I’ve lost my temperament for the Holiday. As an adult, I get excited during the holiday season, but when the holiday arrives–BOOM, ambivalence. It’s not about being an interfaith household, my melancholia is all about me.
I was raised by a Boomer who spent the better part of my childhood working (and in her free time “living her life” whatever the fuck that means, without including your child). When done “living her life,” she married and wanted an instant family: a stranger I never warmed too, but lived in fear of, as I did her. Holidays were the time when things were bought for you, to make up for all the shitty emotional and physical abuse you endured, year-round.
My kids did the Christmas thing most of their lives, but because we lived thousands of miles from the nearest family member, all we had was each other. For my kids, Christmas as a time of “showing love and buying things” never quite caught on, because “being loved and getting things” was pretty much every day of the damn year. The holiday in my home meant more baked goods, going shopping together, and hanging out just to socialize. No matter how festive the spouse and the kids became, I always felt let-down.
I’ve spoken to other Gen-Xers and discovered I wasn’t alone. Most people like to chalk Gen-X disillusionment with the holidays as us being kids in the 80’s. Things were cheap and available, and our parents bought them because it was easier than saying I love you. My holiday would never be like my mother’s holiday. Familial goodwill, seasonal love, and crass capitalism, went on 365 days a year. Hanukkah/Christmas for Boomers was about putting on a show. Hey, kid, I know I tend to ignore you the other days of the year, but we got family coming over, so make sure you feel loved, and remember to always say THANK YOU. I don’t need a holiday to fortify my emotional relationship with my kids; it’s there, and it’s strong. The holiday-day(s) has never been very constructive for me. It’s another day, compounded by the inconvenience of store closings, too many people I know taking days off, and the insistence of most Christians acting as if their holiday is celebrated by everyone in America.
Many things transpired to put a damper on my holiday in 2016. The electors of this country elected a bigoted populist moron. This is the first holiday without my son (he’s an adult and has his own life now). We bought our retirement house, and the youngest starts school next year, so our spending is conservative. I’m not where I want to be in my novel series. The core of my depressive mood though circles back to the same woman that created my disillusionment in the first place; she showed her transphobic ass, and I cut her out of our lives. The holidays are hard for me because they remind me that no matter how awesome the family I’ve created for myself is, I’ll forever be affected by the dysfunction of the one that created me. I’m just shy of a half-century in age, and I’m still letting this bullshit get me down.