I admit it. At the beginning of December, I’m more like Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” than I am Buddy from “Elf.” For those of you who haven’t seen “Elf,” Buddy is Will Farrell’s character who loves Christmas. He’s also a human who thinks he’s an elf, but that’s another conversation.
For those of us in the b-to-b publishing business, December means compressed schedules to get January issues and supplements to the printer on time (before Christmas) while fitting in editorial meetings, enewsletters, social media postings, end-of-the-year industry events, Web-exclusive features, website search engine optimization, issue promos, reprint information, planning for February and March issues … it’s a long list.
Those days between Thanksgiving and Christmas are stress-filled and headache-inducing. The days leading up to Thanksgiving are no picnic either as we wrap up end-of-year issues and product directories — and why do retail stores and radio stations start playing Christmas music after Halloween? For me, that makes a bad situation worse.
So yes, I have a “Bah Humbug” attitude in December. I really do like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I let work get to me. And I shouldn’t. Work is work, but it’s not your whole life.
What do I do to get myself in the Christmas spirit? I have about six things that help me move past Scrooge and embrace my inner Buddy.
1. Save Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. My family teases me about this. I like Christmas music, but not after Halloween. I boycott the local radio station that started “rocking around the Christmas tree” while I was still taking my Halloween decorations down. I love the old classics, new takes on old classics and new songs written to celebrate the season — just wait until after we retire our Thanksgiving pants.
2. Christmas ornaments. I have a lot of Christmas ornaments. Many were given to me by family and friends, while others I’ve picked up on my travels. I have a Mozart egg from Salzburg, a call box (phone box) from London, a glass ornament with lilacs from Mackinac Island and a miniature guitar from Graceland. I love going through them each year and remembering the people and places they represent.
3. A real Christmas tree. While I’ve been remiss in this the last couple of years, I prefer a real Christmas tree to the fake ones. I do have a couple small fake trees, but only because I have so many ornaments. Did I mention my Coca-Cola ornament collection? Sitting on my couch, looking at the ornaments and lights is a real stress-reliever.
4. Neighborhood Christmas lights. Speaking of lights, one of the highlights when I was a kid was driving around and looking at all the lights people put on their houses and in their yards. My sister and I (and Siena, her German Shepherd) enjoy driving around and looking at Christmas lights in the Chicago area — there are some neighborhoods that go all out on the decorating.
5. Christmas Eve service. The church I grew up in has a candlight service on Christmas Eve, as do many churches across the country. It always makes the church look even more beautiful. What is it about candelight and beautiful music that makes your stress disappear?
6. Santa. I love Santa. Not for the gifts he brings — although it was a priority when I was a kid — but for his jolliness, his spirit of giving, his hope. I love the idea of Santa, even as I’ve grown up and realized that cardboard fireplace and chimney Dad always put in the living room of our old house couldn’t possibly accommodate such a big man.
I’m sure some of you start channeling Scrooge at some point during the holidays. Just remember — some of your customers might be in the same mindset. Reach inside for that Christmas spirit and pass it on.