Christmas CHEER Over-kill is Like the Worst Date I Ever Went On

Syndicated on BlogHer.com

I don’t hate Christmas.  I don’t hate people having a good time and eating a metric ton of sugar in the name of Christ or the anti-Christ.  I don’t hate people gathering to drink and eat and gossip and keep warm and drum up a whole lot of good will.  I don’t mind seeing people become more generous and I don’t mind all the decorations except for all the Santa-specific ones.

The onslaught of Christmas crap started before Thanksgiving which pissed me right off.  I heard people talking about holiday shopping  before they even sat down with their family to simply be together and eat and be thankful.  Then I saw that people were putting their trees up the day after Thanksgiving.  I resent this.  I resent the urgency people feel  to get over the quiet and peaceful Thanksgiving to rush into a holiday that most people claim stresses them out.  Yet there they go – rushing right into it.  Let me tell you: you all have a choice in how aggressively you celebrate this season.  You all have a choice in how many people you exchange gifts with.  You may feel pressure – but you still have the choice.

So my first pet peeve is for all those people who complain about how overwhelmed they are and can’t recognize that they are complicit in the madness of their Christmas experience.  I hear people talk about how big their family is.  How they “HAVE TO” exchange gifts or people will get hurt.

Fuck that shit.  Balls-up everyone!  You have the power to say “NO”.*  You have the power to set the boundaries.  You have the power to make this holiday whatever you want it to be.  So if you like the madness – just admit it.  Stop complaining about it.  You only have to make 12 dozen cookies a week IF YOU FEEL LIKE IT.

I used to hate Christmas.  Until I married Philip I loathed it 100%.  There’s so much pressure to BE HAPPY AND EXCITED AND TO LOVE THIS RIDICULOUS SUGAR FESTIVAL.  Philip’s family never did the BIG Christmas.  They didn’t even do Christmas on Christmas day because they spent it at Church feeding the poor people in their community.  So he didn’t care if I liked Christmas or not.  Having the pressure completely removed from my immediate sphere allowed me to cautiously enjoy small aspects of it.  A little bit of decorating.  Modest gift exchanges.

Over the years I have ignored more and more expectations directed at me.  Christmas is now what I want it to be and I enjoy it quite a bit in my own quiet way.  We decorate and we hang out together and we exchange gifts only with immediate family and I have dispensed with the obligation of card-giving.  Over time people have stopped sending them to me too and I’m totally happy with this.  If someone really wants to send me a card I will appreciate their thoughtfulness but usually it’s out of obligation and there’s nothing personal written on them anyway so I feel fine not sending any out in return.

So, I don’t hate Christmas.

But I do hate it when adults talk about Santa Clause like he’s real.  I HATE IT.  It creeps me out.  I have hated the whole Santa angle of Christmas since I was a young kid.  I always knew Santa was my parents.  I didn’t need a creepy all-seeing old man watching me sleep to make my holiday magical.  In truth, the only thing I needed to make my holiday magical was for my parents to stop yelling at each other.

I also truly hate Christmas music.  All Christmas music that isn’t classical**.  So I get really grumpy during the holidays because for a minimum of 25 days every public place that has a music system is playing Christmas music on an endless loop.  It burns my brain.  I feel like everyone is trying to force me to be cheerful and excited all the time and if I don’t respond that means I’m some horrible Grinch person.

The real problem is that everyone is coming off a little too strong***.  If you encounter Grinchy people, don’t assume they’re ghastly people incapable of joy.  It might actually be YOU that’s causing their irritation and ruining their holiday experience.

It reminds me of the worst date I’ve ever gone on.  The man in question kept telling me how beautiful I was.  Kept complimenting me.  The more times he complimented me as we ate the lousy-ass dinner he made for me the less I believed anything he said.  By the end of dinner he came off as a lying sleaze and I loathed him.  He couldn’t let the compliment mean anything.  I ended up feeling gross rather than pretty.  He totally cheapened me.

From my perspective – the more desperate the fervor over Christmas the cheaper it is and the less it actually means.  In the pleasant and calm oasis that is my home – I will still love Christmas.  Next weekend we’ll get a tree and decorate and it will be plenty cheery.  Maybe I’ll make cookies but I probably won’t.  And if I do it will be because I FEEL LIKE IT, not because I feel obligated.  Inside my small world my Christmas is simple and quiet and completely stress free.  There’s no Santa to call the authorities on.  There’s no forced cheer.  There’s no massive time suck.  There are no holiday parties I don’t feel like going to.  It’s totally pleasant and full of my favorite people.

It’s only when I go out into the world that I HATE CHRISTMAS SO MUCH.

So how about everyone just mellow the hell out?!

*I do have one friend who is the kindest person EVER whose family pretty much bullies her into doing the whole Christmas dealio – and I totally get how hard it would be for her to tell off her family and if I could I would step in and tell them off for her.  So maybe you’re like her.  If you want me to – I’ll step in on your behalf.  Just let me know.

**I love Pachabel’s Canon and The Messiah.

***Did I say a “little” too strong?  I actually meant that everyone is coming off like Christmas addicts who can no longer operate without a major snort of Christmas-related excitement every single minute of every day until THE DAY.  Jesus.  No wonder people get so depressed after Christmas.

4 comments

  1. Kari says:

    I LOVE this post Angelina!!!! I agree with you on every point here. All the damn pressure and “YOU HAVE TO” feeling make me despise Christmas. Even Thanksgiving is on my s*** list. I just want peace and quiet. I get so filled with anxiety this time of year, so stressed out! I guess I should go move into a cave.
    I bet you did not know that about me. 😉

  2. angelina says:

    I’m always glad to hear I’m not alone. It would be so nice if everyone just mellowed out and stopped giving in to the mania – but they won’t. I hope you find a way to at least keep it pleasurable in your own house this year! Try not to let other people’s pressure get to you. xoxo

  3. Chelsea says:

    Here here! Years of retail has also burned me out to the retail “Christmas” experience of buying junk for people out of obligation. I remember hearing really awful teen pop stars singing Christmas classics on repeat and dirtbag parents dragging their toddlers to the mall at 10:30 at night to try on clothes and get free makeover for themselves NOT their loved ones (especially not their kid, who was ignored while having a nuclear meltdown in the stroller). When I left retail, I made it a promise not to EVER get up to shop on black Friday, and to stay away from retail as much as humanly possible during the holidays.

    I do love some Christmas music though…especially songs from the 40’s & 50’s…Mel Torme, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Ella and Louie…I can’t help it. My mom used to play it on the hi-fi at home when we were kids. It was the one time during the year where my mom actually baked! It would be snowing outside and we could go sledding…those memories are of the season, not about CHristmas, so they are pleasant, homey, and sound and smell good to me.

    I do remember having a pathological fear of sitting on a stranger’s lap. My mom only made us do that once, that I can remember. It was horrible…my mind went blank, and the guy gave me the creeps. It scared my brother so badly that he literally shit his pants. I have never brought my kids to Santa and I never will now, that window has closed, thank God.

    I do like having a tree and decorating it with handmade ornaments. Every year I pressure myself to make something, which inevitably fails as I wait till the last minute to do the project. It’s stupid but I guess the holidays make me itch for a creative fix. Oh well, if that’s the worst thing I do, I can live with it. Besides, I end up making ornaments for family that cost me next to nothing and are personal and homemade. And most importantly, if I don’t like you, you will not get one because there’s no room for cheap sentimentality when I’m working past midnight painting a persimmon for your tree…

  4. angelina says:

    I love having a tree. I really do. We have so many ornaments that we love to haul out every year. One of my all time favorites is the one you gave to me. No lie. Every year I get to hang that one in a place of prominence and it makes me think of you. So your hand made efforts are well appreciated by me! I love all those singers you mentioned but I still can’t listen to them doing the Christmas stuff. I mean – I CAN- and if it was at your house it wouldn’t bother me because you have never been one to force anyone to be CHEERFUL. Hell, that’s why I knew I had to be your friend. You were the only other grouchy pregnant lady at the natal nautics class.

    Your memories are lovely. That’s great stuff to hold onto for sure. I want Max to have those kinds of memories and I think he does. We’ve been in such financial straights for so long that he’s used to a forced modest Christmas and that makes it easier. At first it was kind of hard when he was 6 years old and all his friends got mountains of toys from relatives and their parents. I remember Max comparing that to his modest number of new toys – and feeling like he was missing out. But after that he got used to it. This year is no different. Even though we’re doing much better now – we have those wicket big tax bills we’re trying to pay off and I need a new laptop – it’s still tight. Usually Philip and I do less for each other so we can do more for Max. He gets to choose one big gift (and he always has a price limit – though it’s generous) and a few small ones. My point is that what Max associates with Christmas at this point is the pretty tree and lights, the anticipation of getting the big gift, the stockings, hanging out with Grandma and us watching movies (non-Christmas types) and drinking hot cocoa. He likes all the trimmings but not the hype. It’s awesome.

    So Christmas done modestly is a real honest pleasure. If only I could shut out the feverish frantic pushy Christmas addicts – and the hyper retail atmosphere. Then it would just be completely lovely. Of course, snow would be nice. Fat chance!

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