Monday, December 05, 2005

Wake Me up When December Ends

I know millions of people have the same problem. Nobody seems to enjoy the holidays- everyone complains about how hard they are. But really most people are only playfully bummed out about the holidays, not really facing sheer and total anxiety. They claim they are very stressed during it, but I suspect most look forward to them.

For me, not so much.

Which is to say for the single guy in his 20's who has absolutely no family around where he lives and doesn't like traveling to see people. This past Thanksgiving I told everyone I was making turkey, mashed potatoes and stuff, which wasn't a lie since Lean Cuisine happens to make a dinner like that. It was microwave fresh.

People always ask me if I want to visit their families. Aside from a very nice offer from a friend, I always am put off by this suggestion. Why the hell would I want to come to your house, where I know no one but you, and feel awkward? I'd rather put party hats on my cats and sing Christmas carols, which is weird since I'm Jewish. I think I might actually spend the time this year teaching them how to spin dreidels. But they might get as bored with it as I was when I was a child. In the adult world, we call the dreidel game craps.

Being Jewish adds an entirely different level of anxiety to the holidays. Like many non-Christian cultures, we are frustratingly forced into celebrations. Jewish people have many great holidays including Purim, Rosh Hashanah and Passover, where our rationale for celebrations are valid. Yet we always get sucked into the holiday season with Chanukah, a holiday that resides in meaning just above our tree planting holiday. It's kind of embarrassing- oh your savior was born on Christmas, well we had oil that lasted eight days rather than two. That's got to be worth something, right?

Recently I wrote a blog discussing the sour points of holiday gift giving, and in that blog I was willing to concede that this gift giving season is necessary for the economy. As it turns out, my concession was unnecessary. Just yesterday I read an article in the Hartford Courant by Dan Haar about how the holiday season does not make us spend more. Indeed, Haar makes the fantastic point that we often hold off on making big purchases until the holidays, spending less during the rest of the year. So therefore the holidays are messing up the economy by forcing this one time only spending spree where it's make or break for retailers. If we spread out our spending, retailers would probably be doing a heck of a lot better. There would also be a lot less panicking and anxiety.

It's cold, my skin has become pale and splotchy, resembling a poorly constructed candy cane, and the lack of sun makes me sad. So why exactly is this "the most wonderful time of the year?"

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