Christmas Anonymous

Editor’s Note: This was originally written in 2011. I just reread it and I’m not sure I disagree with any of my conclusions. This year (2020) was my first Christmas at home in twelve years, with COVID-19 adding stress to everything else that is stressful about the holidays. If you read this and agree with any of it, you’re not alone. If you think I’m insane, you’re not alone. Peace. Happy New Year.

If you really know me, you will understand where this is coming from, you’ll feel my pain, and you’ll know I’ll be in a much better mood in January. If you think you know me, and this seems unbelievable harsh in places, you don’t really know me. Be forewarned.

Also, this post makes no sense unless you’ve read Christmas Anonymous. This is what my first meeting would be.

Scene: A small meeting room, somewhere in a strip mall, Suburbia. 

Uh, this is my first time here, so I’m a bit nervous. I hope you’ll bear with me. Oh, sorry. Hi! I’m Kevin, and I hate Christmas.

Hi, Kevin!

I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my issues with Christmas. I hope you can help me. I spend the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s always on the verge of crying and I’m really not sure why. There’s a lot of reasons I’m sure, but hopefully, someone in here will share a similar set of reasons. 2020: Being out of work and living in a COVID world did not help at all.

First, I’m not really sure why I hate Christmas. I don’t hate Christ by any means, so I really shouldn’t hate people celebrating His birthday, even if there was no physical way He was born on December 25th.

2020: I’m not sure “hate” is the proper term any longer. The holidays just depress me. My ex-wife told my wife I hated Christmas, so I just owned it, but hatred is too strong a term.

I do still believe in God, even if many of His Churches are all seemingly filled with hypocrites. If Holden Caufield wanted to find phonies, he just needed to look to the Cafeteria Christians.

Maybe it’s the soul-crushing realization that people really aren’t celebrating Christ’s birthday. Of course, Christmas was actually created by co-opting a pagan holiday, so I’m not sure anyone ever actually celebrated Christmas. Nobody seems to care about Christmas anymore, it’s not politically correct to use the term. It’s best to say  “the holidays”, so you don’t offend the Jews or the people of Islam or anyone who celebrates Kwanzaa.

2020: Political correctness has gotten progressively worse in the time since I wrote this, but Christmas still lives on, mostly.

Maybe it’s the simple fact that if you grow up in Dallas, you will never see the Christmas of TV and movies. I think we’ve had one actual White Christmas during my lifetime, and I was out of town that year. A White Christmas in Dallas means power outages and multi-car accidents, rather than carriage rides, anyway.

Maybe it’s the inevitable unspoken competition on gifts – you will never get what you want, since what you want is often driven by commercials, and you may not watch the same commercials as your friends, relatives and parents. Different generations will rarely know what others actually want. Some will try, with varying levels of success.

The inability to know (or care) what will make someone happy  is probably what invented the gift card industry, which I never liked, since you’re basically telling someone “I think you’re worth $50, but only at Target.” It also says you aren’t really willing to put any thought into a gift at all. 2020: Except that some of my relatives love gift cards, so if you know that, then a gift card is the right present. It still lets them know exactly how much you think they’re worth.

I’m actually still very bitter that my younger brother got a dog when I was about eight. It’s worse now that I’m in animal rescue, and I realize that my parents probably bought a dog from a backyard breeder after doing zero research into a proper breed and I really don’t want to know where his dog went after six months, but back then, all I knew was that he got a dog, I got some plastic models and when the dog went away, he got replacement presents and I got squat.

At this point, I should say that my late mother-in-law got me great gifts. She somehow knew something that I actually wanted, and as a bonus, she would generally make my wife get it for me, and my wife would think it was a stupid gift. Her gifts were always small, but they were from the heart and they were something that I wanted, even if I didn’t know it beforehand. Thanks, Rose. I miss you.

Maybe it’s the invention of the Christmas newsletter. I actually started writing this as a byproduct of trying to write a family newsletter, and I realized that I hadn’t successfully done one in three years. [Editor’s note: the dogs eventually took over the Christmas newsletter, and have received rave reviews.] A lot has happened in three years – we lost my mother-in-law, we gained a daughter-in-law and a grandson, but as I was writing the short paragraphs to try to keep it to a reasonable length, it hit me – if you’re close enough to me to get a summary of my life, wouldn’t you already know this stuff?

2020: The newsletter does cover some of the more random events of the year, and lately, it has been announcing things not everyone would know. So, I’m less negative about it than I was. Plus, the dogs write it now.

Maybe it’s working in a sales organization, where bless their hearts, most salespeople are just incapable of closing any deals any time except the last two weeks of the quarter. This means Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year, since it’s quarter-end and year-end. It’s make quotas or update resumes time. If your job requires supporting salespeople, it’s about to be your fault that they spent the time from Halloween to Thanksgiving gazing in the mirror and jerking off, so they managed to miss quota.

2020: I do not miss working in a sales organization. I do miss working.

I don’t know what my expectations are from the holidays. I just know that there is a tremendous amount of pressure to be nice to people you would much rather ignore. There is pressure to work extra hours in a time when your personal life is calling you. There is pressure to spend money on people you wouldn’t even talk to during the rest of the year.

2020: Ignoring people has been much easier in quarantine, but after enough time stuck in the house, you begin to miss people, even the annoying ones. Working extra hours wasn’t an issue, since I was out of work, but there was extreme pressure to find a job, mostly to finance Christmas.

So it goes.

Maybe that’s why I hate Christmas.

2020: I’m still not sure.

Can someone tell me the twelve steps of Christmas?