When I was a kid I used to love this time of year. Having no money, I'd make pencil jars out of recycled cans and felt scraps, cards from craft paper and glitter, and wrap all of it in last year's leftover wrapping paper and bows and WAY too much tape. As I got older, the gifts got marginally more sophisticated - knit scarves, house-slippers & hats [relatively easy to create], but were still mainly home-made. I'd get deep into baking shortbread and other cookies, spent hours watching my mom prep Christmas cakes and empanadas, and always managed to talk my way into a thimble-sized glass of cola de mono (literally "monkey's tail") made from aguardiente (an alcoholic bevy akin to Everclear or Jägermeister), coffee, milk, sugar, cinnamon and egg yolk.
No one mentioned carbs, waistlines, or fat content, and it didn't occur to me that gifts came with expectations.
Now that I'm of adult age I start getting depressed around the 1st of December, and don't come out of it until January. The seasonal price-tag is all out of whack, and there's that feeling of being judged by the gifts you give.... and that crush of shoppers elbowing each other in line? They're obscuring all those finer feelings I want to experience.
So this year I'm opting out of the crazy-making, and indulging in my version of Yuletide happy; listening as Jurgen Gothe pulls out his special brand of christmas on CBC's Disc Drive, donating to the annual Santa Fox Food Drive, and checking out this year's Bright Nights in Stanley Park. I'm baking and cooking for friends, calling people I haven't talked to in a while, and who knows -- I might even opt to make a few cards.
As for those folks with the elbows? I've decided to smile, wish 'em joy, and let them go ahead of me.