Tom ďYuletideĒ Waters
January 16th, 2003
Iíve survived the holiday gauntlet. From Thanksgiving until January
1st, there is no reprieve. No sanctuary, no shelter, no quarter
from family, family meals, stress, anxiety, depression, aggravation,
noise pollution, and hustle and bustle on a scale of mental exhaustion.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Why not celebrate the
holidays by running your immune system into the ground, gaining weight,
drinking like a fish, and maxing out your credit cards? Holidays
are hell on adults, always have been, always will be. I didnít
really notice it until this year, but more people collectively lose
their shit this time of year than any other. I donít know how
I kept mine together other than the fact that everyone lost their mind
around me while I watched. Iím reminded of the relationship between
Hunter Thompson and his trusty sidekick in the film/book Fear and Loathing
In Las Vegas; one of the two always kept their wits about them while
the other blows it. They took turns. I made it straightaway
up until three or four days before New Yearís before commencing into
My grandfather died five
days before Christmas, a fact which never escapes anyone in my family.
Itís been six years, but deaths in the family are like tattoos.
Nobody mentioned it this year, but Iím sure we all thought about it.
Hovering about like the ghost of Christmas past, memories of my grandpa
and his subsequent passing left an indelible mark on our holidays forever.
It really sucks how relatives seem to die around the really important
occasions. That, or there are too many holidays to count, and
it just seems that way. Maybe thatís the end result of old age
and the stress of the season. I felt my age this year, and perhaps
the burden of Christmas shopping and card sending and table settings
will put me six feet under when I get older, too.
Iím so sick of shopping and
hunting and gathering that Iím considering moving to another country
next year between the months of November and March. Maybe Iíll
move to France, where they donít believe in anything and criticize everyone
else for believing in something. Iím not a big fan of standing
in line. Leave that to the fucking soccer moms. I donít
chase down bargains or make the six a.m. toy runs the stores like to
torture us with. Itís complete madness. Nothing will get
me out of bed before eight oíclock (unless, of course, Iím still awake
from the night before). By December, people get a glazed, psychotic
look in their eyes standing in the checkout lanes. Desperation,
exhaustion, and materialism bear down on their tiny brains. Stupid
people are much more likely to lose their minds around the holidays
because they have less of it to go around. You see them screaming
at cashiers, elbowing their way through toys, and clothes-lining Christmas
One expends a lot of energy
participating in family meals, get-togethers and Holiday jaunts.
Entire days off are chewed up driving to a destination, sitting and
talking with loved ones, having a meal, exchanging gifts, toasting champagne,
and so on. This leaves you with the feeling that not only donít
you have any free time, but a vacuum of activity in its place.
While I prefer to nap frequently and laze about on days off running
the occasional errand, these become a thing of the past in the winter
Nothing makes you feel more
alone than holidays, especially New Yearís. Weíd all like to picture
ourselves kissing our intended at the stroke of midnight rather than
basking in our own solitude. This is one of the many factors that
pushes people right over the edge into insanity. Seasonal violence
has a cause and effect. Itís modus operandi is the surmounting
pressure that drives people to drink and play bumper cars with their
new Lexus, grab for the shotgun and paint the walls, or gobble up that
bottle of sleeping pills like a Christmas ham.
Letís not forget the big
two stressors, either: finances and weight. The average American
gains twenty pounds between November and January. So many holiday
snacks within reach; fruitcake, turkey, Christmas cookies, egg nog,
and scotch. One month on the lips, a new yearís resolution on
the hips. Most people worry year round about their budgets, and
racking up gifts on multiple credit cards doesnít help. Itís a
holiday recipe for a breakdown.
Itís a good thing the holiday
triathlon only comes once a year. Itís probably not any one factor
that freaks people out so much as the sum of all of them. That,
and the close of the year. Expectations for the coming calendar,
and disappointment over the previous one. The thought that weíre
getting older at the speed of light, and that another year has gotten
away from us. Should old acquaintance be forgot....just give me
one solid day off. And let me hide out from family, friends, and