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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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The C word
delirium happy
Prior to Christmas 2000, I insisted quite adamantly to my parents that I wanted nothing to do with Christmas, and would be quite happy to be left on my own, and treating it as just any other day. My parents weren't convinced. Quite apart from the fact that they wanted to spend Christmas in my company, they were also worried that being alone for Christmas would be bad for my mental well-being, and were (quite rightly, given how bad my communication with them was at the time) unconvinced by my assurances that I really didn't mind.

After some negotiation, it was agreed that what we would do was forsake the large extended-family gathering that had hitherto been traditional at Christmas, and instead have a much smaller family gathering. We went up to my parents' cottage in the Lake District for a few days. They even finally got around to getting a phone line installed there so I could have Internet access, since even back then, that would have been a deal breaker for me. I spent Christmas in the company of my Mum, my Dad, Matthew (my brother) and Jenny (my brother's then fiancée, now wife). I'm trying to remember if Ruth (my sister) was there as well but I can't for the life of me recall.

Suffice is to say, it was not, in general, a happy Christmas for me. If there's one thing that I hate about Christmas more than anything else it's forced jollity. Saying something like "Cheer up; it's Christmas!" to me is only a good idea if being attacked by a homicidal maniac is your idea of a good time. My depression at the time was pretty horrendous, my gender issues were causing me a lot of bother, and I was not generally a happy bunny. To be told to ignore all of this and be happy seemed to me insensitive at best and downright rude at worst.

What ended up happening was that I was generally sour and miserable, which naturally ruined the occasion somewhat for the others present. Jenny (I think) made a comment about how I should stop being so miserable and bringing everyone else down, and I ragequit the dinner table. In the middle of Christmas dinner. Yes, exactly.

Since then, my parents have been much more willing to accept my desire to be left alone for Christmas. They saw then first-hand that being around other people being happy and cheery at Christmas isn't necessarily good for me, and since they generally rock and try to do what's best for me, they're happy to leave me alone. I think this is a good arrangement, which works far better for all parties than the square peg in a round hole approach of Christmas 2000.

The following year, Christmas 2001, I visited softfruit. Both of us were planning to spend the time ignoring the festivities entirely and pretending Christmas didn't exist, so it worked reasonably well to get some company without having to do the whole Christmas thing. As I recall, we watched bootleg copies of early season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which had been shown on the TV in the US but not over here at that point, and which was much trickier to obtain in those days before the ubiquity of broadband Internet connections.

That was the last time I celebrated Christmas in any way at all. Since then, it's been just another day for me, albeit one with the added annoyance of shops being closed, and a slightly increased chance of a half-decent movie being on the TV. I haven't sent any cards or bought any presents. If anyone asked me what I wanted, I always told them not to get me anything. I haven't decorated, or listened to Christmas songs or ate anything other than my usual fare. Christmas has become a complete non-event for me.

At first, I was quite militantly anti-Christmas. I would express annoyance at anyone who sent me a card or gave me a present, and would quite loudly complain about anything and everything even vaguely connected with the season. In short, I behaved like a jerk. In recent years, I've mellowed somewhat. I've adopted a live-and-let-live approach. If other people want to enjoy Christmas, then that's great and I'm happy for them. I still don't want to play, but I have no problem with others choosing to get their kicks that way. I've also come to appreciate that people find joy in giving, and that sending a card or a present is a genuine gesture of good-will, and I've grown to be able to accept it as such.

This year, for the first time in 6 years, I'm actually considering observing Christmas in some small way. Don't get me wrong, I still think that there's an awful lot about Christmas that's completely insane. I think that in general the stress that people put on themselves in the months beforehand is ludicrous and not worth it for a day or two of celebration. I think that a lot of the obligations surrounding Christmas are stupid. Exchanging gifts that nobody wants with relatives you hardly know is an exercise in wasting money.

For the first time in a long time, though, I'm wondering if maybe I haven't thrown the baby out with the bathwater. There are definitely aspects of Christmas that I can get behind. I'm contemplating sending out cards. In this Internet-dominated world in which I live, I quite like the idea of having an excuse to stop a moment and send out something tangible to my friends, even if it is only an excuse. In a similar vein, I'm considering stopping saying "no, don't send me cards" and starting saying "why yes, I'd love a card" if people ask.

I'm not sure about this. It feels like a big step. Saying "I don't celebrate Christmas" is something I've been doing for long enough now that it's become almost instinctive, and as everyone knows, change is scary. On the other hand, it does feel like the right thing to do, and it's only right to take stock and review this sort of thing once in a while rather than just always carrying on by inertia.

I think that if I do decide to do this, it shall be with my friends only and not my family, at least for this year. As far as my family is concerned I can remain a staunch Yuletide refusenik. The thought of doing anything festive with my family remains just far too weird.

I'm still somewhat grappling with my thoughts on this one, so any input would be appreciated.

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I think it might help if you put a certain Mariah Carey song on repeat from now until the end of December. >:D

I see where you're going with this. If I manage to work myself up into a homicidal rage before it's even December, then there's absolutely nothing that Christmas could do to put me in a worse mood. I suppose that could work...

The only reason I like Christmas (Giftmas as my friend calls it) is that ti's an excuse for me to remember being a child, and all of the wonder that surrounded the season. There's really no grown up practicality to it for me. I only give out gifts to about 4 people (usually my grandparents, mother, and 1 or 2 very best friends.) But I do enjoy sending out cards (or postcards, as in the case of my random postcard trading attempt a few months back.) I am a HORRIBLE letter-writer, but I do love to get mail. So this is the holiday for me to get a better "real" feel to my internet friends by exchanging holiday cards. Christmas or otherwise.

I should add that I also give our presents for mother's day to both my mom and my grandma, send gifts to my grandpa for father's day and his birthday, and send everyone birthday and christmas gifts. It's part of my "I owe them presents for raising me" ideology, plus, we have a very small family and no one will buy them presents if I don't.

I figure, it's the least I can do, to remind them that they're not forgotten.

I still owe you a postcard from that! I haven't forgotten about it, I'm just having the predicted trouble actually getting around to it.I actually went out looking for postcards last week, but couldn't find any. Obviously, I must have been looking in the wrong place. Either that or Lancaster is such a dump that nobody ever wants to send postcards from here. I'll keep on looking, though (although it may take me several more months to do so). Either that or I might just give in, accept that I suck at postcard buying and attempt to write a letter instead. I don't know. Either way, I thought I should let you know I've not forgotten.

y'know, I haven't received postcards from a good 5 or 6 (or more) people and I've lost count. thanks for reassuring me, though :)

I actually bought postcards before I moved! I think I even know where they are! I, too, have been suffering a lack of rounded tuits though, so they're as yet unwritten (one is for Marci, I believe? I'd have to trawl my email for her address which you sent me, assuming it was in fact Marci I got the postcard from!). I haven't forgotten either though.

Telling people to "cheer up, it's Christmas!" is foolish at best: even if it weren't in the literal darkest time of the year, most people's moods don't work that way. Those whose do, have cheered up without being told to (because the company, or food, or music, had the desired effect).

Sending or receiving cards seems like a minor involvement, and probably less potentially stressful than going to your family, given the history there. If nothing else, the people you'd be sending cards to aren't going to get hung up on "rho didn't send us a card this year" because they don't expect that you will. So if you got tired after writing three cards, and stop there, it would be all right.

I tend to ignore Christmas; some of my people traditionally go out for Chinese food and a movie, because it's a day off from work and why not. But that works in a city where the movie theatres stay open, and most of the Chinese restaurants are run by non-Christians. I have settled into papersky's approach to celebration, in which I show up sometime after the 25th, stay through at least 1 January, and generally hang out and have fun, and she gives me small presents because she likes buying people things, and we have a roast goose on New Year's Eve. (The butcher approves of her, because apparently ordering a goose for New Year's is a proper and traditional French Canadian thing that not many people do anymore. So she gets particularly friendly service and good meat year-round.)

The C word...and here was me thinking it would be a more interesting and, uh, juicy topic? ;)

Christmas has never been the same for me since my parents split up. :( /selfpity

Pft. I wouldn't censor words like cock or cunt. If I was talking about them I'd be much more open about it :p

Ditto, only s/since my parents split up/since my dad died. It doesn't make for a particularly cheery atmosphere when your remaining parent is griefstricken and depressed, it has to be said. Though I've been humbugging about it for several years before all of that. I used to have a Christmas card list and everything, but I was never sure how much I enjoyed the whole process and how much it was all rather a chore filled with obligation. Hmm.

I should clearly have also added some e-hugs or something in understanding sympathy, but I sometimes fail at this social stuff :p I am editing my very first comment!

Fuck's sake, I can't type. Sorry for all the spam!

Edited at 2007-11-12 21:20 (UTC)

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