6 Reasons You Might Be Feeling More Than a Little Ambivalent About Christmas
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Go on and Google search "I hate Christmas" and you'll fall down the rabbit hole of 532 million options upon which to click. And if you don't exactly hate Christmas--you just can't stand the crass, materialistic hype around it--you might be feeling pretty ambivalent about the holiday.
The usual suspects contribute to this ambivalence:
1. You Don't Live in Los Angeles: Forget about dashing through the snow and dreaming of a white Christmas. Do you see that weather forecast in the image above? Instead of going to the beach on Christmas Day, you've been in a deep freeze, you're longing for sunlight, and you're cheering if the temperature gets above 32-degrees. Meanwhile, those of us who live in Los Angeles just spent the day playing pickup games of basketball--outdoors--and eating lunch outside on a sun-kissed patio. In a t-shirt. Go ahead and wish that the Big One would hit on Christmas Day so we'll be suffering like you. I'll be living out of my earthquake survival kit in a t-shirt.
For real though, the sun and warm weather does make it infinitely easier to deal with other drama. Like...
2. Your Crazy Azz Relatives: Christmas means you have to deal with relatives who hem and haw about whether they're coming over for Christmas dinner. First they tell you they can't come because they have to do laundry. Then they gossip behind your back to other relatives about how you made them feel unwelcome at the last family gathering so eff you, they're not coming this year. That'll show you!
Then, after everybody in the family has spent a week calling, texting, and Facebook begging them to come, this person will show up two hours late, and either complain that the food is cold, or passive aggressively refuse to talk to anyone and pout like a controlling, sour jerk. But you KNOW if you don't invite them at all, they'll call all your uncles, aunties, and cousins, talmbout "And she didn't even BOTHER to ask me to come." Sigh. You can't win. Also, this is why so many of you will get completely trashed on Christmas. You have my sympathy.
3. You're Gonna Get Fatter: Would you like another slab of lard to tie around your waist? No matter how many "10 Tips For Holiday Fitness" articles you read, you're probably going to throw yourself across the dessert table or cozy up to a pint of full fat EVERYTHING, especially if you're spending hours dealing with the aforementioned crazy relatives. Oh, and just wait till your relatives start commenting on your weight and asking if you're going to go join Weight Watchers after the new year when the new member fee will be waived. "It worked for Jennifer Hudson," they'll say, as you dive into another slice of pineapple upside down cake. Yeah, let's face it, you hate all the parties and big meals because seriously, after buying all the presents, it's not like you have the cash to buy a larger size of jeans.
Speaking of which...
4. Those @&*&#@* Ridiculous Present Expectations: I don't even celebrate Christmas but a month ago my 12-year-old had the nerve to tell me I could get him a flat screen TV for his room AND a Sony Playstation 4--cos, you know, Christmas is coming. He was dead serious. "It's Christmas. You're supposed to get me presents. That's what parents do."
I told him that the "present" is that he gets to live in my house and eat my food, but if he knows of an extra $900 sitting around let me know and I'll take it and go buy myself some new clothes. He slunk around for a few days looking like someone executed a kitten in front of him, but hey, he will live.
That said, depending on what's going on in your life, saying no can be tough. Too many folks try to buy love because they feel guilty for working too much, or they're trying to impress with what they can charge on their Visa, Mastercard, or American Express. Just stop it because you know buying things you really can't afford stresses you out. Besides, whatever happened to the cute stories where someone says, "I don't need presents. I just need you," and everybody cries and says "Merry Christmas" and then a bell on a Christmas tree rings and an angel gets their wings? Don't tell me that's just a Hollywood fairy tale! Jeez, ruining my fantasies!
All jokes aside...
5. Real Talk, Your Loved One Died at Christmas: It doesn't matter how long ago it was, when a loved one passes close to the holidays, it casts a pall over everything. Some people who haven't experienced this just don't understand why you're kinda checked out of the holiday spirit. They say rude things like, "Oh, so your (insert relative) died 10 years ago on Christmas Eve? Well I think he/she would want you to have a good time." Seriously, if you're feeling kinda sad, you don't need to justify that to anybody. Say a prayer for your loved one or have a moment of silence and do what you need to do to keep yourself whole.
And speaking of staying whole...
6. 'Tis the Season For Depression and More: One of the top hits in my Google search was this fascinating article from the New Republic, "Reasons Why Christmas Is a Terrible Holiday." The author, James S. Henry, "lays out the economic, political, and medical reasons, among others, to despise the holiday," noting that,
Far from being "the season to be jolly," Christmas is really the season of sadness and despair. This period's compulsory merriment, hypercommercialism, heavy drinking, and undue media emphasis on the idealized, two-child, two-parent, orthodox Christian family makes those who don't share such lifestyles or religious sentiments feel left out, lonely, and even somewhat un-American. And even in so-called normal families, media hype about the season's merriments often raises expectations and sets up many for disappointment. According to Dr. Quita Mullen, a psychiatrist in Boston, many women in particular exhaust themselves trying to meet both the demands of full-time jobs and the more traditional expectations about what holidays are supposed to be like—provided in part by their (non-working) mothers.And that was written in 1990, well before Lexus' godawful 'December to Remember' advertisements. What would Henry say about Christmas 2013?
Now, let's be clear: I'm in no position to give anyone any real advice on how to survive feeling either Christmas ambivalence or hate, but my advice for surviving the holiday--really any day--is to keep it simple, take care of yourself, count your blessings, keep your wallet closed, only spend time with those you really want to spend time with, and sincerely tell people you love that you love them.
Finally, consider moving to Los Angeles, because no kidding, if it all goes to hell in a handbasket over the next two days, at least you'll have the sun and warmth to do your body and soul some good.