Updated: Nov 2
As I write this, it is not even Halloween yet. But Holiday crap has been in the stores since Labor Day.
Before going on one of my Grumpy Old Mansplainer rants, just a quick note: I'm working on two BIG essays... one about tracking down and purchasing my new pickup truck, and another about my upcoming 65th birthday dinner. (Partial spoiler alert: the dinner will be a re-creation of a meal from an iconic movie... I'm calling the main course "Roast Beef with Extreme Prejudice.")
In the meantime, we need to talk about Christmas.
If the enjoyment of Christmas hasn't been mostly ruined for you, you either haven't been paying attention or you still believe in Santa Claus. I'll skip a detailed delineation of everything objectionable about the modern Yuletide season and instead focus on ways to relieve your stress and enjoy it more.
Find a legitimate and ethical charity worthy of your support, and then make life a little better for people who might not even to able to have Christmas. It really, really is better to give than to receive... you'll feel it in your heart.
As evident in the photo above, plastic is everywhere... especially at Christmastime. Think for a moment about what plastic represents-- everything that is flimsy, cheap, and fake, permanent only in the worst sense of the word. Now imagine having a Christmas with zero or minimal plastic... no plastic gifts or decorations. It may be hard for some to believe, but people used to actually do that once upon a time. (And speaking of plastic, spending money you already have makes Christmas's aftermath much more pleasant. Unpayable credit card bills suck.)
Listen to Christmas Music.
But choose wisely, for a lot of modern Christmas is as cheap and tacky as the aisle of plastic toys shown above. Think old... "Holiday Traditions" is a satellite radio station worth a listen right now, and a multitude of other stations will be added in the next few weeks. I find Christmas music played on antique instruments especially soothing, and I really love "Rat Pack" versions of traditional Christmas songs.
Watch Christmas Movies Instead of Football.
The NFL season (including preseason) now extends from mid-July to mid-February. They won't miss you for a couple of weeks in December, and your family will benefit from your presence.
Make Holiday Cooking Enjoyable.
Don't over-extend your ability or your kitchen capacity. Stick to dishes you've mastered. Remember that cooking should be fun, and that stress is contagious.
Remember that Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/Pagan Rituals/Whatever all give substantial meaning to the season for people of faith. If that includes you, try not to lose sight of that. If not, you might want to just get outside some night and observe the deep and vast darkness of the Winter Solstice sky... and ponder, perhaps, that we might not be alone and that we might be here for a reason.
On that note, I'll leave you with one of my favorite Christmas memories... the The Apollo 8 Broadcast from Lunar Orbit on Christmas Eve,1968 from lunar orbit. (HERE is a complete and fabulous documentary on the historic mission.)