“Near-na-near, Near-na-near, Near-na-near-na-near….”
That’s the guitar intro to “Jingle Bell Rock” and one of the most ubiquitous sounds of the holiday season. It’s nearly impossible to escape this tune-it’s played repeatedly from Thanksgiving through Christmas on radio stations and in department stores.
I used to love it as a kid. Then I grew to despise it in my adolescent years, inspired, no doubt, by my rocker-wannabe friends and their complete disdain for this holiday schlock. “That’s not rock!” we’d howl, disgusted. I mean, come on-“Giddy-up jingle horse, pick up your feet”?
That song set my teeth on edge for years. I’d scowl. I’d roll my eyes. I’d smack my forehead in mock despair. You could say I had my own little holiday tradition of hating that song.
And then, one December morning, as I helped my four preschoolers decorate the house with paper chains, that song came on the radio. They instantly started dancing, rockin’ around the Christmas tree as only exuberant toddlers can.
I thought it was the cutest thing I’d ever seen. I couldn’t for the life of me remember why I hated that song so much. It was catchy. It sounded happy. Clearly, my kids felt the joy in it. What was my problem, anyway?
I’d spent a fair amount of time and energy despising something that was completely innocuous. Cringing every time I heard “Mix and a-mingle in the jingling feet” wasn’t bringing me any comfort and joy.
We’ve all got our favorite holiday annoyances. Maybe it’s your Aunt Mary’s Christmas sweaters. Perhaps it’s your parents’ tattered aluminum tree. It could be your neighbor’s inflatable Homer Simpson in a Santa suit in plain view from your living room window.
Well, here’s the good news: you can use your holiday irritation to become more mindful. That’s right. Pay attention to the little things that bug you about the preparations and celebrations. Find the goofiness in it, and laugh-not at others, but at yourself.
You’ve got a perfect opportunity to step back in order to see your reaction for what it is.
Hate your partner’s snow globe collection? Despise the way your brother always takes charge of the present distribution on Christmas morning? Get riled by your sister’s habit of outspending everyone? Cranky about the way stores put out their decorations before Thanksgiving?
Gosh, you’re funny.
Watch your irritation, and then watch yourself grin. Be present enough to see the humor in your response. Pay attention to the things that get on your nerves, even if they’re hopelessly hokey.
ESPECIALLY if they’re hopelessly hokey, because if hokeyness doesn’t make you grin, what will? Look for your trigger and turn it into something that tickles you.
May you and your loved ones dance in your living room this holiday season.