The Joy of Life: Why do we go nuts with the preparations?

The Santa Claus caboose on the end of the Macy’s Day Parade was my cue to get my butt in gear: Start getting the Christmas cards and stamps together. Plan some parties and don’t forget to call Grandma!

After all of that, head out to get candy canes, a Christmas tree, wrapping paper, decorations and eggnog.

But, while I have to be in overdrive, I don’t have to be on autopilot.

Besides preparing for Christmas, I started thinking about the act of preparing in and of itself.

I remember a school sale in the late 70s. It was set up at lunchtime to give the younger students a chance to buy presents for their families. I was probably 6 or 7 years old.

Somehow, I had gotten enough money together to buy Old Spice for my dad and a blow dryer for my mom.  (Mom probably gave me money to buy something for Dad, and Dad probably gave me money to buy something for Mom.)

I was on cloud nine when I found a blow dryer for under $5 that I could buy for my mother. It seemed like such a big-ticket item.

Surely this prize would make her ecstatic on Christmas morning!

And that is what makes Christmas so magical! While Thanksgiving is a one-man show where the burden of the feast is stuck squarely on the shoulders of the host, Christmas gives everyone a chance to actively participate.

Even though the kids aren’t taking the minivan to the mall and exercising their credit cards, they have a secret stash of aftershave, ties and scarves to give out.

They are not just pulling their parents out of bed so they can dispense the toys. Kids can’t wait to see their parents’ faces as they unwrap this year’s editions of macaroni art and paperweights.

The preparations can drive us crazy, but it is the cumulative effect that makes the season so special for many.

Imagine a Thanksgiving where upon arrival, instead of smelling turkey, gravy and stuffing, your host says, “Oh, yeah, that’s right…I forgot you were coming. Well, c’mon in. I am sure I can throw something together.”

You would deflate faster than a soufflé because it is really the preparations that make the holiday.

You know that you are loved when someone has prepared for your arrival.

That’s what I am trying to keep in mind as I race from store to store this holiday season.

What exactly am I preparing for and what does all of this mean to me?

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About genemyers

Gene Myers is a New Jersey poet, music journalist and columnist who learned to walk twice. His weekly column is called The Joy of Life. He was awarded first place in Arts and Entertainment Writing by The New Jersey Press Association.
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