Year of my discontent

Friday, January 14, 2011

The holidays are over. I tried to stay cheery for everything including the eggnog, which always reminds me of that goop you drink before they take a good look at your lower intestine.

Prior to January first, every email I received started--or ended--with phrases like: Enjoy the season...Have a good Christmas...or, I hope you had an awesome year. These salutations aren't just from friends and relatives, but are email updates from Norton Anti-Virus, a pick-up notice from the UPS Store, coupons from Jiffy Lube, and a reminder from Rocco, the bill collector.

As a result, I felt obligated for all of December to express similar wishes whenever I sent a note to anybody, no matter what the reason for my communiqué. Like this sticky note I left on the door of the guy across the street:

Dear Jack,

I hope you are having a glorious holiday season. I think it was you who backed into my SUV last night and because you are a sneaky little worm, I know you had no intention of telling me. Merry Christmas to all your family.

His response was another indication of the mandatory cheer we must all endure.

Dear Dick,

I hope the Christmas season is treating you well. It wasn't me, you miserable mongrel. You have been nothing but trouble for the 10 years we've been neighbors. Enjoy the remainder of 2010 and may Santa be extra good to you.

This nightmare of insincere holiday expression did not end after January 1. It only got worse. Now I feel compelled to begin every email, VM and text message with one of these seasonal prerequisites: I hope your holidays were grand, or I trust you had a wonderful New Year's Eve. I was okay with this drivel the first week or two of January, but now I'm just kind of making myself nauseous. So how long do I have to do this?

I checked a few of those classic etiquette books and, incredibly, Emily Post has no strong feelings on this topic, but she does spend three pages on where to put your dirty butter knife based on several different dining scenarios, and what to do with those filthy bed sheets when you sleep at a friend's. Even Miss Manners does not address the holiday conundrum, but she really came down hard on a couple last month who sent their wedding picture as a Christmas card. Very tacky. Especially after seven years.

I desperately need some direction here because next month I have to tell people to have a Happy Valentine's Day, which for many of my friends is rubbing in the fact that they lack a significant other or are married to someone insufferable.

Then there's St. Patrick's Day, Memorial Day, July 4, and Halloween. I do hope you and your family are healthy and content; I just don't care if you have a happy Halloween. Actually, I'm not sure what makes a happy Halloween. Lots of naughty nurse costumes? And what constitutes a happy St Patrick's' Day? Chewable corned beef? A green bagel that doesn't make you hurl? Good news on the breathalyzer?

I'm feeling better now that I've gotten this off my chest. In my next column, I'll be back to my old chipper self. In the meantime, have a great week.