With only four more days to go before Christmas, I’m sure you’re feeling the noose tighten by now. Even those who were blasé about the rapidly approaching holiday (erm…my hubby), are now realizing that crunch time is upon us. You wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, a list of all the gifts you were supposed to buy, running through your head like a stock market ticker. You mentally prepare lists: lists of food to buy, gifts to wrap, stocking stuffers to find, cleaning that needs to be done. And on top of it all are
#11. The “Extras”. The extras are just that—supporting players in the main movie of your very own “Christmas Spectacular”. They’re not the stars and they rarely even have a speaking part, but most people would notice if the movie extras just suddenly disappeared, wouldn’t they?
The extras encompass everything that isn’t a “given” about Christmas—gifts, Christmas dinner, a Christmas tree, etc. The extras are just that—extra stuff that your family has decided to engage in during the holidays for one of two purposes. #1 for “Tradition” (either new or old) purposes, or #2…to stress you out even more. Extras can be going the Nutcracker, having an ugly sweater party, or driving around to look at lights. The extras are supposed to get you in the Christmas spirit, and maybe they do, but not without mainlining TUMS.
One year hubby and I decided we would start a new tradition (because all the other things we did obviously didn’t stress us out enough) and go see a Christmas play in the City. Going to the play itself wasn’t the difficult part, although riding on a train stuffed with people on a Saturday afternoon was no fun, and my son hated the play because it was a musical and he thinks musicals should be abolished from the earth like the plague, and both kids were pissed because we wouldn’t buy them $20 foam fingers at the play—that wasn’t the “bad” part of this trip. We figured while we were in the City, we were going to go see “The Tree”. Three days before Christmas. On an unseasonably warm, 70 degree day in December. We are obviously idiots.
For those of you who don’t live in the tri-state area, “The City” is New York City, and “The Tree” is the tree in Rockefeller Center. Going to see the Tree is an extremely “tourist-y” thing to do and trying to get near it is kind of like a scene from Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail. Getting anywhere the City can be complicated as well—you know, with all the tourists spilling out all over the sidewalks and everything. I say this like I’m not a tourist myself, but I guess I would be considered one since I’m not a native New Yorker. But there’s a difference between “tourists” (those people with the cameras taking pictures of sidewalk grates, lampposts, and everything in between) and “Jersey/ Philly tourists”. We’re not impressed by anything in the City since we’ve been there countless times. We don’t take pictures (usually) and we don’t walk around with that wide-eyed, deer in headlights look. However, we still don’t know the ins and outs of the City, and you can find us scratching our heads and consulting our phones as we try to navigate through the insane crowds of the actual tourists. And underestimating how far twenty city blocks actually are. And getting halfway to our destination and feeling like our legs are going to fall off if we walk any further and that we need to hail a cab. And realizing that we don’t actually know how one would hail a cab. Do you put your arm up like in the movies? Do you put your fingers between your lips and whistle? Can anyone actually do that anymore? (My Nana could do that, but I’m pretty sure it’s a dying art form.) And then finding out that you need to make reservations to eat any place decent—five months in advance.
Imagine the four of us wandering around the City—overheated, tired, hungry and cranky. We finally get to the tree after what feels like seven hours of repeatedly being beat with a stick like a piñata. At the Tree there is a crowd eighty people deep (I know I tend to exaggerate but this is not even remotely an exaggeration. In actuality, I may have underestimated how many people were there.) We take a quick obligatory picture near-ish the Tree and then begin the long, arduous journey back to the train station. We miss the train by thirty seconds (also not an exaggeration) and end up sitting on the floor of the train station for another hour until the next train comes.
So what did we learn here? Sometimes the extras are no fun. Sometimes the extras are actually painful (the blisters on my feet were legendary). But there’s a reason they’re “Extras”. We don’t really need to do them if we don’t want to. If they don’t bring us joy, then no one will miss it. Don’t beat yourself up because everyone is Snapchatting their pictures in front of the tree or taking pictures at elaborate light displays. If it makes you miserable, don’t do it. Hence why that trip to see the tree was our first and most likely last.