Festivus For The Rest of Us

Over the past two weeks, I’ve sat down four separate times to write a festive holiday post. Something light and fun about outrageous Elf on the Shelf shenanigans, ugly Christmas sweaters and oversized SUVs adorned with reindeer antlers and Rudolph noses. But I just can’t seem to do it. My yuletide cheer is buried somewhere inside a dusty box of velvet stockings and tangled lights that I didn’t bother to open this year.

Flashback to merrier times, circa 2006. Now jaded, the wonder has faded.

At the risk of being labeled a Christmas curmudgeon, I have a confession to make: It is December 22 and I’m still not in the holiday spirit. Maybe it’s the stress of shopping in overcrowded stores, the pressure to find “perfect gifts” and the financial strain that comes along with it. Or maybe it’s the absence of decorations at home, my self-imposed ban on Christmas music and the fact that I intentionally accidentally forgot to make a holiday card again.¬†Whatever the reason, I’m just not feeling it.

Maybe I need therapy for my holiday angst, too?

The irony is, I actually like Christmas and many of its commercial traditions: The cheesy spectacle of lights in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn and 13th Street in South Philly, the elaborate windows at Lord & Taylor, Barneys and Saks in midtown Manhattan, the tree at Rockefeller Center and the outdoor ice rink beneath Philly’s Ben Franklin Bridge are some of my favorite holiday memories (minus the crowds that, today, give me anxiety). What I don’t enjoy is the build up. For me, a day and a half of merriment — December 24 and 25 — is more than sufficient. A month (or more!) of Christmas carols, decorations and shopping is simply too much for me. The weeks leading up to Christmas have become overbearing and exasperating, both emotionally and financially, and frankly, I can’t handle the pressure anymore. Correction: I choose not to handle it anymore. Call me a grinch, but I think Seinfeld‘s Frank Costanza was on to something with his December 23rd Festivus holiday. Maybe not with the unadorned aluminum pole, airing of grievances dinner or feats of strength competition, but the abolition of overspending and overindulging is right up my alley.

Frank Costanza may have made up Festivus, but I like it.

Thankfully, my kids are old enough to be unphased by our deck-less halls and stocking-less mantel. They understand that Mom wasn’t up for the decorating challenge this year, and apparently, it wasn’t important enough for them to tackle either. So while no one here has visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, it’s not all bad. And I’m not a total scrooge. For the boys’ gift, we’ll be spending the weekend in New York, spending too much money shopping in midtown, fighting the crowds seeing the sights and bickering spending time with family. Lighting candles at St. Patrick’s Cathedral is on the itinerary as well, as I can use the extra prayers.¬†If I make it through the holiday, it’ll be a real #festivusmiracle.

Bam! Holiday card throwback-to-2008 style. Thanks, Facebook, for reminding me.

So whether your holiday is filled with candy canes and tinsel, latkes and dreidels, lights and corn or an aluminum pole, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy (belated) Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa and even a Happy Festivus for the rest of us!

Whatever you celebrate, happy/merry that.