By Dan Haag
There’s no denying it. Christmas is rolling my way like an out-of-control, twinkle-light festooned locomotive. The signs are everywhere: stores are decorated festively, yards are populated by terrifyingly enormous inflatable likenesses of Frosty and Santa, and the government has released Mariah Carey and Michael Buble from their cryogenic stasis so they can regale us with roughly fifty different versions of “White Christmas” and “Jingle Bells.”
The weather here on the North Coast has been surprisingly mild and people are out and about enjoying themselves, smiling and laughing. Mirth is everywhere and frankly, it’s hard not to get caught up in the spirit of it all.
So why am I pushing back so hard against Christmas this year? I haven’t purchased a single gift, my yard decorations consist of one strand of half-functioning lights and if I were to spot Mariah Carey and Michael Buble walking hand-in-hand down the street, getting run over by a reindeer would be the least of their worries.
In short, I’d developed a case of “The Scroogies.” While it may sound like something that should immediately be treated with an ointment, The Scroogies are a seasonal ailment which causes the sufferer to opt out of the whole Christmas cheer scene.
The symptoms of The Scroogies are subtle but easy to spot, if you know what you are looking for: dark-colored clothing without a hint of red or green, a permanent sneer, and a music selection that tends towards death metal and 90’s grunge.
When you ask someone with The Scroogies what they want for Christmas, you’ll get a shrug or a muffled grunt, maybe even an eye roll. You won’t hear them utter “Bah! Humbug” as their preferred exclamations tend towards colorful profanity.
If you’re thinking about having some sort of holiday-themed intervention to force the spirit of the season on them, forget about it: those who suffer from The Scroogies spook easily and will likely flee the house until spring if they see a stocking or a sprig of mistletoe.
Why did I have The Scroogies? It was a combination of things, I suppose.
For the 8 or 10 of you who still read this column, you’ll know that the Haag household is short a member after we said goodbye to our beloved Black Lab, Lilo. Christmas was her favorite day because she was surrounded by people she loved and who wouldn’t hesitate to share turkey, ham or other goodies with her. She’d also get gifts from all of our neighbors and would spend the day basking in the glory of her adoring public.
Christmas just won’t feel like Christmas without that giant dog wandering from room-to-room, silently begging everyone to please, please take off this ridiculous set of fake reindeer horns.
There are other reasons why I’m suffering from The Scroogies. We’ve had to resign ourselves to the fact that my mother-in-law will be spending the rest of her life in a care facility. Cancer has sunk its claws into the lives of people that I care for and admire. An old friend of mine lost a parent right after Thanksgiving. I’m missing family and friends who are scattered far and wide. And frankly, I don’t think I can handle another millisecond of national news stories without suffering permanent damage.
I glumly relayed all of this to my wife the other night, sure that she would understand.
“What am I, chopped liver?” she asked.
“Of course not,” I replied.
After a brief, intense argument about what type of food I would compare her to, she shone a light on my ailment. It became abundantly clear that I needed to remove my head from a certain part of my body and take a long, hard look at my life.
My parents live close by and I see them everyday. I’m healthy and still on the right side of the ground, despite the fact that my favorite meal is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and wine. I live and work in a place of boundless beauty, where no two days are the same.
Most of all, I am loved and I love others.
All of this and more played through my head like a highlight reel and I could feel The Scroogies slowly being shoved to the background.
The next day, we hiked out to Cape Falcon and I let the cold wind and winter spray give me a thorough spiritual cleansing.
I stood there overlooking the vast ocean with my wife, a woman who is definitely not chopped liver but more like a smooth glass of top-shelf bourbon. I reveled in the fact that this will be our 28th Christmas together.
The Scroogies never really stood a chance and I am happy to report that they have now been banished.
Mariah Carey and Michael Buble, however, are still roaming freely.