Happy And Happier

One thing good about the holiday season is that one feels happy about one’s own grumpiness. All the stress of experiencing cheerful things, the boredom of shopping trips, the mental anxiety of trying to say something less like holiday cliches can add up and make anybody grumpy. But we tell ourselves, “it’s a holiday. We are entitled to be a little grumpy here and there.”

Actually New Jersey is much better than Pennsylvania as far as holiday music goes, probably because NJ has a much more diverse population. When I was living in Pennsylvania, the holiday music is everywhere–radios, shopping malls, gathering places, TV etc. There’s no escape from it. They are wonderful music, no doubt, but it can make one feel like going to a concert and listening to one song over and over again.

It’s time to greet friends and relatives, if not in person, at least through social media. I always do very boring greetings and have never been able to come up with really good, witty, interesting, unique things to say. My inadequacy is obvious. It makes me think how stressful it had been for those people of Tang Dynasty during holiday seasons. In those days, everybody had to write poems for every occasion. Just think about how much of a burden this is for people during holidays when one has to come up with a different poem for every greeting, every excuse, every party, every ceremony, every fight with relatives. One can write oneself mad before the holiday is over.

I have to prepare for those days after the holiday because everybody is packing up several pounds on holiday food. What am I going to say when I meet a friend who’s chubbier than before? I can’t say, “you put on five pounds at least.” That’s definitely not going to work. Too negative. I can’t say, “don’t worry about the waistline. Just continue to eat more for Christmas.” This sounds like gloating, almost wishing people to gain weight to take pressure off oneself. How about “look, we all gain pounds. Holidays. What can I say?” This will only work on acquaintance of equal body built and equal weight gain. For example, this cannot work for E, who is always slimmer than everybody else around her. I can just imagine E secretly laugh at me if I say this. She would jeer at my attempt of trying to elevate myself to her level of slimness.

“You were a grumpy baby.” My Grandma said, “you sulked when I scolded you when you were several weeks old.” I stared at her in disbelief. My diligent superwoman grandma could never understand me. I was probably born a philosopher and was trying to pronounce one or two profound terms that my baby tongue couldn’t manage. And she seized the opportunity to scold my philosophical talent away, most likely forever–the proof being my non-philosophical self right now. She raised 9 children and 2 grandchildren, a superhuman effort. How much damage she had done to each of us?

2 thoughts on “Happy And Happier

  1. Our feelings about holidays are changing with age. And for us immigrants, the feelings also changed as the culture changes. This is because different countries have different ways to celebrate holidays. Here, for example, many people watch football after a big meal, while in China, many families would get together to play Mahjong or play poker. One thing is in common: all families prepare big meals and eat a lot of food. For any holiday, there should be an atmosphere to go with it, though in different ways. I remember in the first Christmas when I came to the United States. I saw a movie named “a Christmas Story” on TV. I could feel the holiday atmosphere in it. This station played the same film all day long on Christmas day. Later, I got into the habit of looking for “A Christmas Story on TV every Christmas day.

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