I catch a lot of shit for not liking Christmas. To be fair, I don’t like holidays at all, but Christmas is the one everyone gets upset about.
People usually just tell me I’m crazy for not liking Thanksgiving (“But what about all the food??”). And as a
wannabe buddhist atheist in an all-Catholic family, I can usually make people understand my disdain for Easter, being a religious holiday with nary a redeeming factor to its name (those shitty marshmallow chicks aren’t fooling anyone). Christmas, though… people are usually real fucking attached to that one.
I get why Christmas is generally well-liked. I really do. It’s not lost on me. It’s all magical and shit, everyone’s happy, supposedly Christmas songs make people smile. Everything’s all love and family and good will. I always thought I’d really start to love it again if I ever had kids. Sometimes I still hope that happens.
But what if you’re really just not feelin it?
Last year, my partner and I broke up (the first time) right before the holidays. And we didn’t tell anyone. We were both in such pain and hurting so badly we just couldn’t face telling our families. I see a lot of family that I generally don’t for the rest of the year during the holidays, and the thought of everyone asking me what happened and telling me how sorry they were and how much they loved my ex made me want to jump off a roof (though I’ll admit being pretty quick to that impulse).
It was fucking miserable. We split the days evenly, like we would have if we had still been together. We opened presents from each other’s families, many of which were house presents for us. I held
my his baby nephew and tried not to cry in front of everyone. I wondered if that was the last time I was going to see him.
And then I got rip-roaring drunk and felt better. Who says I don’t know how to cope?
Most holidays are just that – a day. They come and go. But Christmas, man… That’s a whole fucking month. And the thing about days, and holidays in particular, is that they come no matter what. Holidays don’t give a fuck what’s going on in your life.
When it’s your dad’s birthday, it doesn’t matter if he flew into a drunken rage the night before because you were out of peanut butter. Valentine’s day doesn’t give a shit if you and your partner are on speaking terms. Christmas doesn’t care if someone close to you just died.
Not only do they not care, they strip you of your ability to naturally feel and process whatever it is that you need to. They don’t stop. The presents, the pageantry, the merriment… they’re all nice when they’re real. But when you’re going through real shit, it feels forced and terrible.
How do you choose presents for someone you can barely be in the same room with anymore? How do you celebrate love when all you can feel is its loss?
Especially in my entirely Irish family, holidays are not to be fucked with. Emotions are not for showing people. You hate someone? Offer them a cup of tea and talk shit on them later. Having a bad day? Suck it up, it’s not that bad. This is hard to deal with on a normal basis, but then throw a holiday into the mix and it gets real weird real fast.
We don’t stop needing to grieve because we’ve all collectively decided that this one day is super special. Honestly, the specialness of it usually makes it worse. Six years later, my mother can’t put a turkey in the oven without crying to me that she wishes my grandmother was here with us.
The holidays are fucking hard, dude. And I’m tired of pretending they’re not. I’m tired of societal pressure to put on a happy face. And this isn’t just about me. This is about all of us. This is the shit I talk about all the time. This is shame. Telling people that they shouldn’t feel a certain way shames them for having those feelings. How VERY DARE YOU be unhappy during these pre-designated days and surrounding weeks!!
Fuck that. Feel your feelings. Feel them intensely. Feel them however you feel them. Feel them silently, lying in bed for the third day in a row crying into the sweatshirt you’ve been using as a pillow. Feel them loudly, at the dinner table, when you’re using the nice holiday china. Feel them irreverently. Unapologetically. Feel your pain.
At the same time, feel your joy. Feel it when you can, as often as you can. Feeeeeeeel how good those goddamn crunchy fake-ass onions on top of that green bean casserole are. Feel the warmth of whatever gives you warmth. Hold onto it and cling to it and let it bring you life. Let in as much as you can.
That’s what I’ll be doing.