Everyone has their own tipping point. What do you hate about the holidays?
All of it. Bah Humbug.
Every year on November 1, as department stores roll out their Christmas decor and products, I mourn the loss of an entire month and the celebration of Thanksgiving. I start feeling anxious about the impending holiday season. It is absolutely like watching a dark, threatening storm roll in and obscure the horizon.
It’s partly the stress of gift-giving. Of expectations, said and unsaid, that I am not even sure are real but feel awfully high anyway. It’s partly the stress of asking for gifts. Aaron and I are quite blessed and do not find ourselves lacking for stuff and things, so it is extremely challenging to think about what we might find useful that doesn’t just add to the cluttered noise of our small home.
It’s partly the crowds– everything is crowded all the time. The stores, the restaurants, the grocery, the theaters and their ostentatious holiday displays that only further clutter the space. I do not need a gingerbread village the size of Cincinnati in front of the raw meats section of the grocery store. What I need is a clear, barrier-free path straight to the exit. And with the crowds comes the noise. Oh god, the noise. The jingle bells piped in at deafening decibels in these tight, crowded spaces. The carolers at places you’d never expect them to pop up– like the hair salon. The hair salon is a sacred place where I come to gossip to the ONE PERSON who doesn’t know ANY of my other people. Who the hell do you think you are, interrupting that opportunity with your fa-la-las? How dare you.
It’s partly the scheduling. The pre-holiday events to “get is in the mood.” The office parties, the gift exchanges, the cookie parties, the micro-managing the minutes between every event so no one’s family feels they didn’t get their “fair share” of our time, because I am just a goddamn treat to be around this time of year. Individually, each event seems fine and fun and I even look forward to them, but collectively it is an exercise in managing a angry beehive with a kazoo.
(Please don’t stop inviting us to stuff. We like being invited! We want to come! We probably will come and that will maybe stress me out a little but then maybe I’ll just drink a little bit too much and that actually usually is a lot of fun for all of us!)
It is not a time of year that brings me peace or joy. But to be honest about that is to be labeled a Scrooge or a Grinch and invites people to give their unsolicited advice about how I can find some holiday cheer; how this is the most wonderful time of the year and I am missing so much with my bad attitude. The worst part of the holidays is the expectation to be artificially joyful when I simply am not. To be asked to lie about my own happiness for… what? For what? For overspending and time management drama? I can’t tell you that any of that makes me happy.
I want to be happy this time of year, I really do. It is isolating to be unhappy at the holidays. But it is heartbreaking to be asked to fake something I don’t have.
So far, five days into December 2016, I am holding my own. Things don’t seem so bad and I hopefully whisper to myself, “Maybe this will be the year I finally see what everyone else sees.”