As you read this, Christmas 2019 is freshly behind us.
The celebration fell in the middle of the week, leaving a few of us with the challenge of having to go back to work Thursday and Friday. Ewwwwwww.
It should be mandatory to have Dec. 26 off as a paid holiday for time to recover. Some are currently online trying to return gifts or activate gift cards. There are a couple of traditionalists left who are standing in a line to return or exchange unwanted presents.
The commercialized holiday of Christmas used to be filled with joy and love of mankind. The date designated as the birthday of Jesus Christ was a time to bring the best out of people.
Since I could remember, Dec. 25 has transformed into a race for superiority in materialism, greediness and battles within, leaving a person feeling unfulfilled.
Each year I look forward to Christmas less and less. Being a Santa’s helper is a tough job. Holding onto the spirit and reason for the season is tougher and tougher. And the feeling of disappointing others and even yourself is a weight that gets heavier and heavier.
If you find yourself breathing a deep sigh of relief once it is Dec. 26, you might agree with a few of these top 10 reasons Christmas can be ruined.
10. Bad food
Fruit cakes can be good, but most of them are a log of nothing. Christmas candy is full of colors but one flavor. The combination of chocolate and mint is overdone.
As a man who has high blood pressure, I will partake in the temptations of canned ham and oven-baked ham for a brief moment. And for a couple of bites of deliciousness I pay a price with a headache that lasts the entire night of Christmas.
Christmas favorites like stained glass cookies, ribbon candy and cherry cordials are on my watch list to avoid. A bunch of useless calories that only will make your New Year’s resolution tougher next week.
’Tis the season to get single and save money like you just switched your car insurance to GEICO. Studies have shown the two weeks prior to Christmas are peak breakup time. According to a study conducted by journalists David McCandless and Lee Byron for the book “The Visual Miscellaneum,” relationship statuses on Facebook assisted.
I would venture to say most people get dumped as a way to avoid visiting families, spending all that “quality time” and dropping a bunch of ducats on a gift for somebody you don’t want to marry down the line.
Usually in a December breakup, one person was planning an escape route and had his or her eyes on sweet freedom from all those obligations. On the other hand, there is a victim who just has a rug ripped from underneath his or her feet. That person’s world has turned upside down.
8. Social media bragging
No need to write a heartfelt letter to that special loved one … just post it online. Now the world can see your most private, inner thoughts about your spouse, sibling, parent, child, coworker or anybody.
I use that first example to make a bigger point: When we post all of our Christmas business online, we suck some of the joy, purity and love out of the gesture.
For example, if a child has two households for Christmas because of divorce, the father jumps to Facebook to show off the monster truck he just bought his son on Dec. 23. Mom can’t be outdone. So she races to ticketmaster.com to purchase her son front row tickets to the Grizzlies game. She just won the internet after posting her gift to Instagram.
Some cases of online bragging just make others sad because they feel their life doesn’t compare to your outstanding existence.
Online bragging can just make you a target for robbery or somebody just trying to bring you down. Please stop the hashtag #wishyouwerehere …
Other things to avoid are showing off gifts, generic holiday greetings, using the family time as a moment to post and recording everything to the point it holds up the event.
7. Online shopping
Santa has a dark gray van with a blue smile on the side. These Amazon delivery vehicle are popping up everywhere as storefronts like Walgreens, Payless Shoe Source and more close down.
There is no more need for a person to hop into the car and drive down to the largest mall in the city and hunt for the perfect gift. You don’t need to invest time into caring for a special loved one and getting out among your fellow humans.
All you need to do now is pull out your phone and log into your online account. Browse a few categories and swipe on the items you want. Pop in that credit card information and wait for the boxes to be delivered to the address you designated. Let’s hope porch pirates are not out there looking for the hidden treasure.
Oh, one last point: The gifts in the box might be a surprise to a thief ripping them away from your front door. But your children or special loved one already knows what they’re getting. It’s easy to trace your movements on those purchasing sites.
Decorations are a festive part of the holiday. Millions of dollars are spent on these items that illustrate one’s love for the season. But a few of those decorations would lead to a life-changing event. House fires seem to increase during December. In the United States, fire departments responded to an estimated average of 780 home structure fires a year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees, in 2013-2017.
These fires have led to deaths, injuries to civilians and firefighters and about $12 million in direct property damage during those four years.
Besides tree lightings and holiday candles, some folks are just trying to stay warm and save money on the utility bill. We have to remember fire safety tips and educate ourselves on proper ways to decorate our homes and leave space for heaters. A few simple measures will keep this tragic event from happening in your home.
5. Real-life Grinches
Scams over the phone, via snail mail or on social media are one prime example of a Grinch. If a person decides to steal from a food pantry — Grinch.
Even in Millington last year, a man robbed a church and its food ministry. There are countless examples around the world of people ruining the holiday with thievery.
Authority figures like clergy, officers and doctors have been documented taking advantage of their positions and the public’s trust to get gains during Christmas.
And another type of Grinch is that person who wants to announce to a group of children about the status of Santa.
4. Not believing in the magic
Christmas seems to work better if your spirit is full of joy, wrapped in a warm blanket of innocence. A child needs to simply believe in Santa. And adults have to find that special feeling through a balance of giving and receiving.
The equation works for us adults through random acts of kindness, timely Christmas music, being charitable, giving time to worthwhile causes, a friend bestowing a gift on you and spending time with special people, whether through a party or private chats by a fireplace.
Then that magic will return and the good moments will outnumber the bad times.
3. Sudden tragedy
Since I was a child, I’ve loved the song “Another Lonely Christmas” by Prince. The 1984 song was classic Prince to my ears while I was young. But as I got older, I realized this song touched on a situation many endure when the holiday season rolls around. Now I hear this passage in a totally different way:
“Your father said it was pneumonia
Your mother said it was strep
But the doctor said you were dead and I
I say it’s senseless
Every Christmas night for seven years now
I drink banana daiquiris ’til I’m blind
As long as I can hear you smilin’ baby
You won’t hear my tears
Another lonely Christmas is mine
Another lonely Christmas is mine
Last night, yeah, I spent another lonely, lonely Christmas”
People die every day, and the days of December 1-25 are still eligible for someone we care about to leave this planet. It may be through a car accident while traveling, house fire, illness or even suicide. Death is the final part of life. And death doesn’t take off holidays.
2. Obligation to buy
We spend nearly $470 billion on Christmas annually. And the funny part is we still don’t get everybody on our list. While the retail industry appreciates the boost, Christmas has become even more commercialized.
You write a list and you try to make everybody happy with material gifts. But being Santa is a year-round thing, and those who truly value your existence shouldn’t put a price tag on you.
Are you waking up today feeling horrible because you overspent, somebody felt left out or, worse yet, a person is complaining about the gift? Ask yourself this question: Is it really worth it? Don’t go broke over this holiday. Don’t turn Christmas into a bill.
The previous nine entries lead to my No. 1 thing that ruins Christmas. Depression can come from feeling loss, missing loved ones who have passed, missing holidays from the past, feeling as if you are coming up short or simply feeling lonely.
Depression is no joke and is a hidden killer. Reach out for help. Allow your voice to be heard in a constructive way and in a productive environment. You’re not the only person who feels those symptoms of depression.
We’re all going to have ups and downs. Don’t believe all you see on social media — life isn’t 100 percent happiness. If we hold onto the magic of this holiday season and truly chase those sweet and pure things, we can have more presents to open that are priceless.
THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for West 10 Media/Magic Valley Publishing. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to email@example.com.