It’s the last day of 2015, which is surreal to me. Where the hell has this year gone? Looking back, it seems as if so much has happened, and yet, so little. On a social media level, I’ve pulled back from talking about politics as much and have mostly stuck to posting cute cat GIFs and videos, joking with friends, and occasionally bringing up a topic of interest that might or might not be political. I’ve come to the conclusion that social media is not the best medium for political discourse because of the inherent restrictions, and I haven’t regretted not being as politically involved as I used to be. Concerning my writing, I am pleased that I’ve gotten back into the habit of writing on a daily basis. I used to do that effortlessly, and then I stopped writing entirely for roughly a year. There were several reasons for it, and while it made sense at the time, it made me sad because writing is as necessary as breathing to me. I’ve said before that I write, therefore I am, and that’s never been more evident than in the time when I wasn’t writing.
I’m proud that I was able to stick to my goal of writing a post every day in the month of December (assuming that I’ll finish this one, which I will), even if most of the posts were filled with rambling thoughts that didn’t make a cohesive whole. One of my issues is that I’m a perfectionist, which means I’ll quit if I don’t think something is good enough. The problem with that is I rarely think anything I do is ‘good enough’, so I usually can talk myself out of publishing a post that isn’t word-perfect. I have several posts sitting in my drafts folder, languishing, because I refuse to touch them again. By publicly declaring that I would publish a post a day, I forced myself to write posts that I otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s silly that I have to put such artificial constraints on myself in order to make myself publish, but it worked, so I can’t be that mad about it.
I’ve realized that I still have trouble writing and publishing posts that I consider inflammatory, but I managed to do it, even if I had to lock one of the posts in order to do so. I accept that I have to create reasons for myself to do things I want to do, but won’t for one reason or the other. I’m not happy about it, but I will continue doing it if it means I actually get shit done. I mentioned in a previous post that I want to write and edit one or two trilogies in the next year as long as an anthology of short stories, so my short-term goal concerning those will be to finish the first book of each trilogy in January, at least the rough draft. One is already done, and I have about fifty more pages of the other before it’s done as well. Depending on how that goes, I’d also like to finish the first drafts of all the stories I want to write for my anthology, but I think I may need more than a month to do that. I don’t want to set myself up for failure, but I also don’t want to stop pushing myself when it comes to writing.
I wrote yesterday about some of my mental health issues that I want to work on in the new year, but the post devolved into me navel-gazing yet again. To continue with that musing, I’ve been thinking about boundaries. In yesterday’s, post, I talked about how difficult it is for me to set boundaries, and today I want to talk about how that extends to my brain as well. I know that sounds confusing, but just stay with me, and I’ll explain to you what I mean.
In my family, my father was big on saving face and not losing face. How he was seen by other people was of utmost importance, and he had this elaborate and byzantine set of rules as to what was acceptable behavior and what wasn’t. The one example that I use over and over again because it was so bizarre to me at the time is when I told a friend of his that he was playing tennis. I didn’t say with someone else, but that part is pretty implicit in the statement. My father blew his lid when he got home and I gave him the message. He was mad because me telling the one woman that he was playing tennis with someone else was somehow insulting to the woman who had called. My father didn’t bother explaining, but later I figured out that he thought it made him look like a jerk for not inviting the woman to play tennis with him. I didn’t understand it at the time, and decades later, I still don’t think I did anything wrong. However, the overreaction of my father made me chary of giving out any information to anyone lest I provoke the same reaction again.
To this day, I tend to hoard information rather than share it, even if it’s appropriate. My father had effectively drummed into me that you don’t tell–well, anyone anything. My mother reinforced this notion, but for an entirely different reason. If I tell her something, she’ll tell everyone or she’ll take over the idea as if it were her own. She has a way of making me feel incompetent, even when she’s purporting to be supportive. By her taking something over, it says to me that I’m not capable of doing whatever the thing is or that I need to be propped up. I know that’s not her intent, but it’s the practical result. I also know that it’s partly her need to be in control, which I’ve inherited in spades, although it manifests in a different way. In fact, my hoarding of information is one of the ways I try to be in control. If I’m the only one with knowledge, then other people can’t act in ways I can’t control.
Another thing that complicates the problem is that because I’m aware of most of my issues, I am constantly second-guessing my reaction to situations. I know I’m needy and clingy, even if it doesn’t always manifest outwardly, so if I feel slighted in a situation, I automatically think it’s all my fault. Sometimes, it is my neurosis talking, but other times, it’s a valid response. However, I’ve been told all my life that I’m overreacting or that what I feel isn’t really what I feel, so now, I’m hopelessly mixed up as to the proper response to a given situation. It’s similar to how I used to not express my opinion at all, then I went in the opposite direction and expressed my opinion all the time. Now, I’m realizing that it isn’t always important to have the last word, but simultaneously, it is important to not stuff down my feelings and opinions all the time, either. I already feel as if my opinion doesn’t matter, so keeping them to myself reinforces that feeling. It doesn’t help that as an Asian American and being bisexual, my opinion actually doesn’t matter to many people who are caught up in the binaries of black and white, straight and gay.
I tackled the concrete things in my life I want to do in the next year in my last post, and now I want to focus on the mental health issues that I want to work on in the upcoming year. This is more difficult because I can’t simply say, “I will set better boundaries three times a day–” Hey, wait. I actually probably could do that. It’s just a matter of discerning what boundaries I want to set and then do it. Yeah, that’ll be easy. A better example is, “Just stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself all the time.” OK, yeah, I’ll get right on that. I’ll just eradicate the thoughts that have been in my brain for nearly forty years like that. I”m snapping my fingers in case you’re wondering. That’s where the ‘write down concrete steps’ comes in, but so much of the advice for combating negative thoughts is horseshit. “Just replace the negative thoughts with positive ones.” The problem with that is I feel as if I’m lying when I say positive affirmations about myself. I can’t tell myself I’m beautiful because that is just patently false*. I can’t tell myself that I’m worthy of love because I don’t know what that even means. The few positive things I can say about myself–I have nice hair and eyes, that I’m smart and creative–I can’t even take any credit for them. I was born with them, and while you could argue that it’s up to me to use my creativity and my intelligence to my best ability, I was still born with them.
The other problem is that some of my best attributes are also my worst problems. I’m empathetic and have a knack for getting people to open up to me, which is ostensibly a good thing. I can hear you saying, “What’s the downside to that?” The downside is that sometimes, it’s more about appearances than actually caring about the other person. I’ve explained before that I need to be seen as a caring individual, which is partly why I exert myself in such a fashion, but there’s also a part of my brain that says, “This might be the only positive interaction this person has all day. Don’t fuck it up!” Again, it’s part of my training from childhood that I feel responsible for everyone else’s feelings. Logically, it’s self-aggrandizing to think that if I don’t respond to someone’s tweet or I don’t follow up on a person telling me s/he’s had a bad day, I’m sending that person into an irrevocable death spiral. Emotionally, it’s how I feel. I’ve been trying to work on it, but it’s not easy. Especially since showing concern and asking questions is like breathing air to me.
The thing is, I feel like a hypocrite when I do this and I’m not feeling it. It’s gotten me in trouble when people think we’re closer that we actually are. For all my caring and empathy, I have a coldness at the core of me. I have very few close friends in real life, and I like it that way. I prefer spending most of my time alone with my two cats. They’re enough companionship and sometimes, they can be too much when they’re being especially bratty. Despite my array of issues, I’m comfortable in my head,** and I can entertain myself endlessly. I don’t want to go out every night, and even when I have something planned that I know I will enjoy, I have to talk myself into actually leaving the house.
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I have enough opportunities to flagellate myself year-round without the added pressure of being aware I haven’t lost twenty pounds in two weeks, am more likely to be killed by a terrorist shooting lightning bolts out of his fingers than I am to get married,* and my chances for winning an Edgar Award are slim to none. In addition, in our gotta-have-it-now society, it’s easy to think if you don’t succeed in the first month, you might as well give up for the whole year. A few years back, I decided it was better to set goals than to make resolutions, and ‘they’ say it’s actually better to set concrete goals with discrete steps than to just say, “I want to lose a hundred pounds”, but it still didn’t spur me to actually meet the goals on my list. The last week or so, I’ve been thinking a lot about missed opportunities this year, and I’ve decided to revisit the idea of setting goals for next year. Some of them are concrete, such as losing weight (or inches in my case) and publishing a novel, but others are more nebulous like setting better boundaries and not being so hard on myself.
I’ve been reading some of my unfinished (and finished but not completely edited) novels, and they’re pretty good. They’re unique just by the dint of the protagonists being Taiwanese American bisexual women** like me. Toni Morrison said:
If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.
This is why I started writing prose in the first place, and I resent anyone who tells me that my writing is too niche or that I shouldn’t always write about Taiwanese American bisexual women.
But I digress. My point is that my novels have some value just because my protagonists are not ones you see every day or at all, really. Beyond that, my writing is solid. I write mostly mysteries, and I have a good sense of pacing and characterization. My dialogue is pretty spot on, and I’m really good at planting false, but believable clues. I’m weak on description–I hate scenery with a passion, and I sometimes bog down my writing with too much minutia. Still. I find I can breeze through one of my mysteries and still be engrossed in it. I’ve also notice that I’ve been writing different versions of essentially the same story for several novels. I’m currently working on two different trilogies–I like trilogies for some reason–and I’m trying to decide which one is better. Also, more palatable for a wider audience.
When I write a trilogy, I usually have some idea of the second and maybe the third as I near the end of the first, which is good because I can then go back through the first novel and plant seeds for the second and third. When I write a novel, I have the general outline in my head before I even start writing. Mostly. Usually. I don’t outline on paper because I find it to be a waste of my time. If I’m going to write something down, it’s going to be the actual novel. I usually know who the killer is from the very start, though I have changed the villain in a novel once or twice while writing it. Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of having a different protagonist for each novel in the trilogy, and in an earlier trilogy, I was going to kill off the protagonist of the second novel.
This morning, my problem child*, Raven, horked on the carpet in the foyer and shit on the bathroom floor. He obviously got into the eggnog and partied too much last night. He’s like the teenager I never wished I had, and it’s a good thing he’s so cute because he’s a pain in the ass sometimes. I was grumbling under my breath as I cleaned both up, and of course, he’s acting as if nothing’s wrong. Merry Christmas! What a great way to start off what’s already a trying day. Before I go any further, I want to stress that I am not dissing people who really get into Christmas. I understand that it’s a thing for many people for one reason or the other, and that I’m the weird one for not caring about it. I’m used to being the weird one, but it’s alienating when it seems like the whole world around you is celebrating something you either actively hate or just don’t give a shit about.
Side note: I don’t care about holidays in general, my birthday included. I don’t see the point of putting so much effort into one day. I feel the same way about weddings,** anniversaries, and any Hallmark holidays. Don’t ask what I think about Valentine’s Day unless you want me to get completely apoplectic.
I try to keep most of my distaste to myself because I know my opinion is not popular, and I don’t want to rain on other people’s parades. I just wish that people who love Christmas would at least try to understand why some of us may not find it as merry. For me, it started fairly early. I wrote an op-ed in junior high school about the commercialization of Christmas, and that was, what, thirty years ago? More than that. Good god. Am I really that old? ::checks all the white hairs on head and concludes, yes:: Anyway, it’s only gotten worse since that. I’ve already wrote that post, so I’m going to focus more on how it feels to be an outsider. I like to joke that I’ve been raised by wolves, but it’s not far from the truth. My parents are first-generation Americans, and they didn’t know much about American culture before they moved here.*** As a result, I missed out on a lot of cultural touchstones that other people my age instinctively seem to know.
In addition, things that have mass appeal have rarely been my thing. I know a lot of people**** think I’m a contrarian because I hate tradition and because I’m an asshole. I can definitely be the latter, but I don’t hate tradition, at least not reflexively. Give me a second, and I’m sure I can think of something traditional that I like….Um….well, there’s…how about…damn. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something in a few hours. Continue Reading
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, despite the lack of snow. Everywhere I go, there are Christmas lights dotting the scenery, Christmas ads on the radio/television, and everyone is talking excitedly about their plans for Christmas. I’m sure if I went to the mall, which I wouldn’t do unless I was under the threat of being killed if I didn’t, it would be full of Christmas jingling and jangling as well. There is so much good cheer in the air, I am practically choking on it, and I can’t escape it online, either. FB pages and Twitter feeds are filled with it, and while I appreciate all the food posts, it can be a bit much. Now, if you’re one of those people who bakes ten dozen cookies for Christmas and put up a tree as soon as the last cranberry is eaten from your Thanksgiving feast, you’re probably thinking, “What’s the problem, Minna? That’s what I love about this time of year! It’s certainly not the cold, damn it. Why’s it gotta be so cold? But the eggnog and the lights and the presents, hell, YEAH! Bring it on.”
This post is not for you. Be on your merry way and enjoy ho ho ho’ing on Christmas. Enjoy the holidays, but please understand that some of us are less than enthusiastic about this time of year. We are not being irritable or depressed or grumpy to cramp your holiday style–we really just don’t like the festivities or all the hoopla surrounding them. It’s hard not to be a fan of Christmas and endure this season. Cut us some slack if we aren’t as holly or as jolly as you wish we’d be. We want you to enjoy the holidays, at least I do, but it’s just not the same for us. For those of you who hate Christmas as I once did, spiraling into depression the minute you hear the first Christmas carol of the year, or who are indifferent to it at best as I am this year, this post is for you. I’ve done a post on depression at Christmas time before, and while I think it’s still a solid piece, I wanted to write one that is more in tune with how I’m feeling now.
I don’t hate Christmas this year. Quite honestly, until this week, I didn’t give a fuck that it was happening. But, somehow, this week, I’ve started to become more irritated at the pervasiveness of Christmas, and I’m counting the days until it’s actually over. In addition, the depression is starting to creep back in as well. I start thinking about how shitty my family life was when I was a kid and how I wouldn’t go back to that time of my life for anything. I’m thinking about how I don’t have a family of my own and how, even though I know it’s not true, it feels like I’m the only person in that situation. To make matters worse (for me), there’s no snow on the ground, my one salvation during this time of year. It’s also that it’s close to the end of the year which means thinking of all the things I have not accomplished this year. I won’t do resolutions because I think they’re bullshit, but I will be thinking of things I intended to do this year, but never did. There are two times I think about the futility of my life, and this is one of them*. The world looks a bit grayer than it did last week, and despite my best efforts, I’m experiencing depression around Christmas. Again. It’s a myth that the number of suicides rise during the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t get extra-lonely and/or depressed around this time.
So, in yesterday’s post, I did the big reveal of the one Christmas song I like, but I took my sweet time getting there. I barely scratched the surface of my love for O Holy Night, so I am now going to bombard you with at least a dozen more*. As I noted, I find most of the standard Christmas songs (and the newer ones) to be too something or the other for me (treacly, jolly, boring, etc.), but O Holy Night has always stirred my soul. I started posting favorite versions of it many years ago, partly as a joke, but partly as my way to combat the negativity that I felt during the holiday season (which I wrote about a few posts back).
Then, I did it in consequent years because of my OCD traits, but also sometimes because people requested it. It was fun to see what versions other people came up with and to hear about their favorite songs as well. By the way, I just thought of another Christmas song that I liked when I was younger. I listened to several versions on YouTube and discovered that it hasn’t aged well at all. It’s called My Grown Up Christmas List, written by David Foster for Natalie Cole. I first heard the Amy Grant version (she added a verse to it herself when she sang it, apparently), which is still one of the better version. I also think Michael Bublé does a decent job on it, but the song itself is just too syrupy for me now. For some reason, the song reminded me of another song I really liked in my youth (not a Christmas song), which is Dance With My Father by Luther Vandross. It also hasn’t aged that well, but it’s on Luther’s last album. How can you beat that? And the video is pretty touching, too, with personal photos from his life plus video of famous people with their families. Then, Luther Vandross reminded me of Barry White, and I had to listen to this song, which isn’t holiday-related at all except in that sex is good any time of the year.
Anyway, back to the purported reason for this post–my unholy love for O Holy Night and why I do a post about it most years. As I said above, it was my way to combat the intensely negative feelings I usually have at this time of year, but I don’t really have that this year. Yes, I hate all the forced goodwill and cheer, but it’s mostly background noise. I don’t let it personally get to me as it has in past years. The last few years I haven’t done a post mostly because I couldn’t be stuffed, but I thought I’d resurrect it this year because I really love the song. I’ve already found a stunning version of it I haven’t heard before (Jennifer Hudson in the first post) as well as several old favorites.
Let’s get started. First up is an old fave. The Dublin Gospel Choir does a spirited and warm version. They’ve done another version, but the original is my favorite because it’s more homey and less formal.
So, in yesterdays’s post, I bitched about my problems with Christmas and mentioned that there was one Christmas song that I really like. I neglected to mention that over the past few years, I’ve found a few other season-related songs that I enjoy for different reasons. Some I like because they are funny, and some I like because they are heartfelt. That’s a perfect summary of my personality, come to think of it. A friend of mine once said that I was an optimist. At the time, I was clinging to my belief that I was a tough, cynical chick who was a realist. I wasn’t any fucking soft, gooey optimist damn it. I was a fucking realist! Then he added, “You’re an optimist because you’re always disappointed when people don’t do the right thing.” I wanted to protest–believe me I did. But after I thought about it, I had to reluctantly agree with him. That’s also probably the basis of my cynicism–the unmet expectations.
Why am I telling you this seemingly pointless anecdote? Because it ties in nicely with my musical preferences. Well, besides the fact that I have terrible taste in music. I like funny, sarcastic music, but I also like sentimental songs. Some would even say saccharine. I was an 80s metal power ballad lover, damn it, and I’m not ashamed of it one whit.** That’s just a teaser to see if you can figure out what’s the one Christmas song I actually like.
One of my taiji classmates cracked at how she’s sure I’m going to go out caroling for Christmas. She said it again in another class, and it devolved into all of us going caroling and just singing whatever we want, starting and stopping whenever we want in true Taiji fashion. It tickled my funny bone hard because the idea of me going around spreading good cheer to my fellow (wo)man is ridiculous to the point of hilarity. I joked about me singing the one Christmas carol I like over and over again, and we all had a good chuckle over it.
Anyway, I’m going to start with the other season-appropriate songs that I enjoy, leading my way up to the One True Christmas Song. The first song is Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song. He has done several updates to the song, but here’s the original. He’s a shitty actor who makes shitty movies, but he can sing a ditty or two. I really wish he had stuck with that rather than go on to make Jack and Jill. Full disclosure: I’ve only seen The Wedding Singer, which I actually like. It’s not a great movie, but it’s humorous and has all my favorite pop songs from the 80s. Plus, Billy Idol! And Drew Barrymore! What’s not to love?
Other than that, though, none of his movies has ever appealed to me. I saw some of Happy Gilmore, which was OK, but not enough for me to finish watching. I still like Hanukkah Song, though, so it’s on this list. Continue Reading
I am not a big fan of Christmas, as is well known to the people nearest and dearest to me. I wrote an op-ed when I was in junior high about the crass consumerism of the holiday, and that was thirty years ago. The start to the Christmas season seems to come earlier and earlier, and in a few years, I expect it’ll be Christmas 24/7. If there’s a War on Christmas, we’re losing it, damn it. I saw my first Christmas commercial the day after Halloween, which is actually later than I’ve seen it in past years, and that started my decent into grumpiness.
Look, I was raised Christian, and we did the whole hang your stockings by the fireplace with care bullshit. We had a tree and Santa and all the secular trappings of a religious holiday* that went with it, so it’s not like I’ve been deprived in that area, thus leading me to resentment. I liked Christmas as a child, but who wouldn’t if they knew they were getting a ton of presents on one day? “Remember, kids. (Kids are eating the chocolate eggs.) Jesus died for your sins.” “Yeah, I know. It’s great!” “No, it’s bad. It’s bad!” “It’s bad! It’s very bad. It’s terrible. Whatever you want. I mean, just keep giving me these eggs.”
I love Eddie Izzard and will use any excuse to quote him. This was the perfect situation because his bit about Christmas and Easter is, well, hilarious first of all, but relevant to this discussion as well. Some rabid Christians get so upset when they’re wished a happy holiday as they’re shopping for their Christmas gifts, which is fucking weird to me. You’re doing a completely secular activity, one that Jesus probably wouldn’t have indulged in if he were still alive, and you’re pissy because someone didn’t say ‘Merry Christmas’. Someone please tell me why this is a thing because I just don’t get it.
Well, I do, actually. There are several things at play here. One is the persecution/martyr complex of some American Christians. Even though they are in the overwhelming majority in America (70.6% in 2014, which has actually dropped sharply from 78.4% in 2007, according to the Pew Research Center), they still act as if they’re not. Part of that is because no one wants to think they are part of the oppressive majority, and while it’s not fun being in the oppressed minority, it’s certainly morally preferable.
Another reason is because when your beliefs are the norm, it’s difficult to see how pervasive they are. The fact that we get time off for Christmas is a bias towards Christians. The fact that every fucking presidential speech ends with “God bless America”, also, too. Our pledge of allegiance is biased, as is our money. Christianity is everywhere, but again, it’s taken for granted. So, being forced to hear Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas seems like a big loss. It’s a loss of some sort, but given all the other ways Christianity is reinforced in our culture, it’s but a drop in the bucket. Incidentally, that’s the thing with privilege in general–you don’t often know when you have it, but you feel the loss of it keenly. You still can’t see your other privilege, though, which is why i t feels like you’re being oppressed.
Again, I can’t stress how silly it seems to me to be freaking out over vendors not saying Merry Christmas. If that’s your biggest problem in life, then you have it pretty good.
The third is that if you live in a bubble (FOX “News”, cough cough) that is persistently and aggressively telling you that you’re being oppressed, you’re going to be constantly aggrieved at every little damn thing.If all you’re hearing is how there’s a War on Christmas and everyone you talk with agrees that those damn heathens are trying to take away your Christmas trees, you’re getting your paranoid fantasies reinforced to the point where you’re picking fights over Starbucks not putting snowflakes on their goddamn coffee cups. Here’s Ellen to help out the people who are outraged that they can’t get Christmas with their overpriced Venti lattes.
Again, these people are just looking to be offended, and it’s probably best not to give them any attention, but it’s mind-boggling to me that people actually get worked up over this shit. Yes, I know I just gave several reasons why they have this mentality, but it’s still difficult for me to fathom going in a raving lather over something as asinine as Starbucks making their holiday cups plain red. In addition, everything that businesses do is with an eye towards the bottom line. So, while Starbucks talked about diversity in their statement over this ‘controversy’, I take that with a grain of salt. They must have some metrics that tell them it’s more monetarily beneficial to not have the winter scene than it is to have it. It’s the same with all those queer-friendly products now–it’s not because companies are suddenly the anti-Christ, but because they recognize that we queers are here to stay, and we have a lot of spending power.
The aggrieved Christians say ‘War on Christmas’; I say welcome to the 21st century. As I noted above, thirty percent of Americans are not Christians, so it’s nice for us to be included during the holiday season. Personally, I don’t care if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, but that’s because I’m inured to it, I think. But, I’m also fine with Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Solstice, or the more generic Happy Holidays. To me, if it’s a sincere greeting, I don’t much care about the actual words. Maybe it’s because I’m a filthy nonbeliever, but it’s all pretty much the same to me. Besides (and this is getting me back to the main point of this post), everything else during this holiday season is centered around Christmas, so why not be gracious on this small point?
The thing I dislike the most about this season, well, there are two, but they are related. The first is the plethora of Christmas commercials exhorting us to buy our friends’ and families’ love. Sure, it’s disguised as, “Doesn’t the person you love deserve the very best?”, but what it comes down to is, “If you want this person to love you, you better buy him/her this car/house/diamond ring.” I remember one car commercial that has a man giving his excited wife a new car, and then someone drives by in a nicer new car with a bow on it and a smug grin on her face, and the original recipient is upset with her new car. Needless to say, the commercial is for the second car, but think about the message it’s sending. It’s not enough to get your loved one a brand new fucking car–it has to be this more expensive car or you’re a piece of shit.
The commercials I hate the most, however, are Christmas-related jewelry commercials. Every time I see one, I want to throw something at my TV. It reinforces every heteronormative stereotype out there. Women are gold-diggers who are only interested in the rocks they can get from men. If you want to get the nookie, you better be ready to put a ring on it. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but only the expensive ones. The ones that children in South Africa died to obtain. Yeah, those. Every Kiss Begins with Kay? Kay’s a fucking ho! That’s where my mind goes when I see these infuriating commercials. Yes, they’re just commercials, but the message is constant–you have to buy my love with rocks, and the bigger, the better.
Hm. I feel I can understand the ‘War on Christmas’ folks a little better. I get incensed over things other people would find trivial as well, and it’s because of what I think is behind said triviality. So, while I may think their outrage at the ‘War on Christmas’ is stupid (and it is), they also think that they have sound reasons for it. The difference is that I’m right and they’re wrong, of course.
It’s the steady diet of the commercials, too, I only watch TV once a week–on Sundays. Gotta get my weekly intake of football, even though I’m less and less comfortable watching it.** Every other commercial is extolling the virtues of family and friends while pushing you to buy, buy, buy.*** Yes, I know that’s the purpose of commercials, but somehow, it’s more grating when what they are selling is love. There is enough pressure on us to have the perfect holiday without commercials adding the insult of implying that unless we purchase their products, we’re bad children/parents/friends/other relatives.
The general emphasis on doing kind things for your fellow human beings is irritating, too. i think we should treat each other with respect and kindness all-year round. Why cram it into a month at the end of the year? It’s a set-up for failure as well as letting you off the hook for the rest of the year. I know the flip side of the argument is that it doesn’t hurt to urge people to be nicer to each other, even if it’s season-specific, I can understand that, but I just chafe at the artificiality of it, and, it also makes the pressure to have a perfect holiday even worse. Many people have an unrealistic expectation as to how their holiday is going to go. Part of that is based on memories, either idealized ones of their childhood Christmases, making them wanting to replicate said experiences, or terrible ones that makes them want to have the perfect Christmas to erase the negative memories. People tie themselves up in knots thinking that if only they can get everything right for Christmas, life will be wonderful. It’s magical thinking at its most pathetic, and it’s one reason that so many people snap during the holiday season.****
Now. despite all my griping about Christmas and how much I hate the consumerism and false positive messages that are being propagated during the season, I am not dreading the day itself this year. In the past, i hated Christmas almost as much as I hated my birthday. I didn’t have terrible memories of Christmas from my childhood, but somewhere down the line, it started symbolizing everything I hate about our culture. I have listed several of those reasons, and I’ve had a few life experiences that only added to my dislike. A boyfriend broke up with me on a Christmas past, and I made matters worse by watching an Alan Rickman***** ‘comedy’ that in true British fashion, was as much tragedy as it was comedy. It’s called Truly, Deeply, Madly, and I loved it, but it made me sob my face off. On a more recent Christmas, I was in Taiwan on a family vacation that I very much didn’t want to take for several reasons I’m not going to get into right now. I remember standing on the edge of the Taroko Gorge and fighting the urge to jump off. I didn’t, obviously, but it was one more Christmas season memory to add to the negative pile.
Now, however, I don’t have the same struggles I’ve had with my family in the past. I also know myself well enough to have declined another trip to Taiwan this Christmas because I didn’t want a repeat of the last trip. I’m not jumping for joy that Christmas is coming, but I’m not cringing in anticipation, either. I am not celebrating it by choice as I haven’t for years, but for the first time, it doesn’t feel like a lesser position. I am not going to decorate my house or sing Christmas carols****** or give gifts to many people, and I don’t feel defensive about it. I’m not resentful of people who are celebrating, and I sincerely hope that everyone who does has a wonderful time. Me, I’m going to be doing what I do most days–sitting on my ass with my boys (my cats, Raven and Shadow) by my side, writing, surfing, maybe watching some sports, and not getting caught up in the frenzy. I know it doesn’t seem glitzy or glamorous, but it sure sounds good to me.
*Which was grafted over a pagan holiday, but why get into that?
**It reminds me too much of the gladiators with the football players brutalizing each other for our amusement. The concussion issue alone is enough to make me pause, but not quite enough to make me stop watching, unfortunately.
***The other commercials are so pro-NFL, it’s ridiculous. Pro-tip to the NFL: We’re already watching the damn game. You don’t need to give us the hard sell.
****I wrote holiday system first, which fits as well.
*****Because Alan Rickman makes everything better.
******I hate them. They are mostly treacly, gooey messes. There is one exception, and I’ve written a post about it many times over the past several years. I’ll probably do another post on it this year, so I’m not going to tell you what it is right now.