It’s the fourth day of December which means we are barrelling towards the holidays and there’s nothing any of us can do about it. Which is fine! It’s okay. Yesterday I made chocolate cookies which are serving as a beautiful holiday-centric breakfast (see: cookies and coffee that I need to reheat, but whatever) and I’ve been spending 84% of every day arguing about why Prime Minister Hugh Grant transferred Natalie when she was obviously being harassed by President Billy Bob in Love, Actually.
But the thing is, the holidays can be stressful for a number of reasons that include but aren’t limited to: weird family shit, weird friend shit, weird relationship shit, the pressure to buy things, the need to attend things, general feelings of “UGHHHHH” that can hit you hard when you’re standing in line with a shrimp ring you hope the cashier can’t tell you hope to eat for dinner at 4 p.m. on a Monday night. (Which is my business, thank you.) So let me help. Do what I say.
Remember: you don’t have to go anywhere or stay anywhere you don’t want to
“But it’s Christmas!” is such a strange response to you not wanting to do a thing. So guess what: it’s Christmas! Cool! But honestly if you don’t want to be at or stay at a party, don’t. Just leave! Just don’t go! No one is going to stand around the Christmas tree and hold a vigil because you’re so tired you can feel yourself getting sick and you know the only thing that will cure you is repeated screenings of The Crown. Any friend you want to see you will make plans with like a normal person. Any enemy you wanted to cross paths with to assert your power, you will seek out another time. Last New Year’s, I was so sick with the flu I went to bed at 10 pm and watched documentaries about the British monarchy until then. And while I know I ruined everyone’s nights by not being there, I also didn’t and I just caught up with everyone later because imagine someone used the holidays to make you do something you didn’t want to do.
Eat what you want
Oh my God, I hate the guilt-talk accompanied with a month defined by delicious junk food. Eat what you want! Who cares! What are you doing over there? Not caring about whatever-it-is-people-eat-now-to-be-healthy, I hope. “Tomorrow I’ll be good.” What does that mean? It’s nonsense! Do you want to eat the cookie? Eat the fucking cookie. This is December. It is where free food is being forced on you. And 99% of the time, the food is so good. Eat it. Eat the food. I mean, don’t eat it if you don’t want to, but if you do, oh my god eat the fucking tiny appetizers.
The holidays don’t mean people will stop acting like idiots
The thing about the holidays is that the people in your life will still act like idiots. I know we all like to think the holidays are the reason people will not act like idiots, but they will. They will still act like idiots. In fact, they might act like idiots more. And I know this sounds depressing, but look: absolve yourself of the pressure of assuming everyone will act like the best versions of themselves. Some will not. They don’t have it in them. So instead, go into festivities with the assumption that everything will be totally normal. They will be the way they always are. Do not hang your expectations on a coat hook 20 feet in the air. Just throw your coat of expectations on a chair and be like, “Well, whatever — I am not in control of this.” Which you aren’t. Your aunt will still ask when you’re going to get married, your cousin will still lock himself in his room until dinner which he will take upstairs to eat with his XBox. The holidays are a day. A week. A month, at most. We can be on our best behaviour for about 10 hours, and after that, it’s back to basics. Accept this and embrace the words of Mad Men’s Peggy Olson: your problem (or someone’s inability to keep their shit together despite not seeing them for like, a year) is not my problem.
Emotions happen during the holidays, which I hate. I don’t know what to do with emotions. Feelings are my nightmare, but especially if they’re the kind tied to tears. I am that meme of Spock sobbing mathematically because if I am crying for any reason, I am crying in part because I hate crying and I didn’t sign up for this shit. Over the weekend, I rewatched a bunch of Mad Men and cried (see: tears silently falling down my face) and thought, “Okay, I did it. I emoted.” (Listen, I know this probably indicates a profound fear of vulnerability, but also I would rather just solve shit than cry because crying is such a time commitment and then you just keep crying and it’s like, what is the point of this, honestly, when I can just do some work or clean my apartment or put a curse on my enemies.)
Anyway, look: emotions happen during the holidays. They do, and I’m sorry, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it, so just sit tight and remember: it’s happening to everyone. Everyone right now is a strange, emotional mess. Some of us are crying at Tim Allen holiday films. Others are getting teared up during the part in Elf when everybody sings. No one asked for this. No one wants this to be happening. This is my hell. But here we are. So when you’re sitting there wondering how on earth you’re feeling feelings about the fucking bird lady in Home Alone 2, remind yourself that everybody is also in a state. You are not alone in this. Blame the moon. Blame the onslaught of pine scent. Blame anybody but yourself, because it’s not you, it’s the holidays. Go eat a shrimp ring.