Christmas: Angriest time of the year?

I love Christmas.

How much? Well, last year we had three trees in the Maxwell house — one real, one fake and one with a nautical theme. It looked like someone unleashed a drunken department-store decorator in our living room.

So much that, back in college, I performed in an eight-week, dinner-theater version of "Miracle on 34th Street" — a little-known musical called "Here's Love" that force-fed audience members so much cornball Christmas cheer, they were ready to puke up mistletoe before the second act.

The show was awful … and yet wonderful, if only because it reveled in "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

At least that's how Christmas used to be known.

Nowadays it seems to be the angriest.

Seriously, have you noticed how many people get ticked off about so many different things once Christmas rolls around?

The annual yuletide anger starts before Black Friday when people start getting ticked off about sale hours, customer behavior and the so-called "Christmas creep."

Then, for a solid month, people get ticked off about everything:

Cities putting up decorations. Cities not putting up decorations. Cities putting up Christmas decorations – but not calling them Christmas decorations.

People fuss about commercialism, music and traffic.

On Monday, a reader fumed in our letters section that TV commercials don't mention Jesus. On Tuesday, atheists erected a billboard in Times Square, calling Christmas a "myth."

Too much faith. Too little faith, Meanwhile, Fox News eagerly stirs the pot, spending more time covering a supposed "war on Christmas" than it does the war in Afghanistan.

It's gotten so all I want for Christmas is a flak jacket.

That's why I'm here to provide some yuletide therapy.

I want to start with a lesson that my wife and I give our 10-year-old son when his big sister starts trying to push his buttons:

Don't let other people control your emotions. You control your lot in life, your happiness and your actions. To let others set you into a rage is to empower the button-pushers.

When a reader sends me an ALL-CAPS RANT, furious about some school system using the phrase "winter break," all I can think is: Is your own happiness or faith really that dependent upon others people's phraseology?

And I'm not just talking about fringe folks. Earlier this year, the term "winter break" got the Legislature so worked up that the Senate talked of passing a law forcing schools to call it "Christmas break."

That's just holly-jolly insane.