12/21/03: The Holiday Hum Bug
It seems that with each passing year, folks are feeling less
and less of the Christmas spirit. When asked recently if she
was ready for Christmas, a fellow co-worker of mine replied "I'm
just not feeling it this year." I thought about that, and
then realized that I'd heard the sentiment reiterated more than
once already this season. Determined not to contract the Holiday
Hum Bug, I turned the volume dial on the stereo in a clock-wise
fashion. Lyrics of "Hang low the mistletoe" put a smile
on my face, and I went back to work without giving it another
It must have happened while I was sleeping, because the next
day, I too felt like I was a little less in the Christmas spirit.
This bug must be more infectious than the flu - which I've so
far managed to escape (knock on wood). As I generally do as part
of my weekly business regimen, I was pouring over some bank statements,
one of which included a copy of my personal credit card bills,
when I really felt it bite. "Aha!" I thought to myself,
and a my heart grew a size smaller, as I spotted "unauthorized"
charges that must have been a result of my most-significant other's
trip to town a couple of days before. By now I knew that Christmas
must not roll forward unless I was able to account for every
penny spent! Later that day, I thought I had successfully infected
my wife with the bug by interrogating her until I had managed
to ruin almost every Christmas surprise she had planned. The
symptoms were setting in. Boy this bug was really starting to
make me feel sick.
I resigned to the couch where I thought a couple hours of
sleep would surely convince the little monster to vacate the
premises and leave me on my merry own. The pulsating ring of
our telephone summoned me back into reality and must have done
so just before I was released from the awful grip of "Christmas
Death." Blast! Now I was really feeling Ebeneezer-ish. I
could hear my wife cheerfully making small talk with someone
who must have been a friend. How did SHE shake it? That only
made me jealous to boot! A minute later she approached me as
I lay there faking that I was still asleep. "Honey,"
she called to me in a soft tone. I remained motionless and even
more bitter. I knew I had contracted something fatal.
On the other end was an artist friend of ours who sounded
like he had gotten it too! By now I was wondering if the Center
for Disease Control was aware of the epidemic and if anything
was being done to stop it. My artist friend and I minced words
with one another - as we occasionally do in sarcasm because of
the close nature of our relationship - but by the end of the
call I could tell that both of us needed the antibody soon. That
encounter only strengthened the virus and I had a hard time getting
off to sleep. When I woke the next morning, I felt a little recovered,
but was careful not to be too sure since it may have merely gone
into "morning remission," and could just as easily
resume full force once I got up and got to work.
Waiting and watching carefully, I was sure the bug would strike
again and send my spirits plummeting - when suddenly it occurred
to me that perhaps I could trick the little devil into thinking
that I wasn't in fact sick at all! I decided that if I called
my artist friend and pretended that nothing had gone wrong the
night before during our telephone conversation, then maybe I
could convince this bug that I was immune and he would move on
to some other desperate soul. His daughter answered and asked
who was calling. In an immature ploy to avoid further embarrassment,
I gave a fictional name thinking it would be funny and was almost
immediately met with a gruff "Hello?" Still I petitioned
my lacking sense of humor and asked as sarcastically as I could,
"You out of bed yet?"
Perplexed by the tone of my voice combined with a seemingly
reasonable question at this early hour of the day, my friend
replied, "Huh?" But I remained determined and asked
him if he was up and at 'em - you know, ready for work? What
I really wanted to know was whether or not he was still planning
on coming to see me. Even moreso I wanted him to know that I
was hoping he would come and see me - in spite of our little
bump in the road the night before. He must have caught on, because
a laugh echoed in his voice as he replied in the affirmative.
He went on to tell me that his wife had scolded him after he
had hung up the telephone previously and that she requested that
he apologize. Ashamed of myself, I thought that my wife would
probably have done the same had she been there to hear our conversation.
Apologies were exchanged, and I began to feel a little better.
Eventually he arrived at the gallery, and I think the bug
was still lingering just a little because we nearly got into
it again, but before we allowed ourselves back into bickering
- we exchanged gifts. He gave me four beautiful potteries, and
I gave him a fresh cut check. It was to our equal pleasure and
relief. We joked a bit more and he was on his way. I felt a sense
of fulfillment and satisfaction come over me as I realized that
I had fended off the bug by adopting an attitude of generosity
and gratitude. All this time and the cure was right under my
It's not about what we have, or what we want - what we get
or what we keep - but what we give. Let that be your Rx against
the Holiday Hum Bug this holiday and every day.