I’ve been informed that we’ve entered the holiday season.
Oh, I know that the Christmas decorations went up in stores about a month ago, but I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring those.
As a functioning adult, I’ve earned the right to forego participating in these social traditions. I have my own place, so I’m not obliged to sit through any more festive gatherings. I rarely get invites to other people’s parties and holiday dinners. Being the guy who fills up his mug with gin and retreats to a dim corner, my presence doesn’t add much to the festivities.
Some people might assume that my aversion to cherished cultural traditions stems from loneliness or some kind of personality disorder, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I prefer my own company, and I wouldn’t be any more inclined to celebrate if I had others to celebrate with.
You see, this season makes me wonder more and more each year what the actual fuck it is that we’re supposed to be celebrating.
The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and yet we all continue to pour out our hearts –and our wallets– each holiday season to celebrate. Most of us have very little cash to spare, and yet we metaphorically slash our wrists and pour out the blood of our labor to buy cheap, oft-unappreciated gifts for friends, acquaintances, and distant relatives. We splurge on lavish displays of lights, decorations, jewelry, and clothing.
Call me a Scrooge if you want, but to me it all seems rather pointless. Self-defeating, even. Unlike the metaphorical Scrooge, I don’t choose to abstain from the holiday cheer because I’m terminally miserly. I abstain because the holiday season is a ridiculously expensive display of conspicuous consumption which benefits no one but the wealthiest five or ten percent.
Year after year I watch friends and acquaintances pour out their meager earnings in a glittering display of revelry, punctuated with bleak bouts of depression as they glimpse the black pit of debt and despair that awaits them. Then, come January, I nod sympathetically and offer awkward words of comfort as they sob over their credit card bills or frantically try to scrape together enough money to pay their rent.
I don’t wish the hell of poverty on anyone –except maybe those at the top who are the reason the rest of us have so little. That’s why this Black Friday, while most people were beating each other senseless over cheaply made, steeply discounted luxury goods, I was sitting at home writing.
Now, lest you get the wrong idea, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t appreciate your friends and family. I’m just saying maybe skip the gifts and expensive greeting cards. Wish people a merry holiday-of-their-choice, hug your loved ones, and tell your friends how much you appreciate them. Contrary to what the corporate overlords have conditioned us to believe, you don’t have to express your love and gratitude by running yourself into debt.
You’re welcome. Happy holidays.