Christmas Sucks

 

Which is the title of this essay.

Some people love Christmas – the cards, the lights, the decorations, the music. Some people hate it- the cards, the lights, the decorations, the music.

My war on Christmas began in early childhood when I dispensed with Santa Claus as there was no rational nor empirical basis for his existence. Besides we never had a chimney and nobody could be bothered to explain how presents could be delivered under those circumstances. I asked if Muslims, Buddhists or Hindus received gifts or were shunned as being infidels. But this idea was dismissed and I was stuffed with sweets. Of course being raised in a quasi orthodox Jewish  household with cynical, agnostic, holocaust  survivors did colour my perceptions of the holiday season somewhat. They did however view Christmas as a cultural celebration.

In any event, I never had much use for religion deeming it as rational as faith in mother goose though it quickly became apparent that Christmas had more to do with capitalist expansionism and not with celebrating the birth of a Marxist in Palestine back in the day. Nearly 1/4 of the year in western cultures are devoted to a perverse imitation of what used to be a religious holiday.

Later on during residency I always chose to be on call during the season as all the lonely miserable people filed into the emergency room at that time and I could  empathize with their suffering. The most memorable case was a young fellow who was found sitting on the snowy hospital lawn with a gas can and a lighter one evening. There of course were police and fire trucks everywhere.

I was tired and had flashbacks to a photo from 1963 that haunted me and realized my career might be over if my new patient decided to follow suit..

 

I sat opposite him and we shared our mutual lack of fondness for the holiday season. He was depressed, lonely and suicidal. I offered coffee and smokes (though I was later chewed out for this not being a bright idea under the circumstances). However he chilled out and was admitted and rewarded later in his stay with electro convulsive therapy. Later on that evening of Dec 24th, 1978,the police brought in a naked agitated man covered head to toe in blue paint. The police dumped their pistols on my desk and took him to the floor while he screamed that he was Christ being crucified and the cops were Roman pigs. Not a good situation. I asked the nurse to gift him with a butt shot of chlorpromazine. Merry Christmas.

Here are some things I have learned about the festive season…

It’s an ecological disaster : The EPA has determined that the amount of household garbage in the U.S. increases by about one million tonnes at this time of year and most of that is related to Christmas gift wrap, Christmas boxes, Christmas breakage , and countless other types of Christmas flotsam and jetsam. Furthermore those discarded cheap plastic balls and tinsel decorating your tree, house, yard, car, office, and lapel were made by poor people toiling away in Chinese factories.

Another thing I wondered  was how many times in an average day can anyone listen to the same tired carols bleating over the sound system in every department store, grocery store, drug store, or shopping mall. My reaction to Christmas ear worm music is not supportive…

 

However the  worst part of the season was being around  multiple annoying  relations.

I mean I used to like some of  my family members individually. But when it comes to spending time with them collectively, I’d rather be beaten with wet bamboo reeds by sadistic guards in a VietCong POW camp. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone with this sentiment, and yet every year I  pretended to be interested in their dysfunctionality.

In any case I not see any legit reason to pretend to get along well with people you don’t like just because it’s Christmas.

Then there is  eating way too much food in an overheated house with people you don’t like. There is nothing like gorging yourself to the point of sickness on sugar and turkey and ham with a bunch of bitchy people.

I have always thought Christmas in Istanbul or Hanoi would be awesome: no family drama, any type of food I could imagine, entertainment options other than Christmas movies, and being able to lay out by a pool with never-ending drinks. This sounds much more enjoyable than the awkward hellos, extreme caloric intake, exchanging of a bunch of shit none of us want, followed by tears and more drama.

Now having said all that it’s just my luck (or unconscious choice perhaps) that every relationship I have had has been with nurturing warm fuzzy-happy memory Christmas loving fanatics. So I have been outnumbered. But this sentiment will live on…

 

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3 Responses to “Christmas Sucks”

  1. Carole Kocian says:

    Christmas is crazy in a Santa Claus suit. Our kids with little kids seem not to want to make a traditional event in their own homes. That means we are the tree with lights and ornaments location, all of which have to be hoisted down from on high in the garage. An appropriate spot to set up is always up for debate. Do we move the toys in the corner of the living room to make room for the tree which we decorate, light, and protect until it’s time to take it down and move the toys back to their usual corner? Should we just do away with the old toys? What if they come next time looking for the toys that we got rid of? It’s all very depressing. And reinforcing the bias is all the unwelcome excess in retail places pushing more stuff along with accompanying subtle (not so) music. The annual concerts on public TV are refreshing after having not heard them since last year but that’s quite enough, thank you. All our neighbors outdo us in the outdoor space. We are much too decrepit to climb trees to place lights and climb down to put inflatable snowmen on the ground. Not gonna happen. And then the kitchen with people grazing constantly in the fridge on the many leftovers from the grand feast. They all need their own home-based traditions and we need to be kicked back somewhere else. Maybe next year.

  2. Claude Francis says:

    Have to keep my response short as I have injured my dominant arm and have limited use of it.
    I cannot begin to tell you how much I agree and sympathise with your sentiments regarding this dubious religious holiday and so called celebration.
    I so looked forward to it as a child but became increasingly disenchanted with it as an adult to the point where I have to question our motivation and sanity in keeping this charade alive.
    Certainly not the season of cheer for many of us as we impatiently wait for January to usher in the new year and leave all this nonsense behind until the next time.

  3. Stella Mac says:

    Bah Humbug! Christmas can be great, you just need to make the effort not to buy into all the crap and keep it simple. Merry Christmas!

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