You know, I went into yesterday thinking this was gonna be another holiday-blues year, where I was bitter and annoyed at everyone and everything, but over the turkey I started to relax and realize that it just might be okay, and I remembered how tiresome it is this time of year when hipper-than-thou assholes try to make you hate the holidays.
I’m not just talking about O’Reilly and the Merry Christmas Blacklist or whatever where we track who says what to you when you leave the store, like it’s a game somebody can win, like good wishes are ranked by the beliefs of the wishers (and like the store clerk wishes anything but for you to leave, happy of course, but leave so he or she can go home) and this is something you need to rack up points at.
I’m not talking about people who genuinely have reason to despise something, either; bad associations come with everything that’s happy to somebody else. If a loved one died or a disaster occurred around this time you have the right to deal however you want/need to up to and including pretending the holiday doesn’t exist. For years I used to volunteer to work Thanksgiving. It sucked for Mr. A, who was stuck with a Boston Market turkey sandwich picked up on my way home, but my grandfather died at Thanksgiving and I’ve hated it ever since.
I’m talking about the folks who feel the need to life you all day long that Americans spend too much money, that our holidays are too frantic, that we should all do X or Y, retreat to the woods, refuse to give presents, not eat any treats, screw Santa Claus, people are killed by Christmas tree fires, the whole thing is stupid and by extension/implication you’re stupid and trivial for taking part. Moreover, the Authenticity Olympics come into play: My holiday is morereal because I limit my spending to such-and-such, or refuse to drive anyplace, or don’t speak all day. My Christmas ismeaningful. Yours is consumerist and fake.
Such speeches come from people of every political persuasion and age and never fail to exhaust me, because: Dude, do whatever you want. If your Christmas is quiet, in the woods, with a million squirrels and no people and you love that, DO IT. If your Christmas is wassailing around from party to party walking in the door with your arms full of treats yelling Merry Christmas! to giant crowds of people and you love that, DO IT. If your Christmas is working your job so that co-workers with kids can be home with theirs (as my Dad used to do for his younger colleagues) and that makes you feel good, then do that, too. Just don’t ask me to weigh in or even give a damn about what way is better because I so deeply don’t care.
I know not everybody has a choice in how they spend their holidays, but for those that do: I have no stake in how you spend your holiday except that if I care about you I will want you to have happiness. It’s not anybody’s place to judge what’s real to you and what’s not, and it just smacks of neediness and justification. I don’t feel like suiting up for any kind of War on Christmas at all.