I’m not a big fan of Christmas. Not having much of a Christmas, mostly, as a kid made me indifferent to the holiday. I made sure my kids had “good” Christmases, with the requisite decorations, festive baking and nice (not lavish) gifts. They never woke up Christmas morning to a cold house and nothing under the tree, or no tree at all.

But I’m sick of Christmas. I hate Christmas now. I’ve been noticing all the advertising “you MUST buy this to have a happy Christmas!” crap—-even Lexus has an advertisement for Christmas! And how many of us can actually buy somebody a new car for a Christmas present. Companies make a mint off Christmas—-Betty Crocker, Norbest—Hershey!!!

Yesterday, I was so tired before I ever got up. I’d been busy wrapping and baking cookies and tidying up and doing cards (and those before-mentioned CD’s). But I needed to wrap up a couple of things, so I headed uptown. Man, traffic was awful. I hate those Nazis who go the speed limit because then I have to go five miles UNDER the speed limit to be safe. Cars dodging in and out of lanes in front of me. I’m working to control my alternate personality that flips people off and calls them colorful names, but yesterday was a trial of that.

I was worried because “did I spend the same for Jared and Jessie?” “Let me see—-I got Jess the massage certificate, the towels, the school stuff, the inspirational cards—that’s four gifts. Jared, the work gloves and phone holder, the harley hard hat, fishing license, and a can of nuts. Will Jessie realize that’s really four gifts, not five? Will she be counting? Oh, crap, I put more in Jessie’s stocking than Jared’s. Why don’t they have anything for a dollar anymore? Stuff that used to cost a dollar now costs $7–at least at Smith’s!” I realized how crazy that was and I forced myself to stop with it. It was what it will be tomorrow morning.

As I said in Liz’s post, we put a limit to our grandchildren of $30 (the teenagers who don’t live here and who we don’t see often got a crisp new $50 bill) and I did well with that, although I had the same neurotic thoughts—-”will Maddie realize that she has four gifts even though two are in the same box and that I spent the same on each kid?” As I navigated the mean streets of Cedar City, I was going over my list obsessively, trying to total amounts in my head.

Not feeling the Christmas spirit. Stressing over money, traffic, and starting to resent my whole family. I went into Deseret Book because Bill really needed garments and I’d decided to use my credit card (f*** Dave Ramsey) to get him some. Oh my hell, you could hardly walk in there! There was a line for garments—apparently everybody else had the same idea. There was a guy holding up the line because he couldn’t decide on what temple bag to buy, for crying out loud, he looked at every bag in the store! The girl helping him was great, but I was ready to smack him up the side of the head and say “go with the black one, it’s a man color!”

I finally got up in line only to have the clerk ask me if I really wanted the 100% cotton briefs—”no” so we had to trek over to get the other ones, (the lady in back of me probably wanted to smack me) and they only had six pairs of those. A guy in my ward was shopping with his daughter and I glanced at him and had a thought—about size. “Hey, Paul, what size garments do you wear? Maybe 36 is too small for Bill.”

“I wear a 42, but Bill’s kind of thin. Maybe he’d wear a 38.”

A part of me thought “how crazy is this conversation?” Bought the 38′s. The lady in back of me stood too close to me and I gave her the evil eye a couple of times and almost asked if she liked the smell of my perfume. Resisted and finally fought my way out of the store, garments in hand.

I was so tired and stressed and thought with bitterness “Happy Birthday, Jesus.” And was struck at how un-Christ-like my attitude was and if I felt that way, 1000 other people had to feel that way, too, and how many people Satan and his minions bring over to the dark side at Christmas time. Spend too much, stress, get depressed, forget about God altogether and lose the spirit. Damn. Is Christmas like this in England and Australia, too? Germany? I was thinking maybe if I moved to Egypt where they don’t celebrate Christmas, I might have a spiritual Christmas.

Then I pulled into a Panda Express to buy dinner. Oh my hell, there was a car with handicap tags holding up the line. For crying out loud, does it have to take ten minutes to order orange chicken? THEN the next car took forever, too. I thought, “everybody must be buying for their parties.” I started to deep breathe as I calculated what I still had to do and make my list, putting “10 minutes” next to the item that read “drive to the sporting good store.” When I got to the microphone order thing, nothing. Then I realized that Panda Express must be very busy and the cars weren’t the holdup and felt like crap for thinking bad things about the handicapped.

After a few minutes, a voice asked for my order. As I began giving it, he interrupted me and said abruptly “just a minute, Ma’am.” I timed it. Four minutes later (sit still for four minutes—it can be a long time) he came back with apologies and took my order. I drove around the corner only to see said car with handicap plates STILL in line!

At that point, I took myself in hand. I gave myself a stern lecture about how it was Christmas and they were probably swamped and everybody had the same idea as me (what is up with THAT? I mean, why does the whole world decide to go to Wal-Mart at the exact same time as me?). I decided something that changed my whole mood and actually relaxed me to no end. I decided to be really nice to the guy taking orders and to give him a tip. (I usually do tip those guys if I have the money). I was cordial and friendly and commented on the busy days and he conceded they were swamped. When he handed me my food and I gave him the $2, he looked a bit surprised and thanked me and added “Merry Christmas.”

Well, Satan didn’t get me or that guy for that two minutes. Guys, watch out, Satan’s after your soul over Jesus’ birthday.