“Especially this time of year,” is the tag I add to the end to my December sentences about the shit I don’t need. The stress, the bullshit, the drama. I don’t need it. Especially this time of year.
I listen to people complain about the families they’re going home to, about all the eccentricities inherent to their family dynamic and I smile, nod, apologize for things beyond my control, say, “Ugh, that sucks,” or, “Ugh, that must be tough.” But what I want to say is, “Must be nice. At least you have a place to go.”
Rude, right? It’s a shitty thing to think. But it’s a shitty way to feel, too.
“It’s complicated,” is what I tell people when they ask why I don’t spend the holidays with my family.
I’m the only child of my parents’ youthful marriage, one they left well before their respective 30th birthdays. They both remarried, got new families and, generally, liked them a whole lot better than they ever liked me. That’s the short version.
The long version includes a set of tarot cards, a journal entry about the John Cusack film Grosse Pointe Blank, a few abusive family dynamics and the successive deaths of two close friends before my 17th birthday. That, plus some irresponsible and occasionally dangerous parenting choices that combined to form a pattern of fucked-up family dynamics full of dramatics I’ve long since forgiven or (at least) tried to forget.
And that’s why I don’t spend the holidays with my family. They don’t write, they don’t call. It’s been more than a decade since I’ve gotten a birthday card from a parent, so I don’t write either. I don’t call. It’s not worth it.
I know from the historical data that I’ll be fine.
I know I’ll go see my best bitch’s family a few days before Christmas, that they will again make me feel like I belong somewhere. I’ll bring snacks and maybe my dogs and we’ll all catch up and I’ll be introduced as part of the family because that’s what I am now, one of them.
Christmas will come and I’ll survive. I’ll run 5 or 7 or ten miles on Christmas Day before lounging around in pajamas. I’ll make myself a steak, because that’s what I do, that’s how I spend Christmas. It doesn’t suck.
As much as I enjoy my not-sucky holiday traditions, as happy as I am with the life I’ve cultivated for myself and as secure as I am in the knowledge that my parents are more hurtful than helpful, this time of year is still kind of shitty. Despite my best efforts to make peace with the holiday season, I still hate it for a whole list of complicated, occasionally tragic and generally dramatic reasons.
And that’s it. I’m a holiday hater. I’m probably not going to change. You can put a wreath on my door and drag a tree into my house, but I’m still going to be a grumpy grinch.
(Yes, Die Hard is my favorite Christmas movie, thank you for asking. Yippee Ki Yay, Mother Fucker.)