And now you hate me, right? Because when the leaves are falling, when Trader Joe’s turns every item in their stores pumpkin spiced, when malls are more overcrowded than prisons because of Black Friday deals and Santa wants to take a picture with your dog at Petsmart, we’re supposed to be happy. Like a bunch of amnesiacs, we’re supposed to love everything about this time of year, never mind the fact that it’s literally the same thing every single year.
Come on, can’t we just admit it already? The holidays are hell. The same songs, the same food, the same people, the same traffic, the same deals, the same gifts, the same ugly Christmas sweaters. How is it that we keep falling for it year after year?
Maybe it’s only unbearable for me because I’m a woman in my twenties, which means I’ve suffered retail jobs and cramming for finals when I should be cracking chestnuts, but I truly don’t understand how people do it.
“I don’t do Christmas anymore,” an old woman in my line at work boasts as I’m checking out her groceries. She says this with grandeur, daring to peek at those in line behind her to confirm that they’ve overheard. She’s expecting them to be watching her in wonder, in awe, hanging on her every word and hoping to God she’ll elaborate.
“We stopped doing it about ten years ago,” she offers to the zero requests to hear more. “All the kids grew up so we don’t bother with it anymore.”
“So you don’t buy gifts or make Christmas dinner or decorate or anything like that?” a woman behind her in line inquires, probably sensing this older woman’s need for attention.
“Well,” the first woman falters, lowering her voice a little, “We just do gift cards.” She lifts her chin a little, feeling assertive once again in her rebellion.
“But no dinner with your family? No lights or tree?”
“Oh, well you have to have a Christmas tree,” she admits. “And the lights, well my husband has them pre-strung in the garage so it’s really easy…”
Confirming my original point: we all go through this shit every year. We can lie to ourselves, pretend we’re doing less than we really are, but are we ever?
Of course, as I mentioned before, I truly believe us millennials get the butt end of the season. We’re stuck working the register at PacSun at 2 a.m. on Black Friday or standing on our feet for eight hours while customers harass us for not having enough Christmas hams in stock.
However, there are aspects of the season that should infuriate people of all ages, genders, color, and creed. One that no human can ever honestly claim to enjoy is traffic. If you live in a flyover state with a population in the thousands, you’re luckier than the rest of us. But Boston, LA, New York, and Chicago natives fully understand the struggle of a mall parking lot weeks before Christmas. This is no longer a place to leave your car while you shop for loved ones—it’s a war zone.
Yet another horror of the holidays is the inevitable weight gain. No one wants to do it, and yet we all come out of January snuggled into our fat pants with chocolate stains on our chins. We tell ourselves we won’t have another cookie, we won’t go back for seconds at Thanksgiving—hours later we’re paralyzed in food comas and hating ourselves.
Finally, the gift giving etiquette. Don’t get me wrong, I love to shop for those I’m closest to. I love to stalk my best friend for weeks at a time, picking up hints of things she wants, buying one, and presenting it to her on Christmas Day. However, you’re usually locked into shopping for people you barely know (i.e., Secret Santa exchanges at work, random distant cousins who show up to Christmas at your house, the woman in your Pilates class who got you something last year so now you feel obligated), which is the worst. You end up grabbing a random basket of candles and lotions from Bath and Body Works, a basket they’ll glance at for about five minutes, stow under their bathroom sink, and never open.
Yes, the holidays really do suck. I don’t like them, and admit it—you don’t really like them, either. They’re stressful, annoying, monotonous, and predictable. So why is it that we suffer through them every year? I still can’t figure it out, but there is the excitable glow that Christmas gives everyone from a toddler with a new toy to an 84-year-old woman with a hip replacement. It’s one of those things that can’t be explained but is completely inevitable. So yeah, the holidays are hell, but I’m going to go turn on my Christmas tree and lovingly stare at it now.