some parting thoughts

First and foremost (mom), I've uploaded a whack of Oona Christmas-parcel-opening videos here. She is only slightly mental in this batch, although the cookie-eating one is a pretty egregious.

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So how were your holidays? I went into work for a few days in the middle of mine, and they were still entirely too long.

I think this might be my *working* time in life. Meaning: right now, it seems the only thing I want to do is finish certain things. I have projects. I have stories I want to write, and others I need to complete, and things I want to draw and others I want to paint. And all of this is pretty much disengaged from notions of accomplishment, or achievement, because I fully understand the way failure stalks every creative enterprise. For me, finishing a story and seeing it in print is the whole thing. I never expect any kind of reward or prize beyond that. It's just seeing it through, seeing the idea fully realized.

Most people go through this kind of working phase in their mid- to late thirties but I've always been behind the curve on everything. Slow starter, and sometimes just slow.

* * * * *

My friend Jill has put together some thoughts on regret and rumination. She considers these kinds of things, and is probably a better person for it.

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Do you think it would be over the top if I converted to Germanic Neopaganism just to avoid Christmas? I mean, I'm *really* struggling here. C says she went through this in her twenties (like I said, I'm slow) and in the end she just decided to make the holiday about a few things she likes (the tree, the lights, chocolate, screenings of White Christmas, the kind of quantities of wine that require a tap, etc) and ignore everything else. What she did, in effect, was make up a new holiday *within* the existing one. Her own private holiday. But this doesn't really cut it for me. It would be like me telling everyone that I respect Remembrance Day, when really I'm only thinking about it as a day that I spend in my pajamas playing Nobunaga's Ambition.

* * * * *

So why hate Christmas?

Because there's no escaping. You *have* to participate. If you tell someone that you don't care for Easter, and they ask you why, and you explain that you're not religious, and that you find the imagery of the resurrection (torture, blood, death, undeath, etc) of questionable value, then your friend will just shrug and say, Okay, fair enough. But if you say you don't care for Christmas, then your friend will call you a monster.

Because you can't travel (crowds, madness, bad weather, price gouging, etc).

Because you can't go into a store (see above).

Because you can't go anywhere *near* a post office.

Because the music keeps getting worse and worse.

Because people obsess. And stress. And feel real internal damage when things go wrong, and the flight is cancelled, or the dinner is overcooked, or the children behave badly (because they got so many gifts that they went into meltdown mode around mid-morning, and had to take a nap).

Because you overindulge, and overeat, and overspend, and then feel guilty about it. And then come the resolutions, as bright and shiny and flimsy as christmas crackers.

Because it forces compromised decisions. Try, just for a moment, to inhabit the mind of the 38 year-old single woman who has to fly across the country to spend Christmas with her elderly parents, because they have no one else, and are slightly crazy, and will spend most of the holidays making not-so-discreet enquiries as the state of her love life, and the chances of them getting a grandchild before they die.

Because there are parties. At work. With your coworkers. Notice I wrote 'coworkers' and not 'friends'.

Because people make gestures that are both needless and unreciprocated.
Frank: Where are you going?
Doris: I'm going out to get a present for Uncle Peter.
Frank: Uncle Peter! But we never hear from him. And he's missed all the kid's birthdays. Forever. And a war crimes tribunal just convicted him of genocide.
Doris: But we *have* to get him a present!
Frank: Why?
Doris: Because it's Christmas!
Because people say stupid things. O, I hope it snows for Christmas, I sure hope it's a white Christmas. O me, too. I hope there's a virtual white-out at the airport, and the highways are fluffy tunnels of death. It's not like we won't be looking at snow for the next four months!

Because everyone acts like a retarded fifth-grader who needs to poop.

Because it gives me a pressure headache.

Because everything becomes stupidly tragic. Not a chest cold! Not on Christmas!

Because it's absolute hell on people who are alone, or just lonely.

Because people use it as an excuse for all sorts of stupid behavior. Of course I climbed up on the roof to fix the lights. It's Christmas! And now I'm dead.

Because it's wasteful.

Because Peace and Goodwill towards men could apply to anything. Why Christmas? Why not next fucking Tuesday?

* * * * *

Okay, I'm done beating up on the baby Jesus and the Fat Man. I hope everyone's credit cards will be usable again by spring.


  1. you sound like Rainer. he feels the same way, except that he doesn't talk about it. he just simmers and lets weird stuff blurt out at the positively worst times.

    i like C's approach and well, a solution which could work would be tropical. But that is way more expensive and what if it didn't work!

  2. Well wait until Oona is grown and on her own..the the holiday season really takes on a different feel.(Loved the videos btw) I feel the same way and this year we decided we couldn't afford gifts and figured that when we could we would just buy something for each other just because..sounds good in theory..didn't really work as well in practice. I never shopped the busy Christmas days and of course did not this year either. But even with the grand plan of being above it all and not falling into the traps set by the gift giving madness..I got depressed! I knew I didn't have money for gifts and that we were all fine about it..after all we are adults and can understand why the Fat Man isn't gracing us with gifts this year..but I got depressed!!! I have been well taught by my Mother who just turned 86 ("when are you coming to visit again? Will I see you before I die? I should have never let you go to that summer job in 1973 when you were 19!")
    I put up a stupid little metal tree I had bought once on sale because it reminded me of the horrible aluminum tree my Grandfather bought with the rotating color light wheel. I dug out a few things to put on it and the scruffy little tree did not make me feel better because I really like a real tree..even though I hate the idea of cutting down real trees to die in living rooms. I bought 99 cent handwarmers and body soap and candy for Hubby and Thomas and they were like..but didn't we decide not to do anything?...It was stupid and after "ruminating" on it..I knew my original decision was correct..Christmas is a dark dark hole of stress and expectations whether you believe in Jesus or not. I might do the tree thing since it was part of solstice celebrations...but I would have to resist dolling it up with the crap I have held on to all these years. (Mom.."I have a box of ornaments that I kept for you that you gave us over all the years.." thanks but no thanks).
    And that depression..well I have taken care of that.. a little aluminum tree in the trash can do wonders. It helps that there is no snow yet, just sunny days. As for ruminating...I try not to do much of that. I might give myself a few hours of the practice and then I have to move on. I have learned something after all!

  3. I agree with Christina's approach too! Take the good bits and work with them.

    Every year it feels like something is missing, like the pressure for a perfect Christmas is all encompassing and it never is (perfect) - there is always something missing, but there is a strange comfort in being forced to spend time thinking about and being with friends and family, don't ya think! And the snow, well it was a perfect 3 day whiteout for me but, hey, I grew up in Ireland, and I didn't have to travel anywhere.

    Happy New Year to you three, hope you get lots done this year DJ.

  4. I agree with both you and C: I hate the pressure Christmas puts on people, but they're adults and can, if they try, take responsibility for their own lives and do what C does, take the bits they like and dump the rest. The whole thing is, after all, just a construct. Therefore it can be reconstructed to suit oneself.

    Hope you get good work done this year.

  5. Haha, I really enjoyed reading this, thank you:) Try working in a flower shop (or any shop) before Christmas and you'll go mad.. It's insane really. Certainly a good motivation to get my illustration career going so I'll never have to help out during Christmas time again! (I prefer your retreat to your work)

    Oh, and I'm glad to hear about someone else's slowness, I think it's a good thing;)


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