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led astray

January 2013

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led astray

companion post - holiday woes

Ah, Holiday Season, how shall I enumerate the ways you make me ill? On the surface: I'm not Christian. I'm not any religion that says I need to celebrate a certain day. Mass consumerism. Let me not now rant about how Capitalism has stolen this day to honor itself and proclaim deityhood. One layer down, there is the cultural expectation of cheer, the Holiday Spirit. This is the dead time of the year. It's dark, it's cold, and I understand the idea of celebrating life and light in the bad times. But it's natural for people to be sad and reflective in the winter. It's only our privilege and cultural expectation of denial that makes us think we should be happy all winter. Winter is a hard time, or at least it is for other people. Rather than living in the hard time and reflecting on how special it makes the full times, we distract with flashing lights, bright colors, and the picture of the Happy Day for which so many families strive. And that brings me down another layer, to the past. This picture of familial bliss and perfection of holiday ideals sends my mother into a frenzy. Shopping, Holiday China, decorations, activities and Fun cloud her judgement. We are going to have Fun and Be Happy, whether we like it or not. If participation was enjoyed, things weren't done correctly. Kids don't make perfectly shaped cookies, or hang tree lights Just So. These moments turned out to be flaws in Christmas that we obviously made on purpose to ruin mother's perfect family Christmas. Of course, she's drinking the whole time, so by the time our mistakes, our purposeful errors, are discovered, it's crazy-time. We're going back to the store to get more cookie ingredients. We're taking all the decorations and lights off the tree so we can do it right this time. And me, well, I sassed (go figure). Hair got pulled, she liked to choke-slam my older sister up against the wall, slaps, pinches, shakes, etc. Domestic disturbance calls from neighbors, broken furniture, tears, and of course, more booze followed every snowfall.

Ugh. Anyway, zooming back out to the present-day, I don't like the holidays. I don't like having them forced all around me. I don't like being expected to be cheerful and hoping for expensive gifts that will magically wash away all the shit the year has thrown at me. I don't like Christmas carols. If people in my living space want to decorate, that's fine on the condition that I am not touching it. I will not help put it up. I will not help take it down. I don't want it done in my space or to my stuff. Have a ball. But then there are people for whom the holidays really are genuinely happy times, and they think my humbug attitude just needs to be adjusted a la Scrooge via holiday magic. So when someone at work starts to bug me about the holidays and sing carols at me, I take it in stride and play up the humor of the humbug. I told him that for every Christmas song he sings me, I will kill a reindeer. And Hoyce is joining forces with me to place creatively positioned reindeer toys in death poses in the guy's office. I'm hoping once will be enough. I don't want to have to actually go through the sob story of, no really, I don't like this sentiment for XYZ reasons. I'm hoping the dead reindeer toys will creep him out enough to get him to stop.


For me, personally, the holidays were always shit, too. But as a parent I see it as an opportunity to give my kids good memories even if I never had them, and they've really helped me get some of my own joy back.

(((hug))) Thanks. I get trying to make it good for the kids. My sister does the same thing with her kids, and it has healed some of the old stuff for her.
*hug* there are so many things in life that are supposed to be good that people make bad by stressing & taking it out on others... i am making efforts to be the resistance (viva la resistance!) and relaxing in the face of stress and saying no to whatever stresses me out.

honestly what i like about the holidays is possibly neat ways to make other people a little bit happier (like by telling people i love and appreciate that they are loved and appreciated or somethings, if i can, uniting objects that seem like they should belong to people i know with said people).

in that spirit, i'm shit at keeping in touch, but i'm really glad i met you. i like you.
(((hug))) I like you too. No worries.

"Supposed'ta" ruins many a good idea with stress.
I can very much relate to how much a shitty mother can make Christmas perfection suck.

I agree with you that false cheeriness through the winter isn't the way to go; fostering and blowing on every little genuine spark of joy is. It's that whole "better to light a candle than curse the darkness" idea. Many winters, I get through with one, stubby, smoky little candle, and that's okay: that's winter.

People who've tried to force holiday cheer on me have never found it to work, or be pleasant for them; for some reason, snarling and bearing your teeth at a co-worker isn't the usual response (::sarcasm::).

I thoroughly second the playing up the humbug aspect to cope. I've found most often, addressing it directly with a, "I guarantee you, your cheer will not bring me joy. If you want me to be extra joyous in your presence, the Christmas stuff needs to stop. That's how I feel joy," was the only way to get the most aware and compassionate of my co-workers to get it. And if he doesn't get it? Dead reindeer e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.
Yeah, your post inspired this one. (((hug))) Let's try to make a visit happen. We can ignore Christmas together for a while. :-)
Yes! That would be fantastic.