Christmas, I’ve Never Liked You

I hate Christmas. The jingle bells, the decorations, the food, and even the mall Santas that we at least can’t have this year.

My favorite day is the day after Christmas. When it’s all over and I don’t have to deal with it again for a year. I love the day after Christmas.

There’s no shopping stress, no need to buy a last minute gift or two, no need to wrap gifts, no need to worry about if I’ve gotten the right thing for the right person. There are no expectations. After Christmas. Ah, the relief.

But building up to it, the days just get worse and it gets harder to sleep at night. Dads just watch TV, but mothers and grandmothers, of which I am both, damn near work themselves to death while stressed to levels a human shouldn’t have to endure.

This tacky, gaudy, spending orgy is supposed to somehow be about Jesus? Well, it isn’t. It’s about excess for some of us who are lucky enough to create excess, and it’s about heartbreak dmas dinner.

Some people find the holiday season and Christmas a good reason to get drunk. Some of those people have children who worry and become insecure by the behavior of their parents seemingly gone nuts.

Most children get to watch TV — all the glorious toys are advertised to the max. But those kids know they can’t have those toys — because mom, or mom and dad, or mom and her boyfriend, or whoever, can’t afford to get them those toys. They may get whatever someone donated to the Salvation Army or they may get little to nothing. And by the time they’re 7 or 8 they know the excess of the season is not for them. Not for their families.

They just hope there will be enough to eat if mom and/or dad have to be off work a day for Christmas. They wonder if the utility bills can be paid so they don’t get cold while the rest of us buy each other expensive gifts and prepare feasts we share with others like us — often other privileged and entitled people.

If there’s any time of year where children are made profoundly aware of the differences between their poor family and families who have a lot, it’s at Christmas. Even old Santa Clause brings better stuff to the rich kids, though the youngest of the poor kids cannot understand why.

Christmas is a time that is harder in every way for poor people, and filled with disgusting materialism and excess for people who have money to blow for Christmas.

I’ve been that working mother who didn’t know where the gifts would come from. I’ve been the woman running to the store on Christmas Eve to buy gifts for her kids using a hot check, hoping her paycheck will post before the insufficient check does. And one can’t even do that anymore because of automation. It sucks to be that woman at Christmas.

I’ve been the woman who managed a feast for Christmas, only to have to skimp on meals the rest of the month to make up for it. I’ve not been as bad off as many are this year, but I’ve been bad off just the same.

Now that I am financially secure, it’s become harder for me to spend money at Christmas to fill the expectations of kids and grandkids who are now spoiled and have most everything they need or want anyway. Yes, it’s hard…knowing what I know and seeing what I’ve seen about how the holidays are for the poor — and their children, too.

Sure, I can donate to charity and buy presents and food for a family or two. But what about the others? What about the rest of the hungry little kids who won’t have a merry Christmas or happy holidays.

I don’t feel the Christmas spirit, as they call it. Yes, I’ve seen ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ and all those feel good Christmas movies. But I think of a suicide that happened days before Christmas when a young woman had been watching “Little House on the Prairie,” but had no family nearby, no friends, no money, and no hope of having a Christmas like she saw others having.

Yeah, I hate Christmas. Maybe partly, too, because I was a police officer and went to the houses where the parents were fighting and the kids were crying…around the Christmas tree. I arrested the drunks who found the holidays a time to get knee-walking, commode-hugging drunk and take a drive in a massive moving weapon. I have seen the wrecks, the pain the madness, the extra stress and difficulty the holidays put on people. For some people, the holidays are just another excuse to act badly and endanger others.

Most of all I hate that the children of the have-nots will bear additional pain and confusion as to why they are deprived while others have so much. I hate the pain of the poor at Christmas. And just as much, I hate the gluttonous excesses of the rich.

I hate the scenes of people fighting over the sales stuff. I hate the disgusting way people will run over each other to get a good deal on some television or computer.

I just hate it. All of it.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, whatever. I’ll be glad when the whole damn thing is over and for this more awful than usual year to end.

Former print journalist, former mayor, retired law enforcement officer. Writing about politics and government along with random personal essays.

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