Forced festiveness

Orange juice is the most repulsive liquid known to human kind, and freshly squeezed is the worst. I prefer Sunny D.

Black Friday is my favorite day of the year.

I like to microwave my ice cream.

Lobster is…meh.

Pumpkin spice lattes taste like hot dog water.

I like the Baby Shark song.

These were all responses to a question posed in a Facebook parenting group that I follow. What non-political opinion do you have that is likely to be VERY unpopular? Go. Feeling emboldened by the hilarity and honesty I took a deep breath, ready to add my contribution to this confession thread.

I don’t like Christmas

No, I couldn’t say that—I am not a monster.

I don’t like Christmastime

Nope, still too harsh.

Christmas is not my favorite holiday 

Okay, that felt a little softer, more digestible, but I still could not manage to make my fingers type the words. Perhaps the threat of coal in my stocking runs deeper than I thought, so instead I just creeped on the responses and laughed in solidarity alongside everyone else’s vulnerability.

The ironic thing is that my Hindu husband is someone who starts humming “Jingle Bells” on January 1st and that merry tune carries all the way through the end of the year. He dreams of one day owning a house that has a room with tall enough ceilings to accommodate the largest tree on the lot, and he would likely leave it up year round if he could, which is saying a lot because he is a minimalist. I do love the smell of pine and the sentimentality of the ornaments is my favorite part of Christmas, so having an Evergreen Room off the foyer is something that I could get on board with.

It’s not that I have a vendetta with Christmas as a whole; it’s just the forced cheeriness of it all that gets to me. If I’m going to be jolly, I want it to be on my own terms. The other day, my seven-year-old son was upset because his favorite football team lost to which I dismissively said, “Oh come on, you can’t feel this angry because of that. It’s just a game!” To which he flatly replied, “You don’t know how I feel.”

The holiday season sometimes strikes me that way—like the entire universe it trying to tell me how to feel.

I heard an interview on the radio the other day where a mom of four said the stress of the season melts away when she sees her children’s eyes light up with joy on Christmas morning. This spiraled me even deeper into my Scroogedom because instead of joy, I see greed (albeit mostly innocent greed) fueled by candy canes and hot cocoa, while my kids furiously scan and count the packages to see who has the most. We of course talk about how spending time with family and friends is the most important aspect of the holiday, but we all know for them it’s about the gifts, and damn it if I don’t feel warm and fuzzy when I hear the delighted squeals of their Christmas wish lists being fulfilled. I adore finding that perfect gift for someone; I just don’t like the obligation of having to find it before December 24th. I just want us all to hold each other a little bit closer this season and not because I managed to score the last Cry Baby doll in the greater Seattle area that my daughter desperately wanted, despite the fact that we have a real life cry baby at home, who indecently is still not sleeping through the night. And although receiving gifts is not my love language, my heart does soften when I see my kids rush to the tree first thing in the morning to plug in the lights and enjoy them for a few minutes before heading to school. I do want them to feel the magic of the season, but the expectation of magic and pressure to create these meaningful traditions can be crushing.

I am grateful for this time of year however, because it gives me a little bit of extra leverage for good behavior. “Remember, Santa is always watching” dissipates 99.9% of conflict in our house during the month of December. A dear friend of mine also relies on this tactic and recently said it to her kiddos while a squabble began to escalate during bath time. Their sweet eyes widened and they asked incredulously, “Even in the bathroom?” She quickly course corrected and assured them that the bathroom was a private place, so I followed suit and now all of our fights happen on our linoleum floor between the sink and the toilet as it’s considered a “Santa Free Zone.”

I actually love that my kids still believe in Santa Claus but also want them to believe in the more elusive concept that even in the hustle and bustle of December that people will still hold doors open for others and will give you a wave when you pull over to let them pass on a narrow road. I want them to know that even though it is the busiest time of the year at the post office, if you drop your car keys while holding an armful of packages, the person behind you (who has nothing in his hands) will stop to help you retrieve them—or at the very least won’t literally STEP OVER YOU when you bend down to pick them up—IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?! I apologize…I shouldn’t yell, it’s Christmas after all. But hey, even the reindeers bullied Rudolph before Santa gave him the time of day, so I struggle to keep that hope alive.

It might also be the slight rebellious side of me, the part that doesn’t want to conform, which keeps the joy of the season at arms length. It’s the same sentiment that caused me to resist reading the Harry Potter series for so long, or always insist that I never wanted to go to Paris. I finally caved of course and bought a one-way ticket on the Hogwarts Express, binge-reading all seven books over the course of two months. I also recently started dreaming of sitting in a little Parisian cafe sipping a glass of Champagne and eating nothing but croissants and fromage. I hear it is lovely there at Christmastime.

Marissa B. Niranjan finds herself torn between waiting to indulge in the offerings of the season and wanting to squeeze into a holiday dress. She is actively trying to fight the Bah-hum-bug, one jingle bell (and two croissants) at a time.

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