By all appearances, Christmas and I should be at great odds. I should be (and, in the past, have been) a grouser. I have spent many a Decembers past in surly funks, my heart a dead tomato splotched with moldy, purple spots. On and off for a number of years, I've worked retail. Nothing taints the holiday season like being witness to rampant consumerism and the stress it cultivates. Do you know why we should avoid stress? It has less to do with our general well-being than the fact that people who are stressed out are assholes. Nobody likes an asshole, especially not during the holidays, and all these poor clerks in gift shops and clothing stores across the world are the front line defense, attacked by assholes on all sides. And, with stressed out assholes and corporate greed come extended holiday hours, which might help you find that perfect gift for that special someone, but for the clerk means only an extra hour spent on his or her feet when maybe he or she would rather be trimming a tree or sipping hot chocolate with his or her own special someone.
I am not proud of this fact, but I have my moments throughout the day, already, and it will only get worse as the month goes on. I sometimes walk to the back of the store for a useless ceramic thing's box rolling my eyes. There have even been a few moments of open-mouthed gaping, nauseated with a nauseous super naus, at the obscenity of all this buying, people pulling huge lists out of their purses and crossing off names like this spending is somehow an obligation. And before you comment to tell me that all that "obscene buying" is what's paying my bills, yes, I'm aware, which only makes me part of the problem, which only makes the Call of the Curmudgeon even stronger.
And who do I complain about all this to (besides you poor few who may now be reading this): my husband, The Wolfman, Pagan Superstar and Lovechild of Scrooge and The Grinch. In December, I share my life and bed and thoughts and laughs with a man who would gladly dig himself a hole to hide in until well after the sulphur of New Year's Eve fireworks have dissipated from the atmosphere. Wolfman does not do celebration. He does not do cheer. He is opposed, as I've informed several of our acquaintances, to any kind of fun at all. He is a serious, intense man. (The exception to all this is Halloween, suggesting he may actually be some kind of demon sent to this earth to bring down a reign of darkness, but I, too, love Halloween, so I don't question his glee, but gladly take part in it.) How he came to fall in love with me is a mystery, considering I get excited enough to shout and clap over desserts and good parking spaces. But, by whatever accident or magick, I am partnered to a man who indulges, even encourages, my yuletide petulance, the garlic in my soul, and that is mighty addictive.
Let us not forget also, the Jesus is the Reason for the Season movement (quite the strong one here in the Bible Belt), which is mighty irritating to pagans and general practitioners of the old traditions. Jesus is fabulous, and I begrudge no one for following his teachings. But, the reason for the season precedes Christ by several thousand years. Keep the Yule in Yuletide.
Also, I really hate wimpy, sleepy indie music, the Christmas/"winter holiday" songs most of all.
Against these great odds, the way I will celebrate myself this holiday season is by being as willfully cheery as fucking possible. Despite all of the above, this season is a beautiful one, steeped in ancient tradition. Whatever you choose to call your holiday this December, ultimately it is about gathering together with family and friends as the days grow cold and the nights grow long (unless you are in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case, I don't understand your holiday system at all, the one kink in my dreams of living as a Kiwi). We all, pagan, Jew, Christian, or Agnostic/Atheist, light candles and string lights this time of year, to keep away the darkness--isn't that a beautiful thought? Some of us bring trees into our home, to remind ourselves that even in the depths of winter, there is life. We drink hot cider and eat gingerbread, we go to parades and hang garland and wreaths on every surface.
I will watch little Kevin get lost in New York, and Billy Peltzer feed Gizmo after midnight, Ralph shoot his eye out, "Christmas with the Joker", and the Nutcracker fighting the Mouse King. I will wear red and green, a color combination I avoid every other time of the year. I will get out my box of inherited and collected ornaments, and reminisce as I hang them on the tree. When "Blue Christmas" comes on in the drug store, I will sing along, and when the Vince Guaraldi Trio plays "Christmas Time is Here", I will cry (I always do). I will drink peppermint tea, put Christmas stickers on fucking everything, and make a little bonfire on solstice night, to roast chestnuts and marshmallows and say so many prayers of thanks.
I will celebrate myself this yuletide by not being the three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce it is so easy to be.