The other day I was out with my mom and sister doing the dreaded returning, exchanging and subsequent bargain-hunting following our family's gift-giving, and while waiting in line I was surreptitiously, and probably inappropriately entertained by the breakdown of another patron waiting in line: this fellow line inhabitant was only a small child.
Despite her age and small stature, I was completely amused by her slow decent into full-on hysterics because, despite my years and height, I too wanted to blubber, throw my fancy hat on the floor and mumble things like, "I'm tired..." only to be swooped up by my patient mother and called, "sweet-pea". Instead, stuck in my twenty-four year old body, I had to keep my composure, internalize my desire to ask my mom to "hold me" and wait like everyone else to buy my new down coat at 50% off. It was this experience however, that enlightened me on the trauma that the joys of the Christmas holiday subsequently inflict.
For one thing, the holiday begins about a month in advance. In this month we are inundated with Christmas music, Christmas movies on television, Christmas movies in the theaters, Christmas decorations, Christmas cards, Christmas shopping and co-workers bringing Christmas-themed treats to the office every. single. day.
The result of this anticipatory celebrating is us getting accustomed to consistent good cheer, pretty lighted streets and an unending supply of delicious morsels to eat throughout the day. It also comes with the added anxiety, joy and nausea of traveling home. Anxiety for the travel. Joy to see loved ones. Nausea at the thought of running into that ex-boyfriend, high school bully or getting stuck at a bad table at Christmas dinner. And, don't forget another round of anxiety for the trip back. The combination of these emotions and the abrupt manner in which they end- this all occurs typically in three or four days tops- is enough to push any person to their limit.
Now in these post-Christmas days we find ourselves resigned to watch as the treats stop appearing in the office kitchen, the lights are taken down from the streets and the Christmas classics return to the usual top 40 hits. We are left, a few pounds heavier (please say I'm not the only one), a little less fiscally stable, missing your family and friends and if you're anything like me, re-playing an awkward encounter with someone from your past over-and-over in your head.
And so, at this point, exhausted and emotionally wrought it's no wonder that we find ourselves a bit despondent. And though I highly doubt it, perhaps, under the circumstances it was normal for me to find myself relating and, yes, relishing in a child's tantrum at that crowded department store, which it must be said, had an empty chair where his Christmas highness sat days earlier surrounded by elves and his main squeeze Mrs. Clause, as if we needed that sight to rub it in that Christmas was over...