We’ve all heard the song, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”–especially at this time of the year. We know the story (How the Grinch Stole Christmas!), and I think Grinch has gotten a bad rap. It’s been a while since I’ve seen, but I have to admit I have much sympathy in my heart for him. He’s just going about his business trying to keep himself to himself. Then, the whole town is all LISTEN TO OUR LOUD AND OBNOXIOUS CHRISTMAS MUSIC MR. GRINCH LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LISTEN TO US SING LOUDLY MR. GRINCH MR. GRINCH MR. GRINCH!!!!
He’s all, “I can’t see you, you’re not there, lallallalalallallala,” which would be my tactic.
Underneath it, though, I’m sure he was hurting. He saw all these happy families and was only reminded of the emptiness in his own life. I can relate. Not because I don’t have friends and family–I do, but because of the relentless reminder of how you’re supposed to be soaked in the festive atmosphere. Even as isolated as I am from society in general, I can’t escape it. If it’s not the fucking insipid Christmas songs that are playing when I go into the grocery store, it’s the incessant posts on FC and Twitter and the websites I visit about the holly and the jolly.
I wrote about how I was trying to be more chill about it, but my hackles are automatically raised when I hear yet another Christmas carol or see yet another picture of a decorated tree. I know my reaction is out of proportion to what’s actually happening (people are not Christmasing AT me), but it’s still intensely irritating. It’s like any other popular media that I can’t escape–it’s alienating not to be in on the good cheer. Actually, it’s worse because you’re expected to be into Christmas. There are exceptions, of course, if you’re from other religions, but if you’re areligious such as I am and raised Christian, you’re expected to love Christmas as much as everyone else does. Or if not love it, then at least be neutral about it (read, shut up with your negativity). I’ve seen people complain about people who put anti-Christmas posts on their FB walls (which I’ve done), saying, “Why can’t we just enjoy this?” implying that those of us who don’t like Christmas are not-Christmasing at THEM.
That’s the problem with being in the minority–everything you do is put under a microscope. When you’re the majority, your behavior is considered the norm, so it’s not questioned. It’s similar to, say, when NFL players protest police brutality, and fans say something like, “Don’t bring politics into my sportsball enjoyment!” There are already politics in your goddamn football game, but because they align with your values, you don’t recognize them. Pointing out the sexism or the racism or queerphobia in something isn’t bringing politics into the picture because they’re already there. It’s the same with Christmas. Me pointing out that it’s become a crass commercialized money grab isn’t me bringing politics into Christmas–it’s me pointing out what’s already there.
To get more personal with it, I’ve always had a problem with how we’re all supposed to be filled with good cheer and goodwill towards our fellow human during this specific time because we should be doing that all year round. It’s feels way too performative to me, and that’s how I feel about the holiday in general. There are also way too many expectations of how the holidays *should* be (which is evident from all the threads in advice columns dealing with family expectations), which ends up with hurt feelings. People put way too much pressure on the holidays to make up for childhood disappointments (and don’t even realize what they’re doing), and the real thing can never live up to the ideal.
More to the point, it’s hard to be a single person at this time of year when everything is so focused on FAAAAMILY. It’s as if me on my own is not enough (well, me and Shadow, of course), and the fact that I’m not coupled up is more noticeable at this time of year. Side note: I think it’s bullshit that married/coupled people are tiered about single people. Most of the time, I like being single because there are many benefits. But, it can be hard at times, like weddings. Plus-one only means if you have a significant other. Or office holiday parties where plus-one usually means spouse/significant others. Alison from AAM explains it’s because if it’s after hours, the thinking is that it’s not fair to expect the significant other of an employee to be deprived of their company (which seems antiquated to me on its own). This comes up all the time when single people ask if it’s fair, and the commentariat puts so. much. effort into explaining why most spouses really hate this and it’s more of a burden than a perk.
Which is fucking easy to say when you’re part of the included. It’s the difference between opting out and not getting the choice at all. All of the commenters saying they were fine with their spouses not going don’t acknowledge (or even realize, maybe) that it’s much easier to say that when you have the choice. It’s the difference between deciding not to eat, say bread for one day and not being able to eat it for the rest of your life. It’s why we bitch about paying $4 a gallon for gas, but will happily pay that for a cup of coffee. The former is a need (if you drive, which many people have to do for practical reasons) whereas the latter is a want. I don’t understand why this is so difficult to grasp for married people, but I see it happen all the time with people who are normies. It’s the same with Christmas, come to think of it. At AAM around this time of your, there is inevitably someone who asks about being sensitive to non-Christmas people this time of year. Just as inevitably, there will be several people who strenuously defend the glut of Christmas bullshit this time of year. It’s big in the culture! It’s normal! I wouldn’t go to a country that celebrates, say, Diwali and ask them not to do it!
The last particularly grates because no one is asking people not to celebrate Christmas. They’re just saying, “Hey, some of us don’t, so maybe think of us as well?” Choosing Christmas parties at work as your hill to die upon just doesn’t seem like a fruitful expenditure of energy to me. In addition, the whole ‘I wouldn’t go to another country and not ask them to celebrate ______’ argument is a straw man. Many of the people who are asking for more inclusion are from this country. I know it might be hard to understand, but NOT ALL AMERICANS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS. Mind-blowing, I know! In addition, just because something is soaked in the culture doesn’t mean it has to be that way all the time or that it shouldn’t change. I mean, slavery was a part of our culture, and we decided that wasn’t a good thing (most of us did, provisionally, anyway).
Look. I’m not asking for a banishment of Christmas or even for people to tamp down their own holiday exuberance. If someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I’ll happily say, “And the same to you.” I don’t want people to be miserable and miserly, but all I’m asking is that you give me an ounce of the same understanding when I post my anti-Christmas musings/screeds/rants (and to be fair to me, I rarely post them any longer except in my blog). Understand that I’m not into Christmas or any holiday, that I don’t get the hype and would prefer to pretend it doesn’t exist. If I’m grumpy from time to time because of the holidays, don’t get on my case or tell me I need to get into the spirit. Accept that not everyone loves Christmas.
In some ways, I wish I had a religious reason for not liking Christmas–it would be much easier to explain than a blanket statement of, “I just don’t like it.” *sigh* Grinch, I feel your pain.
Note: I just found the above version of O Holy Night a few days ago when I was searching for new versions I’d never heard. It had been posted roughly an hour-and-a-half before I went looking for it, and I love it. It’s in Portuguese! I am doing The Twelve Days of O Holy Night on Twitter and FB, and this was my contribution on the fourth day.