The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (and Mercury is Retrograde)

It’s that time of the year again. You know, the most wonderful time of the year. Whatever our tradition, holiday music seeps into our minds at every turn, coaxing us to loosen our hearts and our pockets. In the north, our frozen solid bodies are battling snow and ice. Weren’t we just planting gardens and watching fireworks? In the south, we’re frantically replacing our flip flops with closed toed shoes to cover our cold feet. Weren’t we just hopping barefoot through the sizzling sand? In the west, we’re putting out hellish fires and praying for drenching rain. Weren’t we just bragging about our perfect weather? But it’s that most wonderful time of the year when we all unite to declare our love of humanity and (even if only for a few days) find peace on earth.

But just as the weather gets colder, the fires burn hotter, and the music reaches a fevered pitch, the memories of holidays long past well up and threaten to break our resistance to the seemingly sudden appearance of this new holiday season. Didn’t we all agree never to overspend, overeat, overindulge ever again? Once more we are seduced into the belief that if we could only buy the magic of this most wonderful time of the year, all our problems would disappear. Poof!

As we despair over the latest despicable tweet, block yet another friend on Facebook, and wonder just how many worthy causes we can advocate for at once (and still keep our jobs and relationships intact), that’s when the longing for less chaotic and destructive times grows stronger. Before one more Bill is passed in the Senate or the House, before one more innocent person dies, and before one more offender is named, we beg, “Please, can we just take a breather without it all snowballing into hell?” I mean, it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.

Enter Mercury Retrograde.

Are you freaking kidding me? Nope. And he’s making a grand entrance this time. The simplest of tasks become week-long nightmares of confusion. Static fills our most reliable lines of communication. Customer service declines into a battlefield of blame (those of you who work in retail over the holidays get a free pass on that one). Phone batteries die unexpectedly. Cars run out of gas. Didn’t we just fill the tank? Websites go down like dominoes. Streaming videos that we turn to for a break from it all announce at the midpoint in the film that we have no internet connection. Bills automatically paid from our bank accounts get rejected. The bank says it’s the merchant’s fault. The merchant blames the bank. We’re stuck in the middle trying to resolve an issue that others whose services we pay for are incapable of fixing.

“But,” we whimper, turning up the music, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Suddenly, in the midst of a world gone mad and the effects of a planet we never hear about unless it’s naughty, we feel cheated out of something we weren’t even sure we wanted. Another holiday season. And now we want it badly. It’s our one pass of the whole year where we remember our better natures, set aside our differences, and leap into the bosom of our family and friends despite our messy histories. We’re finally ready—once again—to live more altruistically, more authentically, and to look within for the magic of the most wonderful time of the year.

Life is messy. Politics are ugly. People are imperfect. Mercury Retrograde sucks. But the magic of the human heart and the resilience of the human spirit are worthy of celebration. When we embrace the light that shines through the cracks of our broken hearts, we know we’ve found the love and the optimism to create a better life and, thus, a better world.

Rock on, Mercury. You ain’t got nothing on us. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Happy Holidays!