It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Or at least that’s the rumor. For some of us this time of year comes with command holiday parties, work gift exchanges, hunting down the “it” toy of the year and of course, dealing with a bit of family overload. So, what is a person to do when all of that holiday cheer threatens to turn you into the Grinch? Well if you ask me, I’d say with grace, laughter and when all else fails…wine!

This past Sunday our pastor was talking about how people react to the stressors of the season. Often this time of year magnifies all of the insecurities a person has.

The suddenly single folks are wishing they had that special someone to walk hand in hand with through the Christmas lights.

The unhappily paired up people are thinking that maybe they should have done the post-turkey break up in order to avoid having to grin through the gingerbread house making.

The penny pinchers are stressed because gift giving is about to break the bank. And those that have the funds to play with are worrying that they won’t top last year’s gifts.

No matter what it is that you’re going through, remember that you are not alone.

So when the idiot in the mall parking lot cuts you off and snags the parking spot you were trying to get, try and cut him a little slack.

When the wrapping paper that was such a great deal tears every time you try and tape down the corner, take a deep breath and pop the present in a gift bag instead.

When your kids’ schools schedule their holiday concerts on the same night at two different schools, divide and conquer! Just remember that this time of year is stressful for everyone.

Married or single, financially stable or struggling to make ends meet, mid-PCS or spending the first year in your very own home, you will find something that throws a peppermint stick into the gears of your well-oiled machine. If any of this is getting in the way of your holly jolly Christmas, please try your best to handle it with a little grace.

Keep in mind that we are just weeks away from the New Year and being able to pack up all the tree trimmings and relax for another 11 months.

In my family, grace is something that is often eclipsed with laughter. I’ll be the first to admit that my family has a sick, slightly twisted, sense of humor. When my cousin was diagnosed with cancer in his 20’s there were jokes aplenty about chemo being a great diet tool and how dashing he looked without eyebrows.

When my parents split up and my mother came out as a gay, instead of responding harshly to people who asked my dad how he felt about the situation the new answer was that she just couldn’t find a better man than him.

And who could forget my sister joking that eloping was worse than popping up unexpectedly pregnant, because she didn’t know how to tell me she wished she could have been at my wedding. Humor and snide jokes get us through every hard situation we might find ourselves in. Especially this time of year when we have 20 people crammed into my mother’s modest condo trying to snag the last lumpia off the tray without losing a finger.

Military families are awfully resilient and know better than anyone how Mr. Murphy can screw up even the best day. But one tool we have all learned as spouses is how to handle those moments with laughter. Sure, it’s really hard to find it funny when the dog has knocked down the Christmas tree for the second time in three days.

And no, it is not fun to stand in a line for over an hour with sugar high kiddos waiting to see Santa, only to have your darling daughter scream bloody murder the second she sees that jolly old man. But you have to admit, that mall picture where little Susie is looking at Santa with her stranger danger face is one your friends and family are going to love on the holiday cards this year. And watching Fido try and fight the tinsel he got tangled in causes you to laugh so hard that you can be thankful you bought the fake tree and don’t have to mop up tree water and pine needles.

I know it’s hard to find the funny in the moment.

But take a deep breath, take a good look at what you do have going for you, and have a good laugh at the moment. Because it will pass and things will get better.

If you can’t quite find your inner zen to give grace to those making life a little hard around the season, and laugher isn’t enough to get you through the Griswold worthy family affair going on in your house there then is always the Plan Z, last resort, go-to that is getting this teacher through the holiday season.


Or maybe something a little stronger.

Now, before you get ready to string me up with the Christmas lights for advocating drinking, remember that indulgences are ok in moderation. Cooking with wine does not mean drinking a whole bottle of merlot while you burn the Chanukah latkes. But spiking your hot chocolate with a little Baileys just might make dealing with your judgmental relatives a little bit easier. I mean, nothing says “Why no, we aren’t having babies this year” like being seen pouring a little Carmel Kissed Smirnoff into your apple cider!

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