Thursday, November 28, 2013

Holy Hell… The Holidays Are Here (Again)!

            All of a sudden I get that angsty feeling in my body. My heart starts racing… and not in a good way. I imagine crowds of tourists and holiday shoppers, invading my streets and making it impossible to get to my place of work (which incidentally is in a park full of tourists and holiday shoppers).

            And whether or not this week kicks off the “official” start of the holiday season, I know the bitter truth. The holidays started back in September—at least that’s what the retail world would like us to believe. Perhaps this is part of the reason people don’t get as excited about the holidays as they used to. By the time they ACTUALLY arrive, we are over it. The only thing left to ponder is whether we want to hit the Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales, or simply avoid them altogether. I tend to go for third option. Commercialism, folks. Bah humbug!

While scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook, I noticed a friend’s status: “Remember when the holidays weren’t stressful?” That just made me doubly sad. Sad for my friend, but sad because I struggle with the same sentiment. Two other friends have already said they don’t plan on putting trees up this year. A coworker remarked last week, “I can’t wait til Jan 1st. I just want it to be over.” Granted my coworker and I work in a restaurant and we feel the holiday push in a whole different way than your typical 9 to 5er. When I worked on Wall Street it wasn’t a question of whether I would attend a Christmas party, it was how many parties I would attend. It truly was a time to eat, drink and be merry. In the hospitality industry, we certainly EAT, but we’re busy helping other people drink and be merry—for as many shifts as possible until we feel we can’t stand up anymore. Tis the season to make money, after all.

Sometimes it just feels like the holiday season is about anything other than, well, the holidays. Especially when you have vendors cat calling to you, trying to push whatever they have for sale. By the way, Overly-Zealous-Man-Renting-Bicycles-At-Columbus-Circle, I am NOT interested in touring around the city on one of your vehicles. For the record, just because I am wearing a backpack, does not make me a tourist. Please let me take the subway to the LES so I can get my pants altered by my tailor in peace, okay?

And for me, the holiday season brings the added stress of my birthday… a birthday that happens to fall on the last day of the year. And no—it’s NOT great to have a birthday on New Year’s Eve, in case you were wondering. One of these days I’m going to punch some undeserving soul in the mouth for exclaiming for the umpteenth time, “It must be sooooooo much fun to celebrate your birthday with the rest of the world!” Uh, no… it SUCKS. If you want further explanation of my feelings concerning my birthday, feel free to read it here:

But wait… here I am bellyaching, when I stop and remember I actually LOVE the holidays. It’s a time of year when telling the people who matter to you that they… matter to you feels natural. (Truth be told, it always feels natural to me.) It’s a time to look around you and be grateful for the ones you love, who love you in return. Even within the holiday chaos there is always time to breathe in and out, and recognize we made it through another year and look forward to new beginnings in the year to come. As corny as it may sound, it’s a time to feel the love and to spread that love outward… from your closest friends to perfect strangers. Anybody remember Annie Lennox’s cover of “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” from the movie “Scrooged?” Hmmm… hope it’s not just me. The bottom line is I believe the holiday season is about finding the “holiday cheer,” even at moments when the Grinch in you wants to tell someone to piss off.

In tribute to the 8 days of Chanukah and the 12 days of Christmas, here are some things I LOVE about the holiday season (in no particular order):

1) Ice Skating!
2) SweatersTo a New Yorker like me, nothing says “holidays” like cold weather and bundling yourself up in a comfy sweater.
3) Hallmark Holiday MoviesThat’s right, baby. They are cheesy and predictable and I love every minute of them. In fact, I have a Hallmark movie day coming up with my pal Betsy in a couple weeks and I can’t wait.
4) Holiday FoodDeviled eggs, eggnog, turkey and stuffing, pie, pie and more pie!
5) Santa ClausYes this Jewish-raised girl loves the man in red. Perhaps my Italian father can account for this. What’s not to love about a jolly, fat guy in a red suit? And he comes with all those adorable reindeer… hello?
6) Holiday DecorationsNothing beats a well-decorated Christmas tree. Wreaths, lights, garland… I love it all. And those front yards where the house is lit up so bright you can see it from several blocks away, just floor me. (I don’t wanna know what their electricity bill is!)
7) My MenorahOf course I can’t forget my beautiful menorah! And when I remember to light it, even better!
8) MistletoeI know it’s technically a holiday decoration, but I felt it deserved its own category per my “spreading the love” comment earlier.
9) Holiday PartiesEven a server like me finds a moment to attend at least one party! (Rosie and Kira… I’m Ithaca bound soon, so get ready for another Bota Box!)
10) Holiday MusicSorry, but I will never get sick of hearing Nat King Cole’s silky voice sing those famous lyrics: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”
11) Holiday CardsThey are certainly more rare these days thanks to the Internet and our Facebook walls, but they haven’t disappeared altogether. Whenever I receive a card in the mail, it makes me smile.
12) The Beauty of New York CityOkay, I know as New Yorkers we get jaded, but how gorgeous is NYC during the holidays? Everywhere you look, the city is decorated from beautiful store windows on Fifth Avenue, to all the Christmas trees, lights and those signs hanging from the telephone lines that say “Happy Holidays!” It’s so amazing!

I hope everyone finds a moment to enjoy the holiday season and make your own lists of what you love about this time of year. And Overly-Zealous-Man-Renting-Bicycles-At-Columbus-Circle—I’m sorry if I gave you a dirty look. But I still don’t want to rent one of your bicycles!

Happy Turkey Day everyone!!!

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