A Middle Aged Woman Laughs at The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
By: Mary Fran Bontempo

Okay ladies. It’s that time of year. Time to gird your loins, don a full complement of battle gear and prepare for your annual dose of battering and bruising.

The holiday season is upon us and while displays of twinkling lights, smiling Santas and dancing sugarplums try to lull us into a seasonal stupor, we women know better. This is war and every woman who willfully (or not willfully) agrees to participate in the “merriment” will be posted staunchly on the front lines.

The illusion created by holiday finery engulfs the senses. It’s impossible not to be swayed by bright lights, mountains of decorations, beribboned packages, the scent of fresh baked cookies.

But just when you let down your guard and succumb to holiday hypnotism, just when you catch yourself happily humming Christmas carols while strolling through the grocery store, just when you find yourself snuggling down on the couch for your twenty-eighth viewing of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, then…BAM!

The seasonal one-two sucker punch slams you right in the kisser.

Like a bucket of ice water tossed in the face, the realization dawns with a gasp of horror: The person responsible for creating your family’s perfect holiday season is you.

Remember last year just before Valentine’s Day when you disgustedly yanked the last ornament off the tree and shoved everything somewhere in the attic? It’s time for the yearly scavenger hunt. Time to once again bang your head on the rafters, wrench our ankle between the beams and crawl on your belly next to the disassembled baby crib and nine bags of stuffed animals to unearth the massive ball of 150,000 twinkle lights, each of which will have to be tested individually to ensure that the strand in the very center of the tree doesn’t go out as soon as you get the @$*&# thing decorated and flip the switch (which it will anyway).

Time to again hang the moth-eaten, mended, moldy old Christmas stockings, on which you’ll spend five hours re-gluing sequins, because your kids refuse to let you toss the disgusting things and buy new ones. (“New stockings? Noooo! They’re our tradition!” The word “tradition” should be designated an expletive during the holidays.)

Time to fasten on the dull-eyed, slack-jawed expression you’ll wear for at least a full month, while you either wander aimlessly around malls or stare stupidly at your computer screen for hours searching for the perfect gift for everyone on your Christmas list, ultimately settling for yet another over-priced T-shirt for your teenager, the annual sweater for your husband and the same nasty perfume for your mother.

Time to stock up on band-aids and book the appointment with your ophthalmologist after cutting hundreds of coupons leaves you bleeding and cross-eyed. You’ll tote the massive amount of paperwork around all month, listing to one side with an eighteen pound purse slung over your shoulder, only to find when you arrive at a cash register brandishing your money-saving piece of paper clutched in fingers swathed in bandages that it expired yesterday.

Time to unearth the pile of smashed up boxes, crumpled tissue paper and mangled bows that you re-use every year, ostensibly in the interest of saving the environment, but truthfully because, despite the fact that you’ve bought extra boxes, paper and ribbons on sale after the holiday every year for the past ten years, you can’t find any of the stuff. Somewhere lies the potential for a Martha Stewart wrapping extravaganza, but it isn’t at your house. Or rather it is, but God alone (and possibly Saint Anthony) knows where.

As with every Christmas for the past 2010 years though, we women of the world will plunge fearlessly in, wading our way through the annual muck to craft a holly jolly holiday for our dear ones.

Move over, Mr. Grinch; you’ve got company.

Care to share your holiday horror stories?  Click “comments” below, in red and tell all!