J writes via email:
It occurs to me that with Thanksgiving next week, we have now officially entered the holiday season. Retailers, desperate to squeeze the last dollar out of a beleaguered consumer, started their sales a lot earlier this year which makes me wonder, are there any chumps who pay full price for anything anymore? Probably we all are because retailers aren’t chumps either and they likely mark everything up so they can mark everything down in time for us to fill each other’s lives with a lot of cheap imports so we can alleviate the guilt that comes from ignoring each other all year.
Christmas is a uniquely obtrusive holiday because it leaves everyone depressed. First there are the truly less fortunate who can barely make ends meet throughout the year and certainly don’t have the resources to fill the area under the tree with a lot of wrapped up crap, or even much less afford a tree. My heart breaks when I think of kids who don’t get anything for Christmas, especially when I consider that most everyone I know will exacerbate the trade imbalance with China as we fill our kids lives with a lot of cheap plastic crap that will either be broken inside of two hours, forgotten inside of three weeks and out in a garage sale inside of four months as the weather gets warm and we go a wassailing through people’s driveways in search of things that they couldn’t even care enough about to get all the way down the driveway to the trash can.
Seriously, ever notice there is only a one letter difference between garage sale and garbage sale? It’s as if someone one day was trying to take out their trash, threw their back out or something and then said, “well maybe I’ll just start putting price tags on things and see what happens.” Thus the underground economy of the garage sale was born, but that’s a topic for another post.
The thing about the holidays is they require a lot of forced socialization. First there are our families—and did you hear the surgeon general wants us to spend Thanksgiving Dinner talking about our family medical histories so we can better understand our genetic risks? True story. I can just see it now.
“Uncle Ed, no one wants to hear what color your shit was yesterday! We’re trying to eat.”
“Hey, I’m just following the surgeon general’s recommendation.”
“Have another glass of gravy and blow it out your ass.”
As if families were not bad enough, there is a lot of forced socialization with our co-workers as we go to departmental Christmas parties, office-wide Christmas parties, industry-convention sponsored Christmas parties, important client Christmas events, and the one at the boss’s house that only a few people are invited to. These are the worst social chores. If you are lucky enough to have gainful employment in this era, you likely spend most of your waking hours there and the last thing you need is to spend even more of it at a holiday party I don’t care how much you like everybody.
Can we all give each other the best Christmas present ever and acknowledge that just because we work together it does not mean that we have to be friends? This does not mean that we don’t like each other, but if you are lonely it’s not my fault and you should not make me feel like it’s my obligation to give you a social life just because we share a cube wall. If you want to be part of a community go join a church. It’s not hard to find one that doesn’t expect all that much from you, especially this time of year. Yes, I’m talking to you Christmas and Easter folks.
But the Christmas Party is the worst social chore.
Employers want to celebrate the end of a good year.
Unless you work in bankruptcy foreclosures this year pretty much sucked for you. You didn’t get a raise, your sales barely held on and you likely lost your job. If you didn’t lose your job you lived in constant fear of losing it, and you were asked to do more with less as everyone tried to save money. So it seems like the easiest way to save even more money is to not have a catered affair with a lot of alcohol, the bill for which could easily have paid the salary of the staff assistant that was let go to save money.
That level of holiday cheer never happens...in offices.
The holidays are a reason to celebrate.
No one can agree on if it’s ok to say Merry Christmas because we’re all walking on eggshells trying to be polite to everyone. So I’m just going to say it. Starting on November 26, when I say goodbye to you, I’m going to say Merry Christmas. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, fine, but don’t get all huffy and remind me of your right to ignore a holiday that 99.9 percent of the country celebrates without incident. When you decided to celebrate one of the other holidays you knew you were going to be in a minority, so own it.
That said, I don’t think anyone should be forced to celebrate at a holiday party. Last year at my office there were Christmas carols, and there was talk of a Christmas play. It’s pretty diverse here in terms of faith and I could not think of any way this would not be offensive to someone and fortunately eventually the powers that be saw clear to eliminate the play. The songs stayed, but I compensated by singing “walking round in women’s underwear” as loud as I could.
The Christmas party gives people a reason to socialize with co-workers we wouldn’t normally see…
I have heard of no stories where this turns out well. Yes, I suppose you could finally meet that cute girl from accounting, but here’s the thing, if you haven’t hooked up by now, she’s probably married or attached, and if she’s not she’s really lonely and you do not want to have to deal with the dysfunction of a lonely person around the holidays.
Plus, if you work in a big office, you won’t see each other again and you’ll likely engage in a drunk hook up that everyone in the office will remember even if they don’t talk about and you’ll become the subject of a whisper campaign that will last until at least the following Christmas party where you’ll get the chance to do it all again.
For some reason, the Christmas parties will go on though and I’ll go to them because I’m obligated to. Because no one wants to be the Grinch.
But I won’t have fun, and neither will you. Maybe we should all just say so.
Now who wants pie?