Christmas time can be a lovely, life-affirming time, and I’m not just talking about all those chocolates. Whatever this festive time of year means to you – whether it’s Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Flat Earth Day, Christmas or just another day at work – it can be a special time of, as the song says, comfort and joy. But we all know the holiday season can also be mighty stressful and I’m not just talking about all those ugly Christmas sweaters. Or even uglier credit card bills.
So if the stress around Christmastime has you stressed, it might be a good idea to consult an expert in the vast and complicated field of secular social stress situations for some insight and coping strategies. Since I don’t know any expert on anything, I’ve reluctantly invited back our resident “sociologist”, Dr. Reginald Smoot, who seems to have been MIA for quite a while now.
Hay’s Daze: Season’s Greetings, Dr. Smoot. It’s been a while. Where have you been?”
Dr. Reginald Smoot: Yes, hello. You will no doubt be thrilled to hear that I am now Chancellor of the exciting new university, the College University of the Cyber Correspondence Organization Online where anyone can get a Master’s degree in Sociology at home in just two months. And we have a robust payment plan.
H.D.: You realize the acronym for your institute (and I mean “institute” in the sense of “asylum”) is CUCCOO, right?
Smoot: Hay, did you contact me merely to cast aspersions?
HD: Yes. Also many people right now are thinking: if stress burned calories, I’d be a supermodel. Many of us stress about stress before there’s even stress to stress about. Do you have any good advice?
Smoot: Yes, never trust an electrician with no eyebrows. Also, if you stir coconut oil into your kale, it makes it easier to scrape into the trash. Also: during a zoom meeting often blow on the wine in your coffee mug. They’ll think it’s tea.
HD: I mean sociological advice on handling stress, you moron. Like, what about people who feel that the best thing about their job is that their chair spins? Or folks who wake up and think: here’s to another day of outward smiles and inward screams?
Smoot: I have discovered that all social human interaction either creates significant stress except when it doesn’t. As Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger once famously said: “There cannot be a stressful crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” So my advice is, if you don’t want stress then don’t look at your schedule.
HD: That makes about as much sense as untangling a ratted nest of Christmas lights with a chain saw. Come on Smoot, what concrete useful tips can you give to someone who is stressed? Someone like artist Jennifer Yane: “I try to take one day at a time but sometimes several days attack me all at once.” Or the person who said: “I always try to go the extra mile at work, but my boss always finds me and brings me back”?
Smoot: Yes, well, one must always remember that selfishness and Christmastime don’t belong in the same sentence together. I think Jerry Seinfeld summed up my personal sociological philosophy quite nicely when he said: “The true spirit of Christmas is people being helped by people other than me.” ‘
HD: But that’s not very…
Smoot: The internationally renowned stress management consultant Loretta LaRoche said it all when she pointed out that “stressed is dessert spelled backwards.”
HD: What the heck is that supposed to mean?
Smoot: I think it means this Christmas relax, enjoy, and pass the chocolates.
HD: Now you’re talkin’.
Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. You can send him column ideas to email@example.com.