Holiday meltdown in 3… 2…

By Mir
December 13, 2012

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and by “wonderful” I of course mean “stressful, over-hyped, and mob mentality PMS-filled.” Because really, it’s not just us, right? EVERYONE is cranky? Like, “Happy Holidays! ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME?” kind of cranky? I want to be peaceful and calm and bright, I do. And I assume other folks do as well. But the pace of the season and the rushrushrush to finish school/work/life-goals before Christmas and/or the end of the year is just turning us all into giant jerkfaces.

(See, you can tell I’m working really hard on being gentler and kinder because I said “jerkfaces” instead of “raging assholes.” I am so proud of me! I mean, I was until I pointed out… oh, crap. Nevermind.)

Even Hippie School—bastion of love and light and kindness—seems to be floundering in a bit of less-than-lovely behavior, no doubt brought on by that osmosis that happens between stressed-out parents and their kids. And I am less than proud of my latest approach to this, which is more or less to look my child in the eye while he’s complaining about someone else and say, “Stop. STOP. Ask yourself: ‘Am I being a jerk right now? REGARDLESS OF THE JERKINESS OF ANYONE ELSE INVOLVED?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ STOP IT.”

(I’m not saying this isn’t good advice. Heck, I’m working really hard on taking it to heart, myself. There’s that whole “two wrongs don’t make a right” thing, sure, but I find the lesson much more relatable when rephrased to “You only get to be upset with other people’s bad behavior when your own behavior is a shining example of kindness.” I tell you what, it takes the wind out of indignant sails more often than not, for children and adults alike.)

So anyway, people are cranky. I’m kind of cranky. And yet I am expected to be organized and stuff. So I’m working on that.

There’s upcoming holiday parties, so many of them! I don’t know how that happened. I am mostly holed up here at home, after all, and anti-social on top of that. But somehow we have all these invitations. And that reminds me of how people always laugh when I say I’m a hermit and they’re all “No you aren’t!” like I am just being silly. Penchant for exaggeration aside, I offer you this story as proof:

Last week, the doorbell rang one evening. We did not immediately run to the door, because the UPS guy often rings-and-runs and what’s the rush? But eventually Otto opened the door and there was a couple standing there, and as I rounded the corner, saying, “What did he bring?” (thinking it was UPS), I heard them introducing themselves and saying, “We’re your new neighbors across the street!”

I joined Otto and said hello and then said, “But… no one moved across the street…? The [family’s name]s are still there!” And I felt very smug for both knowing their name AND that they were definitely still there, on account of how rarely I emerge from my cave office. The wife pointed to the house NEXT to that one, and laughed, and said that was theirs. And so, I said, “Oh, did the [family’s name]s leave? Did you just move in?”

And then this sweet couple looked at me like I had brain damage, and told us that they moved in TWO MONTHS AGO. Otto started laughing at me, but tried very hard to hide it.

And THEN Monkey came careening down the stairs and popped his head out, and we introduced him to the new neighbors, and finally I was able to relax because they said something about how “He must never play outside, we haven’t seen him” and I was able to exhale from being so unobservant and chuckle and point out that he usually goes out back, or down to the pond, and then the conversation went on from there.

It turned out they’re having a neighborhood Christmas party and wanted to invite us (even though we had no idea they existed for the last two months). So that was nice. Except that we have two other parties the same weekend, and altogether that is… well, that’s three more parties than I actually want to go to, is what it is.

Cleaning out my office has kick-started my need for ORGANIZATION, and as such I’m doing all sorts of other super important things, like going into the closet where I chuck Amazon packages as they arrive and actually figuring out what items I have for each kid and where all the stocking stuffers are and that sort of thing. Also I am shipping out the last of the holiday packages and cleaning things and generally not recognizing myself at all. But I find that staying very busy takes my mind off of everything else, like the people I wouldn’t mind beating to death with my office chair.

(Whoops! Sometimes I cross that thin line between “cranky” and “vengeful.” Sorry ’bout that.)

It’s all really fine. Even those three parties will be fine. I mean, probably. My folks are coming into town next week and my sweet Chickadee should be home shortly thereafter and then whatever issues might remain shall be solved by the liberal application of potato chips, ice cream, terrible television, and—for the grown-ups, anyway—wine. And if that fails, there’s always ample opportunity to watch Licorice vanquish all of the pillows on the couch. (I seriously need to make a video of that sometime. It’s hilarious.)

After all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.


  1. Beth R

    The person who wrote that line (“it’s the most wonderful time of the year”) was probably on crack. Just sayin’.

    Hang in there! And I’m totally voting for a video of Licorice vanquishing the sofa cushions. I bet that’s great therapy for everybody involved!

  2. amy

    Deep breaths. Fake it ’till you Make it.

  3. Morgaine Fey

    It will all be ok! Everyone hates the holiday season no matter which flavour of tradition you celebrate!

    Although I would be fearful of parties as well. People? I need to socialize with? Without being able to see and re-edit whatever horrible thing I just wrote that sounded good in my head but once I said it, it was all kinds of inappropriate and I really need to rethink how I say this? (That sentence right there is why it takes me years to actually comment on anyone’s blog and then 15 minutes to even WRITE said comment.)

    Let’s see Licorice!!



  4. Brenda

    I only have one Christmas party, and I’m mostly looking forward to it. I’ve got a killer white elephant gift and I’ve used around 7 yards of sequins and a potholder to make my ugly sweater even uglier. I feel busy, but with simple things like hanging out with one or two friends. We got over a foot of snow over the weekend, and I’ve been miserable being out and about to necessary things, so I feel you on the hermit-ness. I’m keeping January light so I have time for casual birthday hang-outs. I never plan a party for myself because being hostess saps the fun out of any party, and that’s the worst when it’s your birthday.

    Also, the advice you gave Monkey? Spot on. I try really hard to remember that when a patient is being rude and difficult and I just want to tell them off.

  5. Navhelowife

    Yea, I was doing really well until I managed to get strep. Isn’t there an age limit on that?
    Best wishes for your parties, and for the lovely feeling of having both your children home.

  6. Arnebya

    If nothing else, I’d really like to see a dog defeat decorative pillows right now.

  7. js

    I am currently living in the land of online shopping and free shipping so I can avoid all those jerkfaces. This is completely out character for me because I big, puffy heart LOVE shopping. Except for this year. I don’t LOVE anything this year- all the fun has been sucked right out of the holiday shopping I am normally finished with in November! Let me know if you need anything from Sur La Table since I have to meet my $100 minimum order…Oooh! Icing spatuals! Nevermind. ;-)

  8. Brigid

    “Except that we have two other parties the same weekend, and altogether that is… well, that’s three more parties than I actually want to go to, is what it is.”
    And I really, really like all of the people hosting the parties we’ve been invited to and I still don’t want to go. They expect me to wear clothes and shower and stuff. Wah.

  9. Amy

    I hate the holidays. It’s the most horrible time of the year. Bah, humbug.

  10. Rebecca

    I’m suffering the crankies a bit too, but the thing that opened my eyes to how stressed out everyone is right now is when I came out of the grocery store and smiled at the bell ringer and she said “Aren’t you cute, all smily? Thank you, that made my day!”

    And then I wondered what most people do as they walk by…

    Merry Christmas Mir!!

  11. Javamom

    Honestly, bah humbug. We all seem to be spreading the joy.

    And I certainly don’t shy away from complaining about it on my blog. For the record, I forgot to bring my 5yo to a birthday party thinking it was the next day. And, for the foreseeable future, FAMILY DINNERS ARE CANCELED. Just watch me…

    Cheers! Looking forward to reading about other people’s dramas. At least then I don’t feel so alone in my crankiness.

  12. MichaelB

    Wait – so these people moved in and then went around to the neighbors and introduced themselves? In all our moves we’ve never done that – we wait for the neighbors to come and introduce themselves to us…

    It worked great until we moved to Ohio – and that’s probably why we don’t know most of our neighbors…. Well that and our whole anti-social thing…

  13. Mir

    Michael, they were going door-to-door with the party invitations. Maybe our other neighbors had gone over and introduced themselves? While we hadn’t even noticed they’d arrived. I wonder if we were out of town when they moved in??

  14. Therese

    Mir, with the way house has been this year, I can see how you didn’t know about new neighbors! They could have probably replaced your whole neighborhood without your notice!
    I am my usual Scroogie self at Christmas. Buying one gift for my guys ONLINE, cause I hates people and crowds, and then giving them what they really want…..MONEY. Works for me!

  15. M&Co.

    Mir, are you living my life in another universe? I’ve got the daughter with mental health issues which require she lives elsewhere, I have the ADHD son with the sensory processing problems and as his psychartist puts it, “he has traits on the spectrum but he doesn’t have autism” whome we have in a multi-sensory school AND we have a dog that pushes all the pillows off the sofas and chairs into the floor. I regularly walk into my living room and say, “how and why are these pillows and blankets on the floor?”

  16. M&Co.

    Oh and I meant to add, I’ve been saying since Thanksgiving, “I will be so glad when this year finally ends because I’m done.”

  17. Lucinda

    Breathe. Just breathe. It’s all you can do. Based on all the years I’ve been reading your blog, I don’t think you hate the holidays. I think you hate this year. And you have a lot of reason to hate it. I think liberal doses of wine and ice cream are definitely in order. Good luck.

  18. Cheryl

    I thought it was just me, but I can’t even figure out where to look for my holiday cheer this year. I have seriously considered just handing out $50 bills and calling it done. Too drastic?

  19. Melody

    I finished my final exam in RN school yesterday. I cannot be anything BUT happy!!!!!!!I have 3 weeks off!!! Merry Christmas :-) Thankfully, I do not have any invitations to any parties. I just want to stay home, in my house, by myself. Today anyway.

  20. Victoria

    Cheryl, my thoughts exactly!!! Seems like this time of year, the teachers (at least in my son’s 6th grade school) pile on the work, I mean like “major projects” kind of work and it’s just put a huge damper on my cheer I think this year! Can’t wait till in between the holidays so I can just relax a bit.

  21. Sharon

    A glass of wine, a bowl of potato chips, and a sappy Christmas movie = my prescription for myself and anyone else who needs it between now and the end of the year. I actually considered not putting up a tree this year, which is impossible to consider since all the kids will be home and I honestly can’t wait to have everyone here. I get overwhelmed with all that I want to do in addition to all I need to do. I hope that was my lowest point and it’s all on the upswing now. As Tiny Tim said, God bless us, everyone.

  22. BethRD

    I don’t want to get into how bad the last few weeks have been in our family, because I don’t want to come across as trying to one-up anyone, but let’s just say that anyone who tells me this is the most wonderful time of the year is likely to find whatever they were likely to say next hard to utter, what with my hands wrapped around their throat and all. Just saying I’m with you.

  23. Pip

    Holidays are stressful! I thought one of the pluses of being too anxious to make new friends was that you DIDN’T have a bazillion things to do in December, but somehow it doesn’t work that way. I’m the front end of the cow in a panto (don’t laugh…too much) and somehow I’m singing in the church choir for Christmas, which would be just great if I, er, believed in God…

    Life is weird.

  24. Jessica

    Oh thank God. I thought I was the only one with a raging case of the Crankies during December this year. (Okay, so mine started in November.) I just don’t want to deal with people. In fact, I’m kind of sick of all people around me except my husband. It’s a good thing that we like each other, or there might be an apartment cage match going on instead of hugging and bolstering each other up.

    I don’t even know what happened. One day, I just got fed up with everyone and started kind of being more antisocial. I’m going to become a hermit. THAT is my New Year’s Resolution. Hermitude. (At least that’s one thing done.)

  25. suburbancorrespondent

    Hang in there. Downton Abbey is coming back in January. You can make it.

  26. Amanda

    I’m right there with you. I don’t even want to put the tree up. Normally I would have done it last weekend. I didn’t have time. Now I’m thinking “All that work, and it’s only going to be up for a couple weeks, then I have to take it all down and put it away until next year.” That is of course unless we leave our tree up until April like we did last year. Don’t ask. Let’s just say autism won that battle.

  27. Laura

    “Stop. STOP. Ask yourself: ‘Am I being a jerk right now? REGARDLESS OF THE JERKINESS OF ANYONE ELSE INVOLVED?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ STOP IT.” is the most useful advice I’ve heard since my mother taught me “Never learn to clean a fish.”

    I would guess y’all were a little busy while the new neighbors were moving in. You are forgiven for not noticing. You can print this out and take it to them if you feel you need to.

  28. laura

    Guess what?
    “my sweet Chickadee should be home shortly thereafter ”

    This is simply the BEST THING EVER!

  29. The Other Leanne

    Did I mention on Facebook just now that I am on vacation? Yes. Did I mention that the reason I take my vacation during the last two weeks of the year is because I am positively homicidal and cannot take even one more party and all I want to do is crawl into my “zone of hibernation” because everybody just seems like great big jerkasses right now, and also this week I wanted to beat them all with my office chair? No? Okay, good, because I wouldn’t want all that exposed on the Internet.

  30. Tracey

    Holiday parties are their own special level of hell. Holiday parties given by people I do not know would be a completely new torturous level.

    But I’m a social recluse so that’s just my opinion. I’ve hade new neighbors going on five months now and have barely nodded heads in their general direction. My husband periodically points out that I should at least say Hi at some point and my response is “Why?”

    I am a holiday crankypants. Going to change into my Grinch PJ’s now.

  31. Juli Ward

    You must see the bright side of three holiday parties: lots of free wine!

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