The holiday season is here once again. Easily my least favorite time of the year. I don’t mind the presents or the capitalism or the binge eating. I just hate faking that I care about a bunch of people that I don’t really care about.
I know, I know; that’s so not Christian, or the spirit of the season, or civil, or whatever. I know, and even though I know, it doesn’t change a thing.
Tell me if this is you? Your parents, or grandparents wont, give up the reigns on the family event planning. You can’t get them to consider hosting the meal any other place than their tiny house, where the heat is cranked to sauna-like levels, the guests are crammed in like cattle, and the cat is incontinent. The same rock-hard snacks that were placed out and ignored last year have returned this year.
The family rednecks are in town, talking about how the government is responsible for their unemployment, prison sentence, law suite, divorce, debt. “That’s what happens when you elect a fucking communist!”
The meal doesn’t hit the table on time. Or an hour later. Or two hours later. Why? Because grandma can’t remember what she was supposed to be cooking. “Well, Bernie likes my carrots. I have to make my carrots for Bernie”. “Grams,” you say, gently, “Bernie is dead.”
You’re in the kitchen because Grams doesn’t’ want you to help her cook, but she can’t remember that you did anyway. She insists on making everything just like her grandmother did, but while she’s prattling on about her grandmother’s life story, you’re sneaking stuff in and out of the microwave to keep the gravy train moving forward. It’s the only way you’ll make it out before midnight.
Grandpa hasn’t pried himself from his easy chair for the last decade. He doesn’t even care that you’re there. If he doesn’t get his 8 hours of Fox News in, he wont be able to function. Might as well let him watch. If you don’t, you’ll just end up hearing about the war again. He wasn’t in it, but he saw a documentary about it once and it really left it’s mark on him. Reminds him how the world has changed. “Back then, we didn’t have skinny jeans… AIDs was only with the gays…We’d a bombed them towel heads… Gas was 5 cents a gallon.”
One side of the family is richer and more educated that the other and can’t stop dropping references to it. That Ivy League degree might as well be a golden fleece. Took 20 years to get that doctorate, but now that they have it, they’re the lords of creation. Don’t tell them your side of things because in their experience—which is a much more robust and comprehensive view of the world than yours, just ask them—the only reason you’re worth listening too is because patience for the weaker minded is ultimate sign of superiority. They’re the only ones that expect a Thank You card for attending.
The family sports nut has trapped me in a corner and wants to talk shop, forgetting that I talk it everyday and before that I played it everyday. I don’t give a crap who the Jays hire since I know he’s not asking me to get my honest opinion. He’s an Indians fan. I know this because his car, jacket, and cell phone cover all display the logo. Oh, and he tried out for them 3 times. He asks me about the Jays because he doesn’t want the first thing out of his mouth to be the story about how he should have gotten drafted, how he got screwed, how his arm didn’t hold up, how the coach didn’t put him… Someone please kill me.
One of the kids is a cry baby. One of the kids is a hellion whose parent wont punish. One of the kids can’t share. One (or more, because families like this believe in popping them out like a puppy mill) are so ultra-ultra religious they wont participate with the others but hide behind mommy and daddy who, also wont participate with the others.
The worst thing you can be during this time of year is offer an honest opinion. Love is knowing how to lie and be silent. Agree with everyone. Plead ignorance. Let your head nod the entire time. Civility is responding to everyone the way they want to be responded too. Truth is the enemy. You must, at all costs, keep your opinions to yourself. Your only hope for survival is to keep conversations boring, shallow, soul numbing. The alternative is nuclear war.
Ironically, the loud mouths and rednecks must love the holidays because they actually think everyone is listening to them in rapture. Truth is, we’re all just trying to get out alive. Most of us wouldn’t have even come were it not for the kids, which, in my mind, is just another reason not to have any.
My wife knows I hate it and she’s told me that I should come with a flask. I don’t own a flask but she’s willing to get me one for an early Christmas present just to help me get through the holidays. I may take her up on it.
Happy holiday season, everyone. Lock and Load.