Merry Frickin' Christmas -- Now Get Out of My Way
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Ah, the holiday season -- the joy of giving and the happiness of spending time with those you love. The presents. The sledding and hot chocolate. The festive parties. The waiting in line for hours, just trying to buy a stupid pair of gloves for your stupid old Aunt Nancy, monitoring your mood as it quickly moves from "Merry Christmas to All!" to "I Really Just Need a Drink." Somehow, despite the happiness and holiday cheer that’s supposed to be going around this time of year, everyone just ends up stressed out and pissed off.

The holidays are supposed to bring out the best in all of us -- at least that’s what the last remaining Christmas card in the card shop says. Instead, it seems to bring out the worst. People who are polite during the other 11 1/2 months of the year suddenly turn into pushy, rude beasts for the two weeks before Christmas.

Yet no matter how evil we become when we’re filled with the so-called Christmas Spirit, something inside us won’t allow us to avoid it. Last year, I finished my Christmas shopping relatively early. Yet, for some reason, I was still drawn to the mall. Perhaps it was out of curiosity -- or perhaps it was just because my husband had some shopping to finish, and I didn’t want him to suffer by himself -- but there I was, in the mall on the Monday night before Christmas.

My husband had to find one last gift for me, so he sent me off on my own. I thought it would be fun just to wander through the mall, listening to Christmas music and watching the shoppers. But wandering was no good -- because it appeared as though everyone had forgotten everything they’d ever learned about mall traffic laws. They stopped walking without warning. They made abrupt turns. They cut through crowds of people -- pushing and shoving as they went. I gave up on wandering -- it was too dangerous. I figured browsing would be safer.

My first stop was the card shop. I figured I’d look for a nice card for my parents or my husband -- but I couldn’t get anywhere near the Christmas cards. No matter where I tried to walk, someone came at me and pushed me the other way. I considered buying birthday cards for everyone and replacing the “Happy Birthday” with “Merry Christmas.” Fortunately for me, some woman was reading every card out loud -- so that everyone in the store could hear her. Hearing the cards read out loud made them all sound silly, though, so I decided to forget the cards and move on.

When I’m stressed or frustrated, I always head for a bookstore to calm my nerves -- so that’s where I went next. I wandered through the store, occasionally diving out of the way of a crazed shopper. But then a certain book caught my eye. I walked up to the shelf and paused to get an overview of the humor section before I went in closer to pick out a specific book. Just as I studied the section, a woman swooped in and jumped between me and the wall. And there she stood, carefully studying each individual book.

Perhaps she noticed that I had found something interesting, and she wanted to get in there and buy the interesting book before I could get the last copy. Whatever the case, she wasn’t about to let me share the humor section with her. Oh, no... it was all hers.

I hovered for a while, thinking that she’d pick something and then step out of the way to let me take my turn while she studied her book more closely. Any other time of the year, that would be the accepted bookstore etiquette. But I waited and waited until I decided that the best thing to do would be to move on and come back later. So I turned away and studied the cookbooks for a few minutes, never straying more than five feet from the humor section. Then I stepped back into my previous position and tried, once again, to get a good look.

No matter where I tried to go, she was there. Had she not been moving, I would have thought that she’d died there out of Christmas Shopping Heart Failure. If she were dead, however, she wouldn’t be in my way. I’d step around her.

It was obvious that she wasn’t going anywhere until she studied every book in the section, so I gave up and walked away, mumbling curses as I did.

After my bookstore experience, I gave up. Instead of continuing my search for Christmas spirit at the mall, I searched for a bench in a nice, secluded corner -- where I could listen to joyous Christmas music and enjoy the happiness of the season without any idiots getting in my way.

Merry Frickin’ Christmas to All!

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