Why The Holidays Don’t Have To Be Cheery

It’s that time of year when long-standing grinches, myself included, are forced to endure the savagery of the weeklong nonstop Christmas music in every genre imaginable.

2020 has been horrid, and attacks on the freeness of human interactions, includes limitations on movement and the mall hopping that can’t be tolerated because of the deadliness of COVID-19, and the disturbing data to prove how our worst days are ahead.

But if we can’t be tortured outside of our homes, we can be sure that TV ads and generic holiday-themed entertainment will be more than sufficient enough to inspire our gag reflexes.

Even when shit was normal, without the acute threats of an exiting president who’s plotting a coup, and a global pandemic that’s determined to wipe us out with the help of spoiled brats, who willfully ignore CDC guidelines, the holiday season was typically a lengthy, unbearable affair.

Childhood was a different story when you’re reared in a household that praises the Lord, because youth demands your participation in the celebratory event of the birth of Jesus Christ. In order to be a good Christian, you have to recognize the significance of his birthday.

We didn’t grow up with the extravagant gestures of gifts. Maybe because of the culture differences as Nigerians in Nigeria or perhaps our parents decided to focus more on family communions with plenty to eat and drink.

Either way, as youngster, I pretty much followed the rules until my independence was claimed and the holidays became the excuse to drink in excess, and head to where food platters are spectacularly arranged.

But for the past few years, my affinity for this time of year has taken a substantial hit, to the point that my level of anxiety and depression overwhelms once Halloween is over and Christmas decor prevails — everywhere you turn.

It didn’t help that working the 9 to 5 grind in corporate America guilts you into sacrificing precious time with loved ones, in order to demonstrate your worthiness for end-of-year bonuses and long-overdue raises.

By the time, I was granted the week of peace and rest until the new year, my frazzled, over-worked and underpaid disposition couldn’t possible give two fucks about Christmas trees and Secret Santa.

Once freelancing became my thing, all the stresses of the winding year would come to a head with pressures of meeting societal standards of what a merry, cherry Christmas should feel like.

If you’re unable to have the good fortune of a boyfriend/ husband-to-be, or at least a charming companion who allows you to cozily fit in with the crowd, as well as inspiring testimonies that visibly boost your relevance — then you have to contend with being the odd one out.

Spending the holidays alone is the fantasy that only came true a couple times for Thanksgiving breaks, back when I actually controlled my life.

Christmas is the non-negotiable that I have to show up for with the comfort of knowing that I can drink my sorrows away in the midst of celebrants, and hop on the Bolt Bus the next day with gratitude that I made it through.

Not to be a crybaby, but 2020 has rendered me a prisoner with family, and once again the season that shames you for not being thankful for the blessings of your relatives is upon us.

I’m not a scumbag who can’t recognize the miracle of how some of us have managed to survive the unfathomable, while other families are grieving losses that can’t be replaced. Life is the privilege that can’t be taken for granted, and now more than ever, we must endeavor to make our days on earth count.

However, I’m not going to pretend to be the spirit of good cheer if that’s not really how I would describe my mood.

My goal is to wish everyone else well, and hope they don’t match my sullenness. Unlike most kids, my brother and I didn’t experience the picture-taking interactions with Santa Claus (who is creepy, by the way), and that could be the reason for my lack of nostalgia during the most enchanted time of the year.

Getting older and embracing maturity means coming to terms with the outright lies you were fed as a child, and reworking those narratives to fit your truth.

Christianity is the white man’s religion, and it’s been historically used as the weapon of choice for colonizers, who wielded white evangelism for the purpose of conquering Black nations and entrancing natives away from their ancestral codes.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for sinners, so they can be forgiven, once they confess and accept the one-way ticket to heaven. It all sounds heavenly until the part where white invaders permanently destabilized Black power, by stealing all their shit, and later granting “independence,” despite the awareness that former colonies will be forever regulated by white power.

So, that pretty much ruins the concept around “the most wonderful time of the year,”unless I choose to focus primarily on the superficiality of it, which works well when you’re young and breezy enough to avoid being a cynical b**ch, 24/7.

Unfortunately, the piling years add up to knowing too much, and taking the serious stuff — seriously.

2020 has been the year of reckoning in more ways than one. I’m no longer willing to foster relationships that are holding on by a thread, because as we keep being reminded with each passing day, life is too damn short to act like you give a damn, when in reality — you’re ready to move the fuck on.

Downsizing means erasing lot of contacts that were taking up space, and that translates to not having as many people to call or hang out with. And while our current nightmare requires the magic of technology to stay in touch, nothing compares to the real thing.

As someone who was already working on minimizing the size of my friendship circle, the social distancing and quarantining hasn’t quite taken its toll. And now that the holidays are here again, I can’t say there are any regrets about missing out on the annual gatherings at the same venues, where I once again rely on the trusted liquor to carry the load.

This time of year is bitterly brutal for how it exacerbates pre-existing conditions of low self-esteem in the realm of non-existing achievements in the areas of life that count. You’re surrounded by those who managed to at least realize one or two of those goals, and even through the haze of tipsiness, there’s no hiding the fact that you will be talked about after your departure.

Aside from the buzzkill of being where you don’t want to be, and feeling like a shitty shit for your honesty, there’s also the hysteria around the commercialization of the holy season that has very little to do with the blessed day Christ was born.

I truly hate the gluttonous approach of retailers and heady consumers who will literally maim a fellow shopper on Black Friday, all in the name of a freakin’ plasma TV and whatever else is worth facing life in prison.

TV commercials highlighting “the most wonderful time of the year” and the mind-blowing savings waiting to be claimed. From shiny SUVs to designer fragrances sold by A-list white actresses — it’s painful to behold, and only reinforces why I breathe a healthy sigh of relief when New Years Eve is within grasp.

This year in particular is mighty hard for a lot of families both at home and abroad, and giving back in any way we can to help ease the discomfort of those in need can push those of us, who are typically flailing during this period of “goodwill towards men and women” — to authentically feel the love.

Maybe someday, I will develop a genuine affection for the holiday season without feeling the coercion of participation at the expense of my sanity.

Until then, I won’t rain on your parade, as long as you permit me to quietly and respectfully excuse myself from the suffocating exuberance and excess.

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