Christmas comes "early" this year, meaning, according to my mother, that Thanksgiving is "late" and there are not quite four weeks separating the two most elaborate and stressful American holidays. "Bring it!" I say, because the anticipation is killing me.
It started when Halloween and the end of Daylight Savings Time were crammed into the same night. I may have gotten an extra hour to sleep the next morning, but I awoke to the screeching news that I only had 55 more shopping days till Christmas. As someone who occasionally relied on the "rhythm method" for birth control, I've got four kids to illustrate that I can lose track of at least thirty days without blinking.
And speaking of those kids, I have two with birthdays a week before Christmas, and precisely nine months after their father's birthday, but it's my own fault if I drank a little too much red wine at his parties. So I have three birthday parties to throw between now and Christmas (yes, there was a Valentine's Day celebration with wine thrown in that resulted in a November baby,) but that is a chaos I'm accustomed to.
What I'm not ready for this year is all the aggression. Wall Street may be recovering from the recession, but not my friends and the folks I do business with. It was one thing last year for everyone to hunker down into a holiday of uncertainty and frugality, but this year the pretend-poor has turned into real poor, which is much less fun. Now, even if a person feels inclined to be a bit more extravagant and celebratory, they don't have the credit to fake it. It's a given that none of us ever had the actual cash on hand to spend by year's end, but we could intoxicate ourselves for a month or two with our credit cards. This year, we're all hung over and cranky as hell.
I've stopped entering department stores, even if just to walk through on my way between their parking lots and my dentist's office on the other side, because I can't take the assault of the salespeople waiting at the doors. I'm so aware of the fact that they live on commissions that I am too much of a commitment-phobe to even make eye contact with one of them without a pre-nup.
Online ordering is so much less confrontational and upsetting, but it's not like I'm safe from all the aggravation when I stay home. Have you noticed how many people are hectoring us in television commercials recently? I've fallen sound asleep watching some CSI or SVU and awakened to find myself scrunched duck-and-cover under my bed from the volume blast of someone like that Billy Mays guy berating me over a hands-free phone device.
So ho ho ho, here I sit, alone, at my laptop with no TV or radio for quiet companionship I have hunkered down in a sort of Holiday Battle Bunker, looking for Christmas sales in November and ordering gifts that come in one-size fits all, cost $50 or less and come with full return policies. I'm avoiding all human contact until January, when there actually may be some peace on my little part of Earth.