Ah Christmas, grandest holiday of the year. Everybody gets the warm and fuzzies. Cheer knows no bounds. Kindness spreads like a joyful cancer. Extremists throw mean right hooks if you so much as insinuate the utterance of, “Happy Holidays,” and I can be found nesting in my darkened bedroom like a Gollum. It’s not Christmas itself; I’m not a Grinch or a scrooge. Christmas, the day, December 25th, is just fine with me. I’ve never felt anything wrong with it, in fact. It’s the rituals surrounding it that drive me not only insane, but into such a down-spiraling absolution of anxiety and self-loathing that it is difficult to take in the twinkling lights and gleeful music with anything other than what appears to be a predisposition for misery. There are legitimate reasons I dislike Christmas as a whole though, and I don’t feel like I’m alone here.
Essentially, the holidays are stressful as fuck. The true misery of it all is I love giving gifts, even if I never know what to get anybody. I love letting somebody know they were thought of, even if it is a gift card.
Getting gifts is okay I guess, though if I’m honest opening them always makes me feel awkward. It is the only time I have something to do with my hands, and still don’t seem to know what to do with my hands. Buying the gifts is also a complete bitch. Most shopping can be done online, but some can’t, and the crowds…Oh fuck me the crowds. The noise alone is enough to tighten all of my patience like a strained rubber band. Add on top of this, parents not watching their children, mindless lemmings meandering through aisles without bothering to move their carts, and am I the only one who notices a significant rise in temperature in every department store around the holidays? I get it. It’s cold out. Could you adjust for all the body heat in here though? Holy shit.
2. Family Dinners
Family dinners, or family get-togethers of any kind, are also something I do not understand. Yes, biology is a thing. We are related by blood. However, Cousin Steve, I haven’t seen you for ten years. I didn’t know you were married. I definitely don’t have present for the three kids you have had that I didn’t know about. Am I mad I didn’t know about Steve’s family? Fuck no. I hate Steve and have since we were little when he shoved my face in mud and called me Miss Piggy because my mom had put my hair in pigtails.
What I hate even more though is the expectation that this one day families, even members who loathe one another, are supposed to come together and make nice. Why? WHY?! I am perfectly happy eating a meal with my immediate family. Hell, I’m happy heating up a pizza and eating with my dog. Add to this how large some of these get-togethers are and, well, you may as well force me to eat Christmas dinner in the middle of Walmart on Black Friday.
Talking is normally one of my strong suits. In fact, good luck shutting me up. Normally I talk so much family and friends immediately ask what is wrong if I’m not yammering on through a movie or a show. Yes, I’m that friend. I can’t help it though; I just have thoughts and they come out. Christmas is different though.
Being around so much family is like navigating a verbal mine field. A good example: I live in the south and I’m pretty politically outspoken against the current climate in the country, and a lot of the world. I also like to consider myself open-minded to all individuals, regardless of background, color, creed, etc. Christmas dinner, then is difficult for these reasons. I can’t mention stories involving gay friends, or I have to alter them. I can’t verbalize an opinion about any political discussion and instead must politely nod my head, smile, or excuse myself from the room. People know me so this sets off a red flag, but also I just don’t like keeping my opinions to myself. However, while I am an outspoken, brazen loudmouth, I am not one to cause a fuss during a family’s holiday dinner. I’m opinionated, not openly bitchy. There’s a difference.
4. This “Elf on a Shelf” shit is getting weird, you guys
I don’t have children, and I’m not around any children on a regular basis; maybe I don’t have room to comment on this. Or maybe I have the most room because I am experience how creepy the elves on shelves are through the internet. I don’t even have one in my house and I can understand as an adult this idea would not have made me be good to get presents, but out of some paranoid obligation to just not be reported as naughty. Do parents even tell their kids what, specifically, is bad behavior?
Some of these “hilarious” and “super cute” photos show parents setting up an elf for a two-year-old. Psychologically, the concepts of right and wrong are hazy at best, but being indoctrinated into a home where a creepy smiling elf moves from room to room and as a child you have no idea how but you know its watching you is horrifying. That’s “Chucky: Christmas Edition” stuff in the making. The vibe is ruining the few scraps of joy the holiday has left to bring.
5. It Starts In October
I know, I know. You’re tired of people like me bah humbugging the Christmas spirit, rolled out like a fat, consumerist turd on November 1st. Well, too bad because I’m still going to talk about it. Celebrating something you love is a wonderful thing. And some of those things you can celebrate your whole life. Love, athleticism, a devotion to cheese, whatever. Christmas is not one of these things. By the third time I hear Jingle Bells I’m out until next year.
Seeing jolly old St. Nick ho-ho-hoing from atop my neighbor’s house before Halloween is bad enough. Then stores start shoving candy canes and sugar plums down our throats, not like its Christmas, but like a war has broken out at the North Pole and we are on the losing end. Worse yet are the endless emails notifying me, almost hourly, about deals. And they’re not even deals based on gifts I could buy for other people, but instead deals geared towards things I could buy for myself. The season of giving took a blunt turn over the past several years. Now instead of “Give! Give! Give!” I get the sense it’s more of a “buy a few stocking stuffers and while you’re here, pick out a new Mac Book for yourself. You earned it, friend.” I don’t like this vibe, and I don’t like it coming at me for two to three months.
So, yes. I’m a Holiday Season hating monster, but not for the reasons you might think. I actually love baking cookies, drinking cocoa, and watching all of my favorite Christmas movies. I light up more than any Christmas tree upon giving my sister the gifts I chose for her. I love that its one day out of the year my mother can be home, stress free without worry of losing pay. Nobody is sick, everybody we love is together, and there is a sense of calm and safety. That is Christmas to me, free from all the religious trappings and ritualistic obligations. And that small chestnut hidden in all of this is what I hang on to every year to shield myself from whatever all of this other nonsense is.