“It wouldn’t be the Christmas season if the stores were any less hooter than they HOTTER than they are.” It’s finally Christmas; the time of year when we care a little more; the time of year when we are a little more giving; the time of year when we can watch Chevy Chase and not feel dumber for it. And so, in honor of the season, I spent an evening pondering the true meaning of Christmas, warming myself by the fire with a warm cup of hot cocoa…
To get myself fully in the Christmas mood, I was listening to the Michael Buble Christmas station on Pandora. It was working perfectly. I was feeling all jolly and seasonal. I listened to Martina McBride scoop her notes more than humanly possible (ruining a perfectly good Dean Martin song) while I was wrapped in my Snuggie:
I was just about to break into a round of O Holy Night, when out of nowhere, I hear faint violins. “OOOO,” I thought, “A Christmas song I haven’t heard before. Maybe it’s Bieber (lot’s of dude’s have that thought, right?).” As the song continued, I hear, “I could lie awake, just to hear you breathing.”
Wait. Is this a Christmas song? Because if it is, it’s putting the wrong spin on the whole Santa thing. No. This isn’t Christmas; how come all I can picture is too many long scarves on a microphone stand? And a giant mouth? Why the mouth?
Then, it hits me like a sweaty tour-bus:
Admittedly I might be in the minority on this, but Steven Tyler doesn’t usually conjure up Christmas memories for me. I mean, there was that one Christmas when my dad and I sang Silent Night back-to-back like rock-stars sharing the same mic, but that’s not really the same thing.
Nope. No Christmas here. Pandora sucker-punched me. They got me feeling all nice and warm, all seasony and yule-loggy, and then they slapped me right in the face. You don’t come back from that. Do they think I’m a moron? I know that I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing makes us all think about Ben Affleck and the end of the world, contemplating the meaning of life….wait, maybe that’s it. Pandora figures that if I think about the meaning of life, I’ll remember the true meaning of Christmas? …No. That makes no sense. They just wanted to ruin my Christmas. They backloaded all the good feelings we were having together. Where are you now Buble?
I guess I can’t really be mad at Pandora for this. We all do this from time to time. We backload. We’ll tell someone something really nice about themselves, and then hit em with some Aerosmith. Boom! “I love the way you always take out the trash! I just wish you would try and remember to put a new bag in the can.” “You are such a good mother, but you’re always short with the kids.”
We backload because we don’t want to fight. We figure if we say something nice first, our partner/spouse/child will be a little more receptive. “I don’t think you’re a complete idiot, but could you put a trash bag in the can when you are done?” Or maybe we worry that if we just compliment someone, they will think we’re OK with all the dumb stuff they do. But by the time the backload comes out, the first part is missed completely. Suddenly, a moment of genuine kindness and connection turns into a fight; all we can hear is Aerosmith ringing in our ears. Even worse, we start to expect every compliment and ‘genuine moment’ to have a ‘but’ attached. Then we wonder why we can’t even give someone a compliment anymore.
So, ’tis the season to be a little less sneaky. Just compliment your spouse/partner/child with no other motive other than making them feel better about themselves. Backload a little less. Give a few more compliments with a little less Aerosmith aftertaste.
You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout, I’m telling you why. Steven Tyler’s coming to town
Rob Porter, Ph.D., LMFT
Marriage Counselor, Austin TX