I am almost certain that if Dante were alive and experiencing the holidays the way us modern mortals do, he would say this season perfectly defines his nine circles of Hell.
First Circle: One of the most infuriating experiences of the season is the wretched traffic you encounter anywhere within a five mile radius of the area shopping centers. At this juncture, be prepared to exchange impolite hand gestures and cursing with your fellow drivers. The stop and go traffic and spontaneous braking of indecisive drivers is enough for you to swear like a sailor and pray for the very destruction of these peoples' lives.
Second Circle: Almost as frustrating is the line at practically any checkout counter. It appears stores strategically calculate how many shoppers they have on the premises and then determine which employees should take an immediate break from ringing up customers at the register. Michael's Crafts is a perfect place to experience this sheer madness. You will literally question your existence and what moral indiscretions you may have made in a past life as you are forced to listen to Jose Feliciano's rousing rendition of "Feliz Navidad," all while waiting to buy some extra gift wrapping ribbon and double sided tape.
Third Circle: You could very well be inspired to pull out all your hair as you try to pen the most creative and catchy of Christmas Cards. Families have gone to war over this one. Someone always ends up sounding like the white-trash cousin when you type up a little ditty about who did what during 2006. And if your card isn't juicy, then it's likely your red or green photocopied note is used to wipe dirty bottoms at your grandma's Old Folks Home.
Fourth Circle: I am surprised the media does not report more stranglings by Christmas lights. These little strands of light should come with a warning label. Some people may choose to kill themselves with their icicle lights, twinkle lights, white lights or flashing lights after encountering the most frustrating of challenges when hanging said lights. Other people may die at the hands of a loved one who is too critical about lights hung on the family tree, the outside bushes, or the home.
Long Live Clark Griswold.
Fifth Circle: Speaking of Clark, Dante would surely describe the seasonal excessive time spent with family as a hellish experience. There is no other masochistic experience like subjecting yourself to the familial rehashing of old arguments, sibling rivalry that refuses to die once everyone involved reaches 20 and the passive aggressive attitudes as prevalent as tinsel. It's just something you have to do, and once it's all said and done you'll come out of the moment a braver, more resilient person.
That which does not kill us makes us stronger, right?
Sixth Circle: There is a special place in Hell for the person who invented the scale. Let's face it: you confront every holiday season with a brave face - You make vows to stay out of the work break room and steer your cart away from the obligatory Egg Nog section in the grocery store cooler. Nevertheless, every December you manage to gain a pound or two Okay, fine it's really eight pounds but I am an emotional eater. Back off! and remain powerless while attending a full schedule of parties.
Seventh Circle: Don't you just wish you could sometimes punch the lady wearing the crazy ass holiday sweater? Okay, it's not bad enough that she's got homemade earrings made out of little jingle bells. This is the lady in the office who manages to find any sweater made with a battery pack to include real light up lights. I think you know who I'm talking about. The very smear of Rudolph Red lipstick on her face (it actually covers a quarter inch ring beyond the border of her mouth) makes you want to gnaw the heart out of your chest cavity. This is the lady who is humming Jingle Bells while working in her cubicle. Here's what I wonder when I see this lady: Does she have no worries about how she'll pay for Christmas? Does this woman not experience the same frustrations I encounter?
Does this woman take drugs?
Eighth Circle: Happy Holidays Schmolidays. Doesn't the status of modern American culture just suck? I mean, where is the justice in the fact that the Politically Correct have totally dissolved any genuine Christmas spirit? I love all the many people and cultures around this globe, really I do, but I'd like to highlight a minor point. I do not celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. These events are super neat-o and I love love love what they symbolize, but I belong to a religious community that celebrates the holiday marking the birth of Christ. You know, the holiday where we're required to decorate pine trees and wrap gifts with brightly colored paper and sing carols while wearing scarves knit by Grandma. I'd like to continue calling that holiday Christmas if that's okay with you, ummkay?
Ninth Circle: One of the worst moments of the Holiday season is being trapped in Voice Mail Hell while calling Customer Service. Maybe you're calling to buy your honey a really hawt Blackberry, maybe you need help replacing the thingamajig for your Wii controller. Either way, it is assured you will be a) put on hold for all eternity or the duration of your life (which ever one comes first) or b) your call will be transferred to an individual who does not speak your language well and will likely not know the whereabouts of the city you live in, even if you live in a metropolis like Chicago.
God bless us everyone, indeed, Tiny Tim.