A great time of year, but not without some stress


With Christmas, comes anxiety.


Oh, I’m certain it comes to some degree with all the other major holidays this season, but Christmas is the one I’m most familiar with personally, so that’s where we’ll begin this week’s story. Christmas brings nerves. Nerves bring anxiety. Anxiety steals hair.

Again, I’m sticking with what I know.

Regardless, the main sources of Christmas anxiety seem to come from travel, scheduling, clothes and money. If we’re lucky, we have loved ones to visit, parties and get-togethers to attend and just the right outfits to spread holiday cheer without looking like we just woke up on a park bench with a bottle of Thunderbird held tightly in our fists. And we try to work a budget with which we can adequately give the gifts we most want to present to those we care for without finding ourselves waking up on a park bench with...

But I digress.

It’s a tough time of the year, to be sure. Many find depression more easily than holiday joy, as solitude can stir feelings of abject loneliness, and an empty seat at the family Christmas dinner table can shift a mood to somber in an instant. It’s just really a time of year that demands we be a little more patient and understanding with one another than normal because we really don’t know exactly what everybody else might be going through during the holidays.

Of course, patience and understanding are often foreign concepts to many during the holidays. Black Friday is seemingly never official until there is a newscast of two grown people holding an MMA match at Target over a toy, or someone getting beaten up in a parking lot over a parking space. The more commercial we have allowed the holidays to become, the more frenetic and lunatic we allow ourselves to become. Spread the holiday cheer? More like carpetbomb any shreds of humanity we have left with an attack filled with selfishness, pride and panic.

It makes one harken back to the good ol’ days...

You know, like the simple gifts listed in the Christmas classic, “12 Days of Christmas.” Those were gifts that sprung from the heart, and didn’t come with a ticking clock or limited supplies demanding you wake up when the roosters are falling asleep to trudge out to a store. Those simple gifts in the song would only add up to a few dollars at most if you really took a look at it, and you could probably grab them all for...

$116,273.06.

According to a story I stumbled across from UPI, PNC Bank released their annual price index for the items listed in the song, and you could have them all — all 364 of them — for $116,273.06. Of course, that’s if you buy them in person. PNC reported that it would cost $192,470 to buy all the items online. Apparently, geese are at a premium this year, as their price has risen 71 percent this year, from $210 to $360. It would seem that geese are now rare, and I am blessed to have some of the few remaining survivors using my car as a toilet.

I’m a lucky guy.

One item that didn’t make the list in the “12 Days of Christmas” is a little princess wand an Ohio mother reportedly bought for her daughter at a dollar store last month, as cited in another UPI article. The woman said she was shocked to remove a piece of foil from the wand, only to discover a picture of a girl cutting her wrist with a knife. She said the toy also featured flashing lights and an evil cackling sound effect.

That’s not entirely surprising, according to Amar Moustafa, owner of the store where the toy was sold. He said the name of the toy is “Evil Stick.”

“So, from the name, if I was buying it for my kid, I would inspect it before I gave it to them,” said Moustafa.

Well, yeah. If you’re going to use logic.

Predictably, the Evil Stick did not make the National Retail Foundation’s Holiday Top Toys Survey, which was released last week. However, the survey did generate some headlines with the news that Barbie is not the top item for girls this season, the first time in 11 years the iconic doll did not sit atop the rankings. She was replaced by toys from the Disney movie “Frozen.”

LEGO was the top selection for boys, not surprisingly, and iPads made the top 10 for both genders, creating a giant sucking sound from parents’ wallets across these fruited plains. I read the list and quietly exhaled, assured that my own daughter will not be in that market this year as she will only be 6 weeks old at Christmas.

But how am I supposed to come up with the funds for 11 pipers piping?