That’s what Christmas is to me, a time to gather with friends and family and try to forget we’re in the darkest days of winter; good food, flowing booze and everyone having the same day off bringing the whole Western, Christian world together in a spiritual, peaceful night of plenty.
Only, its never been like that for me. Generally I get Christmas day off, but not always. I never get Christmas eve off or any kind of winter holiday. Every year Christmas is a mad dash to try to overcome my feelings that I don’t deserve my loved ones, that I’m incapable of truly expressing what they mean to me, in buying presents I can’t afford. I buy/make/cook one round of reasonable presents the weeks before and then every year on Chrsitmas eve I run out and blow a bunch more money trying to make that hollow feeling of inadequacy and guilt go away.
This will be the 4th Xmas I’ve lived through without booze. For three in a row I’ve been putting a grimace of kindness on my face, freaking the fuck out and putting on a show of having normal healthy feelings of nurturing and affection like everyone else. Only my very closest friends knew how I really felt. This fall something snapped in me and I no longer cared to keep my angst to only my closest friends. I’m tired of being fake. I’m tired of pretending to be my best when I’m not. I just want to let the world know, this sucks for me! It’s the worst day of the year for me, not the best. And if it sucks for you too, then you’re not alone.
And saying that out loud makes me feel like such a wretch. There’s a reason we pretend – happiness is contagious, sometimes I can cheer up other people with my attempts at happiness that don’t quite land in my heart. But I don’t want to add to a world of fake smiles, I want to live in a world of real-time emotions and expression, happy and sad, frowns and smiles and ‘meh.’
On this week I’m supposed to feel all the feelings I feel naturally in August, when the sun is shining and all is right in my world. Love, consideration, affection, a higher purpose. I could absolutely hop to those feelings with Bailey’s in my morning coffee and 12 year old scotch before dinner. Sober, every year by December, I’m ready for the men in white coats. And in the face of that I’m supposed to be MORE functional than ever, MORE loving than ever, spend more time with the loved ones who trigger self-loathing in me (which is entirely on me, cue self-loathing spiral) than ever. No. This year I just can’t do it. I moved houses last week, I worked a holiday-temp job the past 4 months that filled me with more self-loathing than I ever thought possible, and I was already pretty disinclined to spend the day doing anything but hiding at home.
So this year I am not doing Christmas. I am accepting presents with grace, NATURALLY. I have a little tinsely tree that I’m putting the cards Steve and I get around. I will get a present for my sweetie, and I will be spending a lovely day tomorrow with him, as for a refreshing change, have Christmas day off (unpaid, of course). But CELEBRATE it? Go to parties, see groups of people, watch them drink and laugh and love in a way that makes me feel like I’m in a glass cage 1000 miles away from any kind of connection? I don’t think so. You’re doing just fine without me, Baby Jesus.