Namaste St. Nick (Or How to Deal with Holiday Stress: Part 2)

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Along Fifth Avenue pashminas are purchased and Kate Spades are knocked off (Hmm…dear auntie would never know right?) and sold with flair for twenty bucks.

Columns, Homepage Sub, Keri English  •  Dec 17, 2012

In this time of flickering lights and tinselly trimmings, there descends an air of something iridescent. Houses shine brightly as neighbors compare air filled Frostys and red nosed Rudolphs, and stores bustle with shoppers galore searching for gloves, scarves, hats. The gifts we scramble for that we know they don’t necessarily need but they won’t tell us what they do want so…we take our best guess.

Cars sparkle freshly buffed and waxed, millions of nails are done, eyebrows and legs also waxed to smooth perfection. Facials and massages get the “one for me one for them” as we score Groupons galore and live socially on our friends walls. We announce the amazing deals we have found with glee as we surf the net to stuff stockings of those we live with, who will definitely peer into their furry little mouths. Everywhere we look there is primping and prepping, decorating and bedecking with sparkly cheer. Grooming goatees and polishing loafers, the guys get in on the holiday routine. Salons spill over and gyms fill to the brims as we all get ready for that big festive family.

And as we prepare to explain to mom how to boot up her new Kindle, and scratch our heads as Little Jenny unwraps her iPad Mini at age nine, we feel something indeed. As we set the table and polish the flatware, we count out candies to set beside each placemat. When we select wine, we go big so we can go home and imbibe with gusto. When we ready ourselves for forced seconds of too much dessert and the offending overcooked ham, we also stock up our Xanax and get ready for the veiled insults in the other hand of the pastry server.Such is life. We roll with the punches…and soak up the perks. Fireplaces and ecstatic children make it all worthwhile. Relatives from far reaches have the best egg nog laced rambles. There are perks.

We tend to put our guards up and that’s not a bad thing. We tend to overdo the need to give things and overlook that what we really need is time. We need time together with our families, whether we sit with twenty, twelve or two. We need time for ourselves as we book those massages for the week between Christmas and New Year’s. We need eight whole days of presents and hope they are all cash. We need lots of time to fall asleep on the eve of the resulting retail. Most importantly, we need time off from whatever it is we do every day—and the holidays? The holidays give us that time. We should take it, and we should relish it.

I did all of my shopping online this year except for braving a store with a friend spontaneously—but smartly sandwiched between a coffee and a long lunch. As I now walk around, grades submitted and time for yoga each day, I watch frantic rushing and fender benders. I see moms hollering at chocolate smeared, teary eyed, faces and dads popping Advil on benches at the mall. I see that the kids are only crying because they are surrounded by hundreds of strangers and want their own homes. The moms are yelling for the same reason, but are left to get the goods for the rest of the fam. The dads are understood by everyone—malls need Advil…at least.

Manhattan is especially tense, although the holiday markets are joyful as ice-skaters glide past. In the midst of the spirit and in between the racks of retail, there is an underlying tension that we try to dismiss. Currents of “what if” and what might be abound. But guess what? They are not everywhere by any means. Along Fifth Avenue pashminas are purchased and Kate Spades are knocked off (Hmm…dear auntie would never know right?) and sold with flair for twenty bucks. Trees adorn the parks and allow us to linger as we roll a hot chocolate betwixt merry fingers. Savoring window displays and exploring museum shop gifts, we think more of others and less of just us. We smile more. We take the time to see the displays and not rush hurriedly by. A walk in the park smells like pine cones on wreaths, and even Whole Foods is reminiscent of cinnamon brooms and mistletoe garland.

No matter where we go we take ourselves with us; we try the best we can in the face of crowds and intense relatives. All the world knows that we are who we are, but we forget this time of year, that it’s okay to just be ourselves. So take yoga in the morning on Christmas Eve and shine up those shoes for New Years and shine from within. Not a soul can take away your time and your time is now.

Gift your most treasured relatives with a rare book or two, but don’t forget that all the downloading that Little Jenny can do now. 99 cents to a couple bucks a piece means you can give her a smorgasbord of indies and you can get your read on too as you laze by the fire together. Enjoy the hours you glaze and marinate with mom, and embrace Little Jenny’s questions about how exactly the fat man fits down the big brick smoke pipe. Love the ones you sit beside in the park because at least you are done shopping. Smile at everyone because you know what? Tis the season to be kind! Sure it’d be nice if it was like this all year round, but at least we can take this moment to be thankful.

My gifting this year includes coffee and classes, facials, mani-pedis and of course, wine and Entenmanns. When we know what works why mess with success? Take a deep breath of pine and fill up the nog. I wish you all happy shopping and a stress free yule log!

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Keri English
Keri English is a native New Yorker with a penchant for pages both written and downloaded. Now a writer, editor and professor, Keri has also explored a bevy of mini career paths that have provided a wealth of literary ammo for the short story collection she is working on. Some of her favorite things include the scent of paper pages opened after a siesta on cedar shelves, blue Bic pens and black and white composition books. Keri's work has appeared in anthologies, newsletters, The Huffington Post, Indie Reader, Jezebel.com, USAToday.com, In the Powder Room and she blogs at kerialifeinwords.blogspot.com. Follow Keri on Twitter @WriteLoud

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