The Damn Holidays
If the holidays are hell, why the hell have them?
A mother got into the Uber talking on her phone. She made several phone calls in our fifteen-minute ride. Yes, if your calls sound interesting, your driver is listening. Or the dash cam catches everything even if your driver is deaf.
“I’m offering you $1,100 cash for your PS5.” Apparently, her son’s Christmas morning would not be satisfactory if he didn’t unwrap a PlayStation 5. The mom was offering over twice the retail value of the gaming console because everywhere had run out of stock . “I already talked to my landlord and she’s okay with me being late with rent. I haven’t been late in two years and none of my crackhead neighbors have been paying at all for a while.” So, she can’t afford her inflated offer for the PS5, but she’s covering her bases.
“I just heard that my nieces are getting me presents with their own money and now I have to get them something.” From this call she learned that the eldest niece was fifteen and not as into perfume as she had previously believed. Shoes were apparently now her thing, but what kind of shoes does a teen desire these days?
“I haven’t had a day off in weeks, but I’m taking one next week to spend time with Mom before she goes to jail the week after.” Well, this stressor had no origin in the Christmas season, but this was seriously poor timing.
We can pick apart this woman’s life from these bits of information, and we can judge, and we can give her all the advice that comes to mind. But we don’t know her, so we’re going to leave her alone. She wants her son to be happy. She doesn’t want her nieces to think she forgot about them. Let’s leave it at that.
But capitalist Christmas is bullshit. This poor mother isn’t looking forward to a family time of feast and joy. She was a wreck, all because of the immense pressure to spend. There is no happiness without indulging in consumerism: That’s the real message of the season in America. And nearly everyone buys into it; no one dares resist it. And really, how could they?
If a family decides to make things for one another, maybe art, songs, or poetry, they will suffer the pressure of the judgy Aunt who showered her kids with all the popular, expensive gifts. The children will hear endless tales of their cousins’ and friends’ Christmas hauls and will feel left out. The parents may feel like they let their children down, and despite removing stress from December, there will be a January fallout of sadness.
Christmas has been ruined, and it’s nothing new. It’s been this way for many decades and there’s no sign of a cultural sea change in the making. Except for a few celebrities making their thoughts plain.
If anyone has any ideas on how to make the Christmas season a joy again, please let me know.