A Reluctant Humbug

GrumpyChristmas

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?

Krampus and the Yule Goat!  Now this is the kind of card I can get behind...

Krampus and the Yule Goat! Now this is the kind of card I can get behind…

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.

The Highs and Lows of the Holiday Season

I’ve thought long and hard, and have come to the conclusion that I’m just not that into Christmas this year. Maybe it’s because uncomfortable family dynamics have always stressed me out during the holiday season. Maybe it’s just because I hate feeling pressured into buying things for people, when I know the real reason I’m purchasing this specific whatsit for The Man is because it’s roughly the value of the thingamajig he’s going to get for me. I hate it! There’s way too much guilt, and not nearly enough goodwill left to spread around.

So there are six days to go until Christmas rolls around, and I’m officially over the whole damned season. That being the case, there’s a good chance that I won’t be stopping in to talk to you via C&Q until the holiday season has buried its ugly little head in the sand once again. I’m in no mood to share stories of holiday goodness, or even to list out my New Years’ resolutions like I’ve done in previous years. But there are other reasons for my radio silence, too – mostly reasons that I just can’t talk to you about right now. My life is getting ready to change soon in some pretty giant ways, and this isn’t the place to air that laundry (yet).

Rest assured that the news, when it hits, will be full of goodness. Possibly it will be full of all of the happy thoughts I’m just not seeing in the red-and-green tinged world that surrounds me at the moment. Maybe by next year I will have recovered some pieces of my long-lost holiday cheer, and will be writing to you about all of the exciting difference a year has made. I dunno. Until we meet again, hugs, kisses, and here’s hoping that plenty of gluhwein gets poured in your general direction. I love you all.

XO,

A

Grinch-tastic

I’m so tired of the holidays. Can’t wait til today is over. I don’t want presents; I just want to have a day or two alone, with no one to talk to, explain to, endeavor to please or placate. That’s not happening, though, so it’s time to put on my happy girl face and march out to hang out with The Man’s extended family for the rest of the day. Yes, I know I sound so Scrooge-like – sorry to all of you genuinely merry folks. Maybe next year will be different.

So Over Christmas

I’m over it. I’ve been over it since before Thanksgiving, but now, today, I’m really feeling the irritation start to build. I can’t wait for this holiday to be over and done with for another year. The stifling commercialism, the intense contests built up around gift giving, the constant jingle jangle of collection boxes, mixed with nauseatingly cheerful holiday tunes – I want it all to go away. I’m tired of getting pressured into spending a month’s worth of paychecks to buy people I don’t like presents they don’t want. Even worse, I’m tired of being surrounded by outspoken Christians, all about “keeping the Christ in Christmas!” (which I don’t mind AT ALL – it would be refreshing to see the commercialism fall to the wayside in favor of something more heartfelt) who are still much more concerned with gifts than godliness. As a practicing Pagan, I’d prefer to avoid the crazy excesses, and spend time celebrating by sharing the Yule Season with the people I love, maybe even get to burn a real Yule log and talk to each other about the year, our fears, our hopes, our wishes as we move into the next parts of our lives. Instead, I’m reminded that nobody gives a shit about each other anymore, and instead of making paper chains and laughing with my parents, I’ll be drinking to stay in a somewhat jolly mood at my in-laws house. I can’t do this again next year. Something has got to change.

The Finished Product

Here’s the gift I made for my coworker Gary as a Secret Santa present. He’s really into Predator, and has a couple of Predator action figures on his desk. I figured it would be pretty cool to make a little “home” for his Predator that let him change its environment now and then. To make it, I spray painted a normal cardboard box black, then punched holes all around the interior lip, and strung a string of tiny LED lights around the box, punching one through each hole. I taped the box flaps back with duck tape, then wound duck tape (neatly) around the entire exterior of the box to make it strong.

My boss was awesome enough to let me use some nice cardstock paper to print out several different backgrounds that can be inserted into the box – I found photos of a jungle scene (like in the original Predator movie), the Eastern Columbia Building in LA (from Predator 2), a snowy terrain (from Alien vs. Predator, though it turns out that Gary HATES that movie…I love it, but whatever), and a basic space scene. I also found some cute and inexpensive holiday finery for the box, including a little black Christmas tree with sparkly “snow”, and two clip on ornaments with silver balls surrounded by sparkly black fronds. To cap it off, I gave Predator his own Christmas stocking.

Everyone loved the present, and it was informally voted “Best in Show” – not that we even had a show, but whatever. I enjoyed making it, and Gary enjoyed playing around with it, so that’s all that matters.

PredatorBox2

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