Smile! It’s ok, really

It’s the most wonderful time of the year-at least according to a popular Christmas song.

But somewhere between now and Thanksgiving, it seems as if people traded in their jolly for an extra helping of cranky. And while there are still a fair share of happy people out and about this holiday season, why do the crabby ones tend to show up everywhere?

Understandably, stress comes with the holidays.

From shopping for presents, to baking and cooking, to cleaning and preparing your home for visitors, it’s no wonder most people are hanging onto their last nerve. Couple all that with a slumping economy and dreary weather and you’ve got a delightful recipe for crabby.

I’m typically a happy, easy-going person, but sometimes it’s hard even for me to shake off these people who want nothing more than to ruin your day. For example, the other day, a receptionist very rudely informed me that I had submitted some incorrect paperwork-and she punctuated her rudeness with an insincere, “Sorry.” Funny, she didn’t SOUND like she was all that sorry. Perhaps I’d understand her attitude if I’d gone up to the window all grumpy and mean, but I didn’t. Maybe she just had a bad day? But really, is that a reason to snap at someone who’d done nothing to her?

And people can’t say “Merry Christmas” anymore, but then if someone says “Happy Holidays,” someone else is getting upset. I think we’ve reached the point now where political correctness pretty much always offends SOMEONE. If someone smiles warmly at you and wishes you a sincere “Merry Christmas,” even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, just smile and say “Thank you.” Why would you become angry with someone for wishing you well? It just doesn’t make sense. And it’s not like people strap sandwich boards to themselves proclaiming their beliefs-so no, I can’t tell by looking at you whether you celebrate Christmas, believe in God, or any number of other things that I might say that you could construe to be offensive.

Here’s my best advice to all of you: take a deep breath and RELAX.

Think about what’s really important.

In 2006, 2007 and 2008, I celebrated Christmas while undergoing treatment for cancer. Do you think I really cared if I had to wait in a long line at the Macy’s checkout or if Starbucks put whipped cream on my latte when I really didn’t want any? Are these reasons to get upset? No! I was just happy to be able to go out and shop, thankful that chemo hadn’t taken away all of my energy.

The Christmas of 2007-the one before my stem cell transplant-was particularly difficult. While I had no doubt that I’d make it through everything just fine, I’ll admit that celebrating the holidays with my family that year was pretty emotional at times. Not only was I undergoing a risky procedure to cure me of a life-threatening disease, but I was also going away from home. But did I pout? Did I mope around and make everyone else around me miserable? What do you think?

I took advantage of the time I had with my family and friends. I enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of the holidays. I laughed. I celebrated. I ate delicious meals and yummy sweet treats. Most importantly, I LIVED.

Those are things most people forget to do this time of year. Instead of snapping at someone for bumping into you at the store, smile and wish them well. Instead of making excuses to try to get out of seeing friends or family, attend a party or family gathering and have fun. Instead of worrying about your strict diet, just eat that piece of grandma’s pie that you only get once a year.

Focus on the important things. Not busy schedules or political correctness or long lines. Just have fun. Enjoy life. I guarantee you’ll de-stress and get into the true spirit of Christmas.

I wish everyone a happy, healthy, blessed Christmas. Eat, drink and, most importantly, be merry!