How To Survive Christmas When People Suck

I love Christmas, but I hate people.

I don’t like crowds, I despise driving and I seriously cannot stand the consumerism that permeates a holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ. So how to get through a month of the entire universe focused on BEING HAPPY AND GIVING GIFTS AND WEARING MATCHING SWEATERS AND BUYING OUT BIG BUSINESS TO GET THE NEXT, NEWEST THING BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THE TELEVISION SAYS TO DO??

christmas-shopping-chaos-560x360
Ugh.

First of all, I don’t want to come off as a Scrooge. I genuinely love the idea of Christmas time being about family and giving. Baking cookies for my co-workers, creating handmade gifts for friends that illustrate our personal relationship, wrapping presents with my daughter while enjoying “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby on the television — these are the times I cherish during the holiday season. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the reality of Christmas. Often, I find myself spending too much money, listening to too many holiday songs, smiling too hard and eventually breaking down and wishing dear old Saint Nick would hurry up and get his festive ass down here so that the collective universe might get on with normal life and I can start paying back Check’n’Go.

This year, I am trying very hard to break the negative cycle that I usually find myself in.

I refuse to lose focus on the meaning of Christmas, as cliche as that sounds, because I refuse to let these consumer assholes (not you, of course, dear reader) make me feel inadequate for not buying my husband a BMW with a huge bow on it, or my daughter an iPad to play Angry Birds on. No individual should feel pressured by the unseen entities of advertising agencies to spend copious amounts of cash (credit or charge) because we think everyone else is doing it. Let’s not allow big business rule the way we celebrate this festive time of year. Also, be honest with yourself and your loved ones. Every action gleans a reaction, and the way you treat people is bound to come back to you. That’s how this crazy universe works. Keeping that in mind…

Not gonna happen, honey.
Not gonna happen, honey.

It is the horrible individual that makes the holiday season unbearable.

That woman in front of me at Target with a screaming child, whom she steadily ignores in favor of looking at every single ornament in the decorations section, just so the beads match the balls that match the bells and the angel. The crazy grandma driving through the mall parking lot who steals the spot  I’ve obviously been waiting for, and then jumps out of the car and pretends she didn’t even notice me. The grumbling husband who bitches the entire afternoon about buying presents for his own family, who reminds his wife he would rather be doing anything but spending his hard earned cash on people he could give a fuck about. The little boy who wants and subsequently receives all the newest tech, toys and games, but doesn’t appreciate any of it. Or me, who compulsively purchases items for every nephew and niece I have, only to be bitterly disappointed when their parents forget to give something to my daughter at the family get-together. These are individuals pushed to live in a Christmas snow globe that doesn’t really exist. So, how can one manage the holidays surrounded by others who miss the point?

Manage unreasonable expectations.

I don’t know about you, but I want a Norman Rockwell Christmas. Just once. I want the matching sweaters, roaring fireplace, snow on the ground outside, 4-course meal, perfect goddamn Christmas. Unfortunately, I am not a Rockwell. When I want an iPad, end up with a pair of slippers and then have the audacity to feel bad about it this holiday, I plan to remind myself that neither my husband, my best friend or my mom has the cash to dish out for that pricey item on my Christmas list. Also, in reality, I and my family wouldn’t be caught dead in matching anything, I hate to cook and I also hate snow. So why do I want it? Because it looks really awesome in the movies. Manage those unreasonable expectations and live through the holidays by remembering that your family reflects your values. If you expect more from them and yourself than anyone can possibly provide outside of a movie theatre, it is time to lower the bar and focus on the moments that make you happy.

Norman-Rockwell
No way I’m cooking all that for just one meal.

Participate with moderation in the Christmas traditions you enjoy, shirk the ones you don’t.

I love Christmas music. I mean, REALLY, REALLY love it. I have over 10 hours of Christmas music in my iTunes library that I usually listen to starting November 1st up until January. When I’m in the car, I turn it to KOST 103.5, which also plays Christmas music in the same timeframe. I listen to it while I get dressed, while I drive, as I shop, when I wrap presents and bake. This. is. overkill. In 2013, I am learning that moderation is key. What compulsion makes me feel as if I am not celebrating Christmas unless I’m listening to Christmas music? Even if that isn’t the case, must I listen to songs about Christmas trees and presents and love and perfect snow days ALL the time? No, I mustn’t. I can listen to Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” as I type this Christmas post and still celebrate the holiday. I can turn off the “Winter Wonderland” and still be in the spirit of the season, or whatever. This new endeavor is sure to please my husband, who has resigned himself after 13 years of holidays with me, to the force feeding of holiday cheer. No wonder he is such a grump around the holidays! I spend so much time trying to make everyone happy with the music and the baking and the decorating, that I forget that moderation is the key to enjoying just about anything, especially Christmas. So, if you love visiting the fancy Christmas lights downtown, go and enjoy, but don’t just do it because you think you have to. Traditions are there to enjoy, not to overwhelm us with glorious purpose.

Choose your shopping days and locations wisely.

As I mentioned, people suck. There is always one asshole who seems to leave his house with the sole purpose of ruining my day, and I refuse to run into this joker any time soon. It is always the masses that reveal the true nature of society, and Americans in malls at Christmastime are pretty much the basest of beings. If you want to retain your holiday spirit long enough to get to December 25, choose your shopping days wisely and stay away from the WalMart during prime time shopping hours. Don’t go to the mall a dozen times, plan to go once, if you must. Even better, head to your nearest craft store and make your gifts this year. Last year, the Collectress hand crafted a mug with a picture of the TARDIS on it that she drew herself. It is adorable and I use it everyday, even though the TARDIS has long rubbed off from over washing and overuse. If you’re not artistic, you can buy online at Etsy and get your friends something special and personalized to reflect your friendship. Exchanging gifts around the holidays really isn’t about the price tag or the name brand on an item, but about highlighting the special relationship you have with the person on the other end of the gifting experience. If your friends or family members have a problem with that, well, see the paragraph above.

Hello, Sweetie.
Hello, Sweetie.

Do something for someone else.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but we often get caught up in the “getting” part of Christmas and forget to give. I don’t mean shiny bows and fancy wrapped presents. I mean, time, effort, attention. This goes with the making of the presents instead of buying, but even that isn’t what I mean. Do some service. Go to the local food bank and help pack boxes or visit your child’s classroom and help out with the holiday party. Instead of spending $50 on a sweater for grandma, why not take her out for a Sunday afternoon drive and coffee instead? Share your time and focus with the individuals you care about instead of the things and the stuff and we might just be able to shift Christmas back to the original intentions. At least for ourselves and those around us. Screw the rest of ’em.

Merry Christmas!

The Collectiva Diva

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