Bi-Polar Express


Confession: While Travis had the stomach bug, Polar Express was played on repeat for 7 hours. I’ve never hated the sound of Tom Hanks voice so much as I did that day.

That day has turned into a metaphor for my holiday season … a Bi-Polar Express on constant repeat with singing, chocolate, sparkles and Santa in my face taunting me like a relentless car salesman.


There’s so much that I want to see and do but there’s so much that I “have to” see and do. So much planning and conspiring. It seems this Bi-Polar Express is a common theme for women during the holiday season. I see it in the eyes of my friends. I hear it in the voice of strangers. I read it in the pages of my favorite magazines. I watch it on the cheesy Hallmark movies.

Choo-choo, the Bi-Polar Holiday Express is in full throttle.

Christmas menus. Christmas gifts. Christmas wrapping. Christmas programs. Christmas traveling. Christmas cookies. Christmas charities. Christmas trees. Christmas cards. Christmas elves. Christmas EVERY. THING.


Facebook is of no help during this season of Bi-Polar Express. I feel as if I have a scarlet letter across the chest of my Facebook profile picture as my feed pukes pictures of families doing each and every Christmas event in the 20 mile radius of our home as I travel only 5 minutes within the vincinity of my home.


As an introvert I find my self sweating just thinking about attending all 157,345 family events that are offered during Christmas in Chicagoland. Give me some really good eggnog, a present at the top of my list, Holiday Inn on the television, “Drummer Boy” playing on the radio and my family around my table and I am set. But some how my vision of the perfect holiday is one that isn’t highlighted on the cover of Family Fun magazine. I’m pretty sure that a picture of me holding a cup of eggnog, eating a GLUTEN filled cookie, in my robe on the couch as I watch the Bishop’s Wife would not get a single Facebook LIKE compared to the pictures I see of families decked out in matching Christmas attire as they walk hand in hand down the Magnificent Mile after a day of attending all 157,345 Chicagoland Christmas events, without a single child having a public meltdown.


Even the Gremlin on the Shelf is taunting me, judging me. Asking with his brightly painted blue eyes if I was doing enough in the world of elves? Was just placing his little felt demon body on a shelf good enough? According to Pinterest and Facebook, it was not. Articles with titles such as  “Most Creative Elf Sightings”  and “Clever Elf ”  fill my inbox and news feed. It turns out the phrase Elf on the Shelf is to ONLY be used when describing where you bought him/her, not where you are actually to place the tiny judgmental figurine.


So what if, like the little boy on Polar Express, I pulled that massive STOP lever. Would I be greeted by Tom Hanks telling me that I did the right thing? That yes, it was okay to only attend the 3 events I liked of the 157,345 offered events? That posting pictures of my kids sweaty and in un-matching outfits on Santa’s lap on Facebook was okay and that drinking eggnog is not a thing of the past?  That making no-bake cookies was A-Okay? Would he tell me that all “the other stuff” was just that … stuff? All the sparkle and the To-Do lists were just a mad commercialism cover-up?  Would this Tom Hanks sounding man look a little like Jesus? Or maybe even resemble your children as they ask to just stay home to watch Home Alone for the 10th time. Whatever he may be in your world, I bet he’d simply  ask “What’s your reason for the season?” And you better have a damn good reason besides the Joneses.





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