I telephoned home last night, but I didn’t ask. Consequently, I don’t know what the General decided. I’m not sure I want to know. Earlier in the week, the General’s mother telephoned to let Treva know Michaels was going to have a one-day, 50% – off, mail-order sale on artificial Christmas trees. Of course, Treva was ecstatic. To make the sale even more enticing, free shipping was included. What’s wrong with this picture?
Day-before-yesterday, I answered the telephone to hear the automatic voice attendant telling me I had won a free trip to the Bahamas. It wasn’t that I was opposed to going, but I didn’t wait for the details. I simply hung up the phone. Maybe it is a carry-over from lessons learned from my dad, but he never bought into the concept that folks really give valuable things away. Of course, the only exception to that is God’s gift of grace. Dad also didn’t think car dealers were doing you a favor by attempting to sale you an extended warranty on your vehicle. My dad’s philosophy was, “If they can make money selling it, I can make money not buying it. End of story”.
So how does any of that fit in to the 50%-off Christmas tree sale with free shipping? I figure if you’re getting that good of a deal, something isn’t quite right. A 50%-off sale the week after Christmas might be noteworthy. Why would they put Christmas trees on sale this early in the year? I guess I’m skeptical. Of course, it could be that I don’t think we need a new Christmas tree. The one we have is perfectly good.
The General says the tree we have is too big for the allowable space. We now have something else in the space where the Christmas tree usually sets. So, why have a tree at all? I am perfectly willing to forgo the experience. The General would hear nothing of it. I’m puzzled. Over the previous weekend we identified 8 storage tubs of Christmas decorations (all good stuff) that we are passing on. I was started when the General said, “I never wanted to buy these anyway. You’re the one who liked them”. Honestly, one would think she’s been singing Christmas carols with Willie. It is not congruent with my sense of reality.
Sometimes I think if I just beat my head against a door some of this might begin to make sense. With the absence of that kind of jolt to my system, I’m still struggling to make sense of it. I am not ready for Christmas carols, Christmas trees or decorations everywhere. We normally don’t decorate for Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving. Already, the General is carving out a plan and I am certain it will include a new Christmas tree. All I need is six or seven more weeks to get in a frame of mind where all of that makes sense. Is that too much to ask?
The General would say, “Yes”. In fact, she’s certain that her mother was correct in identifying that the Michael’s mail-order sale will be for one day only. With a sense of finality, the General said, “They have a one-day sale all of the time.” “Doubtful” is my best guess, but I could be wrong. The one thing I’m sure of is that a new Christmas tree (ordered sight unseen) will arrive just in time. Just in time for what? To return it because it didn’t meet expectations? Who knows? The last time we bought a tree, the lights didn’t work. When we attempted to exchange it, the store had no more trees in stock.
So what do you do? The two word answer is say, “Yes Ma’am” or “Minimize stress.” You might be surprised by some of the information I’ve located. Some people say Christmas is more stressful than getting a divorce. I can’t imagine that is really true, but for folks in that category, they really need to lighten up. For one thing, the costs associated to a divorce has to be far more excessive than folks spend of Christmas presents. Throw in the emotional upheaval and I can’t imagine folks would think Christmas is more stressful. Even if your least favorite relatives are coming, it’s only for a day or two. Seriously, folks need to get a grip. Besides that, think of the stories you can truthfully tell after it is all over.
Another thoughtful suggestion is to “practice breathing.” Are you kidding me? Why do we need to practice breathing? I figure most of us have been doing that all of our lives. If we don’t have it figured out by now, we’re probably not going to get it right. Yet, when under stress, our heart rate increases and our breathing becomes shallow. Purposefully, choosing to breathe in deeply through your nose, hold for 15 or 20 seconds (that’s a lot of “one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three…”) and then breathe slowly out though your mouth. When you repeat the process for several minutes, it reportedly really does help reduce stress.
And for that after Christmas dinner drink, go with decaffeinated coffee or herbal tea. Caffeine produces cortisol which causes the body to have a heighten state of arousal related to the “fight or flight” syndrome. The upside to drinking decaffeinated coffee is that without the caffeine some people may fall asleep.
Speaking of “fight or flight”, it serves you best to rule out the “fight” before you even begin looking at alternatives. Flight on the other hand, may be a worthy consideration. Seriously, is there anything more enjoyable than driving around looking at Christmas lights? At least it gets everyone out of the house and a change of scenery might do you good. In addition, isn’t there always a last minute gift that needs to be purchased or a need for a quick run to the grocery store? If you’re lucky, you’ll run into neighbors and engage in a lengthy conversation. After all, wouldn’t it be rude to do otherwise?
Obviously, I’ve probably said too much already. It is doubtful you’ll hear me singing: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”. I could be wrong, but I bet I’m right.
All my best!