How the Pinch Stole Christmas

tangledlights

I was going to start out by saying that there’s a lot of bah humbuggery in this post, but that didn’t sound right.

I’m feeling the Christmas pinch and I don’t like it.

At my day (a.k.a. survival) job I teach a training module about workplace conflict. One of the components talks about the “Pinch Model” as in when you feel that particular point of conflict when it all comes together in that “pinch.”

Truth be told I think it’s a good bit of psychobabblery and I don’t really get the concept. I usually let my training partner cover that section.

But let’s not get lost in details because it gave me a really good title.

I love Christmas. I hate the holiday stress.

As I write this we haven’t bought the first present, haven’t decorated the first thing…wait, that’s not true. I brought my aunt’s miniature tree off the shelf. But that’s it.

True, we helped our son buy a car. And it’s red.

But all week people have been saying on Facebook that Christmas is just two weeks away.

I don’t believe everything I read on Facebook but, this time, they’re right.

Annoying, but right.

Granted, they’re nowhere near as annoying as people who had their tree up by Thanksgiving.

You know who you are.

December is always a rush for us. Largely because of our involvement in Glorious Christmas Nights. We’ve accepted that and our first year in the show was the year we bought our first artificial tree.

I’m less involved in this year’s show than in previous years. But if you’ve been reading here like you should you know I’ve had other projects.

And I’m in the midst of planning for one now. Have your tickets yet?

Yes, I made my own choices, and my schedule is my own. This post is not about that.

I think what I don’t like about the December stress is the notion that we have to do it all. All of the decorations must be put out. All of the treats must be baked. All of the parties must be attended. All of the money must be spent.

That’s not what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

My wife and I have been married for twenty-nine years and we have some wonderful Christmas memories. There are horror stories as well, but you’ll have to buy the book for those.

By far one of our favorite memories was twenty-five years ago when I found out the week before Christmas that I had cancer.  True story.

We had planned not to stay home and not even put up a tree because my father-in-law and stepfather were both scheduled for prostate surgery.

But the Thursday before we were to go I finally went to the doctor who said “Come back tomorrow and bring your wife. There’s a 95 percent chance that you have testicular cancer.”

We went back and I was scheduled for surgery the following Wednesday. That was the earliest availability of the operating room.

My wife made a quick trip to North Carolina to be with her dad. I stayed home to wrap up work projects and put up a tree.

On Monday my father-in-law and stepfather had their surgeries. My stepfather’s was not malignant. We found out much later that my wife’s aunt had a radical mastectomy that same Monday.

My surgery was on Wednesday. My wife and mother were there when the malignancy was confirmed.

The good news for me was that the surgery was successful along with the follow up treatment and I’ve been cancer free since that time.

But, back to Christmas.

We had no plans for Christmas dinner. But that soon changed.

We attended a beautiful Christmas Eve service. On Christmas Day we had a wonderful dinner with dear friends and gathered with more friends at another home that evening for carols and fellowship.

We were surrounded friends and family who loved us. And we remembered the reason for the season.

I would never want to re-experience what led to those feelings and those wonderful times. But I long for the warmth and the simplicity.

Out of necessities that aren’t quite so severe, we’re simplifying things this year as well.

Just before Christmas I’m heading to Atlanta to move the older son home for a while. It’s an intermission in his career. Just time to regroup in the locker room before getting back in the game.

Did I mention he’s bringing our granddog? Don’t tell the cat.

Right now I’m feeling the stress of everything that has to be done, much of it having little or nothing to do with Christmas.

But I long for the quiet of sitting by the tree (one, not two this year) and reflecting on the reason for the season. As soon as we can get it up.

If there’s eggnog with extra nog that will be all the more better.

We’ll get there. And that time between Christmas and New Year’s and having to return to the day job will be special and welcomed. Of course we’ll be planning for the New Year’s Eve event, but still.

I have a dream that one year I won’t get caught up in the Christmas pinch. That I won’t feel stressed about the tree not being up or no outdoor lights being lit. That there will just be time to be together and soak up the wonders of the season.

And the reason we celebrate.


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