In the last number of years I have come to lower my tolerance for bullshit to zero. It is most likely a result of the passing of the years and included in the new life policy is a refusal to accept the word which threatens to upend any sense of decorum I might possess: fake.
When I say fake I refer, I think, almost exclusively to relationships and to human interaction. Nothing has come to irritate me more than pretending to accept a situation when it doesn’t sit right with me or acting – out of some sense of politeness – as if I am on better terms with someone than I am. This isn’t to advocate being rude but rather to live by the idea that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all , or at least don’t add a lie into the mix by plastering over whatever it is with false niceties. It isn’t easy to do this.
But that exact point is what brings me to Christmas and why I have come to see it as only another day, religious beliefs, if you have them, aside.
On Christmas there is the enormous pressure not just to get on with others but also to be in a fantastic mood – generous with time, money, energy and effort – all smiles and to put the past behind you in order to present, what exactly? To adhere to the idea that all should be right and should look a specific way?
Who is the architect of these perceptions we carry of Christmas?
A happy Christmas does a very good job of papering over the fact that for several months you might not have been joyful, for example. Expecting that someone with anxiety or depression will fit into the Christmas mould for one day is to make light of the vast majority of their year in favour of a single day, no matter what that day is supposed to represent.
If your family has not been around during times of difficulties how genuine and honest is it to hand over some presents? What are you giving them presents for? It is an act of nothing, simply adding to the idea of manufactured Christmas cheer which itself is the human emotional equivalent to the way we ignore how many of our Christmas gifts are manufactured in sweat shops under conditions we wouldn’t accept for ourselves.
Fighting on Christmas is regarded as a sin in most families and this is because Christmas is a day where everyone is supposed to wield their carte blanche and everyone else is supposed to accept it. What happens is that you have people being nice to one another, sharing gifts and pulling crackers when the rest of the year, and for the year that follows and perhaps even in their own heads at the moment, they wish the other nothing but ill-will or have shown blatant disinterest towards the other person.
I could write a whole other post on how this relates to inviting people to your wedding out of some perceived notion of what is right and wrong when really it boils down to: do you want them there? yes/no. People are not so stupid as to discount those who matter in their lives from any genuine celebration of thanks or happiness but we are so often forced into acting how we think we should, foregoing how doing so actually adheres to our own principles; perhaps the ones we have lived by and worked hard at for whole years!
Christmas forces people to don the greatest masks of the year often to great personal expense. If this is really a celebration of someone who ultimately forgave mankind for being truly messed up, then surely being honest about how and who will be a part of your festive season is a much more genuine and mature way to approach it all?
You hear it all the time: people say certain days felt like Christmas. Ask yourself why that is? I bet it wasn’t because they were surrounded by people they barely knew, making efforts for those they may be hurt by or forcing themselves into situations which counter or play havoc with their emotional well-being. I would hazard a guess that those “Christmas times” were moments where there was a sense of understanding between some individuals, where the time passed was genuine and the enjoyment was under no duress from societal expectations.
For those reasons December 25th for me has, for many years, simply been a day. This year it is a Tuesday and if it is a good Tuesday then it can join the other genuine memories of togetherness that I have and consider the true “Christmas times”.