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Christmas Blows

published: 12-20-2019


Christmas is, by far, my least favorite holiday.

It's not the religiosity I hate, although it is awfully boring to have to sit through a two-hour service for a god I don't venerate. That's not to say that I like purely religious holidays, or the feeling I got when thinking I was doing something edgy and cool when being forthright about "my" beliefs. Even when I was a religious zealot in my childhood, something didn't quite sit right with me: being instructed to wear a small golden "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" on my shirt one year in elementary school and proudly display it to everyone, I only wore it for that one day and never again.

No, what really makes me dread Christmas is the whole Spectacle of it.

When I was a little kid, on Christmas Eve, my family and I would pile into the van and drive out to my grandparents' house on one side of the family. Even in earlier days, the time would be spent under the watchful eye of a glowing screen as a cousin played some video game and expected everyone else to just watch. Only in later days did he ever bring some game what could be shared (which is originally how I first got into Smash). Then we'd stuff our faces full of food that'd give us all indigestion come the following morning, and the adults would slog through a few minutes of awkward holiday singing to the tune of an out-of-key accordion. And then whatever parent was standing guard over the massive Christmas tree like an angel at the gates of Eden would start handing out the mountain of presents, burying us all unknowingly in the avalanche of debt that we'd inherit, letting us drown in the sea of wrapping left over, victims of our own greed.

And then the grandparents died, and we sold the house to pay off the tip of the debts, and we never set foot in those halls again.

On the other side of the family, though, one still held strong, and her house was always a place of refuge. There was more space to run around downstairs, the whole downstairs instead of just being relegated to two side bedrooms barely big enough to stretch one's arms out in. But even though in the beginning we truly played- or just chucked the plastic food toys at each other- the screens eventually found our refuge, and we let Minecraft subdue us into sitting around sedated the whole time until the presents were ready.

It's awkward for a newly-christened adult to still be sitting at the kids table (granted, it's a normal-sized table, and most of the "kids" there are teenagers now), but I sit at the "adult table", and it's just "CONSUME PRODUCT" over and over and over. The same spiel I've received the rest of the month. What products are you interested in consuming? What corporations have you signed your soul over to? Would you like us to enable you in your quest to drown your sorrows at not being able to hold your life in your own hands with some cheap trinket you'll probably forget about before the week is out?

I just want money, I tell them. Cold hard cash is perfectly acceptable; on the off chance I do find something I like, then I'll have the money to get it on my own time. I don't want to have to bare my soul to the extended family who alienated me and have to sit by and give an empty smile as they mock me for the crime of liking things outside of the approved Intergalactic Capeshit. Gift-giving should be a private affair between two individuals, not a performance where everyone jerks themselves off in front of everyone else about how cool they are for being able to give the Thing that someone Wanted.

But what the hell can I do in the face of my family's rampant consumerism? Watching my surroundings slowly meld into an omnipresent advertisement for Dr. Who and Marvel and Star Wars and other basic-ass geek shit, my brothers walking talking billboards for Nintendo, losing the spark we used to have years upon years ago in that back-hall bedroom where that cousin thought blankly watching him play on his PS3 was the height of entertainment.

But those days are gone, and I'll never live them again, and all that's seemingly left to do is dehumanize oneself and face to moneyshed.