This time of year is like waking up late on the day of an important meeting.
The “holiday season” is upon us and we are a bit startled by it’s arrival, even though retailers have been warning us for about a month, primarily through the Thanksgiving and Christmas displays that jostled for position with Halloween decorations.
We sighed at such a sight, perhaps chuckled at the absurdity of it all. Well, we’re not laughing now, are we?
Things just got serious. Plans for Thanksgiving travel have been made and, depending on the destination, many of us will pack into our cars today or tomorrow for the annual trip over the river and through the woods, as the old song goes.
Preparations for the Thanksgiving Feast, an assemblage of foodstuffs far too extensive to completion the day itself, are well under way.
And, of course, there is a peek ahead to Black Friday and the Christmas shopping season. For many, Black Friday is a competitive sport and game plans are being devised and perfected. Like a coach might study an opponent’s game film, Black Friday enthusiasts scour advertising circulars, websites and newspaper advertisements to develop a shopping strategy.
Soon, we will make our annual pilgrimage to the attic, sorting through dust-covered boxes in search of those which are marked “Christmas.”
We will drag down the boxes, empty their contents and be overwhelmed at the assortment of lights, decorations and Christmas bric-a-brac before us. We will do a quick inventory, realize that some essential decoration is missing and return to the attic to search, in vain, for the missing item. Then it’s to the store again to find a replacement, muttering to yourself, “How can you possibly lose a Christmas Tree stand?” It happens every year.
There will be plays and programs and parades to plan for, all of them arriving on days when you would really, really rather be resting comfortably on the sofa.
Black Friday will be followed by Shop Local Saturday, but will continue through all the other undesignated shopping days right up until the evening of Christmas Eve, when the shopping assumes a desperate, pathetic tone.
Today is the Tuesday of Thanksgiving Week and we find that, somehow, we weren’t quite ready for this, even though we had been warned.
It’s like falling out of bed, still sleepy and disoriented, and hearing the shot of the starter’s pistol and realizing you are competing in the 100-yard dash.
We will find ourselves swept up in a mad, disorganized, crowded rush. So much to do, so little time.
The holidays are hard work.
Even so, there are a few things we can suggest that might ease the misery.
First, the best way to avoid the Christmas Rush is avoid being part of it. That is not to say you will be able to avoid the maddening crowds — you are not relieved of the obligations of the season. But the attitude you adopt may be of some help.
That starts with accepting the unpleasant truth that you are decidedly NOT going “to hop over to Store X and pick up Item Z and be back in a sec.” There will be traffic. There will be lines. There will be a shortage of Item Zs of the desired size, color or quantity. There will be people who are jockeying for their spot in the checkout line like grim defenders of the Alamo, ready to fight and die to be 10th in line rather than 11th.
To all this, we suggest that it is better to accept this as reality, relax and use a little counter-psychology. Allow the other guy to pull in front of you as you navigate traffic. Yield a spot to that desperate person who really NEEDS to be 10th in the checkout line.
Take your time, look around, smile, be courteous, find something to laugh about.
Finally, accept the fact that, for the next 32 days or so, life is not going to be normal.
It’s the Holiday Season.
Suck it up, butter cup.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.