I’m not a patient person.
I’d tell you why, but I don’t want to take the time to get into it.
The holiday season tests even the most tranquil among us: the traffic, the lines, the snippy sales clerk who you don’t really blame because the woman in front of you in line has asked for a price check on each individual bow in her overflowing basket.
Back in November, with the scraps of the turkey feast still in front of me, I made the promise to myself that I do every year: This year I’m going to keep Christmas simple and low-stress. And then about two weeks later my significant other walks into the kitchen at 1 or 2 a.m., sees me up to my elbows in a double batch of sugar cookies and asks, “Weren’t you going to scale it down this year?”
This year I had a plan for dissolving the seasonal stress. Every time I was aggravated, annoyed or just generally grinchy, I would sing phrases from “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Long line at the Post Office? “It’s the hap-happiest season of all.” Daughters didn’t leave a single piece of tape in the house to wrap a present? “Hearts will be glowing.” Crushed the joyful hearts of a dozen first graders when they ran out of jingle bells during the school party? “Be of good cheer.”
But then there was a week without Yahoo, two back surgeries and a flaming semi on I-70. You might argue otherwise, but to me the unholy trinity of stress is made up of the internet, the medical system and traffic. During this year’s days of Christmas, I dealt with all three thieves of holiday joy. Chances are you had an encounter with at least one of them.
Like thousands of others I lost access to my Yahoo account two weeks before Christmas. As in no e-mail, which means, no present tracking, no looking up addresses of old friends for cards and no invite information for holiday happenings. Because the on-line system was down, they required a call to customer service. It was during this process I learned that after you’ve been on hold for an hour and a half–listening to Muzak and a message that says “Your call is very important to us”–they actually hang up on you. How festive.
Around about this time, my husband had his first back surgery to “shave” bulges on two of the lower discs in his back. He would have a second surgery 10 days later because things didn’t go as planned the first time around. You know surgery, where you show up three hours early for a 40-minute procedure. Needless to say we were not feeling goodwill toward the nurse who took a phone call before signing the release papers we’d been waiting for, long after my husband was cleared to go home.
Then came the trying ordeal of being parked on I-70 for more than an hour while they cleaned up the charred remains of tractor-trailer that had caught fire six hours earlier. I didn’t notice a lot of “heavenly peace” on the face of my fellow drivers.
The surprising thing is that this, the most stressful holiday season I’ve had, has also turned out to be the best one. Not being connected to the internet for a week forced me to actually pick up the phone and catch up with my friends in a way you just can’t do on-line. Being able to help take care of my husband has made me feel closer to him than I have before. And I actually had some quality conversations with my Dad and daughters while we were stuck in that traffic mess.
Ok, I can’t sit around contemplating human nature any longer, I’ve got decorations to take down.