I'd just like to start off by saying this: What is wrong with you people?

And by "people," I mean, "everyone but you." Relax, I'm sure you're the exception to what I'm about to complain about.

The problem can be summed up by this question commonly asked in December: "Are you all ready for Christmas?" Now, on the surface I know this is just supposed to be small talk, like "How are you?" But unlike that question, which usually prompts a quick "Fine" and then the conversation can progress, the Christmas question inevitably prompts an exasperated groan and a list of things to be done.

Why do we put ourselves through this? You don't have to have a holiday party. You don't have to spend $10,000 on decorations. You don't have to attend 50 functions thrown by other people. All the stress is avoidable.

Here's what my holiday preparations consist of:

1. Put up lights on the house (time required: 2 hours)

2. Put up a few decorations in the house, including the tree (time required: 1.5 hours)

3. Go to Toys R Us and buy whatever seems good for the kids. Maybe order a couple things online (time required: 2 hours)

Boom. Done. Maybe I'll order something online that Katie wants, or let her go shop for herself. The point is, it takes me less than a cumulative day to "get ready for Christmas." And I can enjoy the season, and contemplate its "true meaning" or whatever (don't get me started on that one) without feeling like I get an ulcer every year.

Why do people torture themselves in the name of enjoyment?