A gauntlet is an odious form of punishment wherein the victim is forced to run between two rows (the gauntlet) of soldiers that repeatedly smite him. The victim is slowed down by various means, preventing him from running the gauntlet—God forbid—too quickly. A magical holiday metaphor for you there.
Mercifully, the figurative holiday gauntlet is more varied and less severe. There’s the endless conveyor belt of cookies, booze, and dips that make you blow up like Santy Claus. There’s forced gaiety, perhaps—in, say, the workplace. Secret Santas you want no part of. Malfunctioning decorations. Fighty fights over tree placement. Hernias, ruptured disks, rocketing cholesterol. Concerts, pageants, fundraisers, and parties demanding special gifts, attire, or baking. Aversion to pine. Aversion to sugar plums. Aversion to family. To holiday-themed newspaper columns. 2014, take me away! Not so fast, dear Reader. Remember: you are not allowed to run the gauntlet too quickly.
Maybe your gauntlet has your kids driving you lunatic on one side, your parents on the other. Sadly, advances in technology are exacerbating the digital divide within families, amplifying holiday tensions. The grandparents just can’t seem to grab a hold of technology a lot of the time, and the kids are so much savvier than the parents (us) that it’s annoying.
Well, what is annoying is their annoyance with us. Teenagers since the dawn of time have considered their parents moronic. Only now, because of parents’ slimmer grasp of the technology their children have been wired with, parents really are dumber than their kids. This has never before been the case. Kids didn’t know more about farming, sewing, war, factory work, finance…anything beyond pop culture fluff. Now they are more knowledgeable about something of consequence. As a friend put it, “My rocket geek son ‘helps’ me with my blog. He’s rolling his eyes, ‘Mom, why’d you do it that way?’ like I‘m a complete idiot. When I explain I didn’t know there was another way, this fuels his irritation—and disdain. If I ever acted like him, my parents put the hammer down. I can’t. Because he actually knows more than I do.”
Sigh! If you’ve had your fill of insults, exploding casseroles, manuals with miniscule print in 47 languages, watching football teams do things you gave them no clearance to, the good news is you have only a few more games and New Year’s Eve left, and that’s not even a real holiday. Some call it “Amateur’s Night,” referring to those imbibing who rarely drink, an excellent reason to stay off snowy roads. Hell, even pros like Jethro or Granny manning the wheel of a poorly maintained jalopy after a couple pops of spiked nog coming at you in the oncoming lane, that’s just no fun at all. Stay home and, whatever you do, avoid those awful New Year’s Eve shows. They are worse than Honey Boo Boo, Toddlers and Tiaras, Kardashians singly or in groups, and Mafia Plumbers’ Wives combined. The exaggerated merriment of gussied-up commentators excitedly reciting numbers backwards can kill even the slenderest hope of a new and improved year coming your way. Give yourself a fighting chance. Don’t watch. Ring in the New Year cozying up to your pet(s) or preferred person(s). Sing Auld Lang Syne (first a poem written in 1788 by Robert Burns) softly into their ears. It’s nice like that.
And as a countermeasure to failed New Year’s resolutions kicking off the year badly, that important media outlet, the woman’s magazine, suggests an alternative: make instead a list of what you accomplished last year. You’ll be amazed by what you did. Although I plan on more reading/less Candy Crushing with enough conviction to announce it here publicly to complete strangers, and strange completers (you know who you are). If you must resolve, pick something you can handle.
Helpful Reminder: As the highway notification boards proclaim, DUI. YOU WILL GET ARRESTED. Only the “D” is fat, so it looks like OUI, YOU WILL GET ARRESTED. (“But non, awf-ee-sair, I had nussing to dreenk zees evening! I am Canadienne. We drive feefty in ze left lane on ze intair-state, eet’s what we dewww! Alors, your dawg—does eet baht?”)
May you have enough coal in your stocking to keep you warm, and may the last few yards of your gauntlet be kind. Good New Year, good laffs, and good Boxing Day.