The weekend before Christmas is winding down, and while I obviously can’t speak for everyone, if you’re anything like us, you’re not lacking for stuff to do. Between office parties, family get-togethers, shopping, wrapping, drinking, baking, roasting, and super gluing patridges to pear trees, there’s a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on. Which is, you know, fine and all, but eventually it can lead to a condition of extended irkedness. Left unchecked, it can rather hamper someone’s appreciation for what should be a very festive, joyous time.
We really need to change all that. Admittedly, there’s no way to completely avoid all the stress and irritation that comes with the holidays. At the very least, you know you’ve got to deal with Uncle Wilson, who’s never had a good thing to say about anyone or anything outside of Richard Nixon; your wife’s Great Aunt Millicent is coming to dinner and she makes a Jello salad that looks, smells, and tastes like it’s studded with mothballs; and you drew the lady in the office gift exchange that you know for a fact has returned every present she’s ever received since getting a Chia Pet in 1983.
So, yes, the holidays can be challenging.
What we need to do, then, is to change the way we see things. We need a new point of view. We need a Holiday philosophy. What we really need is to get a little Christmas Buddhism.
Now, I’m not going to get into an in-depth look at eastern philosophy here. That’s a pretty big topic on its own, and you know, it’s not really what we do here; we make with the silly. Also, I’m neither a philosopher nor actually Buddhist. But for the benefit of discussion, I’m gonna hit a couple of the big ideas. Namely, that people suffer because they want, including both stuff and their own way, and that if you try really hard to keep from wanting, you’ll go a long way toward making yourself less miserable. Also, if you try to think about other people more and do nice things, it could help them be less miserable too.
How’s that for over two thousand years of philosophy distilled to 50 words?
Look, basically what I’m saying is that your holiday experience will be greatly enhanced if you just take a few days off from worrying about your own crap and go with the flow. Don’t like the place the company picked for the office holiday party? So what? I bet they’ve still got egg nog, rum, and some fine art-deco lamp shades. Sure, you might not be thrilled about the chicken entree offered, but really, if you can just relax and find a way to laugh with your colleagues, odds are you won’t remember dinner anyway. And everyone knows that family gatherings can be stressful, but your Mom loves to see you, and nothing’s going to make you feel better than giving a little seasonal cheer and family togetherness to the woman that gave you life. So, ignore it when Aunt Edith asks if it isn’t about time for you to have a baby rather than blowing steam out both your ears and instead decide to make sure your Mom has the best Christmas ever – one full of Kodak moments with genuine smiles that you’ll both remember, happily, for a long time.
Yes, I know that the holidays can be crazy, in any condition. If National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation taught is anything, it was that. But when we spend our time fretting about ourselves and our own silly stuff, we pretty much drag our a pack of dark clouds behind with us.
Set yourself aside, as completely as you can. I promise you’ll have a pretty damned enjoyable holiday season. Even if you do have a cousin Eddie.
And honestly, I’m not always Mr. Thinks-about-himself-last. I get petulant when we don’t go to the lunch place I wanted, and I like getting new toys as much as the next six year-old. But after years of sending Santa on wild-goose chases to find Mystery Item X, or whining because things weren’t going just the way I wanted them, I realized that everything really turns out a whole lot better if I quit complaining and instead just rolled with it.
Oh, and before anyone gets all bent out of shape because of my blasphemous, heathen suggestion that we could all add a little Mr. Miyagi to our mistletoe, I’d like to point out that I’ve made no suggestions here that aren’t fully supported by not only the faith that Christmas is most notably associated with, but by most of the other major belief systems on Earth. Except for the Flying Spaghetti Monster people. They only think about themselves and their noodly master.
Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards…others. I can’t do much, personally, about the peace on earth part, but I’m pretty sure the good will business isn’t too hard. The less I worry about myself, the more of it I’ve got to spread around.
Of course, if one of a devoted Puddintopia fan wanted to send me an iPad for Christmas, there’s a pretty good chance I wouldn’t send it back.
Denial of the material world just doesn’t extend to Apple products.