You know what seems to start earlier with each successive year? Not the inescapable presence of Christmas music, although they were already playing that at a CVS I stopped into this weekend, which, fuck you, CVS, I should not have “Silver Bells” clanging up and down in my brain even one day more than necessary. No, it’s the pervasive feeling of holiday dread that seeps into the psyche of everyone who is not still entranced by “the most wonderful time of the year.” (Yeah, CVS nailed me with that one too.)
You know what I’m talking about. You see it in the sagging shoulders of the woman wheeling her luggage to the cab that will carry her to the airport and all its attendant miseries. You hear it in the voices of the drunk couples who like to fight in the street but suddenly lack the boisterousness of summertime’s shoutfests, as if they can’t be bothered to fully engage in the kind of conflicts that passersby can enjoy without quite understanding. You read it in the resigned notes from friends and colleagues who you are making plans to “catch up with” during December. Everyone is going through the motions, and everyone knows it.
Why? Well, surely there’s the recession. Nobody’s happy. But there is also the recognition that the holidays suck; they are a dark vortex of depression and discomfort and loneliness and remorse, with the added bonus of hangovers and weight gain and the crushing feeling that you’re doing it wrong — the holidays, that is, but, in a larger sense, life in general. Your heart hurts.
Some of your neighbors are already leaving for Thanksgiving, if they have not left already. You spot them near the elevator and pretend that you’ve forgotten something in your apartment so that you don’t need to spend a short ride in their company expressing cursory interest in their plans. They are just as grateful to not have to talk to you. We’re all wondering how we’re going to keep it together until January puts an end to another year.
Well, buck up, people! I know it’s hard, but I want you to delay your holiday dread for as long as you can. Drink yourself calm, ignore the imagined — and real! — slights, believe whatever lies that somehow convince you things won’t be as terrible this time out. Yes, it’s the most miserable season of all. Yes, it’s a stark reminder that you’re that much closer to death. Yes, the memory of your childhood glee is that much more painful when contrasted to your adult reality. But be easy on yourselves. It is not even Thanksgiving yet. Christmas is a long way off. Give yourselves a break. Come those weepy days of December you’ll be glad that you made the effort.