The Holidays (Hell-a-days)

The holidays have always been a tough time for me. Growing up in a divorced family, my siblings and I try diligently to make everyone happy, see all sides of the family for an equal amount of time. It’s never actually worked out that way and we always fail at it. As the oldest child, I’m intrinsically obligated to shoulder this burden and take it personally, right? My birth order demands that I take on more guilt than the most devout Irish Catholic out there. Mrs. Reese has threatened more than once to perform an honorary Confirmation to officially allow me into her guilt-driven clan. I digress.

My default setting this time of year is to opine about how much our first responders sacrifice for society. Working the holidays. Eating a sack lunch in the squad car between Domestic Violence and Drunken Disorderly calls. Fact of the matter is that cops, fire, and EMS aren’t the only folks keeping us on the rails. What about the long-haul trucker that’s several states away from his family so that our goods can fill the store shelves? The waitress and short-order cook working the roadside diner? You know that’s the best-worst coffee available for the road trips to make it home for the holidays. The convenience store clerk selling you those lucky Christmas Eve lotto tickets. They don’t wanna be at work anymore than the cops and hose draggers. The little bump in holiday pay isn’t worth the trouble, even though our budgets usually demand it.

From my own professional experience, I can confidently tell you the holidays are tough for most people. The number of domestic assaults goes up. The aging and infirm among us throw in the towel and refuse to see another year pass. The kids are sick, all the time, like their little germ factories are working for overtime pay, too. I don’t know anyone past the age of 10 who really gets to enjoy the Hallmark Christmas or Hanukkah. The pressure, expectations, and stress of all we put on ourselves is too much. All the wrong things done for all the right reasons. Some of our neighbors crack and take it out on those closest to them.

This year, our family’s doing something different. We’re boycotting Christmas. Not the actual holiday, just the materialism that’s gotten out of hand for us. Instead of gifts, we’re all going together and donating time to local charities. The little kids will still get something small, and I think stocking stuffers are still on the menu. But, in light of all our blessings, we need nothing else. We are safe, warm, and loved. There’s food in the fridge and the lights are on. Not all can say that. We’re wealthier beyond our entitlement, and I’m grateful for it. I also wanna do something for folks who can’t do anything in return. If you’ve already started The Absolver: Rome, Merci Renard’s statement about volunteerism is absolutely my truth. I hope the change in our little family becomes a tradition.

I expect that helping my neighbors will brighten this season, despite all my failings as the eldest caretaker incapable of superhuman time travel. Maybe I’ll execute perfection next year. I won’t hold my breath, so we’ll probably pass out some warm clothes and smiles instead.

7 thoughts on “The Holidays (Hell-a-days)”

  1. Amen. Retired school teacher and not a working police officer, but most is true for me, as well. Exception is that both my wife and I were raised in families who practiced unconditional love, but there are still a lot of negatives regarding the secular aspects of the “holiday”. Our sons and two grand daughters and our Christian faith are what anchors us to observing the “spirit” of the celebration. And we do know that we are blessed beyond what most of the people of this planet have to endure. I am truly grateful for the essential contributions of men and women who serve those of us who get a “break” while they labour, both the ones I know about, and the ones whose roles may never be known to me.


    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Walter, and for YOUR service. Most days, I think teaching school is a damned sight tougher than pushing a bumper. Merry Christmas, and I hope for a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2019 for you and yours. Be safe out there.


  2. Here’s my suggestion and it’s one I am working diligently on. Remove the word “Perfect” from your list of self expectations. It’s an impossible goal because Perfect changes all the time. I believe that trying to achieve perfection is working on someone else’s undefined expectations.


    1. I appreciate the feedback, Yvonne. I’m much more sarcastic and self-critical than often comes across in text. My aim for perfection only assures I’ll always fail. Gotta lower the bar. I’ll work on it for the next holiday season. Happy holidays, and I hope the New Year gives you even more than you deserve. Be safe out there.


  3. I can relate!! I’m the oldest of 5 and all the jobs/responsibilities fell on me! Now my 3 adult kids are following the same path. MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR


    1. Between Mrs. Reese and I, we’re the oldest of 9. Lots of cold desert nights back then, I guess. I often have trouble deciding if I’m herding ducklings, blind mice, or alley cats. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours, looking forward to a tremendous year for all of us!


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