Stink, Stank, Stunk

By Catherine McNulty

September 3, 2010 5 min read

Do you live on top of a mountain and contemplate spending Christmas Eve stealing all the holiday fixings from the townspeople just because their Christmas cheer annoys you so? Or do you merely sneer "Bah, humbug!" in the direction of anyone who dares to wish you the good tidings of the season?

You are not alone.

Christmas is, according to songs and movies and greeting cards, the most wonderful time of the year, but though it's easy to romanticize the holiday season, the truth is most people spend it in a mixture of awe and dread. What if all you want to do is pull the covers over your head until after New Year's, when the rest of humanity has the decency to be in the full grip of a post-holiday hangover?

For all of the charitable donations and general feelings of good will toward your fellow man, more crimes are committed during the holiday season than at any other time of year. What is the cause of all this holiday discontent?

Perhaps nothing embodies the spirit of holiday displeasure quite like the title character of Dr. Seuss' classic book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" The Grinch is so famous that his name has become part of our common vernacular. Dictionary.com defines a "grinch" as "a person or thing that spoils or dampens the pleasure of others." Certainly, most crimes would fit that definition, but there are many other forms of grinchiness, for example, the pettiness of trying to have the last word in an argument with your blowhard uncle Albert.

So, what can you do to prevent your holiday from falling down the rabbit hole of grinchitude? First, recognize what is causing you to feel that way. For most people, it falls into three major categories: money, time and/or family. Once you identify the cause of your grinchy behavior, you can find the solution.

*Money

Who isn't feeling the pinch this holiday season? With the recent economic downturn and unemployment the highest it's been since the Depression, it's pretty much everyone.

Presents, parties and largesse are hallmarks of the holiday season, and most people aren't in a position to live up to years past. Instead of going for broke, be honest with people. If it's not in your budget to buy gifts for everyone, don't. If you have a large family, exchange names instead of getting every individual a gift, or just get gifts for the kids.

You also can find a budget-friendly activity to do instead, such as getting hot chocolate and driving or walking around to see Christmas lights. Charity work, such as volunteering in a soup kitchen or wrapping presents acquired by organizations like Toys for Tots, is also a good option. And charitable deeds come with the added benefit of helping out others who are in an even less fortunate position than you are.

*Time

Is there ever enough time? No. Which is a word the Mayo Clinic would like you to remember you can say. "Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity." That is just one of the many helpful tips that you can find on the Mayo Clinic's website (http://www.MayoClinic.com).

Generally, the first thing that gets pushed aside to make room for holiday activities is your regularly scheduled exercise. Though it can be difficult to keep your routine during this time of year, the benefits far outweigh the hassles of commitment. You must take care of yourself in order to take care of others, so make sure you still are taking the time to take care of yourself.

*Family

There is nothing on the planet that can make you feel so loved and so insane at the same time as family. Add to the mix the members of your family whom you only see during the holidays and with whom you have nothing in common and you could be on the first bus to Grinchville. How can you keep that from happening? Keep your perspective. Is it really worth baiting the politically diametric members of your family if it's going to make dinner uncomfortable for everyone? Should your elderly aunt Mabel's inquiries about your recent weight gain ruin your enjoyment of a once-a-year treat? The answer is no in both cases.

So the next time you feel yourself getting caught up in a full-on holiday grinchfest, stop and take a breath. Remember that the holidays come but once a year. And eventually, they will be over.

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