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Christmas on ‘the farm’ laden with family chaos Though stressful, holiday season still has its perks Meredith Lindemon Tim Lovett The store fronts are decorated, Rittenhouse Square is lit up and people are shopping as

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Christmas on ‘the farm’ laden with family chaos

Though stressful, holiday season still has its perks
Meredith Lindemon

Tim Lovett
The store fronts are decorated, Rittenhouse Square is lit up and people are shopping as if their lives depend upon it. Ah, the holiday season is here again to slap me across the face with all of its merriness and family fun. I don’t mean to be a grinch, but I can’t help it.
Thanksgiving is where it all starts, even though Christmas now begins in mid-October. At my house we have to repaint the barns, make sure no one will fall into the septic tank, mow the lawn and find that mysterious odor of mildew my father claims to be able to smell.

Thanksgiving is a major holiday for my family. We have my mother’s family come down, which consists of about 50 to 60 people between the ages of one and 75. About 70 percent of these people are under the age of 10 and generally act as if their parents forced them to smoke crack in the minivan on the ride down to “the farm” where we live. The other 30 percent are my older cousins and aunts and uncles who, after dispatching the kids, promptly lock themselves in the dining room.

The children take over my house like a swarm of locusts. They run and scream and try to beat each other senseless with whatever toys my mother had mistakenly thought would keep them quietly occupied. They used to bang on the piano until my father made the executive decision to give it away to avoid future Thanksgiving renditions of “Chopsticks,” or a tune I like to call, “What the Hell is That?”

When they have reached the pinnacle of kid insanity, my father will emerge from out of nowhere, open the door and say, “All right kids!” After they run out the door, my father shuts it and makes a comment along the lines of, “Maybe they’ll fall into the septic tank.” I suppose that offends more than a few of my relatives, unless they are thinking the same thing. At the end of the day, after my sister has threatened to go to her in-laws, my brothers have both threatened to leave and never return and both of my parents look as though they are about to have nervous breakdowns, I tally another Lindemon Thanksgiving success.

But this is nothing compared to Christmas. Christmas used to officially start when my father would come out of the basement with a hacksaw and demand that my little brother and I get in the Jeep. We would look at each other in terror and try to make a quick escape, which my father would ultimately thwart by brandishing the hacksaw at us menacingly.
We had to go to the Jeep to retrieve our Christmas tree, or God knows what would happen with that hacksaw. And no, we would not buy a tree because, in my father’s logic, buying a tree is for sissies. We were going out into the woods to cut down a real tree, tie it to the back of the Jeep and drag it back to our house. Often we were left with a tree that was bald on one side and smelled of animal urine. My father would then try and place the tree in the stand, and after numerous near-fatal tree-tipping-overings, he would tie it to the wall with fishing line. He’s like MacGyver with that fishing line.

Then, on Christmas Eve, after having argued, cursed and yelled about who was going into the basement to collect the 300 boxes of ornaments, we began to decorate the tree, or what was left of it.

Through all of this, I learned to appreciate the holidays, and now they seem like this strange, funny time where people are thrown together out of obligation, sometimes because someone has a hack saw and you don’t.
Now, even though the holidays are insane, I only realize that is because my family is insane, and for better or worse, they are all I’ve got.
So this year when my dad comes out of the basement with a tool that could possibly maim me, depending upon his mood, I might give him a hug before running to my room.

Meredith Lindemon can be reached at merbayne@aol.com.

That wonderful, magical time is finally upon us. I am of course talking about the holiday season, the time of year when we can all be a little more cheerful because, well, it’s the holidays.

It’s supposed to be a time of exchanging gifts, listening to joyful holiday music, seeing loved ones, showing extra goodwill toward others and being in a more cheerful mood as a result.

Sadly, many people do not embrace it anymore. They let the stress of the season get the best of them. A few hours of shopping and hundreds of dollars in debt later, there are those who curse their family for being so large, curse American commercialism and ponder going on a shooting spree.

It troubles me that so many of us choose to take the negative side. The efforts required to have a traditional holiday celebration are relatively small. For anyone who does the least bit of planning, things like shopping for gifts, wrapping presents, decorating and writing cards can be completed in one day.

For that little bit of work, you can help make the holiday season special for those you care about (or at least those who care about you), and that will hopefully bring some extra happiness into their lives. Now won’t that make all of your efforts worthwhile? Of course it will.

So, let’s look at some of the finer things the next 30 days have to offer. First, us college students will likely be preparing for and taking some tough finals, but that will also mark the end of the semester. That means no more school for about a month, which is always a welcome sight.

Now I am going to risk my masculinity and admit that I love when Christmas lights and decorations appear on various houses and buildings throughout Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. In fact they almost make the city look, dare I say, beautiful. Just one glance at a few red and green flashing lights can send me back to the awesome Christmas mornings of my childhood. But if the lights of Philly do not satisfy you, take a trip to see Cape May’s Christmas lights, and I guarantee your utter amazement.
Shopping for gifts can be fun, especially if you do it with friends, and the mall plays awesome holiday music in the background for everyone to listen to. I don’t like to think of it as wasting money so much as a good excuse to spend money. Let’s face it; we all love to spend money. Some people like it so much that they gamble at casinos or give to charity in order to do it faster. Yet shopping for gifts is better because you get something in return, assuming that you will be compensated for these gifts with your own holiday presents. It gives you something to look forward to.
Speaking of anticipation, I love how it gradually increases each day after Thanksgiving before reaching its climax on Christmas Eve. Not only is my favorite holiday in a couple weeks, the anticipation of receiving all sorts of fun and useful things grows stronger each day. The few weeks I have to get through are like some kind of tantalizing torture.

Then as far as Christmas Day goes, perhaps the best thing about it, as with Thanksgiving, is the fact that it gives everyone an excuse to see most of their family all at once and enjoy it. I personally do not care too much for being around my family, but once it’s over with I am not obligated to see any of them again for a good, long while. Plus, enjoying your family’s company for just a day or two tends to create those things called good memories, which I hear make you feel better about yourself when you get older.

But how does one do this? One good way to enjoy yourself is to boss around relatives who are younger and weaker than you; that’s always fun.
Better yet, if you have grandparents like mine whose education never went past seventh grade, you can have deep, insightful conversations with them during which you show off how much smarter than them you are. They will be humiliated and proud of you at the same time. If there is ultimately no pleasure to be found in their company, perhaps the exchanging of gifts will at least bring a positive increase in your material possessions.

So, to those who are liable to get stressed out during the holiday season, please try to look on the bright side and stay positive. Despite the crowded malls, endless card sending, depleted wallets and crazy in-laws, there is much joy to be had this time of year.

Tim Lovett can be reached at tlovett85@comcast.net.