Enjoying the holidays, a.k.a. How not to get your tongue frozen to a flagpole

I’ve decided, against better judgment, to make the drive to Tennessee for Christmas. How to describe the holidays with my family…let’s see…Remember the scene in A Christmas Story when the kid freezes his tongue to the flagpole?  That about sums it up.

This year, I will be more patient. I will not let my family’s craziness make me crazy. Moreover, I will not let them convince me that I am the crazy one. I will go with the flow. I will not get annoyed, even after we make our 2,354th trip to Wal-Mart. I say this every year. I hear that repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome is the very definition of schizophrenia.

So to keep my sanity, I’m going armed with 3 strategies.

1) Employ the Richard Nixon approach. Did you see the movie Frost/Nixon? Post-Watergate Nixon deftly whiled away hours of interview time by veering his answers to exactly what he wanted to talk about thereby rendering Frost speechless. By re-focusing pointed questions about my (insert various lifestyle choices  that annoy my family) and turning the conversation toward more amiable topics, I can better appreciate the people around me. (Though it should be noted that in the end, Frost did get Nixon to commit verbal hari-kari.) 

2) Darwinism, Scharwinism. Someone once told me that I need to create my own experience. (And, in fact, it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote, “Build, therefore your own world.”) So I get it: the stress and obligation I feel really comes from myself because I’m the one who allows myself to feel that way.  Can I ignore the evolution of many, many holidays gone awry and enjoy the holidays simply by creating a warm and fuzzy feeling? I’m going to give it a go, Scopes.

3) Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.  I know the mantra that I always have a choice. I can choose to be annoyed by family members, obligations, having to sleep in the laundry room, trips to Wal-Mart or anything else. Or, I can choose to relate to it in a more positive way. See it as quirky instead of annoying, quaint instead of tacky, charming instead of whining.

Using these strategies may or may not produce a Rockewellian Christmas. I’ll give it a try and let you know. Worse comes to worse I’ll be bringing my own holiday cheer from New York. That’s right – My family lives in a dry county.

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