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Put the Fun in Dysfunction

I am so thankful to have a friend call me with a free ticket to the Nutcracker this evening. What a wonderful way to capture the Norman Rockwell –type nostalgia of the holiday season. We can walk downtown. Get a cup of hot cocoa. There is even an ice skating rink. Can’t you just hear John Lennon’s “So this is Christmas” playing in the back of your mind? Maybe if it was followed by my father saying “pull my finger”.

As hard as we (especially mothers and women) try to make our holiday gatherings look like the front of a Hallmark card, it never seems to work out that way. I learned a long time ago that I enjoy the hilarity of my family’s celebrations. It is definitely more National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation than Bing Crosby’s White Christmas.

Allow me to explain. When I was 3 and my brother was 6, our parents woke us up and held us as we peered down into our living room as Santa, yes SANTA, was setting down our Cabbage Patch Dolls. (Circa 1983) So for years to come, he and I would get into major arguments with friends about the real existence of Santa. Of COURSE it was not our dad dressed up. Dad was with us!

How adorable? Right? Well, a decade or so later we were discussing the great Santa visit of our early childhood. Upon which my mother remarked, “If only I had a picture of that guy knocking back that 6 pack in our den.” My teenage brain faltered momentarily enough for my mother to explain how my parents had paid the town drunk with a 6 pack of beer, who for reasons still not clear to me owned a Santa suit, to dress up and set out our presents. This story is a double happy moment for me. One being that I can still remember watching Santa as my father held me out my bedroom door. And the next, knowing that Santa was a few sheets to the wind.

In the past few years, I have seen a hugely popular item crop up within the households of my FWC (that’s Friends With Children). The magical Elf. He has many names and forms, but essentially he comes to life at night creating mischief and sometimes helps parents regulate children’s behavior during the rambunctious holiday season. What a great idea!

My mother beat you all to it. For you religious history buffs, you know that January 6th is a subtle holiday known as Epiphany. This is the day celebrated as the actual day the 3 Wisemen found baby Jesus. I can remember my peers making fun of me for knowing this at such a young age. Why you ask? Was I really good at paying attention in Sunday school? Heck no. My mother’s oldest manger scene was historically accurate. The small porcelain baby Jesus did not show up until Christmas morning. And the 3 Wisemen traveled around the house, into dresser drawers, and inside the refrigerator, all season, until they appropriately arrived at their destination on January 6th. At least once a season they would show up in my elementary school lunchbox prompting me to explain to my 10 year old colleagues why 3 Wisemen were monitoring my PB&J.

So why am I telling you all of this? We’ve been through one heck of a year. As a country, for better or worse, we have a new leader. The job market is slowly turning around. We are hopefully learning from our mistakes. Our men and women are still fighting around the globe. I have a client who will finally get to see her new husband for 2 weeks over Christmas after his deployment in Iraq for several months. I am so lucky to only be 90 miles from my family.

For a brief moment my sophomore year of college, I was given a diagnosis of having 2 years to live. That is another story, but it has made me realize that all we have is now. Even though I wish Santa would stop sticking his big belly into my Thanksgiving, I find myself being glad that society wants to spread out the joy and excitement of the season. No matter how hard my mother has worked to make her home a Christmas wonderland, my favorite parts will be less than perfect.

When I walk in the door, before I even put my bags down, my hairy dogs and I will play and snuggle on the floor. At some point, one of the nephews will have a break down. Something will be spilled. Something will get broken. A dog will probably throw up from eating something from the trash. My grandparents’ condo will be 80 degrees with 14 people crammed inside it. There will be dirty diapers and crying babies. And thanks to nostalgia, love, and the beer fridge in my father’s Man-Cave, I will enjoy every minute of it.

I hope you can see the great things the holiday season brings, no matter how you celebrate. Here is a great article to help make it as stress free as possible, and my favorite song of the season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/MH00030

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJxgqRoU0ew

 

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