Folks, I don’t have to tell you what time of year it is. Department stores and television ads have been heralding the upcoming holidays with glittering balls of mandatory joy accompanied by super-fucking-offensive Jesus Music since October, by my estimation. You can’t escape it, no one can – so here’s my suggestion: Don’t even try. I’m here to help.
If you’re like me, and since you’re reading this, you probably are – you don’t take kindly to anyone imposing seasonal gladness on you where there is more likely tepid apathy at best, and at worst, slow-simmering grief, unbearable loneliness, or quiet desperation. If you’re like me, you wonder what’s wrong with you that you don’t feel it – that magic that everyone talks about and that sells a trillion dollars worth of plastic shit that people will still be paying for NEXT Christmas, and the next. If you’re like me, you want to sit quietly with your thoughts – and maybe some goddamn twinkle lights, for ambience – and reflect on why this time of year makes everyone pretend to be so happy when surely you can’t be the only one to feel so fucking sad.
I am pretty clear on my own holiday triggers, but knowing why they kill you doesn’t ever stop them from killing you. The death of my boyfriend in a car crash 22 years ago, Dec 12th – each year a fresh cut, in spite of the fading color of the memory. Old pain from the sudden, unfathomable loss. New pain from the slow forgetting of it. My grandpa died on December 1oth thirty-six ears ago – but I replay the moment again and again: a child’s first real dose of death with no idea of what it really means or how it will hurt forever. To this day, I see them leave for the funeral which I was not allowed to attend, hear my mother’s wails of grief for her dead father in my ears even still. My birthday, December 18th. Looming mortality. Aging skin, lost youth, aching joints. The hourglass, silently slinking downward. Worst of all, each December I inevitably encounter the Christmas china I began collecting in my 20s for the family I so cavalierly assumed I’d someday have. Little sets for Santa’s milk and cookies that I imagined my babies and I would fill with goodies and leave by the hearth on so many Christmas Eves. But there are no children. There is no family. And every year when I open the hutch and see the ghosts of those dream babies in the tiny cups and saucers, it is a fresh kick in the cunt. A sucker-punch to a wasted womb. Every year I am reminded that my family’s generations of holiday traditions and memories will die with me for lack of progeny. Every year, I know it’s coming. And every year, it doesn’t matter.
So THIS year, I am putting my seasonal misery to good use. For you, my friends. I’ve here compiled a very important compendium of advice to hopefully make your holidays somewhat less godawful. Things you should definitely do or not do. Fucks you shouldn’t ever give. Shit you should never, ever drink (hint: egg nog). Here goes:
1) Ignore every single article you see on How To Stay Slim This Holiday Season. Fuck. That. Shit. No one is gonna make me suffer through the worst of what the holidays have to offer (see above, plus terrifying seasonal attire, mandatory office parties, maxed-out credit cards and very little daylight) without at least taking the edge off with some goddamn delicious Yule Log. What’s that? You want me to eat my dinner of lettuce and dry chicken breast BEFORE I go to the party so that I’m not hungry when I get there? And drink 1/2 of a watered-down wine spritzer for a low-cal but peer-pressure-proof holiday toast? Riiiiigggghhhhttt. WHY THE FUCK WOULD I EVEN GO TO THIS FUCKING PARTY IF NOT FOR THE FUCKING BOOZE AND COOKIES, YOU FUCKING MANIAC?
2) Don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I can’t believe I even have to tell you this. Resolutions are just one more opportunity for you to inevitably fail yourself. Spare yourself the swirling vortex of self-loathing you will feel when you do not lose 30 pounds by Memorial Day. Or worse, when you quit even trying by 2 weeks into 2016. Trust me on this. You will “juice” exactly three times before you realize that it makes a huge fucking mess and tastes disgusting and gives you explosive diarrhea and costs $47 in wild-crafted organic produce to make 1/4 cup of pulpy brown “juice” that looks and tastes exactly like the stuff you just sharted into your underpants because no one told you about Juice Farts. Buy some goddamn V-8. You’re welcome. Seriously – if you truly need or want to make a meaningful change or two in your life, do it slowly, on your terms, with proper professional and personal support to ensure you’ll succeed at whatever it is. Don’t put it off or start before you’re ready on some arbitrary date that society has deemed The Time. Fuck society.
3) Don’t let anyone tell you what you need. Only you know what you need. If you’ve had a terrible year and you want to spend Christmas or Hanukkah by yourself to just process that shit so you can move on from it sooner? Then you spend it by yourself. You are not obligated to fulfill anyone’s outreach quota by agreeing to spend your holiday doing something you don’t want to do with people you don’t want to do it with just because Traditional Wisdom says that No One Should Be Alone For The Holidays. WHO MAKES THIS SHIT UP. Sometimes that’s exactly what you need. Listen to your own voice.
4) Please, for the love of GAWD, do not watch It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street or any other of their “Classic” ilk. You will cry. You will wonder where your life went wrong. You will ache for all of the things that you thought you’d have and don’t, and for the lost promise of your long-gone childhood. You will feel worse than you did before you spent two hours of your life watching it. Two hours of your life you’ll never get back. Two hours of your life you could have spent watching a holiday movie on Lifetime featuring Steve Gutenberg as a single Santa lookin’ for love. Now that shit? Is uplifting.
5) Don’t buy presents for everyone you know. Seriously. Most of those people will not get you anything. You’ll feel bad, they’ll feel bad. You’ll be broke and resentful. And then the next year you’ll be all, “Fuck that, I’m not getting her anything this year because she didn’t get me anything last year” and she’s all,” Well fuck, I’d better get her something this year because she got me something last year” and the whole cycle of you both cocking-it-up will go on for YEARS. Talk to your friends and family before the holidays and decide if you’re exchanging gifts. Pick a Secret Santa. Decide to do something together instead of buying some dumb shit nobody needs or wants. Just have it figured out before embarrassing yourself and others.
6) Do buy gifts for yourself. A soft new sweater. A mani/pedi. An awesome steak dinner in which you wouldn’t normally indulge. Anything to soothe yourself during this wretched, emotional Hindenburg of a season. Treat yourself kindly. You are doing the best you can and sure – it will never be nearly enough to please everyone or even yourself. That’s OK. Appreciate yourself for trying. And for the burdens that you bear. Always remember that other people have problems that are far worse than yours, but never diminish your own in so-doing. Buy yourself a gift that will remind you that you are fucking awesome even when you don’t feel like you are.
7) Don’t look in people’s windows, either literally or figuratively. It’s not just creepy, it’s dangerous. You may see scenes from a life you wish you had – a tree loaded with presents beneath it, joyful children, parties featuring merrymaking by people who actually seem merry (the real story, of course, is that the husband is cheating and the wife is popping pills and the kids are entitled little fucks who will grow up to be terrible people, so don’t let the life-glitter fool you)…or worse, you may see an old person eating a TV dinner all alone in a barcalounger and then you will really want to kill yourself. Trust me. Do not try to compare your life or experience with anyone else’s. Head down, eyes on the ground. You don’t want to know – nay, CAN’T know – what’s going on in there.
There you have it. My foolproof plan for Having A Less Sucky Holiday. I hope it helps you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some fucking pfeffernusse to eat while no one’s watching. Peace, y’all.
***This article was originally published on TouchVision.com in December 2014. They retain rights to its questionable wisdom.