christmas and the cash registers at the mall all know it's Christmas. And I know it's Christmas because I'm sucking down Benadryl to get rid of these anxiety hives on my neck and chest. Maybe if I wear a low cut green sweater, I'll look like a Christmas tree. A walking holiday decoration! How's that for Christmas spirit? Well, I have one last shopping trip to make today and providing that I don't go on a murderous rampage before it's all over, I will finally be able to relax this evening and enjoy the remainder of the week for what it truly is to me: a time to spend time with my family, eat like a pig, drink like a fish, play stupid trivia games that always result in a thrown game board, give, receive and take a week long forced vacation from work in which the building is closed yet I have to use my own vacation time. I'm trying here. Really. I want to enjoy it. I think I'm just too high strung to ever really look past the aggravations and see the genuine warmth and love that pervades our culture during this time. Hey, I said that with a straight face. Maybe this will help: Download - Blink 182 - I Won't Be Home For Christmas [Sorry, download has expired] Lyrics below
(Deck the halls with boughs of holly fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la) (Tis the season to be jolly fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la) Outside the carolers start to sing I can't describe the joy they bring Cause joy is something they don't bring me My girlfriend is by my side From the roof are hanging sickles of ice Their whiny voices get irritating It's Christmas time again So I stand with a dead smile on my face Wondering how much of my time they'll waste Oh God I hate these Satan's helpers And then I guess I must have snapped Because I grabbed a baseball bat And made them all run for shelter It's Christmas time again It's time to be nice to the people you can't stand all year I'm growing tired of all this Christmas cheer You people scare me Please stay away from my home If you don't wanna get beat down Just leave the presents and then leave me alone. Well I guess it's not cool to freak on Christmas Eve Cause the cops came and arrested me They had an unfair advantage And even though the jail didn't have a tree Christmas came a night early Causes a guy named Bubba unwrapped my package (hot damn) It's Christmas time again It's time to be nice to the people you can't stand all year I'm growing tired of all this Christmas cheer You people scare me Please stay away from my home If you don't wanna get beat down Just leave the presents and then leave me alone I won't be home I won't be home for Christmas I won't be home I won't be home for Christmas (please post my bail) I won't be home I won't be home for Christmas (please post my bail) I won't be home I won't be home for Christmas (please post my bail) I won't be home I won't be home for Christmas (please post my bail) I won't be home I won't be home for Christmas

Comments

michele,

Kill the ideal. Bury it in a shallow, unmarked grave. This is the key to Christmas happiness.

That picture you have in your head of the perfect Christmas is your enemy.

Even I know that a machine gun is next to useless way up on a water tower. Take an assault rifle, or better yet, a good deer rifle with a powerful scope.

mmmmmmmMMMMMMMMONSTER KILL!!!

I'm not sure how the e-mailer came to think you somehow hate Christmas. I've been reading everyday and if anything, your posts indicate you love Christmas, just hate dealing with crowds (something I identify with).

I don't hate crowds, I just have VERY minimal amount of shopping time (5 kids, home chooled). I've only gone out twice, and never to a mall. Michele, you need to strategize better.

Rule one - NO MALLS. Rule two - if you have to go into some sort of megga store, get IN and get out. Have a target in mind,get it, buy it, and drive away. Sunday nights are usually pretty tame (timing is important). Rule three - small, boutique stores are the greatest. Hardly crowded, sometimes they even have coffee. My favorite place has little chairs I can sit in while they wrap. Rule four (Need this be stated?) Amazon. Finally-Rule five - bookstores. They might be kinda crowded, but at least you are surrounded by books, which offer such sweet soothing comfort. While there, buy yourself one. You deserve it.

Everyone on my list would get a 'Yard-o-Beef' or a gift certificate from Home Depot if it were up to me. The wife knows it and does the fruity shopping stuff for me. She loves shopping, I dont. In fact, I'm pretty much exactly like you when it comes to Malls and such. I find that by not shaving and giving off that 'I want to Kill everyone because the CIA and Aliens are monitoring me' look, people stay clear of me. It makes the whole experience is that much less painful and helps me hone my psycho look.

I've got a few hints for that Christmas malaise of yours.

1. You're the one who sets the pace during the holiday season, and only you can remember to plan ahead to avoid the smothering crowds and Christmas stress.
2. Materialism isn't and never was the point of the holiday. If you keep telling yourself you HAVE to get this and HAVE to get that, you're setting yourself up for either a major letdown or a physical stress reaction such as you have been feeling.
3. This may sound corny, but remind yourself of what Christmas is all about. Watch, rent if you have to, Charlie Brown Christmas. I realize that the animation may be centuries outdated, but the message is timeless.
4. Consider how many who are much less financially able to do everything they want for Christmas are able to appreciate it a whole lot more than we can.
5. Have yourself an extra eggnog. :)

I sympathize. Luckily, I finished my shopping yesterday, but I could have used my trusty "People Machete."

My girls quit shopping with me in 1999. It may have been something I said.

Christmas is a buffet.

Maim, don't kill.

After all, it's Christmas..

"only you can remember to plan ahead to avoid the smothering crowds and Christmas stress"

All I can say is Pietro definitely has some big, Christmas-size balls...

I deal with Christmas with the aid of lots and lots of online shopping and lots and lots of brandy hot toddies. It's hell on earth until the day itself, which I love.

I also love that Blink 182 song.

"So I looked right at her and said 'Santa's not bringing you anything for Christmas.' She stared a me for a minute, grabbed the other two kids and ran off"

BWAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Yeah, Jim, I laughed about that one, too. Although Michele may have traumatized those kids for life.

I'm possibly going to deliberately hit a mall today, even though I don't need to shop. I'm spending the day with Sorena, and her mother hates malls, and I think I'll tell her that I'll do the things with her that her mother refuses to do--like shop in malls near Christmas time.

If I get to use Michele's line, I will post about it.