The Holiday Hellidays Stress Test Shit Show: Starring You!

(I’ll preface this by saying: I wrote this post once, WordPress logged me out right at the end, then wouldn’t save and erased the whole bloody thing. Ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha, please excuse my loud and egregious sobbing. Now I will rewrite the entire post from memory, and given that I have a memory like mouse-eaten underwear, it will probably look nothing like I originally intended.)

The holidays are fucking hard. Fuuu-huuu-huuuu-king hard.

Here’s the deal with the holidays:

All the things you have to normally do in your life? Work, kids, pets, family, bills, grocery shopping, regular shopping, chores, cleaning, repairs, masturbation, whatever — you still have to do all that, and you get the same amount of time to complete those tasks. Except now? Now you’ve got a mad-eyed elf hunkered down on your shoulder, and he’s got a holly jolly handgun pressed to your temple, and he’s like, “Oh, hey! Now you’ve also got to shop, and bake, and cook, and decorate, and don’t forget about those holiday parties, and those friends you never see, and the family you don’t like, and nope, you won’t get any more hours in your day JUST MAKE IT WORK or I’ll kill that baby reindeer over there and blame it on you.”

It’s a tectonic stress test. Your ground shakes. Your schedule shudders and buckles.

Not to mention all the other issues that come into play.

Got food issues? Ha ha ha, sucker. Enjoy not being able to eat 78% of the things on every table that you encounter. “ENJOY YOUR GLUTEN-FREE, SUGAR-FREE, NUT-FREE PROCESSED KALE SLURRY, YOU MUTANT,” your relatives cry as they eat cheesecake stuffed with a smaller cheesecake stuffed with a core of pure molten gluten. (“Mölten Glüten” is the name of my Scandinavian foodie metal band, by the way.)

Got weight issues? Oh, man, yeah, sorry. Here, just eat this tub of SUGARFAT ELF BUTTER, you’ll surely feel better, at least until you look in the mirror and all the body issues you’ve ever had will haunt you like the ghosts that terrorized Ebeneezer Scrooge — and it’s a problem that replicates itself, too, because you feel shitty about the way you look so you eat food that makes you look worse and then you go to see friends or family where inevitably someone says something totally inappropriately horrible (“OH YOU’RE LOOKING NICE AND CHUNKY THIS YEAR — NO, NO, I MEAN YOU LOOK HEALTHY, LIKE A GIRTHY, WELL-FED BEEFALO”), and then you just wanna go and bury your entire face in pie for the remainder of your days.

Got money issues? You poor fucker. We’re bombarded with deals like it’s war-time and sale flyers are propaganda papers dropped on our bombed-out mental cities with the singular goal of destroying our very will so that we buy more silly shit, and yet people can’t afford said silly shit and so like with the weight issue it’s a replicating cycle, isn’t it? Your credit card starts burning a hole in your pants like the One Ring in a hobbit’s pocket. Your credit card is a shovel and you dig yourself into a deeper hole and you can’t get yourself out of the hole because ha ha ha debt is fine, don’t worry about it, surely Santa will pay it off OH WAIT SANTA ISN’T FUCKING REAL.

Got grief? Of course you do. Everyone does. (Especially Charlie Brown!) We have relationships that have failed us. We have friendships that crumbled like a weeks-old scone. We’ve lost loved ones — hell, my father died in 2007 just days before Christmas. That gives the holidays an added, fucked-up dimension — like we’re all looking through a wintry window, except the window isn’t frosted over with snow and ice, but rather, slicked over with a faint sheen of crystallized grief. No time of the year is this grief more keenly felt — it distorts everything, just slightly.

What’s my point?

I guess it’s this: cut folks a little slack. You don’t know what they’re going through. We all have this secret, sub rosa frequency of stress and sadness and it’s a song you hear more strongly during the holidays — just be aware of that. The holidays can be a hard row to hoe for those of us in the best of circumstances, so: ease off the throttle a bit and as they say in that song: let it go. (Sidenote: I think I am the last person in North America to not have seen Frozen. I’m like the Omega Man, but of wintry Disney musical cartoons.)

This also means you have to cut yourself a little slack, too. Do your best and just let the holidays wash over you. It’s very easy to say — “Don’t fret!” — but seriously? Give yourself a break. Things aren’t going to be perfect. That house won’t be clean as you want it. Your work might take a hit. You don’t have to bake a thousand cookies and those cookies you do bake don’t have to be perfect.

And I recognize this is way easier said than done, but it’s worth a look at the holidays. Find the things you love about the holidays and also look at those things that stress you right the fuck out, and then try to cut out the stressful stuff while cleaving to the awesome stuff. Even cutting out a few stressors can make a huge, huge difference.

Just be nice. Be nice to yourself and to everyone else. It’s a happy time of year, but it can be a hellish one, too. Let’s all get through it together. Now: join with me as we go on the annual NOG-SODDEN ELF HUNT. Because this elf is a right bastard. Now mount up and let’s roll.