I have always hated Christmas. I prefer Xmas only because it is easier to read and faster to spell. I do like Winter Solstice but it gets drowned out by all the Christmas hoo-hah though I admit, if I actually lived in the land where Winter Solstice was generally celebrated I might hate that too.

Typically I would get super depressed every Christmas. As a kid I was always sick with the flu or tonsillitis. “Way to ruin Christmas, again!” has been the most popular refrain of those around me most of my life.

As a young adult I spent a few Christmas’ entirely on my own. They were okay because often though I was sick  at least I was alone and not ruining everyone else’s Christmas.

As soon as those songs start to fill the stores I feel myself turning into the Grinch’s poor little dog, weighed down by fake antlers and the burden of stealing all the joy from Whoville. I think there are several things I am allergic to or maybe just sensitive to and the combination of these things just becomes too much for my body and mind: Stuff, Guilt, Actual Allergies, People in Close Quarters, The Cult of Santa.

First: Stuff

At a time when we are supposed to think of the poor we are expected, even if we are poor ourselves, to spend money like the lunatic super rich, buying crap that is only meant for Christmas, stuff that will need to be stored somewhere for eleven months (I guess if you are super rich somebody else worries about that).

And then the gifts:

  • The funny, stupid Christmas gifts, ironic sweaters and apparel that will made the recipient look like an idiot that you bought because you were overheated, overstimulated and totally exhausted in a mall, therefore NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR USE OF A CREDIT CARD.
  • The designer/decorator’s fetishes, really useless, mass produced and guaranteed to be a faux paus next year: CRAP.
  • the GIFT that condemns you to the horrible, sinking bog of eternal Christmas failure, the “what were you thinking when you knew I really wanted fill in the blank.” Even if they don’t say it, you can tell. You have offended, disappointed, or finally proven you couldn’t possibly love, them.

Second: Guilt

The hypocrisy is, like nutmeg, almost imperceptible and yet a fundamental ingredient at Christmastime. The people who beg are just as revived up as you and I are about Xmas, but unlike us they need money so they can escape the reality of maybe DIEING. They need our money but we know it’s not really our money. It’s the banks money. The bank likes us for now because they think we can continue to pay the interest on what we owe them. That’s the big difference: “There but by the grace of  Master Card go I”.  Yes I know there are other differences; people who beg might know people who know where to buy opioids on the street but they might have good reason to know this and we might still have friends and family who still have reasonable lives who will take us in on Christmas.

Third: Actual Allergies

I think I have actual allergies to the stuff I eat over the holidays that I would never eat any other time of the year at least not in those quantities. If I do not have hives at least once over the holidays it is a Christmas miracle.

The Christmas hives started as a small babe with beautiful angora hats and mittens lovingly knitted by my mother and placed on my cherub head and hands. The continuous rubbing of angora into my red annoyed skin, especially my nose and eyes, ruined every photo of me at Christmas as a babe. I am quite sure they have all been destroyed. *guilty*

  • Fruit cake with the supernatural bright green and red cherries.
  • Cigarette smoke from visitors who drank lots of alcohol and sometimes gave me a sip
  • Antibiotics that were, to my parents relief, readily prescribed without question by any doctor if I had the slightest temperature.

As a young adult I consumed many things that were not good for me. I started smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. When Christmas came each year I added eggnog and pot to the mix, oh and boyfriends. I don’t know which gave me the hives.

Fourth: People in Close Quarters

People are stressed and they drink too much or not enough and they say and do things they shouldn’t and the best that you can hope for is nobody remembers too much about it come the next seasonal get-together.

Lastly: The Cult of Santa

My dad used to say, “Santa, what an old fooler!” Children know. Oh yeah, they may buy into it for the presents at first, but they don’t really commit, not most of them. Every year a few get caught. Santa knows it’s a numbers game and he has to get out there and try to pull in as many as he can but like all pyramid organizations it is a select few who really get what they want for Christmas, the rest just keep flogging the Santa message, hoping beyond hope, all the while staying hopped up on sugary treats. I know this. I was one of them.

first born.

My first born.

I thought was very wise and mature until I had a baby. Before I had my son, things just happened and I did stuff. Sometimes I knew I had done well and sometimes I knew I had not. After I had my first child my heart was irrevocably torn open. It was wonderful and terrifying.

One of the things I realized was the universality of this love.  Suddenly pictures of mothers holding their sick, vulnerable or starving children were not of people in some far off place. They were pictures of me and their children were all my child and I felt helpless in a way I had never known before.

5495_600 The Christian story of a teenage mom giving birth to a kid in a barn essentially without a “real” father with only some crazy story to separate her from all the other moms out in the cold is a stark contrast to the excesses of the holiday, but it is compelling to the open heart in a way like no other.