Reimagining the Holidays

by Ted Gargiulo — “Can’t believe it’s almost Christmas!”

Sound familiar? You’ve probably said that yourself. Bet you were just as amazed last year when Christmas arrived “too early”… and the year before. Admit it, fretting is as much a part of the holiday tradition as fruitcake and Figgie pudding (whatever the fig that is). I mean, how often do you hear anyone over the age of 7 complain that the holidays took too long to get here?

Seems that Jann and I just got through packing last year’s stuff away, and already it’s time to drag it back out AGAIN. That means putting our life on hold AGAIN, while we dig through a dozen or so boxes of glass, glitter, treeless limbs, limbless trees, bells, baskets, frayed garland, tarnished tinsel, colored blinkies, tangled twinklies, assorted thingies … and a lotta dust. It means shoving other concerns to the side, along with our furniture, to make room for all the holiday “magic” that’s gonna to make us so-o-o merry … once Jann reassembles the pieces and sets the stage. (Sorry, but decking halls isn’t part of my job description. I’m retired.)

Have you ever wished, just once, that Christmas would skip a year? Or that there were some temporal “beltway” whereby you could circumnavigate the whole hectic affair serenely and unimpeded? Imagine: you exit the beaten path shortly after Thanksgiving, then reconnect around the first of the year with your wits and finances intact. Now THAT’S holiday magic! 

Mind you, I have no issue whatever with the religious observance, such as it is. What puts me off is all the commercial baggage and secular baloney associated with the holiday; the bloat, the hysteria, the compulsivity and overkill that invades our lives each year. Not to mention the stress people inflict upon themselves and each other. Me, I don’t stress. I simply make wisecracks and get on Jann’s nerves. Fortunately I’m cute, and I blend with the decor, so she keeps me around.

One Christmas, I had this brainstorm and asked Jann what she thought about it. Let’s exchange our presents now, BUT…wait until NEXT Christmas before opening them! That way, we could prolong the mystery of what’s inside them for 12 months. (I’ve always contended that a gift, once revealed, never equals the sum of its secrets.) The delay would also give us extra time to admire those gorgeous wrappings before ripping them to shreds. Sadly, my brilliant proposal did not score any points with Jann, or our daughter. 

So, I had another idea. We take back all the items we gave each other last year and the year before, re-wrap them, then give them as gifts again this year. If the same old tired merchandise were covered back up and reopened a year or two later, we could maybe rekindle the surprise and wonder we experienced the first time around—AND, best of all, without anyone spending more money! The ladies rolled their eyes and snorted. No dice. Years later, I actually pulled this stunt on Jann, thinking I could fool her. Take it from me, it was a totally BAD idea! Don’t even think about trying this on someone you love. Big mistake!

If I’ve learned anything about the Christmas holiday, it’s that feelings and traditions are sacred, and I’m better off not screwing with them.

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