‘Tis the season to be jolly – at least that is what the song tells us. Why is it, then, that Christmas is such a stressful, soul-crushing time of year, stuck right in the deepest heart of never-ending winter? Does anyone really enjoy listening to carol singers? How many people open the door, just for the opportunity to slam it right back in their faces a few seconds later? The truth is that, ever since it started as a ‘thing’, there have been plenty of people hating on Christmas. And that’s something that doesn’t look like changing any time soon.
Christmas is supposed to be a day. 24 hours. That’s why it’s called Christmas Day. So it’s especially galling to those of us who aren’t in love with it, to set foot in the grocery store in October, only to have our senses assailed by the jingle of Christmassy songs and the sight of tinsel and Santa grimacing at us, from behind his beard on some marketing display: “Only 10 weeks to go!”
Then the cards start appearing. You’ve tried to be especially nasty to everyone you know this year, in the hope that they won’t bother you with a card. They’ve noticed, too. The thing is, though, that they just don’t have the heart to send everyone else in the office a card and leave you out. It would look petty. But your card gets one less kiss at the bottom than everyone else’s – that should let you know unequivocally how much you are held in contempt. And now, of course, you have to send a card to them. With the ridiculous price of Christmas cards what it is, you can kiss goodbye to that bottle of Benedictine you’d been promising yourself.
Gift-giving is a complete waste, too. We all go out, clogging up the roads and pumping the air full of carbon monoxide, fight our way through the crowds to buy overpriced junk that nobody wants. Wrap it up in plastic, which will instantly be torn away and eventually added to the continent of waste plastic floating in the ocean and choking the dolphins.
You give someone a gift and they’re on edge. No matter what it is, they have to pretend to be surprised, impressed and thankful at the same time. It’s a cause of great anxiety. Perhaps the only gift that would be greeted with a genuinely joyful reaction would be a box of Valium. But that’s not appropriate. Instead it’s a calendar with pictures of sports cars. A coffee mug with some semi-raunchy pun. In China, it’s taboo to give a clock as a gift. It’s seen as a subtle way of saying something like “the clock is ticking down for you”. In the West, you’ll get the same reaction if you present someone with a shovel. Far from suggesting that they dig their own grave, however, a shovel would actually be a welcome gift at Christmas. You can give it to the kids and get them to clear the snow off of the drive while you drink your morning coffee. Seeing as shovels are out, visiting http://snowshifts.com/ and ordering a snowblower might be the way to go about it.
Then you have those awful Christmas parties. The free mulled wine gets guzzled within the first 20 minutes and then you have to listen to Mariah Carey and watch as the young, attractive employees all drift off together in the same direction, leaving you with your boss and the other awkward people. The sight of mistletoe annoys you, as you know that someone else is bound to use it as an excuse to make out with, and cop a feel of that one you always look out for when you enter the office.
Add to all that the awful driving conditions, coupled with drunk drivers, killing themselves along with innocent strangers in the revelry. Add all the drunken, obnoxious frat boys fighting in bars over giggling girls wearing reindeer antlers. Add the feuding families and the elderly who can’t afford adequate heating in their lonely apartments. How can we really feel that it’s a season to be jolly at all, until it’s over?