I’m writing this on Christmas, and I’m feeling out of sorts. Not as bad as in past years, but there’s still a vague ‘I should be celebrating, but I’m not, and that makes me a bad person.” As I said, it’s much more subdued than it has been in past years, but it’s still there. I like to say I’m immune to advertising*, but there is still enough societal pressure that makes me low-key feel bad for not celebrating.
I still feel like shit with congestion and cotton in my brain. My ears are scabby and gross, and if I pick the scabs (I know, I know), pus oozes out. My lymph node is almost not-swollen any more, which is good, and it’s barely tender. I’m still going to go to the doc after the holidays, though, because I need to get a grip on this. I also need to get my thyroid meds checked, which may help with the sinus crap.
It’s been almost a year since I’ve cut out gluten and dairy, and I can honestly say I don’t miss it–except for cheese. God, I love cheese, but it doesn’t love me back. As Tim Minchin says, “I cannot Camembert any more.”
Why does cheese have to be so goddamn delicious???? And why is it so hard to duplicate? “I love cheese, but it’s plain to see, that cheese doesn’t love me. I am such a fool in love; I just cannot get enough, but it’s an unrequited love!” Sing it, Tim! The rest of it, though? Not. I’ve gone back to my Taiwanese roots and reacquainted myself with rice. Which, by the way, smells so delicious while cooking. And, PSA: rice cooker all the way for a perfect cook every time. Anyway, rice is way tastier than bread, and it’s way more versatile. I’ve also discovered non-gluten tortillas, bread, and bagels which are all nearly as good as the originals.
Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it. If you’re someone who loves eggnog, elves, tinsel, Christmas trees, and all that fun stuff, I hope you enjoy yourself, but this post is probably not for you. This post is for those of us who are not into Christmas for one reason or another. Maybe you’re not a Christian. Maybe you were raised in a culture that doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Maybe you’ve had a shitty year and don’t feel like celebrating this year. Maybe you’ve had something tragic happen in the last month–lost a job, a family member/friend, an animal companion, a relationship–and being holly and jolly is the last thing on your mind. Maybe you struggle with chronic depression, and you don’t want to pretend that you’re feeling the Christmas cheer. Maybe you have a toxic family situation and you’ve cut them off for the first time, so everything is weird and strange. I’ve been several of those before, and it’s not a pleasant feeling.
Or, maybe you’re like me in that you don’t understand the need for forced bonhomie during a very specific time of the year. Maybe the hypocrisy of ‘good will towards all humankind’ for two weeks gets to you, and you want to point out that we need to be a better country all year round, rather than do feel-good things in the last two weeks before the end of the year.
I’ve said this year, the holiday season hasn’t been as annoying for me personally as it has been in the past. I used to feel as if people were having their holiday cheer AT me instead of just doing their own thing. It’s hard not to feel suffocated by it, however, as it’s everywhere this time of the year. For whatever reason, it just hasn’t bothered me as much this year, which I’ll take as a boon. I don’t think it’s because there’s less hawking going on because there’s not, but because I’ve reached a better place in my life, emotionally, I mean. I’m able to deal with things better than I used to, and that apparently includes holidays.
I’m still not rah rah about Christmas, however. I’m at best indifferent, and I would like to ignore it completely. I still have the crud, which is really sapping my energy. I went to the store today (Christmas Eve day), and I was dizzy while I was there, and I was exhausted by the time I got home. I’m going to the doctor/TCM/acupuncture in the new year because this shit has been staying for far too long.
For anyone who’s not feeling the holiday spirit, I wish you peace during this difficult time. I’ll probably binge-watch Poirot while munching on sweet kettle popcorn, sipping my ginger lemon honey tea. Hopefully, Shadow will be snuggling on my legs, and I’ll be feeling better physically. I’m not going to lie. I’m a bit glum. Partly because of the time of year, and partly because I’m ill, but also because I’m contemplating my life, and I have some difficult choices to make. If you’re struggling this Christmas, vow to do one thing just for you. Read a book. Take a walk. Soak in a bubble bath. One thing just for you. It may not make things all better, but it will certainly not hurt.
Here are two atheist Christmas songs that I quite enjoy. First up, Tim Minchin with White Wine in the Sun. This version is from a week ago on James Corden (and the first time I’ve heard it. There are a few updates!)
Next up is Vienna Teng with The Atheist Christmas Carol.
Both of these songs make me cry because they’re so lovely.
And, of course, I’m going to wrap it up with ‘O Holy Night’, the only Christmas carol I like. This version is done by Angelica Hale, a finalist from America’s Got Talent.
I went to taiji and overdid it, but it felt good to get moving again. I’m exhausted now, so I think it might be nap time soon. I’m currently eating gluten and dairy-free mac and cheeze. It’s not bad at all (Amy’s), but it’s oddly gummy. I added spinach, vegan sour cream, and chicken to it. Quite tasty. The trick to eating substitutes is not to think of it as the real thing and to judge it on its own merits. Also, all the dairy substitutes are things I’d eat with other things, but never on their own. Fake cheeze is not munchable by itself, at least not to me. For milk, my favorite is cashew milk, but again, it’s not something I would chug a big glass of.
I decided to do something a bit different this year for the few people I actually buy gifts for. Normally, I buy a soap basket for my BFF, Kat, and a game on Ian’s Steam wishlist, and call it a day. This year, I went for different things that I think (and hope!) each of them will get a kick out of. I’m not a big fan of Christmas (massive understatement), but I find the cheer and hoopla to be far less irritating this year than in past years for whatever reason. Maybe I’m just mellowing with age, but I’ve found the holiday season (starting with Thanksgiving) to be eminently ignorable this year.
I am off social media Wednesday and Saturday, and I’m thinking of adding Monday as well. I notice that I’m more agitated when I’m heavily involved with social media, especially Twitter. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed when the shit is constantly flashing before your eyes. Most of the people I follow are political junkies, so, yeah, it’s not a happy place to be in general.
Anyway. Here’s on of my favorite versions of O Holy Night. Enjoy.
I hate Christmas. Longtime readers will know this about me because I won’t shut up about it. To be fair, I hate all holidays, but it’s Christmas that really rubs me the wrong way. I wrote an editorial in my high school paper about the crass commercialism of Christmas, and that was thirty years ago. My feelings for Christmas have only grown in disgust since then. Many moons ago, I started posting yearly about the one Christmas song I like (‘O Holy Night’), including several versions of the song. I also posted about depression as many people get depressed at this time of year, whether it’s because of Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) or dysfunctional family issues coming to a head or whatnot. I know there are other people who feel the same way I do, but we’re drowned out by all the aggressively good cheer. And Christmas commercials. Oh, lord, the Christmas commercials. I saw my first one this year a few days after Halloween, and I’ve been grumpy ever since. The first Christmas commercial denotes my season of personal hell in which I grit my teeth and bah humbug my way through the month.
Speaking of Christmas commercials, that Kay is a ho, ain’t she? Every kiss begins with Kay my ass. I love how Christmas commercials have become a way to guilt your love ones into buying you expensive presents to show you they love you. And by love, I mean I want to burn it in a fire.
Every year for Christmas, I write a post in which I rant about how much I dislike Christmas. I list all the reasons why, and the biggest one is because it’s such crass consumerism on display, wrapped up in sentimental rhetoric. “If you love someone, you have to buy them something really expensive, or you’re a chump.” That’s pretty much what Christmas commercials tell you, starting with the day after Halloween (sometimes before), which is part of my issue with it as well. It used to be that the hype for Christmas had the sense to wait until after Thanksgiving to dominate society’s consciousness. Now, we’re creeping towards Christmas 24-7. There’s a local radio station that used to start playing Christmas music all day long starting on the first day of December. This year, they started the day after Halloween, which means two months of sappy, poorly-written Christmas music. Which is another problem I have with Christmas. All of the music sucks. It’s overwrought, treacly, and steeped in false nostalgia. There is only one Christmas carol that I like, but I’ll get to that in a second.
This year, I didn’t have the heart to write my usual post because my Raven had died three weeks earlier. I distinctly remember I had changed my Twitter and Facebook avatars earlier that evening to my usual Grumpy Cat hating on Christmas avis. After Raven died, I changed them back to just being black, and I’ve left them that way ever since. With my heart broken, I didn’t even care that Christmas was approaching at all. It meant nothing to me, and I pretty much just ignored its existence. I was just trying to cope with my sudden and shocking loss, and I couldn’t summon up enough energy to even acknowledge that it was happening. My Raven was gone, and that’s all that mattered to me. I was struggling to make it through each interminable day while making sure Shadow was OK as well.
Now, however, I regret not writing the post. Or rather, I feel empty for not having written it. As much as I don’t like Christmas, I did like my tradition of writing about how much I dislike it. I would post about it on Facebook and tweet about it, and I’d get several people who would commiserate with me. It became known that the only Christmas carol I like was O Holy Night, and I’d have people sending me their favorite versions of the song. I’d compile them and post them every year, and it was something I looked forward to, but, again, I didn’t have the heart to do it this year. After a few years, I started adding Christmas-related songs I liked to the list, and if I was feeling extra-grumpy, I would include the worst version of O Holy Night I could find.*
First off, I’ll post one of my favorite versions of the song. It’s done by New Orleans jazz musicians, and it was after Katerina ripped through their city and destroyed so many lives. It was featured on the show, Studio 60, which I never watched, but this version is amazing. It’s soulful, wistful, heartbreaking, and, yet, somehow, uplifting. Here’s the version with no dialogue.
I hate Christmas, and I have since I was a kid. I found out there was no Santa Claus when I was seven or eight. I got up early Christmas morning to check the stockings, and there was nothing in them. I went to tell my mom, and she told me to go back to bed for an hour or so. I did, then went back to check, and, lo, and behold! There was stuff in my stocking. I put two and two together and came up with four, but I didn’t tell my mom because who doesn’t like presents? That’s not the reason I don’t like Christmas, however. It’s because of all the crass commercialism that surrounds it, covered in the veneer of gooey emotions. I even wrote an editorial about it when I was in junior high school, bemoaning how capitalism had corrupted Christmas. That was over thirty years ago, and it’s only gotten worse since.
Why am I writing about it now, well before Halloween if I hate it so much? Aren’t I just contributing to the problems? No, I’m not. I’m reacting to the fact that I saw two Christmas commercials today during the Vikings game. One was Star Wars-themed and for Duracell batteries, and I can’t tell you what the other one was for because I started freaking out when I saw it. It’s not even fucking Halloween yet, and they’re showing this shit? I have begrudgingly accepted that Christmas lasts all through November and December, but I will not brook it creeping into October as well. I don’t care for holidays in general, but Halloween is the one I like the most. The costumes, the candy, the pagan basis, the turn-off-the-lights-and-pretend-not-to-be-home, it’s great. It deserves its own month as a welcome to autumn, which is my second favorite season. Winter is my first, and I don’t like that it’s overtaken by Christmas.
Here’s the thing. I don’t hate Christmas for itself. I’m not a Christian, but I don’t mind if Christians want to celebrate the birth of Jesus, even if it’s at the wrong time and is grafted over pagan rituals. It’s no skin off my nose. As for the gather with the family and eat a ton of turkey/ham until you pass out tradition, to each his own, I guess. Although, I will say that the theme of forced family togetherness is annoying and potentially alienating for some people. I wrote a post a while back about what to do if you’re not feeling merry around Christmas, and I got a lot of heartfelt responses in the comment section, on Twitter, on Facebook. It’s hard to watch all the cheer and everyone getting hyped for Christmas if you’re not feeling it for one reason or another. Maybe you just lost a loved one or went through a messy divorce. Perhaps you’re estranged from your family and haven’t talked to them in years. Maybe your children don’t answer your calls, and you’re wondering what’s going on. Or you’ve been diagnosed with an incurable disease. There are plenty of reasons you may not be feeling jolly for the holidays and hearing that you should be 24/7 is a guaranteed way to make your mood even sourer. I can attest to that. The more I see people being all holly and jolly for the holidays, the more bitter I become. Grinch gets a bad name, but I can feel his pain. All he wants is to be left alone to live his life in Grinchly peace, but the annoying Whoville pipsqueak can’t shut her damn trap for a hot second.