Christmas, at least in the good ol' US of A, is pressure packed.
Thanksgiving: The focus of Thanksgiving is thinking nice thoughts about the people and things that are good in your life. And food.
Christmas: The focus on Christmas is presents. I know, it's all about the baby Jesus... Puh-leeze... that's like saying the Super Bowl isn't about the commercials. We all give Christmas, and the Super Bowl, a wink and a nudge, but we know what they're really about.
C: All of those presents, you have to acquire them somehow. You spend money. You face the crowds and the traffic and the possibility of being stabbed if you grab the last Barbie Dream RV. You do your duty as an American consumer, you spend a lot of money.
T:Thanksgiving you bring a covered dish, most likely green bean casserole. Done.
C: Shopping for those gifts for your loved ones, and the obligatory other less-loved ones, is the real stress slap. What do they want? What do they need? Will they like it? What if they didn't buy anything for me? What if they spent more on me than I did on them? Do I buy her a Large or a Medium? (Too small, she thinks she's fat. Too big, she thinks you think she's fat. It's a mine field.)
T: Everyone likes green bean casserole. And even if they don't, they won't go hungry. Just means more for you.
C: Presents, because they're wrapped, create expectations. If someone just handed you a pair of earmuffs, you'd probably think "Oh, cool... earmuffs." But put those in a box and wrap them up and your mind goes wild. "What could be in there? Maybe a new watch, or a new iPod, or the Hope Diamond." Then you open it, and it's earmuffs.
T: Turkey, potatoes, green bean casserole, family, good conversation, football, nap. Expectations met.
C: All of those expectations lead, inevitably, to disappointment... real or imagined. They didn't like it as much as you thought they would. Their "Thank you" seemed insincere. I should have used the gold wrapping paper. I bought them a damn X and all they got me was a stupid, measly Y. I was really hoping someone was going to get me a Z.
T: All of the food and conversation and football inevitably lead to a satisfied feeling. Is there anything better than being genuinely satisfied, content, fulfilled, and full?
Here's the trick... all of the pressure associated with Christmas is avoidable. You may be bombarded by advertising, Christmas lists, family gatherings, but they can't make you feel pressured. You apply that pressure on yourself.
Take a Thanksgiving attitude with you over the next week and a half. Replace the pressure of presents with appreciation for the time you will have with people you care about.
If a Thanksgiving guest brings green bean casserole to your house, you thank them even if you don't care for green bean casserole, right? You don't judge them, or your relationship with them, or whether your mashed potatoes will live up to their casserole. You accept it, peel off the foil, and serve it happily to your guests.
If you receive a Christmas gift, accept it gladly. And no matter what it is, thank the giver for thinking of you, not for what's in the box.
Don't mindlessly consume. Don't buy people crap. Think of each gift you give, and each that you receive, not as an exchange of goods or a checkmark on a list, but as a token of love, or at least appreciation.
If you do feel the Christmas stress building up inside you, put the credit card down, lace up your shoes, and hit the road After the run has helped you shed that layer of holiday hype, remember that Christmas could be as easy and carefree as Thanksgiving, if you let it.
Numbers: 3.0 miles on/in snow.