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East of the River: Holiday Happiness Hangover

By Katie East @RealKatieEast

There’s a magical time between Thanksgiving and Christmas where the world’s animosity seems to go away. People are still full and happy from the last holiday and are anxiously awaiting gifts at the next one. If you come across a Scrooge, then you’ve spotted the person who hates their family.

For the most part, people are just nicer this time of year. Everyone is cheery and willing to spend more money. As someone who gets commission on sales, I appreciate that. And, it’s just plain fun to help someone spend their money on someone else. Assisting someone in finding the perfect gift feels good: like a cup of hot whiskey with a splash of cider.

Plus, decorations never hurt morale. You can’t be in a bad mood in a room filled with white twinkly lights and poinsettias. And if you can, then you deserve a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past. Wake up and smell the artificial Christmas trees; this is a magical time of year.

To keep this wonderful feeling going until January, focus outward: friends, food and family.

This time of year is always fun because you get to see old friends in town for the holidays. People fly back in to their hometowns from across the country to reminisce on yesteryear. After the family festivities die down, all the local bars fill with people who have moved on to bigger and better things. It gives you the opportunity to catch up on old times and hear who got divorced or fat.

Which brings me to food. Like it or not for your waistline, food is a big part of the holidays. Nothing says nostalgia like delicious smells and tastes.  Holiday dinners are a perfect mix of classic favorites and new traditions in the making. Nothing feels better than making a new dish and having your family compliment you on thinking outside the culinary box. Thanks Pinterest!

Personally, I love family gatherings; I wish we had them more often. My large family used to get together every few weeks and celebrate everyone’s birthday during that month. It was great: Christmas 12 times a year. Plus, cake! Now, we only see each other at the big holidays.

I miss those monthly birthday get togethers, but it definitely makes me appreciate this time of year more. I wait 12 months to hear all the family gossip and laugh with my cousins. Hence, why I’m in good spirits all month.

If this time of year stresses you out, then you’re doing it wrong. Or, as I previously mentioned, you hate your family.

Sometimes, that hate is warranted. If you have a family that has a history of physical or verbal abuse then I understand. Honestly, I can’t imagine anything more awkward and upsetting than having a big family gathering be ruined by two or more family members yelling at each other while everyone else quietly spoons potatoes into their faces.

That happened in my family only once and man was it weird. My conservative uncle and cousin yelled that my liberal Mom wasn’t a patriot because she questioned President George W. Bush. Politically outnumbered, my Mom was still ready to shoot back every time they yelled to impeach President Clinton for moral reasons.

It got weird.

Though my sister and I agreed with my Mom we knew better than to speak up; it’s family. All we could do was try to calm her down and quote Anchorman when it got quiet:

“Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand fast!”

I can’t imagine what it’s like for families who do that on a regular occasion. I guess, in that case, I might yell “Bah humbug” at every happy person too.

For the rest of you, remember what makes this year so special. Be thankful for the opportunity to take some time off of work and spend it with the ones you love. Plus, you get to eat delicious food and stock your fridge with the leftovers you only get once a year.

Don’t stress yourself over obligatory gifts. Buying something small and thoughtful is always better than spending a certain amount of money you think is necessary.

And never, ever go to the mall. That will kill your holiday spirit quicker than your weird drunk Uncle: shop local or online. Who can stress out while shopping in bed?

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