I don’t want to pretend that I like Christmas. I don’t want to pretend to enjoy my family’s company. I want to be alone and that is perfectly acceptable.
TW/CW Mentions of death and depression.
By Adrie Rose
I fucking hate Christmas. That’s probably too blunt but I’m not sorry because every time I try to hedge or lessen the impact of my feelings on the holiday, someone tries to change my mind. But I hate Christmas. I don’t need to be convinced or coerced otherwise. I hate Christmas and I need folks to be okay with that.
There was a time when I loved Christmas. It was my grandmother’s favourite holiday and mine too, for the first 21 years of my life. Every year on Christmas Eve, we crammed at least 20 people into her 2-bedroom apartment, sometimes friends and always family. It was always too hot, too crowded, and too long. We “borrowed” folding chairs from our church (sorry Rev. Allen), spent two days loading the fridge with food, and wrapping the endless stream of presents she’d stockpiled throughout the year. It was exhausting and annoying and loud but I loved it because she loved it. I even loved her ridiculous rules.
- You can’t yell at or hit your kids on Christmas because Christmas is for the kids (The rest of the year was fair game though).
- Everyone has to put at least one spoonful of peas and corn on their plate and eat it.
- Everyone older than 13 gets at least one book.
- If you buy a toy that makes noise, you have to include the batteries.
- After the first Christmas with us, you’re no longer a guest and you have to make your own plate.
For 21 years, Christmas was the single most important holiday in my life. The entire season personified every Hallmark trope. Warmth, family, love, joy… all of it. And then my grandmother died. My dad’s family disintegrated. My grandmother’s kids, my aunts, and uncles, lost all interest in me. That might sound selfish and more than a little bit ridiculous, but I’m not sure how else to describe what happened. I graduated three months after she died and a single aunt showed up. I called my uncle for help with the life insurance policy and he told me, “You’re not our problem anymore.” The same uncle that now hosts the family party every year on Christmas. The same uncle that doesn’t answer my phone calls and once forced me to hug him four days after having my breast reduction surgery.
In the first two years after she died, I was living in Miami and saw no reason to spend my money flying home. But two years ago, I relocated to Pittsburgh, and it just seemed silly to not go home for the holiday. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, my anxiety levels skyrocketed, I got migraines, I slept more, I lost all motivation, and I got agitated and irritable. It was like an increasingly intense panic attack and the worst PMS in a single cloud of depression had set up shop directly above my head. It happens each year. Still, I went home dutifully because everyone told me I should, even though no one could say exactly why.
This year, I made the decision to stay home, holed up in my apartment with my cat and enough dairy to lay me out for the entire week. I’ve been stockpiling ridiculous Christmas romances and Tinder hookups since Halloween. I don’t want to pretend that I like Christmas. I don’t want to pretend to enjoy my family’s company. I want to watch Hallmark and Netflix Christmas movies while I bury myself in Ben & Jerry’s. I want to have meaningless sex with complete strangers without wondering if my date is secretly a cop trying to arrest me for not paying my rent. I want to sleep until noon after being woken up at 5 AM by my cat trying to suffocate me into feeding her.
Yes, I’m depressed. Yes, my depression gets worse during the holidays. Yes, my anxiety worsens during this time of year. No, confronting my family is not going to help. Spending a week in a town that I hate with people who don’t care about me while I worry about my chronically-ill cat isn’t going to make me feel better. Stuffing down my irritation with the continued farce of familial bliss isn’t going to magically erase my justified anger with people who abandoned me when I needed them the most. So please, stop asking me what I’m doing for the holidays and then letting loose exaggerated gasps and unsolicited advice when I say I’m doing absolutely nothing.
Because I hate Christmas and there’s actually nothing wrong with that.
Adrie, Sociology student, book hoarder, and mother to Oscar (5) and Misty (15). I believe in the power of the glitter accent nail, sex workers, and black people.