Grinchlike … But No Grinch!

I am no Ebenezer Scrooge (post the three spirits), dancing with joy, dispensing gifts, and in general comporting myself around Christmas time with uncomely glee. Today, going to lunch with Martine, I encountered scores of stressed-out drivers in the process of driving in such a way that easily merited a serious car crash. (Also, I encountered far fewer drivers who drove with courtesy and watchfulness.)

Christmas as a religious holiday gets my respect. I myself am unaffiliated with any official religion, but I can understand the significance of the Incarnation for Christians.

It’s Christmas as a secular holiday which is out of whack. You should see the frenzied shoppers trying to fit into the Culver City Costco parking lot around noon. I imagine many had to roam the lot for upwards of an hour before they found a spot. For many, this weekend is the optimal time to get those last-minute gifts.

Well, I’m not shopping for gifts this Christmas, though Martine and I did send out a number of cards—both religious and secular—to our friends and relatives.

What’s wrong about the holiday is the whole secular mythology: Santa, the Xmas tree, stockings by the fireplace, the f—ing “Elf on the Shelf,” Christmas parties, yearly attending the Nutcracker, reindeer antlers on car windows, those stupid Santa hats…. Need I go on? What we have year is a recipe for distress. It’s damn near impossible to have a perfect Christmas with all the trimmings and cancer-like accumulated practices

My Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa wish for all my readers is simple: Enjoy, but when you begin to stress, PULL BACK! It’s not worth making a nightmare out of the whole thing. Above all, survive in good spirits!

An Inflammation of the Eyelid Margin

Inflamed Eyelids of a Blepharitis Sufferer

No sooner did Martine return to Los Angeles than I broke out into an array of allergic responses. On one hand, I started going into sneezing fits and blowing my nose. More serious was a siege of blepharitis, a condition in which the eyelids feel like inflamed constantly itching parchment. The only thing that works against it is an expensive drug called Avenova, which, for some obscure reason, is not on Blue Cross’s approved drug formulary. I was able to pick up some today, so I am sure that the current infestation will not continue much longer.

Allergies have been one of the banes of my existence. In high school, I had a seborrheic dermatitis that made my scalp look full of snowflakes. Then there were the usual spring and fall respiratory allergies, which I still have to some degree. I am not able to eat shrimp or lobster unless it is caught in near-Arctic waters without getting a reaction that feels like a severe strep throat which lasts for two or three hours.

The worry and stress about Martine has certainly contributed to the intensity of my allergic responses. In time, it will gradually subside. I hope.