(Prepare yourself for heavy doses of self-indulgent whining.)
I'm ready to admit it. I hate christmas. I hate it. I'm listening to that effing christmas c.d. I bought a couple weeks ago. Back then I said it made me nostalgic, but now it makes me nauseated. NAUSEATED. The closer I get to christmas, the more christmas PTSD starts to surface.
I made several of my clients cry during writing group on Thursday by asking them to write about christmas. There was more to the prompt than that, but that was basically it. They cried like babies and they wouldn't share what they wrote with the group because it was too personal. This is evidence that christmas is an effed up holiday that causes lots of people nothing but misery.
Anyway, let's pretend we're in a 'christmas anonymous' meeting. Hi, my name is RPP, and I hate christmas. Here's my story... it's really not that bad, it could be worse, but it's mine and I guess that's all that matters. My parents split when I was three. My whole childhood I was a shuttlecock knocked back and forth between them. More or less battered by the whole experience. Mom got me by judicial decree and daddy wanted me, guilted me, begged me to come live with him, etc, etc. Why couldn't he have had the decency not to want me like 99% of the other dad's out there? Why couldn't he have left well enough alone in terms of custody? I was content to live with mom and visit him here and there. Why did he have to stage non-stop guilt assaults on me for the first eighteen or so years of my life? Fucking dick.
So, right, christmas. Christmas was the time of year when I got to shit on one or the other of my parents by choosing which parent I'd bless with my presence on christmas day. Why in god's name would any self-respecting adult force a kid to make that choice? Why not just let me stab one of you in the face each year? That would be just as painful for everyone concerned and it would be a lot less covert. I'd much prefer that the fucked up, sadisitic things we do to each other be right there on the surface for everyone to see.
So christmas would roll around it would be time for me to break somebody's heart. I never, ever wanted to go to my dad's for christmas. I fucking *hated* spending christmas there. I hated my stepmother, hated their house, hated having to be there for the whole christmas nightmare. I much preferred staying "home" with mom. Sure, I hated my stepfather too, but I had a much better working relationship with him (meaning, we ignored each other and generally avoided antagonizing each other). I also had a better relationship with my brother Dave. I mean, it was my *home* for christ's sake. My dad's house was this place I had to go (again, by judicial decree) at least twice a year. It wasn't a place I chose for myself. I didn't want to go, yet I chose to go there for christmas at least every other year (for equity's sake) just to keep him from feeling suicidal in my absence. I know that sounds extreme, but I had my reasons for feeling that way.
Oh christ, why am I whining about this? I'm telling you all why I hate christmas. I hate christmas because christmas sets unattainably high standards regarding happiness and togetherness and for all those hordes of us who fall on our faces during christmas, we're just left to feel like utter, miserable failures. My parents sucked the joy out of christmas by making me choose which one of them to hurt each year and now it's all ruined.
But that's not all. Later, when I was a teenager and my mom and stepdad were divorced and mom was this impoverished single mother in constant danger of losing everything because we were so poor, christmas became this terrible pressure-cooker for all of us: mom had no money, mom felt like she had to give us this big christmas, she couldn't, she was depressed about it, she was mean about it, she was absent, etc, etc ad nauseum.
It was my job (self-appointed) to decorate. From fourteen to eighteen, if I wanted christmas, I was the one who crawled into the back of the closets to find the big fake tree and all the decorations, I was the one who put it all up, all by myself, who arranged the knick-knacks and lit the lights and trimmed the tree. All by myself. No togetherness, no joy. Just lights and knick-knacks and really depressing hopes.
Oh for fuck's sake, it was all just miserable! So I sit here now and listen to this fucking c.d. -- the best is "I'll be home for christmas, if only in my dreams." What cognitive dissonance! Being home for christmas is supposed to be something you long for, but jesus help me, being home for christmas is the worst thing I can imagine. All the nostalgia I felt two weeks ago has just crumbled like one of those high-rise buildings that has just been imploded, and all the debris has fallen on top of my head, a thousand tons of guilt and bad memories. Please come January!!! Save me from all this awful, miserable christmas!!