I hate everything about it. It wasn’t always this way. In fact I can vividly recall the intense excitement that began with the beaming colored bulbs highlighting the living room, and providing the pathway to the dangling Christmas cards, and shimmering garlands — paying homage to the tree of life that dutifully sprawls with splendor.
When you grow up in a Nigerian household; with the extra booster of being an Igbo girl with God-fearing relatives, “the holidays” don’t represent the handful of times a year when you can blissfully request gadgets that will increase your chances of being Insta-worthy just in time for the New Year.
Christmastime was “Jesus time,” with all the biblical fare that instructs believers to sing classic hymns with the joyous gratitude for how such a blessed birth is enough incentive to be celebratory.
I was never able to summon any organic tendencies towards the skillful impregnation of the Virgin Mary under the direction of Almighty God, but I was able to garner the necessary reverence applicable to the “time of year” when goodwill towards men actually meant something.
There’s also the culture of communion that revolves around the specialness of engagement that isn’t regulated to mini-screens that upload what isn’t there.
Back in the day, spending time with family and friends in a festive setting demanded the effortless bonding episodes that were propelled by the additional elements of food, music, and the security of being a child who feels the gloriousness of belonging to a durably cushioned tribe.
I loved Christmastime when the mood was bloated with jubilation, and the rooms overflowed with warm bodies and endless laughter — without the traffic of shredded wrapping paper with torn off receipts serving as confetti.
I hate the holiday season because it’s not much of a “holiday”and the season isn’t really a “season.”
It’s all about business deals that entrap pathetic consumers, who are gladly weakened by the desire to surpass expectations that weren’t arranged for their benefit.
The sliminess of this bedazzled climate gets more and more unbearable with each passing year, and the worst is being corporately squashed in a cubicle, surrounded by the noisiness of ambitious plans that over-zealous co-workers can’t wait to weigh against your modest entry.
Thankfully, I’m no longer subjected to the endlessly nagging inquiries about how I intend to compete with the roster of contenders who disqualified themselves with the generic approach to fishing for comparisons.
But I’m not so lucky when it comes to the arctic blast of Black Weekends, Cyber Week Days, cringe-worthy TV commercials and pop-up ads, slippery slopes of strategically strewn seasonal confections, and the dreaded classic tunes that never cease to inspire the need to run into incoming traffic.
This year, like the years before, presents the lackluster anticipation for what is anything but enjoyable, as the obligatory schedule once again pushes me to foster “The Bearable Lightness of Selfishness,” as the rebellious solution to the thankless task of sharing space with people that challenge how well you paid attention during acting class.
When it came to office parties, the option to refuse was readily available and that encouraged the need to attend, just for the fuck of it. Unfortunately that flexibility isn’t accessible when awkwardly blended families that are supplied by adventurous siblings, become the imposing hurdle that you can’t reasonably escape without looking like a scumbag.
The only way out is the brilliance of distance, and how that grants the brief reprieve of being able to spend Thanksgiving alone, in your pint-sized apartment — sleeping all day and relishing the prized insulation from the maddening crowd below.
The relentless grind of earning a paycheck that’s never quite able to absorb the shock treatment of countless charges for the goodies that won’t impress in a sea of systemic dysfunction definitely adds to the mental halo of disarray. This condition wraps around and never lets go — even when you casually notice the uneventful switch back to Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girls” while earnestly searching the aisles for sweat-free hair bonnets.
And of course the frenzied days leading to the grand finale, aligns you with the terrifying realization of the contribution you’re making in this surgically-enhanced landscape of mandated chaos, that torturously enables you to spend precious time assessing whether a pack of T-shirts or Crew Socks will match the needs of the faceless recipient — that Santa secretly and maliciously gifted you.
Secret Santa is bullshit by the way.
It’s the expressway to the destination of finessed disorganization that doesn’t succeed in its quest to solve the issues that arise when a large group of strangers who are bound by law — discover how disinterested they are progressing beyond the preliminary phase.
And so, when the Olympics of gift-giving suddenly arrives, the scramble to maintain decorum in the rubble of aggressive messaging and the testimonies that will attest to your conveniently exaggerated recital — forces the adherence to play the role that will be put on standby — for yet another year.
But what I absolutely loathe the most about the holidays is entangled in the dispiritedness of how even flu shots are packaged deals, that are meant to deceive you into purchasing your way out of physical misery.
And what happens when the emotional turmoil that carries you around, suddenly picks up speed, and furiously renders you unfit for the climate that isn’t tolerant of unyielding bleakness?
There are some of us who are too bereaved to even give a damn, and others are simply too weathered to put up a fight. A good chunk of the population have surrendered to the consequences that arise when living above your means for the sake of appearances when the stakes couldn’t be higher — is the certified mandate.
As for me, I prefer to take a huge warm dump on the frigid season that turns humans into robotic vultures who will “cut a bitch” for the thrill of securing the last standing — gold-plated — electric plunger.
The pressure to have it all, buy it all, and do it all without breaking a sweat; and with the falsehood of unlimited resources that you would ordinarily be blessed with if ultra-wealthy White families with slave-tinged trust funds hadn’t robbed you blind — is the fantastical ribbon that wraps into a suffocatingly tight bow .
It only loosens when you have to anxiously wait for that tax refund to barely recover.
Nothing ever prepares me for the buzzkill of the staged scenery, and the “shiny, happy people, holding hands” in a tight grip that compensates for the burning tears that will never betray the worth of #livingyourbestlife when refreshing honesty in untidy hashtags isn’t enough.
There’s so much to be thankful for and there’s a shitload more to be aghast about, and while the selective method is too depressing to perform, my sanity is dependent on the cleansing of owning my truth without social censorship.
I’m going to play the role until curtain call because when you love your family, you can afford that temporary hold.
But I reserve the right to bitch about it; for the sake of mental and health.