Monday, January 11, 2010


As a person who observes herself as often as she breathes, I could not help but notice that I was a major crab during much of the holiday season, two years in a row.

Of course, I was also kind and loving. We saw a movie both Tim and I liked a lot, The Answer Man starring Jeff Daniels. It further illustrates my point. The main character, Arlen Faber, is a writer who wrote a spiritual best seller called Me & God. However, his God link isn’t happening and hasn’t been for 20 years, since the time he wrote his tome. (He ultimately confesses it was mostly BS, but a sensitive observer would get he was channeling divine answers, even if he didn’t realize it.) We’re introduced to him sitting cross-legged, meditating in front of his fireplace filled with candles. As he’s chanting Om—or whatever—the doorbell rings, an interruption that sets him off, to say the least. A stream of curse words so foul emits from his mouth, you expect his head to spin around, Exorcist-style.

That was me during Yuletide. From centered spiritual seeker to frothing Frankenstein act-alike, or Crankenstein, as I called myself. Short-tempered, short-fused, not taking anything off anyone, no holds barred. See illustration.

I was snarky to my uncle and so mean to my husband, I was actually ashamed of my behavior. So, now you know the raw truth. I am spirited in more ways than one.

Holiday Stress Reduction

What good are hot flashbacks (in this case, hotheaded flashbacks) if they don’t lead to cool insights? In December 2008, my Crankenstein behavior was a result of scheduling a major vacation three days after Christmas. What was I thinking? I am a perfectionist who tends toward overwhelm. So I planned two major events on the Stress Scale back-to-back? I was blowing my top every other minute trying to get ready, orient our house sitter, and deal with my husband’s similar disposition. There were more fireworks than the 4th of July. By the time we got to Honolulu, I wasn’t sure I even liked him—or myself. Some “honeymoon.”

Live and learn—ya’d think. The week of Christmas is always a corker for me. My annual Winter Solstice celebration takes incredible time and energy, but it’s worth it! It’s one of the highlights of my year. But most recently, it coincided with family visits, the kind where personality differences bump up against each other—in some cases, hard.

What’s a spirited person to do? I don’t want to quit having my relatives visit over the holidays, but I certainly can’t expect them to want to, if I keep acting like Scrooge on speed.

Is There A Doctor in the House?

And I don’t mean Dr. Crankenstein. I realize I need: (1) better preparation, and (2) an attitude adjustment. What I realized even more deeply is that it’s inner preparation and attitude tinkering I need. I had done a great job getting my ducks in a row for my winter event, finishing the shopping/wrapping, getting my house clean, and all things aligned—except for me.

Every year, I start sooner to create a magical ChrismaSolstiChanuzaa. Like a wedding, the prep is intense and idiotically detailed. The fun is in the planning and the anticipation. Then the event comes and goes so quickly, the letdown is like a fall from the Empire State Building. I feel flattened, squashed, and really hurt. All that work and it’s over already?

One good thing. As anyone who reads this blog probably knows, I set aside winter for inner work and slowdown. If I’m going to slow down, being flattened on the concrete sidewalk certainly is a good start! I’m unlikely to sprint away and do anything complicated in a hurry.

Here’s my new insight. The winter work has to start in tandem with the madness of holiday preparation, maybe even in October or November. In order to handle the tinsel and merry, the madness and pace, I have to be meditating regularly and creating a strong inner core and hard-shell finish.

Boomer readers: Do you remember the Colgate with Gardol commercials and Mean Old Mr. Tooth Decay? He was another monster of sorts. But Happy Tooth would brush himself with Gardol, and he was impervious to the Mean Old Mister. That’s the kind of finish I need—like Gardol or Turtle Wax (gives a hard-shell finish, Turtle Wax!).

The centered space only comes from inner work. The ability to let it roll off me comes only from knowing my Source and being plugged into it. The kind of plug-in that isn’t even fazed by a ringing doorbell or barking dog or an irritating relative.

I’m marking my autumn calendar with a warning. Get ready, both inside and out. The holidays will be here—again!—sooner than you know. I use iGoogle and a wonderful widget that’s a Christmas calendar countdown. In my mind, I subtract 4 days because I have to be ready to launch by Winter Solstice.

Only 346 days till Christmas, adjust accordingly if you celebrate another winter holiday.
Will you be prepared?


Photo Credit: MONSTER © Cthoman recreated by Dr. Crankenstein (Joyce) with the help of her clip art to resemble her dark alter ego.


Susannah said...

Oooh Joyce, you do have my sympathy but I admit I laughed out loud at your description of you acting "like Scrooge on speed." :-)

Glad you got your insight!

Joyce Mason said...

Thanks, Susannah! If we can't laugh at ourselves, we can't learn anything ... and I was definitely chuckling myself at how far off I was from my spiritual ideal at times during my favorite and supposed season of Peace on Earth. To share the learning is to share the laughter. At least I can say I was naughty 10%, nice 90% ... but when I was bad I was horrid, as the ditty goes. No one has divorced me and all seem to be over my manic Scrooge spell. Thank heaven!