Sometimes there will be those days—days where my family pretends to be a normal, happy, loving family. They’re called holidays. Oh, we’re a fine bunch, spending Thanksgiving at the empty house where my sister is staying. Traditional down to the cranberry sauce. And then you think, this isn’t my life. It’s too foreign—like an episode of The Twilight Zone. Invasion of the Body Snatchers. My family is anything but traditional. We hardly know what a table is for!
This, I think, is where my hatred of holidays comes from. The only one I proudly participate in these days is Halloween, and that’s because Halloween means horror—fear. All things quirky, weird and dysfunctional. Thanksgiving and Christmas, on the other hand, are two of the worst offenders. You try to pretend to be a positive, happy family. Shove all the problems under the rug for a while. Me, I can’t stand that. It’s just putting on masks and pretending, and every store in the area lives for it. It’s all so commercial. They know we long for those happy families that really don’t exist, and they ruthlessly play to our weaknesses for all they’ve got. You can have a happy family if you do this.
I’m so sick of playing house.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are for the fakers. New Year’s is an excuse to throw wild parties. Valentine’s is for the mushy romantics. St. Patrick’s day—the sum of all evil on my list—is for the idiots. Easter for the Christians and family enthusiasts. Mother’s and Father’s day for the family enthusiasts to ignore all the crap their parents ever did to them. Independence Day for family enthusiasts and red-blooded American nationalists. And Halloween—it’s for the dysfunctional screw-ups like me: the freaks and the loners.
So over Thanksgiving, while around the country people were sitting around with their friends and families and having a fantastic time, and others were wishing they could, there I was, sitting in a dark corner of a stranger’s house, wishing I didn’t have to play the charade.
Now, with Christmas on the horizon and the stupid Christmas music becoming practically unavoidable, I’m dreading a repeat. Out comes the rug again, just waiting to be put to good use. This time, though, at least we’ll all be at my apartment, where there won’t be the awkwardness of a strange house. Even better? I’m working that day! It’ll cut down on all the cloying, saccharine-flavored bull crap I have to put up with this year.
Today in church we had a special Christmas program, where a few families sang some Christmas songs, and talked about how lonely we college students who weren’t going home for Christmas must be, because Christmas is a time for family, etc, etc, etc. It’s a time for being together, and being grateful for what we have. They all talked about how grateful they were to have such an awesome family, and singing about how there is beauty all around when there’s love at home.
It’s moments like these which can cut the people like me to the core. Those of us who maybe don’t have parents kind and dear. Who look at our own homes and think, there’s no love spoken here. Those of us who got lost at the dysfunction junction so long ago that we don’t know the way back. What are holidays but a reminder of what we’re missing?
To those of you out there who are like me, I wish you the best. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and so on. Enjoy this time in whatever way you see fit. If you don’t have a family you can spend this time with, remember that family doesn’t need to be defined by blood. Do what it takes, but happiness, joy, and peace to you all.