The season is upon us! It’s closing in and getting closer by the minute! At the time of posting this, there are exactly two weeks left until Christmas day! And why am I using so many exclamation points you ask? Because I am trying to hide my anxiety by feigning excitement! Join me won’t you.
The “holidays” (as those wily Americans would say) are an anxious time for many of us, especially for those of us in Adultolescence who haven’t quite gotten everything figured out yet; including where the heck they’re supposed to be on Christmas day. This is always a problem for me, which I usually avoid by flying off to see one side of my family in another country who have regular Christmas traditions. But alas, this year that is not so. Instead I’m staying put and trying to figure out how to fashion a Christmas with both my parents out of the country and only one of my siblings left to fend off the holiday blues with.
Yet this isn’t even really what brings the anxiety. There is also the general dread most people in their twenties and thirties feel when family comes together and they’re in a place in their lives when they have not yet reached their “life potential” romantically or otherwise. I’m speaking mostly about myself, can you tell? This status in life is made worse when you’re surrounded by family members who clearly dislike each other strongly, but express it only passive aggressively; that’s automatic stress right there. When you’re a kid you notice it but you have no responsibility to reduce the stress, which is the complete opposite when you become an adult.
And what other wonderful thing comes with being adult at the end of the year? Hindsight and a realisation about what your family is REALLY like, and that maybe the majority of you don’t really get along as people, which is why you only meet up once a year at the most.
I was reading Humans of New York Stories the other day, and one of the author’s subjects was saying that humans are abnormalities of the animal kingdom because most other animals get born and eventually leave their parents and never see them again, because their child rearing job is done. Humans however, leave home and continue to visit their parents, and then wonder why we get so stressed around them. He said it wasn’t natural, which is why we feel that way. I’m not saying that I completely agree; I’m just putting it out there as a theory that explains so much.
Oddly enough for me, I think I could deal with the stress of it all if it was ever the same from one year to the next, and everyone really did come together at Christmas. But alas, that hasn’t happened for many years and in my adulthood I have taken part in very few Christmas traditions that have been fashioned in my family in the last few years. In fact the only Christmas tradition I have is getting away from it all. Sometimes that works and I end up tagging on to the end of a pretty good Christmas time, but these times are few and far between.
So how does someone with no traditions, in a family that doesn’t talk, and who also constantly wants to go anywhere else where Christmas is not, on Christmas day, survive Christmas? Well, I have some suggestions:
- Drink. A lot.
- Watch as many films as possible to avoid awkward conversation with random family members who turned up unexpectedly that you don’t really like.
- Eat. A lot.
- Smile and nod and don’t go into too much detail when answering questions about your life.
- Don’t mention politics.
- Have a drink every time someone says something offensive (racism, homophobia, comments on your weight etc.)
- Have a drink every time someone says something religious.
- Have a drink.
Look, they’re not fool proof plans, but dammit if they don’t get you through the dreaded 24 hours of Christmas day. And think about it this way; it’s just ONE DAY out of 365, and you can survive ONE DAY right? Right?!
Sorry, the anxiety took over for a second. But really, it’s just one day. Just one day…
Image credit: santa dance by Vainateya Gavai from the Noun Project