I’m not a big fan of holidays. They usually mean dealing with insufferable family gatherings, plastering fake smiles on my face, maintaining boring small talk, the old one-upmanship game, e.g., “Well, MY son just won the Nobel Prize; what are YOU doing?”, eating too much and a lot of work in the kitchen. I don’t live anywhere near my family. I haven’t for over fifteen years.
After flying to Michigan in the dead of winter only to experience not one, but two blizzards and subzero temperatures, I told my folks that they could expect never to receive me for the holidays again. I can’t say that I moved several thousand miles away solely to avoid such silly gatherings, but it certainly wasn’t a drawback.
Time was, while everyone was running around the country trying to spend equal time at grandma’s house and Aunt Ethel’s, I would do whatever I wanted. Christmas was my day. My Christmas present to myself was total and utter laziness. The goal was to do as little as possible. I would wake up without an alarm clock, put on my best lounging pajamas, turn on the television to whichever station was running the movie marathon, open a big bag of Doritos and do positively nothing all day. It was glorious. It was a tradition.
When someone would ask me what my plans were for the holidays and I’d tell them I had none, most people took that as a very bad thing. Some even put forth a feeble invitation to join them in their holiday festivities. It got to the point where I’d have to fib and say I was spending the holiday with friends just so that people didn’t feel obligated to invite me because they felt sad that I was alone. They didn’t seem to understand that it was by choice. I’ve always been one of those people who is completely comfortable being on my own. I am perfectly capable of entertaining myself. Put me on a desert island with some books and supplies, and I could stay there forever and be perfectly content.
For years, I upheld my tradition, but a few years after I moved here, my sister followed me to California. She seems to be laboring under the delusion that holidays must be spent with family. I, on the other hand, have no such compunction. I’d much rather spend Christmas with my cat and my remote control.
And it’s not just Christmas; it’s Thanksgiving, too. Now, when the holidays roll around, I have to make pies and cook a turkey, which is precisely what I’ve been trying to avoid all these years. Like the Catholic church did with pagan traditions, she tries to roll my traditions into her own. She wears pajamas and we watch bad movies… together. The whole point of my Christmas tradition was to avoid the together part. It was intended to escape having to see anyone, do anything, and most of all, the whole point was to not have to make fucking pies.
I miss having a whole day to myself. I miss not having to cook and spend time with family. I miss my very own brand of Christmas spirit. I miss my tradition, but what can you do? Family is family and it’s still better than having to get dressed and go to Aunt Ethel’s.