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Some Hopefully Humorous Thoughts for Angst-Free Holidays

By Linda Fippin, president of the Board of Trustees

Thanksgiving is here and marks the beginning of the holiday season, although one could argue that that title should really go to Halloween judging by the effort some of my neighbors put in to decorating their houses. The holiday season evokes a variety of feelings. Some may look forward with eager anticipation to joyful family traditions – Aunt Sarah’s classic apple-cranberry pie or Dad standing in front of the fireplace to recite “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” But some may regard the approaching holidays with vague dread. Will uncle George go off on a rant about the latest conspiracy theory he picked up from the “They’re All Out to Get Us” sub-Reddit or will Mom’s Christmas gift once again be an item of clothing that you would never wear in a million years that you know she’ll want you to put on for the family photos that she’s going to post on Facebook?

If you’re one of those with the joyful outlook, “good on ya,” as they say down under. If you are a ‘’dreader,” perhaps you can ease your angst by watching an appropriate holiday movie. We’re not talking “Miracle on 34th Street” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” here. Personally, I have never made it through more than a few minutes of those black and white oldies and don’t understand their attraction. Maybe you have to be a joyful anticipation person. “A Christmas Story” has lots of fans, and it’s not bad, but it just doesn’t have quite the right tone for angst reduction. Here are my personal choices that fill that bill.

For Thanksgiving, there’s “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” If you’ve ever had travel anxiety dreams, like you’re late for your flight and your taxi is stuck in traffic or you’re in a huge parking garage and you don’t remember where you parked your car, this is the movie for you. Steve Martin and his inadvertent companion, John Candy (RIP), share bad experience after bad experience trying to get from Wichita to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving. Their experiences were way worse than having to go to the grocery store at 5:00 o’clock on Thanksgiving eve because “somebody” was supposed to remember to get canned pumpkin for the pie but forgot. Their disastrous but (spoiler alert) successful travel can’t help but make you feel like you can get through Thanksgiving one more time. Pumpkin pie will help, too.

For Christmas, I have two suggestions.

The first also falls in the travel anxiety category, but much more extreme than “did I remember to turn down the thermostat” or “did I remember to leave open the door to the laundry room where the cat litter box is?” This is, of course, “Home Alone,” in which a family departs to spend Christmas in France without one of their children and doesn’t realize it until they are mid-flight. Kevin, the boy left behind, proves to be remarkably resourceful in managing on his own, even thwarting attempts by two, admittedly inept, thieves who try to invade and burglarize his household. It does make you think that whatever you imagine you forgot to do, even a big thing, may turn out okay after all (though that cat litter thing would have been pretty bad).

My last choice may not be for everyone, and some would not even agree that it is a Christmas movie, although it does take place in a building where a corporate Christmas party is under way. This is “Die Hard.” It does have undeniably violent moments - quite a few, in fact. But it also has a resourceful hero, a reconciliation with an estranged loved one, the beginning of a new friendship, and a great villain, Hans Gruber, played with suave menace by the late Alan Rickman (again, RIP). Somehow, it always cheers me up and makes me think if Bruce Willis can walk through broken glass, I can wear that ugly sweater for the family holiday photo.

So I hope your holidays can be angst free and that you can enjoy them even if you are not a joyful anticipation person. May it be so!

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