WASHINGTON - On Christmas Day a few years ago, back home in Nebraska, I walked into a gas station for a last minute something-or-other. Being the only place open, it was a hot spot.
Standing in line, one man, grunting and sighing as he shifted back and forth, found himself particularly irked by the situation.
"I can't believe I have to buy marshmallows on Christmas Day!"
He smacked his lips and shook his head as he tossed his purchase on the counter.
"I should be at home -- relaxing!"
The awkward silence was heavier than Santa's sleigh as the customers behind him stared at their feet. The cashier, a fellow human, stuck working at a convenience store on Christmas Day, probably wasn't the right audience for Mr. Jet-Puffed McDerp's complaint.
So this year, please don't call me "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas." Call me "The Grinch Who Worked on Christmas."
Don't get me wrong -- I elected to work. Home is a ways away and working is better than laying around my apartment, wondering if any restaurants are delivering.
The aggravation comes from the reminder that I'm supposed to be showered with gifts and love and friends and family. Not alone ... and working.
There's holiday cheer to spread! We should be out there, giving and receiving! And if we're not, well, we're Grinches, Scrooges -- ungrateful people.
Really, I should bite my tongue, because trying to make it stop is like vacuuming tinsel.
"Where's your holiday spirit, Lacey?"
"Ho, ho, ho?"
Thin on Cheer to Spread This Year
Guys, not everyone thinks this is the most wonderful time of the year. It can be salt in the wound for those mourning loved ones or missing those who live far away. Many aren't religious and others are stuck at work -- voluntarily or otherwise.
And our constant indictment of crimes against Christmas is really the ornament that tipped the tree, if you catch my drift.
There are things about the season I enjoy, like holiday music and "oohing" and "aahing" at Christmas lights. And, in my opinion, claymation Rudolph beats almost any other movie ... like, ever (but don't get me started on "Frosty the Snowman," that's a frightening flick and I will cry).
Yes, it's Christmas. And a swath of other holidays. And that's why I didn't request the day off. I won't take a day that means little to me away from someone to whom it means so much.
But does it truly mean good things? Or is it just stress, guilt and greed?
I say this because, for all the fingers that will inevitably point at me once this is published, a lot of people just don't seem happy.
Entitlement and the service of entitlement have a way of doing that. So maybe we should stop passing it on.
Let's Discuss the True Meaning of Christmas
When we're made to feel this way on Corporatmas, I can't help but think it's everyone else who forgot the meaning of the holiday.
The worst is complaining about all the gifts there are to buy. I mean, this holiday cheer thing sounds like a financial and emotional disaster. What have we done to ourselves? What are we doing to our kids?
Don't we all say, "That's not what this time of year is really about?"
Take a minute and do something for someone who didn't expect it this holiday season.
One year, when the kids are old enough to remember it, but not old enough to resent it, spend a holiday -- the actual holiday -- volunteering somewhere. A soup kitchen, maybe. Picking up trash in a park. Handing out blankets and sack lunches to the homeless.
It might be just what you needed. Because reality doesn't stop on Christmas Day -- even the bad parts. The poor will always be with us and I'll never be Beyoncé.
And, no matter what, someone, somewhere did something unpleasant so you could have a good holiday.
The factory worker who made that (insert coolest new toy ever), the cashier who rang it up. There's a nurse working in an emergency room, and you don't want to know what that ham on your dinner table went through.
So while you're having a blast, think about those quiet people and even the ones you'll never see.
Think about the grouchy people. And, to reference that famous children's movie, show them a little love and maybe their heart will grow -- even if it's yours or mine.
Otherwise, just make sure you pick up marshmallows on Christmas Eve.
Editor's Note: Off the 8's is a new WTOP Living feature, in which staff inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center share stories from their lives when they're off the clock.
Illustrator: Natalia Freeman is a 23-year-old University of Nebraska Lincoln alum. She studied Journalism and Mass Communications, majoring in advertising and minoring in English, with concentrations in fine art and graphic design. She currently lives in Kansas City and works as a graphic designer. View her work on her website, or follow her on Twitter @talia_freeman.
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