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Christmas Mania - The Gift That Keeps On Giving

 Six weeks ago, I awoke to find myself stuck to my living room floor covered in pine sap and tinsel.  Two squirrels were giving me the stink eye and clutching their nuts. I felt shock and awe when I realized I’d ripped my neighbors pine tree out of their yard and brought it home to decorate. I’d never sleep walked before, so a major concern was my neighbors would follow the trail of dirt from the hole in their garden to the front door of my house.

Several nights later, I was startled awake by the smoke alarm blaring. My head was stuck in a mixing bowl of cookie dough and there was an oven mitt on my foot. Evidently, I was baking cookies in my sleep and a timer was not part of my stupor. With singed eyebrows, I doused the fire and threw out the charcoal briquettes I’d lovingly baked.

Over a mug of hot chocolate and sixteen sugar cookies, I put on my Nancy Drew thinking cap and tried to figure out what was happening. My Christmas mojo was in extreme overdrive. “I’m holiday unhinged,” I told the deranged Dough Boy staring back at me from my bathroom mirror. My face was covered in flour, raisins, and chopped nuts. If I didn’t get help the Pillsbury Sanitarium had a bed with restraints ready for me.

My partner insisted I call my doctor when he woke to find a wreath around his neck and holiday lights strung across the headboard. “I’m just overly excited about Christmas.” I said while dousing myself with Gucci Claus cologne. Several days later, blackouts during the day hours started. I tried to kiss a random woman in Bed, Bath and Beyond just because she was holding some plastic mistletoe.

Later that evening, I found myself wandering aimlessly in a Christmas Tree lot. I already had my stolen tree so why was I trying to tie a Douglas Fir to the top of my car. The police called my sister to remove me from City Hall when I demanded to know when the Christmas Festival, caroling and ice sculpture contest was taking place. The town council had nothing planned so I threatened the mayor with a shank of ribbon candy.

Warm egg nog baths and $3,000 worth of purchases to Balsam Hill was the sugar cookie that broke the elf’s back. I was rushed to Urgent Care and soon found myself sitting on an examining table atop that thin sheet of tissue like an unwrapped gift. Blood was drawn, x-rays were performed and there were extensive questions asked.

Some of the inquiry didn’t seem relevant. Like did I have cable and had I used my DVR? The doctor looked at me knowingly and informed me my condition was serious but not terminal. I was suffering for Hallmark Holiday Hysteria (HHH). I had entered the Countdown to Christmas and it was driving me into a festive frenzy. My blood sugar level had risen to near diabetic levels from all the overblown sweetness I was consuming. It’s a comfortable numb – like being fed a candy canes with anesthesia. How easy it is to become addicted.

The day after Halloween the holiday movies start rolling off the assembly line as quickly as cotton candy from Willy Wonka’s factory. One taste and you're hooked on the simple story lines, the explosion of holiday decorations and the festiveness oozing in high definition. It’s the finest Christmas crack you can get. Just like Russian State TV, the Hallmark station is all I can watch.

My DVR is loaded with all the of the 2023 premieres. Binge watching is what leads to HHH. Being able to fast forward through commercials is mainlining to the yuletide center of your brainstem. They require little concentration because they’re all formula movies – same situations but different towns and pretty twentysomething people.

Each movie is like an encounter with a friendly drug dealer. You know what to expect and you’re always high after the visit. The doctor told me I needed a Snow Globotomy. It involved a rigorous twelve-step program. I needed to stay twelve steps away from my TV remote. I must turn my holiday addiction over to a higher power– the parental control on my cable. Block Hallmark and enjoy the holiday without a candy cane crutch.

I felt pain in my Christmas balls knowing I had to say goodbye to Lacey Chabert  and all the new movies I’d scheduled on my DVR. Goodbye Christmas Joy, Christmas Love, Christmas Peace, Christmas Lane. Do you see a pattern here? It’s not an original Hallmark film without the holiday in the name. There’d be no more quaint towns with names like Holly Cove, Cozy Creek or Poinsettia Port. My Norman Rockwell visions were feed to a shredder. I’d have to survive without fake snow, the trips to the tree lot and the all-important kiss that ended every movie.

Tears were shed for characters I admired and would not see, like the attractive Advertising Executive who leaves her seven-figure salary in the big bad city and returns to Kringle Ville to work part-time in a used bookstore. She discovers her true Christmas spirit living in a studio apartment, making minimum wage and falling madly in love with the owner of the tree lot.

I wanted to lead such a wonderful life. How can I survive not curling up on the sofa and spending my weekend in holiday heaven? The doctor told me to avoid holiday programming, so I decided to watch CNN. There’s the frustration of news that is constantly breaking, and the mood deflator of stories coming out of Washington. No Jingles Bells here, but wait a minute, Wolf Blitzer has a reindeer name and looks like a news anchor Santa. All my filters are tinted red and green.

“Oh, Hallmark! What did you do to me?” They rang the bells of Christmas and I “Fa la la la la” followed. The sleep walking and blackouts need to go away, so I’ll try the steps through the twelve days of Christmas. Peppermint Schnapps in my hot chocolate helps with withdrawals, and my urge to book a flight to the North Pole is dwindling. I’m learning to relax and just let my yuletide flow. No more hyperdrive to December 25th. I’ve taken down my Carol of the Smells sign in the bathroom and returned the missing reindeer to the zoo.

Just when I was ready to give my candy cane boxers to Goodwill, I realized my silver lanes were all aglow again. Not every addict can get the elf off his back the first time. A real Christmas miracle had happened. Don’t dare tell my doctor, but I  discovered the Lifetime Channel. There’s a whole lineup of holiday movies I haven’t seen. My remote finger is twitching and wassail is bubbling in my veins. So what if I stumble off a few steps? There are Lindor Truffles to cushion my fall. I’ll worry about the relapse in January. You know, the month right before the “Countdown to Valentine’s Day.”                                    


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