Christmas sucks. OK, I don't totally think it sucks but it does kind of depress me. Early in the fall---and sometimes even in the summer---I may pick up a gift or two to tuck away for someone. In theory, I look forward to buying gifts, getting together with people and all those other things that supposedly go with this most wonderful time of the year.
But then it starts to creep up. The weather is getting colder and the days are growing shorter. I sort of feel blah, but not really blah. I chastise myself because I think I don't have the right to be blah or depressed about Christmas. I have it pretty good. There are people who have it way worse. People who have real problems. That's not me: I have somewhere to go at Christmas. I don't buy gifts that I can't afford and go into debt. I have a home, food, a job, people.
My lack of gratitude depresses me too. What's wrong with me? Why can't I be grateful? I get BS emails from various spiritual "teachers" telling me to count my blessings and various other daily tips on how not to be an asshole. Then I feel like an asshole because I don't count my blessings and appreciate them. It's not Christmas that sucks, it's me.
This all is somewhat flippant, but much of it is an internal battle that goes on in me. I do know that I have lots compared to many. And that makes me sad. I know there are so many people for whom every day is a struggle. Just getting out of bed. Just getting dressed. Just existing. Then add Christmas to that. That oh-so-wonderful time when expectations are not just multiplied, but squared and cubed (and whatever comes after that).
If you're subsisting on what is provided to "live" on by the government, you might be looking at $600 a month for a single adult (this is a guesstimate, I don't know the exact number). How the hell do you survive on that in a regular month? How are you supposed to survive on that when you throw in Christmas? When you might have to cough up a gift? Or cards? It's just too much. And that's IF you have people to exchange gifts with, but maybe you and the family aren't too close. Maybe the family doesn't understand why the hell you don't just get off your arse and do something.
All of this to say, compared to some, I don't have any reason to be depressed. No doctor has whipped out a prescription pad to write me up a prescription for mother's little helpers or anyone else's little helpers. I'm not medically certified as depressed, but yet I can't really get into this time of year. I want to. I go through the motions. It all feels kind of empty.
I check my Facebook, which is full of people complaining, while boasting, about all that they have achieved and yet to do in preparation. They post pictures of 10-foot trees and jolly family outings to hack the tree from its trunk and home. Meanwhile I can't be bothered to drag the fake tree up from the basement. My overachieving friends post pictures of themselves at various functions scrubbed and glowing with their significant others and I'm pretty sure none of them have gone entire weekends without combing their hair. (Note to self: Must not compare my life to others'.) OK, so maybe Facebook is a bad idea, so I eavesdrop on Twitter, which is filled with people who wear their world-weariness as badges of honour, whilst slinging sarcasm and sly in-crowd jokes.
In the end, Christmas will come and I'll survive it. I'll try not to be a great big jerk. I might even accidentally enjoy myself. But I'll be really, really glad it's over for another year.
Lynn Matheson is employed full-time, a part-time student and wannabe filmmaker.