By Scarlette Quille
We are striking distance from the epicenter of holiday madness. A week out from Christmas, I know people who have their shopping done, their houses decorated and their Pinterest worthy crafts on point. I start getting their Christmas cards with their color coordinated families smiling at me the first week of December. These women are planning and baking and organizing year-round. They never forget a birthday, they change their décor with the season and the word “store-bought” is as filthy as Internet porn to them. I call them “celebrationists.” A celebrationist lives for the month of December, when they can serve salted-caramel covered perfectionism all month long.
Sometimes, I sit alone in my bed devouring the celebrationists’ latest offering to the holiday office treat table. Typically I have secretly stashed away five or six extras for times of contemplation. As I casually snack away I think about how pathetic my existence is, and wonder what the celebrationist who created this masterpiece is up to right now. She is probably sweating glitter and shitting out delicious fudge into the shape of baby angels. It’s during these dark times, that I wonder why I have to celebrate this holiday. I am not particularly religious, and if I was going to take up organized religion, I would need to find one with pretty vague “rules” and no major holiday expectations. One can only dream.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of being nice and thankful and generous. It’s the deadline that I have an issue with. It’s so final, so foreboding. As the day approaches, more cards come in the mail. The celebrationists are mass producing and disseminating their wares at light speed. I try to block out the festive fury and remind myself that I need to wrap a bunch of presents and stick them under that tree currently residing in my living room. Actually, I still need to buy them.
I am not going to lie. For all the things I hate about this time of year, that tree is not one of them. I painstakingly drove to Home Depot and selected it. It was wrapped up in twine and looked like a pine needle sausage. It is a seven-foot tree and I was able to bear hug it, waddle across the parking lot and shove it into the back of my car. When I got home I stuck it in the stand and cut off the twine. It unfurled its majesty. It was totally a Charlie Brown moment. That’s how I prefer to remember it. My kids may have a different version of the story.
Anyway, the pretty tree gave me hope which turned into something strange. I guess you could call it holiday confidence. I took on a holiday-themed project at work. This gives the impression to all that I am in the spirit, when in reality, I like spending hours in my workspace singing along to rock power ballads with my elves. The elves don’t require payment. They are just happy to be out of the main business area where their fragile ears are constantly assaulted with an assortment of “holiday” music which plays for eight or more hours a day. I used to wonder why businesses always play holiday music at an unnerving volume. After years of research and contemplation, I have the answer. If said business is a store selling actual items, they play Christmas music loudly so that you can’t hear the sound of the gigantic vortex sucking every last bit of money you have out of your wallet before December 25. If you work in a business that doesn’t sell tangible items, they are playing the music so that your brain is mixed up, and you don’t become hostile or depressed when you figure out that you will likely have to work overtime for many months to come in order to pay for all of your seasonal generosity.
I will participate in this bizarre ritual to a point. I have learned that my only obligation during the Christmas season is being magical and festive for my children and hanging out with my parents who make my Christmas magical and festive. If I follow this rule, I save myself and my liver a lot of unnecessary pain.
Having said that, I will occasionally indulge in an Ugly Sweater Party. I have been to a couple of these events and the expectation bar is typically set low: look ugly and drink booze. Typically I will agree to the ugly sweater party and say no to the cookie exchange and ornament swap (whatever the hell that is). It’s nothing personal toward the hosts. I lack the organization, funding and time to fully commit to most extracurricular activities. The ugly sweater crew is the least likely to assault me with gifts of some sort of heavenly ass-growing potion contained in a sweetly decorated mason jar (which I would accept, of course, because it’s cute and typically delicious). The lack of expectation at the sweater party is intoxicating. It’s a safe place in a world gone garland mad.
With that, I would like to wish you all, especially the celebrationists out there, a very happy, safe, festive holiday.
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