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Holiday Ghost Stories

Tis the season to be jolly, or at least pretend to be until Uncle Matt brings up his unique conspiracy theory that Santa Claus is a mouthpiece for the socialist agenda. Ah, the holidays—a time when joy and festivity collide with triggers mixed with the tinsel and where the mistletoe berries aren’t the only things that can be toxic.

Picture this: You stroll through an all too familiar doorway, decorations hanging from every nook and cranny like grenades threatening to drop at any moment. Suddenly, the ghosts of holidays past don't just haunt you; they put on your shoes and start debating climate change with Uncle Matt, reenacting the same argument you've had since Al Gore ran for president. Unlike Scrooge, we can't escape these apparitions by shouting, "Bah, humbug!" Instead, we find ourselves retreating to the back porch with a cup of mulled wine, contemplating the meaning of life and why we continue subjecting ourselves to these festive gatherings. It's like a twisted game of holiday bingo, and every conversation about politics, climate change, or Aunt Geraldine's hockey puck sugar cookies is a new square on the card of awkwardness. The next day, you wake up questioning your life choices, wondering how you, a mature adult with decades of wisdom, fell prey to Uncle Matt's climate change provocations again. It's like Groundhog Day, but with more egg nog and fewer Bill Murray shenanigans.

Why does this annual holiday drama unfold like a poorly rehearsed play? Blame it on the mistletoe-induced amnesia. The holiday season awakens memories and nostalgia, resurrecting old relationship patterns quicker than you can say, "Is it just me, or did the sugar cookies get even denser this year?" Slippery sidewalks aren't the only hazard; there's a real danger of sliding back into communication styles you thought you'd left behind with your questionable fashion choices from the '80s.

Amidst the pressure to be the embodiment of eternal joy, it's a recipe for exhaustion, frustration, and contemplating faking your own abduction by extraterrestrial elves just to get a moment of peace.

Now, I'd love to offer a fail-proof solution, a magic trick to banish the ghosts of holidays past from your festivities forever. Alas, they're as stubborn as that one light in the strand that keeps blinking no matter what you do. So, here's a radical idea: embrace them. Welcome the ghosts like old friends crashing your holiday party.

Invite the ghost of your childhood self, fueled by hot cocoa and convinced the biggest gift equals the best gift. Embrace the ghost of your awkward ‘tween years, lurking in the back bedroom with a book or fervently texting friends about the latest middle school drama. And, of course, greet the ghost of you passionately arguing with Uncle Matt about environmental responsibility.

Paradoxically, welcoming these ghosts grounds you in the present. When Uncle Matt questions global warming with a smug grin, you can respond with the wisdom of today—passion for climate change with an awareness that the word ‘fascist’ never leads to someone reconsidering their position on an issue. When past versions of yourself surface, greet them with love, share a nostalgic chuckle, and gently let them know that while they're welcome as reflections of holidays gone by, you're the one in charge of living your holiday present. So, here's to a season of laughter, love, and navigating family dynamics as the adult version of yourself—because nothing says "Happy Holidays" like a strategic retreat to the back porch with a cup of mulled wine and the ghosts of your past selves for company. Cheers!

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