I’m not a fan of the holidays, and I’m not entirely sure why. You’d think I’d have some clue, but I don’t. I used to be really into this time of year – the decorations, the food, the presents. On paper, it all still seems kind of fun. Hanging out with family, laughing, maybe singing some stupid songs or playing cards, drinking egg nog by the fire, opening presents. But in reality, the last few years’ worth of holiday seasons have been bleak, at best.
Lately it seems like all everyone’s focused on is presents and money. I’m so tired of feeling like I’m being shamed into buying shitty plastic bullshit for all of my friends and family just to prove that I love them. I don’t want to feel shamed into writing out cards for everyone I know, just so they can be tossed in the garbage. I don’t expect for anyone to get me anything. Honestly, I don’t NEED anything. If you’re reading this and you think you should get me something, please donate to your local homeless shelter or consider adopting an older pet. (OK, you can donate to a pet shelter, too, but seriously – adopt!)
I do know that I really don’t want to get any more cards with pictures of smiling families and just a signature. Doesn’t anyone know me well enough by now to know how the combination of insult and wastefulness makes me disappointed every time I open my mailbox to find another generic greeting card during the holidays? You could just email me the picture, you know. It shows the same amount of care. It’s such a waste of paper. What am I going to do with it? You know it’s going straight in the bin, right?
This time of year I typically just avoid opening my mailbox for the week before the big day, lest one more crappy bit of pseudo-Christian propaganda put me right over the edge. Just one card with a heartfelt message – actual MESSAGE – direct from the sender’s heart. If that’s too much to expect, why write a card at all?
I’d especially love it if any of the people who send Christmas cards (not holiday cards, straight-up Christmas ones) would take into account the fact that I’m not Christian, and maybe send me a Yule card one year. I’d love to get a Yule card. Adore it, in fact. They’re harder to find, and normally so funny and cute. But that’s beside the point. I do get one Hanukkah card each year, and it’s the only photo card that I always love, and keep up on my fridge for months after. Maybe because it’s different, the only breath of fresh air in this tired season?
More than anything this time of year, I always end up realizing how alone we are, and how much family can alleviate some of that darkness. Then I remember that once again I’m not in a place where I can afford to go home, and even if I could, I’d be one of three in a house that I outgrew long ago, and just haven’t been able to find my way back into. It reminds me that we all desperately want to be a family, but can’t quite figure out how we once fit together. It’s this time of year that makes me know I could never have just one child. It’s Yuletime that make it painfully clear what will happen when my parents pass on, and it’s just me as the wheel of the year turns us through the longest day. I’m not exactly jealous of my friends who have large families, but sometimes I feel a bit like Scrooge, feeling the chill outside the window of Mr. Fezziwig’s party. I grew up and moved away, and ended up screwing us all over somehow.
Then I remind myself that I’m not alone. I have friends who love me, whom I love. So many of them, actually, despite my being awkward and moody half the time (and even more so once December rolls around). I’m unbelievably lucky to be surrounded by people who care. And I don’t want to carry on the tradition of insulation and loneliness during the holiday season, but I’m not exactly sure how not to yet. So I will go to work, and to my gym, where there are people. And tomorrow I’ll see my love, and care and calm will roll off him in waves and I’ll feel much better, just by being in his presence. I’ll wrap his presents, and taunt him with them for the next couple of days. That should be fun.
Maybe we’ll watch The Muppet Christmas Carol and I’ll sing my way through the tears that always happen around the time “When Love Is Gone” comes around. Afterwards I’ll cheer back up with the outtakes from Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas. Maybe I’ll practice origami, or buy some paint and have a go at headless St. Francis, who’s been sitting in my corner for months now. On Thursday I’ll make that crispy orange duck recipe that I do so well, even though my entire tiny apartment will reek of duck fat after. I’ll call all of my grandparents and my parents, and I’ll write personal notes to everyone I care about too much to send shitty signature-only Christmas cards.
Whatever I do, it’ll have to get me through. Only a few more days until the string lights and plastic santas will be put away for another year and we can go back to being slightly less than holly jolly without feeling so out of place for it.