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Festivus for the Rest of Us

This morning I lost it on Alexa. I asked her to add Ramen to my shopping list and instead she added raw almonds. "Stupid bitch!" I screamed. Whoa. I didn't see that coming. Even though I think I'm handling this isolation deal pretty well, I find myself randomly melting down over nothing. I feel kind of bad for James. The other night, I was struggling to motivate the kids to bed, which is incredibly vexing since we don't eat our dinner until they are settled. Starving Jill is scary enough in her own right, but add to that diffused patience and the science fiction movie in which we are all starring, and watch the beast unleash.

When I eventually came downstairs, I announced to James, "I'm done!" "Like finished?" he asked (rather cautiously), "or like you can't take it anymore?" I repeat. Poor James. I don't recall exactly what I said or why I took such personal offense to what, in hindsight was a very reasonable and logical question. There was crying (me), confusion (James), swearing (pretty sure both of us). It's challenging after an argument to recall exactly what the big fuss was about. (Drink) And as I try to reproduce the whole thing in writing, it's actually just plain funny.

I've always thought the secret to a good marriage is not so much the ability to get along - that's the easy part. It's the ability to not get along. Every couple fights from time to time - and anyone who claims they don't is either lying, or in a really bad relationship. Arguing is good. If done correctly. You've got to know when to drop it, when to speak up, and how to address a bone of contention without sounding accusatory.

Our current situation, however, has somehow morphed my once healthy arguing tactics into relentless criticism on newfound areas of spite. Why are you blinking so fu$kin* loudly? Must you air guitar to the end solo of Paradise City EVERY SINGLE TIME? Do you really have to provide commentary on your quest for the appropriate puzzle piece? (Drink)

James and I aren't the only ones finding ourselves suddenly engaged in nonsensical spitting matches. The kids provide their own versions of irrational belligerence. The saving grace with all the unexpected lashing out is that we are all able to quickly recognize the absurdity of our outbursts and find comic relief in the face of what was, just moments ago, borderline anger management disorder. Plus, siblings have an unspoken agreement which allows them to (drink) say things like, "your face looks like a baseball glove with diarrhea," and ten minutes later (drink) they're skipping down the driveway together, holding hands, singing Kumbaya.

I've heard talk of people putting Christmas lights up in an effort to (drink) divert our attention from the mental images of overflowing hospitals and sick patients replaying over and over in our minds. But I'd like to suggest bringing back Festivus, instead. We'd all get Festivus poles and take part in the Feats of Strength and air our grievances, a la George Constanza. It's the perfect time to re-celebrate this holiday, and a healthy alternative to throwing socks at each other because we're breathing too loud.

Here's the thing, though. We're all snapping more often - whether it's at our kids, our spouses, or defenseless electronic devices - inevitably, someone is going to take the wrath. But if we can laugh at these outbursts and understand that they are deeply rooted in fear and frustration, perhaps they are healthy outlets, so long as the target of our attack has a good sense of humor.

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