"Wow!" says The Main Nerdy Geotech Guy, as
he stops at the front desk to sign in. "You're
looking festive today!"
This is the third -- no wait: make that the fourth -- time in less than a week that I've shown up
at The Dirt Company in 'holiday
attire.' On Friday it was a bright
red cardigan festooned with sequined snowflakes: the
second-ugliest item in my closet. On
Monday, it was a red turtleneck with a big tacky snowman brooch
fastened to the lapel: on Tuesday, a
short-sleeved pullover -- more maroon than red,
actually, but close enough to qualify -- accessorized with a pair of dangly "Christmas bulb" earrings
and matching necklace that I picked up on eBay a couple of
Today I'm dressed in somewhat
more subdued fashion, in a tasteful black sweater-and-pants
combo, silver earrings, plain black loafers ...
... and a gigantic felt snowman on my head.
give The MNG Guy my
big twinkly Just-For-The-Holidays smile. "Thanks,"
I tell him. "I'm working on it." And I offer him a
candy cane from the snowman mug sitting next to my computer
monitor ... one of 43,897,621
snowman *collectibles* I've got clustered on my
desktop, like an army of tiny frozen
boyfriends. Across the lobby, the fake ficus tree sparkles
with silver ribbons, carefully Velcroed to the branches: over the tinny
laptop speakers, next to the switchboard, Hootie
& The Blowfish are extolling the merits of chestnuts
roasting on an open fire.
It's *Holiday Central* at the Dirt Company front desk.
I used to believe that holiday spirit -- like love, or good grades, or hair that
holds a set longer than
2.6 milliseconds -- was
something that should just happen automatically,
without help from God or homework or Vidal Sassoon. You flip the
calendar over to December 1st, plop the Bing Crosby album onto the
turntable, light a couple of candles ... and voilà! Instant holiday warm-and-fuzzy! And that's pretty
much the way it worked, too, for the first two-thirds of my
life or so. One whiff of shopping mall
pine, and poof! I was instantly transported to my Holiday
The older I've
gotten, though, the
harder it has become to work myself into a genuine
holiday frame of mind ... let
alone sustain it for the entire Bazillion Days of
Christmas. Usually, I coast through the holiday season with a
semi-fabricated expression of peace on earth/good will to
man plastered on my face ... secretly
counting the days until the whole noisy overblown mess is OVER
WITH, and I can go back to being my usual prickly unapproachable
self again. But this year, for reasons I
haven't quite been able to put my finger on -- aftermath from the
from a dismal and dispiriting election
year? from the worst 'Survivor' season ever? -- I felt that it was
important to actually try
and enjoy the Christmas season,
for a change ... especially at the office,
which is where (it seems) I spend 99.9% of my life and
I knew that I was going to need help getting
Since shortly after Halloween, therefore, I've been
systematically stockpiling the accoutrement
of the season -- decorations, jewelry,
clothing, music, candy canes in every flavor known
to mankind -- in a calculated effort
to achieve maximum holiday spiritosity. Loading
43,897,621 hours' worth of holiday tunes into
the laptop. Dragging my entire snowman collection
into the office, piece by piece. Decorating every
square inch of the Dirt Company lobby.
And -- of course -- wearing
red. Lots and lots of red.
seems to be working, too. I'm sure that
my co-workers think I'm insane -- or inappropriately
medicated on the job -- but the combination of cheesy jewelry,
choices and wall-to-wall holiday music seems to have
worked a tiny Christmas miracle in my heart this year. I've
been smiling more than usual. I've been nice to the
people I work with ... even the ones I
hate. I actually caught myself humming
in the elevator the other day. It's sort of like
that stoopid "Smile Therapy" exercise they used to make us do
at Wednesday Night Bible Study: you hold a smile for a full
thirty seconds, without twitching ... and even if
you weren't feeling particularly happy to start out with, the simple
physiological process of smiling somehow makes you feel
like smiling. It's the same with the
Christmas stuff. I mean, face it: it's impossible
to feel prickly and unapproachable when you're wearing a big felt
snowman on your head. I realize that I may never
again achieve that natural *holiday high* I used to get as a
kid, or as a teenager, or as the mom of a herd of
toddlers in chocolate-stained
footie pajamas ... but this feels
like the next-best thing.
With any luck, it might even last until I get onto
that airplane for TicTac tomorrow morning.
says The Main Nerdy Geotech Guy, "if I don't see you before Christmas,
have a good one." And he tucks his unwrapped candy cane into
his pocket protector and strides off down the hallway,
looking grim and distracted ...
and absolutely devoid of holiday spirit.
that's OK. I've got enough holiday spirit for *both* of
And I've got the dorky snowman hat to prove it.
to throw a rock?