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I’m not the easiest person to be around at the holidays. There’s a bit of Scrooge in me.
Perhaps I’m just too comfortable in my well-defined, predictable schedule that some might consider a rut.
It hasn’t always been that way. Childhood holidays were times of wonderment and anticipation coupled with the carefree schedule of school holiday vacations.
At some point in early adulthood, holidays can become more about satisfying expectations than enjoying celebrations. In an effort to create the perfect circumstances to maximize family pleasure, grownups tend to experience less enjoyment.
Think about last week’s Thanksgiving celebration, for example. The host families all wanted to present their home in its ideal condition. Outside that means grass trimmed, yards raked and windows washed. Inside, it’s washing baseboards to dusting crown molding and everything in between. Bathrooms are scrubbed until they shine like a hospital’s surgery ward. Storage spaces and closets are filled temporarily with the clutter of everyday life to present a sense of neatness and order.
For the cooks among us, the holiday is about preparing the ideal menu with every item served at the ideal temperature at the ideal time.
Too many excessive expectations ensures stress and stress is not an element of enjoyment.
There’s also the desire to be all things to all people. Do we have enough vegetables? Who’s bringing deviled eggs? What do we do for the uncle who dislikes ham or the vegan among us? Do we make appropriate choices to satisfy the picky grandchildren and how about a dessert acceptable for diabetics?
Christmas brings its own pressures because it brings its own expectations and its own questions. Will she like the gift? Did I get the right size? What do the kids and grandkids want? When do we decorate the tree? How many trees? Do I have enough stamps for all the Christmas cards? How will we find time to do all the buying, all the wrapping and attend all the parties with friends, neighbors and co-workers?
Instead of slowing down and enjoying each other, holidays become a fast-driving contrivance designed to recreate the joy we experienced as children — back when holidays were about slowing down and enjoying each other.
But hopefully in our haste, we can build a few special memory for younger generations so one day they can struggle to live up to those expectations.
And in that way, a well-established holiday rut is crafted.
God bless us every one.
Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at (270) 505-1764 or firstname.lastname@example.org.