Dating someone who is super into Christmas is hard when you, yourself, are not. In fact, many people roll their eyes at you when you tell them that you just aren’t that into the holiday. I have been called the Grinch or Scrooge so many times that it only further separates my feelings for it. No one ever stops to think that maybe there is some context as to why I am not so filled with the Christmas spirit. I don’t hate the holiday and it has nothing to do with the holiday spirit, perse, It is just not my thing. Let’s talk about why.
Christmas As A Kid
As a kid, like other kids, I was completely wrapped up in the holiday. What kid wouldn’t. You are told from a very young age that there is this guy who brings you presents once a year and the only catch is having to be good. I mean free toys, who cant get behind that idea. As I started to age and Christmases passed, I became aware of the animosity that filled our house, during that time of year. It wasn’t because we were poor, that was easier to understand with age. It was my father.
There were few things that brought true joy to my mother’s spirit like the day we would get to put up the tree. You have to understand that my mother always tried to be upbeat and happy, no matter what. But a Christmas tree brought her so much joy. I have some of my earliest memories of her singing carols while my father would start to assemble the tree. He, however, would become the most bitter person in the world just after fifteen minutes of the process. It would be a constant bitch-fest about how much it was going to cost to run the “f-ing” tree and that we would not keep it on all the time and it would come down on Christmas Day. Mom would just continue away.
His anger of the electric bill and Christmas only increased as we grew older and it was harder and harder to put up a tree. Mom always won out, though by the time I had just become a teenager, it fell to me and my sister to put the tree up. We would petition to put it up the day after Thanksgiving, to which dad would vehemently shoot us down. Once we had it up, of course we wanted the lights on. If we had it plugged in before he got home, he would walk in and make this very heavy sigh to immediately wash you over with guilt for the simple enjoyment. Then the under his breath cussing of the mother f-ing tree would begin. He would retreat outside to curse and complain before coming in all worked up. It only made me dread trying to plug it in whenever he would be coming on. Mom, in her credit, would tell us to plug it in and she would deal with him.
This was the beginning of my distancing from the holiday…
Retail Holiday Woes
I started in retail before I graduated high school, I think many of us do. Its usually the first kind of job most school kids get and work until graduation or longer. I used to wear Santa hats when I started my career. Checking customers out and being cheerful was fun. You got to see people smile, sometimes. As my career in retail continued, I soon realized how commercial it was and that even in the 80s-90s, the holiday was starting to be pushed earlier into the year. What started as just a way to share the joy of the holiday with customers soon became this façade you had to start putting up earlier and earlier each year. Working those Black Friday sales, when you could be hold regaling in a turkey coma, allowed me to see just how depraved people can be when it comes to getting a deal.
Having to get up early to go to work to watch people stand in line for deals that we wouldn’t be able to partake of, due to working long hours, was an eye opener to a young kid. Add to that watching people basically attack others for deals that were only a few dollars cheaper than normal price, it starts to burn any holiday spirit out of you.
The Snowman Cometh
By the time I had met my first long term relationship, I was mostly burnt out of Christmas. Shawn was someone who absolutely loved Christmas. He loved decorating, the music, the colors, the food, the parties,and just about anything related. During our time together, he chipped away at the ice that seemed to encase my heart. I enjoyed the holidays because he enjoyed them. When he died, that wall grew back with a fervor. I had no reason, other than my mother and sister, to retain any connection to the holiday.
I moved back in with my parents in 2008, when my mother became sick. I tried to help out where I could, but having watched someone you love die in your arms, dealing with her condition was hard. I still tried to put up a tree for her remaining years, much to the dismay of my father. His constant complaining about the electric bill and the goddamn tree lights only created more animosity than anything else. This was a man who would scrooge away all of his money he earned and just barely give my mother enough to pay for groceries. I went shopping with her and, more often than not, helped buy the things she needed. She passed away in February 2011. I tried to carry on her spirit and put up a tree each year, which lasted until 2014. I could not take it anymore, I only stayed in the house to help him transition into taking care of himself. After a bitter argument, I moved out and any connection I had with the holiday melted away from me, like a snowman in July.
Childlike Wonder of Christmas
As I said earlier, it is hard to date someone who is super into Christmas when you aren’t. Karl’s persistence is amazing. I have been a bitter person who has staunchly been stuck in their ways for many a year. His constant excitement over a holiday that became so alien to me is like learning about Christmas all over again. We have similar childhood stories, unlike me, he retained his childlike wonder. He has done something that I felt would not happen again. He is responsible for me slowly having some excitement over this commercial holiday. Seeing his excitement makes it hard to be so impervious to experiencing the joy I once felt. The small things like decorating a tree have slowly started to become enjoyable. In my defense, it has taken two years to get to this point.
I don’t think I will ever be the kid who laid under our tree and stared in awe at the twinkling lights with the soft tones of carols playing in the background. What I have come to realize is that I don’t need to be that person, I only need to enjoy the people I am with and be joyful for having a chance to share this holiday with people I love. It is the gift that Karl has bestowed upon me and it is one I treasure above all others.
Sorry that this got sappy, but in writing this, I started to realize how I have changed because of the people I have chosen to surround myself with. It is these miracles that should be celebrated this time of year, they are the ones that will stick with us the longest.