Fa-la-la and Bah Humbug!

Fa-la-la and Bah Humbug!

by Mary Ellen Stepanich

I have a love-hate relationship with holidays, especially Christmas. (And pardon me for being politically incorrect in using the “C” word.)

I LOVE receiving cards and letters from friends and relatives, particularly “holiday letters.” You know the ones I mean … long litanies of the pursuits and pleasures enjoyed by your first cousins twice removed. And the pictures that show the toddlers you saw last year – at least it seems it was only last year – now in graduation cap and gown! And how in the world did it happen that the cousin whose wedding you sang for just a few years ago now has children who have graduated from college and are serving internships in Outer Mongolia? Do the days actually pass faster in Indiana than in Arizona? Or did I enter some sort of time warp at the turn of the century that has kept me frozen in time?


On the other hand, I HATE the fact that I am alone for the holidays, with no children, no husband, and no relatives who live close enough to jump in the car and visit the same day. There will never again be any “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go.” Grandmother passed away in 1976. And the frightening fact is that she died when she was the same age that I am now! So, I guess I hate anything that reminds me how old I am and the rapidly approaching end of time … for me, at least.

Consequently, I approach the season with multiple emotions. I happily entertain audiences by singing Happy Holidays and other popular Christmas carols with my comedy barbershop quartet, Lilac Crazy (“we LIE like crazy”). I respond to all the holiday letters with as much enthusiasm as I can muster, trying to make my life as a childless widow sound exciting and fulfilling.

However, I cringe as I pass the neighbors’ houses bedecked with colorful lights and the obligatory evergreen wreath on the front door; then I furtively pull into the driveway of my house that is naked of any decorations and hurry inside before anyone can accost me with a hearty “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Holidays!” And, as much as I love my brother and his wife, I dread his brief visit in December because I will be required to cook, clean, and apologize for allowing my cat to become so overweight. (You see, my brother is a veterinarian.)

So, I love the memories of Christmases past, but I hate the fact that they will never come again, at least not for me. Nevertheless …

Merry Christmas, and may the New Year
bring you much joy and happiness.


Dr. Mary Ellen Stepanich is a retired professor of organizational behavior who
Mary Ellen Stepanichalways told her students at Purdue, “I’m very organized, but my behavior is a bit wonky.” She has published articles in academic journals (boring), show scripts for barbershop choruses and quartets (funny), and an award-winning radio play, “Voices from the Front,” for Sun Sounds of Arizona (heartrending). Mary Ellen lives in Peoria, Arizona, with her cat, Cookie, and blogs on her website, MaryEllenStepanich.com.

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3 Responses to Fa-la-la and Bah Humbug!

  1. Marcie Brock says:

    Mary Ellen – you strike a chord I’m sure many feel about the holidays. In searching for a picture, I came across this post about swapping your favorite annoying holiday letter. Maybe you can start a tradition among your friends! https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20141208/lincoln-square/christmas-letter-swap-spoofs-dread-holiday-tradition


  2. Beth Kozan says:

    Oh, Mary Ellen! I can SO relate! No decorations on my house. No tree since 1987. The irony of my having helped ‘make many families’ but having no grandchildren. Sigh.


  3. Rita Goldner says:

    But the rest of the year you add an upbeat note of fun to our meetings and group blog.


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