Holiday Insanity: The Definition
I’d like to begin this post with the obvious:
1. Many of us drive ourselves insane over the holidays.
2. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Two aspects of Christmas, came crashing together in ironic juxtaposition yesterday – “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” started on my car’s CD player just as I was punching in my PIN at the Credit Union’s ATM. This event jarred me out of the zombified state I’ve been in since Thanksgiving weekend.
What are we doing?
Everyone takes a different meaning from “the holidays.” Some of us celebrate the birth of Christ; some celebrate a miraculous night where not enough oil became enough; others simply take the time to remember those less fortunate. But there’s a common thread woven through the snowmen, and menorahs, and manger scenes: we are told to “give.”
And we know what giving is “supposed” to mean. And yet we trample each other on Black Friday, and experience a financial holiday hangover when we sit down to pay the bills on that first cold January weekend.
It’s not like we haven’t been told, either. For some fifty years, children have been brought up learning the “true meaning of Christmas” via television specials.
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!” (1966, How the Grinch Stole Christmas)
“Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
(A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965.)
The tiniest tots (eyes all aglow or not) can recite what Christmas is supposed to be about.
Yet we don’t stop.
Some of us do, or try. But what to do when you have family that insist on celebrating a Christmas that rival the Griswold’s, and expects at least a certain degree of reciprocation, suck it up and quote Ellen Griswold?
(“I don’t know what to say, except it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery.”)
Why do we do the same things over and over again? Can we not overcome the basic need to keep up with the rest of the (human) tribe? Or are most of us just going along with the flow, afraid to speak up and say what everyone hopes will be said?