Today I am pleased to welcome Sandra Harper, author of Over the Holidays, to Psychotic State!
HOLIDAY BEHAVIOR 101
by Sandra Harper
I have spent a great deal of time immersed in the holidays. This is not to say I'm busy sending cards, crafting gifts or staging an amazing New Year's party...I've just THOUGHT about all these things.
Yet, there is something I've discovered in my completely unscientific research (consisting mainly of gabbing with friends and neighbors) about the holidays. I have identified three distinct female archetypes that immerge between December 1st and January 2nd and I'd like to submit these findings to the noted experts in HOLIDAY CULTURE AND BEHAVIOR 101.
First up is the Traditionalist. The Traditionalist has a spectacular holiday-themed home with seasonal plates and linens, a twenty-foot fir tree, handmade popcorn balls, and intriguing holiday collectibles - like chestnut-roasting pans, mechanical elves and nineteenth-century sleighs. How to further identify the Traditionalist? This year's Christopher Radko ornament arrived at her doorstep last August. Inside the Traditionalist's home is the scent of cinnamon and cloves and the faintest sound of what? A choir of angels? Or is that Andrea Bocelli? Although the Traditionalist tends to inspire equal parts envy and admiration, it must be said that this woman is fantastically organized. In fact, she could rule the world.
Secondly, we have Hannah of the Good Intentions. Hannah firmly believes this will be the year she will kick butt in the celebration department. She will complete her shopping WAY before December 22nd, she'll bake and decorate her cookies with icing and sprinkles from one of those professional cookie kits, she'll tinsel up the house (and clean it too) and, most importantly, she will finally get what she really wants from the holidays: deep feelings of peace, joy and good will towards all.
Unfortunately, by December 22nd, Hannah wakes from a daze and wonders, "What happened to all those holiday plans?" Then she remembers a sick kid, a shortage of funds, the broken toilet, extra hours at work, a canned food drive, and oh, yes: her department's decision to cut bonuses this year.
By Christmas morning, the cinnamon rolls she intended to bake (with the dough that had to rise and fall and rest or something) have to be scrapped in favor of breakfast cereal. Then Hannah will dash to the nearby market where the clever grocer has stacked pies (and rolls) right next to the check-out stand in a shameful attempt to capitalize on Hannah's woeful predicament.
Finally, there's Rebel without a Claus. Rebel confidently informs you that she doesn't even bother with Christmas anymore - really, it's too commercial, why line the pockets of Big Retail? the whole shebang has lost its meaning, she dropped out long ago.
Rebel is probably the most daring, certainly the most courageous woman on the block. But you have to wonder: where does she stash the guilt and the pressure of NOT doing anything? And more to the point: could YOU get away with this?
So dear noted experts (i.e. Women of the World), I humbly submit these findings and I leave you with one last thought: which Holiday Archetype are you?
Sandra Harper is the author of the play, Magpie's Tea Room, which enjoyed a successful run in Los Angeles at The Ventura Court Theatre. She has written a cooking column, "The California Cook" for the newspaper, Skirt. A script reader for Pathe Studios and Springcreek Productions, she also wrote and produced fashion and rock videos for Elvis Costello, Chaka Khan and Vidal Sassoon, among others. Ms. Harper recieved her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Southern California and has completed a children's book, The Witches Club. Her most recent book, Over the Holidays, was released earlier this month.
Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday, always has been, and in my dreams I am The Traditionalist. I would love to have a house decorated so beautifully and artfully that Martha Stewart would take a hit out on me. I love the idea of a stunning tree, perfectly adorned with ornaments and lights, of having the best looking house (decorations-wise) in the neighborhood, of the house smelling like cinnamon for the entire month of December and for Christmas music to be playing 24/7. (True story - - back in my days working at The Mother Ship, I was quite possibly the only person there that wasn't ready to strangle every artist who ever put out a Christmas album after listening to piped-in Christmas music for weeks).
In reality, though, I am more of a Hannah of the Good Intentions. I want to do all these things. I plan to do all these things. But real life interferes. My job takes up too much of my time. The dog eats the cinnamon roll container (along with all the rolls) and throws up under the tree. The cat thinks the ornaments on the bottom limbs of the tree are for his fun and enjoyment - - and are made to be broken. My son tells me the day before his big pre-holiday break project is due - - a project that will involve posterboard, construction paper, a hot glue gun and third degree burns to my fingers. So by the time all this comes to pass, I am too exhausted to make ornaments, cook, decorate and be merry.
So which Holiday Archetype are you? Please let me know in the comments.
Many thanks to Sandra Harper for stopping by and sharing her witty insights with us.