I am un-Christmasing.
I am un-singing the carols, un-decorating the tree, and un-wreathing the door.
I am going into solitary confinement, concealing myself in a gelatinous cocoon, double-fisting Zoloft, and emerging in a few days as a born-again Pagan.
Un-Christmasing is a mammoth task, considering that for the past two months, I broke a sacred promise to myself from last year to minimize and simplify, and have been decking the halls, hanging the holly, hauling the credit card, and hurling harsh language – all in a psychotically-motivated effort to make Grandmother’s house look like a Thomas Kincaid painting when the family travels over the river and through the woods to get here.
Why do we women indulge in this annual masochistic ritual of what can only be regarded as the equivalent of bowel strangulation, like a band of conspirators, connoisseurs of human folly? It is truly an exercise for the mentally defective.
I suppose that as matriarchs, we try to preserve mindless traditions with awesomely brainless expectations, which is further evidence of diminished neuron function during the entire month of December.
Honestly, I’m at a loss to explain the phenomenon. Nostalgia is the opiate of the masses. It’s also exhausting.
So, in keeping with tradition, I am indulging in my post-holiday rant, a privilege I have earned from the frustrations and festivities of the past 60 days.
Last year, I made a vow and swore an oath, (actually, I swore many oaths) that this year would be different…I would be different. I would not take on a hemorrhoidal task that would bring a vale of sherpas to their knees. I would take a sabbatical from the insanity…and simplify. I would observe the true meaning of Christmas, and resist the urge to indulge in the frenzied, annual, excessive Christmas decorating competition with friends and neighbors. I would savor serenity, ensconce my mind in a protective Zen euphoria, assume the lotus position, and commune with my inner Mother Theresa.
However, right on schedule, the day after Halloween, as if pre-programmed by galloping dementia and a diabolical demon of depravity, I morphed into “The Noel Nazi,” “The Cherub of Cheer,” “The Ogress of Observations,” “The Deaconess of Decoration,” “The Empress of Entertainment Excess,” “The Matron of Merriment.”
I haplessly witnessed my own transformation from a mild-mannered Grandma into a teeth-gnashing, seasonally adjusted perversion of Lou Ferrigno. I became…THE HOLIDAY HULK!
It’s like my wobbly-bosomed body has become the host for an alien life-form – “traditionus tyrannus!”
The holidays are snugly nestled between protracted idiocy and prolonged insanity, as if for a space of time, I’m plunged into the vortex of some surreal Middle Earth, and I become a constituent with fellow residents like Bilbo Baggins and a cadre of unusual suspects. Bags ring my eyes like black-mascara funereal wreaths from too little sleep and too much Red Bull. And welts as big as anvils threaten to drag my eyelids down to my neck wattles. Not even mortician’s putty can conceal the carnage.
Why do I expose myself to the yawning mouth of a labyrinth from which, once entered, there is no escape? Knowing, as I do, that I will eventually have to face the Minotaur?
Perhaps it’s an attempt to self-mythologize, before time demands that I become surgically modified and prosthetically endowed.
Of course, on November 1st, visions of myself as the seraphic, ethereal embodiment of beneficence, Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel incarnate, dance in my head. By the afternoon of December 25th, my hair is matted by sleep deprivation, and my eyelashes look the legs of a dead spider. I’m more “mold, Frankenstein and myrrh-der” than “angels we have heard on high.”
Then there are the inevitable curves that one does not anticipate:
- “Stop peeking in the packages, Necie, and UN-SEE what you just saw!”
- “No, Carter, a Thesaurus if NOT a very literate dinosaur!”
- “Asher, it’s FIGGY PUDDING, not FRIGGIN’ PUDDING!”
Naturally, I prepared my annual Christmas Eve feast. I counseled with the butcher about how I planned to cook the ($200!) tenderloin. At those prices, I wanted to get it just right. He just looked at me. Then he informed me that if I proceed with my feloniously arsonistic culinary protocol, there would arise from my oven a great column of smoke and ash, to exceed any volcanic discharge of Mt. Vesuvius. He asked, straight-faced, if I planned to cremate the beast and scatter the ashes.
OK. Point made. I do tend to over-cook things to the point of incineration. I just have a fear of boccilinus gigantus, and prefer to have the children alive when Santa arrives. Carpet bombing the roast seems like the best way to kill alien amoeba that could infect the tribe. The butcher assured me that would not happen.
On Christmas Eve, we sang the carols designed to invoke the Spirit of Christmas…comfort and joy, peace on earth, good will toward men. But we sounded less like herald angels rockin’ Handel, and more like the “Farkel Family Singers” on steroids.
Asher’s seismic activity had us laughing through “Silent Night,” (“Silent night!” Really???!!!) a blasphemy of such proportion it nearly halted Santa mid-flight. That child would test the patience of all the Saints and Angels.
Christmas morning was anything but a Currier and Ives rendition. In a display of overly-muscular gift-opening, fragments of bows and wrapping paper ascended, like projectiles erupting from a missile launcher. My place looked like the casualty of a targeted attack from grenades, Molotov cocktails, and Isis.
Definitely not how Dickens envisioned it.
Well, too late came too early, and by 10:00 a.m., the adults were collapsed in recliners, hollow-eyed, grinning foolishly, uncomprehending, staring blankly, stuporous, unable to blink, while morsels of fruit cake drooled down our chins, muttering incoherent soliloquys to no one in particular. We looked for all the world like a collection of mutant, manic-depressive Mr. Peepers impersonators in an opium den.
I think, by most standards, this Christmas was a triumph.
But I am starting my New Year’s Resolutions early. Next year, I do solemnly swear to decorate less, simplify…focus on the TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS…fa la la la la…blah…blah…blah…blah
Happy New Year!