Chapter 34 – Bah, Humbug!
When I went home for the holidays in December 2012, as per usual, my mother had been making a big fuss about what type of presents she should get everyone for Christmas that year.
“…and you guys are older now and you’re so hard to shop for and I don’t know what to get your father and all your cousins and your sister’s tuition payment is due and we don’t really have the money to buy all this shit and…”
“What?” It was all making my head spin. “Who the hell said you gotta buy all these gifts for everyone? Why are you still giving gifts to all the cousins?” Both my mom and dad come from big families so I got a lotta cousins. “You barely talk to your siblings or the in-laws and you see the majority of their kids less than once a year. Really, who gives a shit?”
“Because my family always gives you guys gifts. So I have to give gifts to their kids or I’ll look like a big asshole if I don’t.”
“I hate getting gifts from your family. It makes me feel super uncomfortable. Christmas is the only time of the year that I see ‘em. I’d be happy just to talk, ya know – catch up, see how they’re really doing. But no. Instead we’ll keep the conversations superficial and I gotta get little gift bags from everyone with the stuffed reindeer, elf or Santy Claus in it and a check for twenty-five dollars of their hard-earned money that I don’t want and I most certainly don’t deserve.”
“But they love you and they just wanna give you a gift because they think you’re a good guy.”
“First of all, your family doesn’t know anything about who I really am because if they did, they wouldn’t be thinking I’m a good guy. Secondly, why is money and the shit it can buy the only way to show affection in this society? Money cheapens everything. And I feel so guilty when awkwardly announcing my thanks to ‘em at the party as well as when cashing the check and then it’s like, ‘How much did they pay for this fucking stuffed doll that came with the check in this fancy decorative bag and how long do I hafta wait before I can just throw ‘em the fuck in the garbage?’
“It’s all consumeristic bullshit. That’s why they start selling it as early as August on QVC – to milk blind sheep outta as much of their excess disposable income as possible by the time the holiday season rolls around. I fuckin’ hate it. Stop buying gifts for everyone. You’re brainwashed. It’s ridiculous. It’s a ridiculous tradition. Just don’t do it.”
“You can’t not buy gifts for people! What, am I supposed to show up to my brother’s house empty-handed? It’s called ‘the season of giving,’ dumb fuck!”
“Fuck you, you fuckin’ bitch! Don’t talk to me like that.”
“Fuck you too Tim, you selfish bastard. You don’t even know what Christmas is all about. It’s about family.”
“Yeah, you’re right. It is about family – not about getting stressed over what you have to buy for everyone and what extravagant meals you have to make. That shit doesn’t matter. You think you can get drunk and act like a fuckin’ jerk to everyone and we’re supposed to equate it to love because you got a ham in the oven and presents under the tree? I’d rather have a mom who’s not a raving psycho, downing bottle after bottle of wine to deal with the pressure than have either one of those things. How do you not understand that? Can’t we just forget about it all and relax – have a pleasant holiday season for once?”
“How am I supposed to relax when I gotta go to thirty stores in the next two days, wrap a hundred gifts and make sure we got all the dips and cookies together to go to Uncle Al’s for Christmas Eve? You think all this holiday cheer just magically drops outta the reindeers’ asses every year?”
“Are you fucking retarded? That’s what I’m trying to tell you! You don’t have to do any of this shit. Look what these traditions do to you every year – look what they do to us. They fuckin’ destroy our family. Every year you get so worked up about all this bullshit and it ruins Christmas. I’d rather have no gifts, no decorations and no Christmas ham than an angry drunken mother I don’t wanna be around. Fuck! I fucking hate Christmas and wish I didn’t come home. This is fuckin’ bullshit!”