Candy cane-striped finish line
Dec. 19, 2016
by Ivan Raconteur

It seems as though we have been hurtling toward a candy cane-striped finish line for weeks, and I am relieved to note it will all be over soon.

Temperatures were still in the 60s and it was still light during the daytime when the first Christmas decorations and merchandise began to appear on store shelves.

The Christmas advertising also starts earlier every year, and is getting nearly as bad as political advertising, although the Christmas version is slightly less annoying.

The pace has increased with each passing week.

Our collective stress level is palpably rising.

Overheard conversations and social media posts make reference to people frantically scurrying to wrap the gifts they have purchased (and, in the case of some early starters, hunting for the gifts they purchased months ago and put away for safe keeping).

We are bombarded with recipes to help cooks create the perfect holiday feast.

That seems like a lot of pressure to put on one meal, especially with all the other complications that are in play this time of year.

People can be seen adding things to, or checking things off, lists of things that must be done before the holiday (and the guests) arrive.

The malls, from what I can gather, are full of people engaged in hand-to-hand combat, fighting over the perfect gifts for their little angels.

I am not a fan of crowds or malls, and it has been years since I even considered visiting one of those places between November 1 and February 1. I avoid them most of the year, but during the rush to buy or return gifts, I consider them strictly off limits.

Listening to some people, it sounds more like they are planning a high-level NATO conference than a relaxing visit with friends and family.

To make matters worse, some people appear to feel obligated to spend every spare moment in the month of December running from one family get-together to another, in order to accommodate all the many fractured branches of their family tree.

Then there are office parties, spouses’ office parties, and other obligatory holiday events.

I haven’t much to complain about.

I contain my activities to a few informal events. I have no children, and few family members I need to see.

One of the chief benefits of being a curmudgeon is that I don’t allow artificial obligations to be placed upon me, and if someone is offended by my decision not to attend their event, I consider it their problem, not mine.

Still, despite my relatively simple life, I can’t help feel that I am being swept along on the collective tidal wave of holiday stress that grips the nation.

Given a choice, in view of the chaos of the holidays and foulness of the weather, I would be just as happy to throw a few extra blankets on the bed and hibernate until spring.

The good news, if there is any, is that, ready or not, we will all soon be swept across the candy cane-striped finish line, and it will all be over except for cleaning up the tattered remains of wrapping paper and nursing heads made sore by over-indulgence in holiday cheer.

Then, we can get back to normal, or what passes for normal, and that should be a relief for all of us.

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