The 12 Pains of Christmas – Part 2

Click here to read Part 1 of my loving tribute to the Yuletide Season. Otherwise, plunge right in…


4. The madness of idiots who have somehow passed a driving test at some point in their lives.

Granted, the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is not going to win any awards for civility on the roadways. Many of these people are already beyond rationality, having escalated the art of vehicular insubordination to a level that would stun the citizens of any decent society. I’d almost say that these demon drivers consider it a badge of honor to terrorize neighboring cars as often as possible, but it’s fairly obvious that these folks have long since lost the concept of honor, if they ever grasped such a concept, and they have been reduced to grunting animals who simply haven’t been arrested yet.

But once we have reached the Thanksgiving milestone each year? Holy cow does it get wicked, and fast. Maybe it’s the whole Black Friday thing, that shopping hell-frenzy created by retailers, wherein consumers are convinced to stand in line for 72 hours for a DVD player they don’t really need because the one they already have works just fine. (Screw Hi-Def, do you really need to see every single pore on Angelina Jolie’s face? Like she has any. And the plot of the movie is still the same, regardless of whether or not you can see each individual blade of grass in the climactic rescue scene wherein Delphine de Dotard is whisked away from certain death at a fertilizer factory in Grenoble.)

Yep, that could be the catalyst. We have a shopping day where the Retail Gods convince the peasants that they must fight and rip at each other to somehow gain an advantage in a line that leads to a pointless victory, and then those same peasants are tossed out of the stores once the poorly-planned stock is gone. (Dudes, why advertise a sale if you are going to run out of the product 3 minutes after the store opens?) And the peasants, still pumped with adrenaline, get back on the highways and byways and they are out for blood, because they didn’t get the latest i-Whatever.

And this uncontrolled dissatisfaction and anger lasts for another month. From the Day of the Unfortunate Turkey to the Day of the Giving Gifts to People You Don’t Really Like but You Feel Compelled to Do So, bitter people rule the roadways and cause considerable distress for the smart people who planned ahead and bought what they needed on eBay three months ago. (And they did so at a better price and without having to sleep in a tent made out of discarded fast-food wrappers in front of a chain store that smells like lost focus.)

And thusly the darkness unfolds, with the mindless zombies behind the wheels of over-compensating SUVs increasing exponentially come Yuletide season, their otherwise-flatlined neural centers minimally reactivated by some holiday trigger. You can be innocently driving to the local supermarket on a benign voyage to locate the ingredients for figgy pudding, breathing in the aroma of your eggnog-scented car freshener and thinking pleasant thoughts about a kitten video you watched on YouTube, and BAM, hundreds of out-of-control vehicles are suddenly swarming all over the road, driven by demons hell-bent on forcing you to plummet into a nasty ditch and spill your pumpkin-spice latte.

You should consider some proactive steps in this matter. Call your insurance agent right now and demand something like this: “Update my policy to protect me against anything an idiot can do in a functioning motor vehicle. Anything. And maybe throw in a clause or something that will save my ass if I snap and go after one of these twit-licks with a meat cleaver, because it might come to that. And by the way, Mr. State Farm Agent, stop sending me those cheap holiday calendars that always go directly in the trash. With the thousands in insurance premiums I send you every year, the least you can do is send me a high-definition DVD player, even if I don’t really need it.” Click.

5. The radio stations that start playing Christmas music at the end of September.

Jesus would not approve of this. Stop it. (By the way, did you know that there are other religions out there who also have nifty songs celebrating their own holidays? How about we play some of those as well? Much closer to the actual holidays, of course.)

6. Those Salvation Army people with their stupid bells.

Okay, first, there’s that whole mess with the Salvation Army actively doing whatever they can to restrict the rights of gay people in this country, and that some of the loose change you plunk into their morally-rusty bucket goes right into the funding for such an un-Christian stance. (Haven’t heard of this? Go do some clicking on the Web. I can wait.) I’m already not going to give the bell-ringers a single penny, but does that stop them from getting in my face with a device that should only be used to signal the household staff that you’re ready for your bath to be drawn?

No, it does not.

Here they come, arms pumping and bells clanging, despite the fact that I’m babbling with my same-sex partner about the latest Madonna CD. (If these fools had read the bylaws of their organization, they would know that my kind are considered the work of the devil, and if you piss us off enough we can direct the paths of hurricanes with our sheer debauchery, at least according to Pat Robertson. Why are you begging for our tainted rainbow money?)

I just want to walk into the store and help the economy, since some of our elected officials clearly don’t want to do anything about it. I don’t want to fight my way past somebody with irrational focus issues that seems determined to psychologically abuse me with a musical instrument that no one has taken seriously since the Mayflower slammed into that rock. Get. OUT. Of. My. WAY. Do they train you to act like this? That’s some jacked-up wrongness right there.

Of course, on the flip side of the manic ringers who think that every human walking in their general direction is a beast to be sonically conquered, we have the total-slacker ringers who couldn’t be more obvious that they would rather be doing anything else in the world, including oral surgery. They just stand there in a dirty Santa hat, smoking a cigarette and lethargically waving the bell with a minimum of effort so that the thing only makes tiny clicks. You could throw a Buick into their bucket and they wouldn’t even blink.

7. The trashiness of certain customers in retail establishments.

I understand that some people are just generally pigs. Nothing can be done about it. They’ve been that way all of their lives and the stupid is deep. (We’re better off trying to rehabilitate the previously-decent folks who are drifting toward a life of sloth and negligence due to experimental drug-usage, unsatisfying romantic relationships, and failed attempts at climbing the corporate ladder.) But still, one would think that the Trashy Folk could take a shower and try to be decent during the holidays.

Sadly, this does not happen. Rather, the Trashy Folk seem to be on some sort of pork-rind inspired mission to prove to the world that nothing is sacred and we all might as well stop reading books and just go rut in the jungle. Specific case in point: The Christmas section at your local Target. Or more pointedly, what that section looks like after the doors open and the unwashed are allowed to touch things.

Things start out fine, with energetic employees lovingly arranging the products in a manner that inspires joy and harmony. Everything is glowing with childhood memories and a bit of sparkly glitter, because things just aren’t properly festive until glitter is introduced, ask any drag queen. It’s a lovely scene that could probably be in a movie where Sandra Bullock debates which hunky guy would prove more satisfying under the mistletoe and possibly be invited back to the sequel.

Two seconds after those fabled front doors open, you would think you were at a nuclear testing facility in the desert sands of Nevada.

Fragile ornaments have been unjustly thrown on the floor and shattered. Strings of Christmas lights have been ripped from their boxes and stretched all the way from here to the pharmacy (and you can never get those things back in the box). The wrapping paper bins have been knocked asunder like The Three Little Pigs story originally had four porcine characters before the closeted editor decided to chop out the subplot about the gay piggy with his fabulous foil-wallpaper house. And the Christmas candy has been both sampled and spat out in one aisle that is now a minefield of sugared goo.

What is wrong with people?

8. The Christmas cards that you fully intend to send but never do.

The art of selecting and sending Christmas cards is truly a fine thing, indeed. Or at least it used to be. But that was back in the day when people had both patience and a lack of other things to distract them when the weather turned cold and you could no longer leave the house. Envision, if you will, Laura Ingalls Wilder when she was surviving all those blizzards where they nearly lost the livestock if it weren’t for Pa and his rugged manliness.

In the current day, three things intrude on the sending of folded-cardboard greetings.

One: We now have the technology to communicate with each other every day, many times a day, if you happen to be one of those miracle people who have jobs where you don’t have to actually do anything. Texting, skyping, group-chatting, sexting. We can reach out and touch anyone as long as we have the right data plan. What’s the point of sending something through the mail if it means you have to wait a week for the payoff?

Two: Have you looked at the card selections lately in your local chain store? (This is assuming that you can claw your way past the bell-ringers and the folks camping out to save three dollars on an electronic device that will be obsolete in 20 minutes.) Most cards these days are inane, aiming at the lowest common denominator with “jokes” that wouldn’t make a sea urchin laugh. And the cost? Ten bucks for two cards, and it’s even more if you want actual envelopes, or a message that hasn’t been so politically-corrected that it’s more boring than the fruit cup at a retirement home.

Three: Time. Who has enough of that any more, with our crazed rushing to accomplish so many things that in the end prove meaningless? Maybe that’s what I’ll ask for this Christmas. Time. I’d like some of that, please, so I can sit down and sip some hot chocolate and watch the tree twinkle and listen to old-school Christmas songs that haven’t been mangled by the latest pop star and not worry about wrapping everything and just breathe.

But I still want that i-Whatever under the tree as well, the one that can sync all my contacts across every social media platform known to man, allow me to push a button and record my favorite TV shows while I’m being booked at the county jail for slapping a drunk Santa with the bigoted bell I snatched out of his ignorant hands, and scrub the toilet until it shines with the glory of freshly fallen snow…


Click here to read the next entry in this happy rant…


Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” and “Bonnywood Manor”. Some changes made, including the excising of a paragraph where I went a bridge too far with my disdain for stupid people doing stupid things. I realize this series is perhaps not the most humanitarian of efforts, but sometimes you just need a good juice cleanse, letting it all out so you can get back to where you once belonged…


31 replies »

  1. I feel your pain and frustration, I think many of us have experienced the same or similar, especially at this time of year.

    I recall one Black Friday in the 90’s where my (now ex) wife pretty much insisted that I wait in line at Best Buy to buy a DVD Player which was on offer at $75. Prices were back then usually $150+, so it meant we could have one, but it unfortunately meant standing in line at 5am for an hour in the snow and sub-zero temperatures to be allowed into the store. Then, you couldn’t move in the store. Finally, having bought one of the few remaining DVD Players as well as a 14″ TV / VCR Combo (remember those?), I had to shuffle the boxes a few inches at a time from the back of the store where the line for the checkouts started, all the way to the checkouts at the front of the store, which took an hour, with people trying to get past you all the time.

    I would never do that again. Now at least you can shop online, which is where we do most of ours. Some things are worth the effort, but Black Friday, forget it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Back in the day, I was a DEDICATED Black Friday shopper, getting up at 3am and hurtling myself into the madness. I clearly had some childhood issues that hadn’t yet been resolved. Now? No way.

      And yes, the birth of online shopping has been a terrific development, and it should have negated or at least mitigated the bedlam of physical shopping on that Dark Day. (Especially when you can often get a better deal by just ordering the damn thing instead of showing up at the store.) But nope, folks still invade the chain stores and continue to prove that humanity is slipping backwards… 😉


  2. “Here they come, arms pumping and bells clanging, despite the fact that I’m babbling with my same-sex partner about the latest Madonna CD. (If these fools had read the bylaws of their organization, they would know that my kind are considered the work of the devil, and if you piss us off enough we can direct the paths of hurricanes with our sheer debauchery, at least according to Pat Robertson. Why are you begging for our tainted rainbow money?)”
    Damn. I just thought they fed the homeless, with a required repent, and accept, requirement, which is super annoying, but does supply dinner.
    I will no longer feel guilty when I pass by those bell ringers.
    Actually, I still will, and I don’t even know why.

    My wallet will be closed to them from here on out and

    Liked by 2 people

    • I understand the “still feel a bit guilty” angle, as my avoidance does indirectly affect those in need, people who just need help and don’t have the luxury of turning down assistance. On the flip side, there are many terrific organizations out there who solely focus on decency, leaving the politics and discrimination out of the mix…


  3. I got a little scared when I started reading about Trashy People… I thought you’d caught a glimpse of me in my PJ pants and slippers walking to the corner market😱
    Dont even get me started on stoopid drivers… I live in SoCal, people get advanced degrees in Stoopid Driving on our freeways.😡

    Liked by 2 people

    • No worries. There’s a big gap between merely being comfortable and truly being trashy…

      As for SoCal driving, I can’t even begin to imagine dealing with it. On the other hand, the DFW area often ranks in the Top 5 Hellish Traffic Nightmares list, so maybe I can imagine the SoCal angle, just a little bit… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I did not know the Sally Anns were in the top five on the discrimination hit parade! I have never contributed to charity like that (I have a list; the organisations on the list get donations. That’s it.) and I certainly won’t be starting now, especially with them.

    I don’t like shopping at the best of times and I avoid it fanatically at this time of year (my family agreed to stop buying gifts). Yes, the stupid is very great. Wonderful description btw. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lynette: I’m hyper-vigilant when it comes to researching charities and where I might direct my money, and it sounds like you do the same. But despite that, I still find myself messing up at times, not fully grasping the underlying philosophy of an organization until it’s too late. It’s an ongoing education process, but when I find a glaring discrepancy, I can’t help but drag out my soapbox. (As if I ever hesitated to do so.)

      Luckily, almost everyone on my side of the family has stopped exchanging gifts, at least when it comes to the adults. (The kids are a different matter, of course. They always get goodies.) My partner’s side of the tree? They still go ALL IN…

      Christi: It may or may not surprise you, but I can’t remember the last year that I sent Christmas cards. I know it’s been a long time. But I have something of a fail-safe with Partner, as he relishes the process and does not hesitate to forge my name in the salutations, thereby giving me an aura of goodness that is a bit tainted… 😉


  5. Oh my goodness! You’re just now putting up your Christmas stuff? Isn’t it going to be here like tomorrow or something? LOLOL (I probably won’t even know.)
    I always started on November 1st. And, like you, had to crawl up into the attic, fish around for the pull chain for the darned light and then carefully step on the studs so as not to go crashing down through the ceiling. Of course, I went completely overboard with the decorations…and I had to do it all by myself. The most help I ever got from piece of snot was telling me that I needed to put an ornament “there,” while he opened another beer and lit another cigarette. I just wanted my children to enjoy it. If I can find the old pictures of the last time I decorated, I might post them. Then….there will be no doubt in anyone’s mind that I am (as the ex said) completely insane. 🙂
    My children and grandchildren are here, visiting the “family.” Curiously…I’m not included. What the gay hell?

    Liked by 1 person

    • First, please dig out those photos and share them. I would love to see how over the top you might have gone, as I’ve been over that top many times and it would be swell to compare notes. (I mean, you’ve seen the photos of my various villages, right? That mess takes WEEKS to put together.)

      Second, yep, I hit the failblog this year. I put out the tree, with just lights and no ornaments, and that’s it. I haven’t been in a negative mood or anything, it’s just that the timing was off with other things going on in my life. But now I’m feeling a little blue about it, so hopefully I’ll get my ass in gear next year.

      Third, as for the death-defying clamoring around in the attics, there’s a certain foot-sized hole that SOMEBODY (not naming names, but it might have been me) punched through the ceiling during a really inept moment. Luckily, that hole is centered above a spare closet that doesn’t get opened that often. (Which means we’ve never fixed it, because why spend money if nobody’s ever going to see it?)

      Fourth, you constantly crack me up with everything you write…


  6. Hahaha. The Salvation Army is one annoyance but around here
    There are people pretending to be like the Salvation Army from this or that organization…or no organization at all….dressed up and ringing bells.
    If you want to be of service, go to an actual shelter and serve 🤷‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely agree with your last line, which is why I have donated time all my life. (Okay, maybe not during my childhood, because who has a clue then?) Not trying to ring my own bell, if you’ll pardon the pun, but it’s just something that we should all do. Yes, many of us are busy, and yes, you can just write a check (and I do that as well), but everybody can afford to give a few hours for the greater good…


  7. I love the idea of things not being properly festive until glitter is introduced. Once, when I was facilitating a kids’ creative writing group, I asked a friend to help me design the invites for the year-end party. He insisted on sprinkling glitter inside each envelope – and when the kids opened them, they immediately sprinkled the glitter in their hair. I learned from those children: When it comes to glitter, why not go all the way?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your snippet of a story gives me great hope. I firmly believe that we all would prefer to have fabulous glamour whenever possible, yet many of use are hesitant and reticent. Go big, go bold, and celebrate every moment…

      Liked by 1 person

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