Ten Things that Suck About the Holidays

1. Babies.  There will always be babies on your flight(s).  My day before Thanksgiving flight had five–count them–FIVE screaming babies.  Thankfully it was only a 90 minute flight.  (There truly is a god.)

2. Weird Family Members.  You have a to spend a lot of time trapped in small places with (awkward, annoying, or odd-smelling) family members.  Not only are you stuck next to Uncle Bill (who always hugs you just a little too long when you see him), but now you have to hold on to your sister’s/brother’s/cousin’s child who you’re pretty sure just dropped the baby equivalent of a nuclear bomb in his diaper.

3. Relationships.  Are you married?  Are you dating?  Are you going to get engaged soon?  You should have kids!  When are you having kids?  Why are you single?  Where is your boyfriend?  Why didn’t you bring your girlfriend?

4. There is never enough Egg Nog.  Or there’s only enough Nog without any rum.  And who really wants Nog with no rum?

5. Fake Wars.  The “Keep the Christ in Christmas” people are back.  Just when you were getting over your rage from their obnoxious and nearly-constant Facebook posts from last holiday season, here they come again.  Y’all are in the majority, Christians.  Nobody is trying to take Jesus away from you.  Calm the eff down. Some of us Jews/Muslims/Buddhists/Atheists/Secular Humanists want to be friendly and wish you joy.  Just accept it nicely and move on.

6. Shopping.  There is so much shopping to do.  It’s expensive and all the people surrounding you in the store are terrible.

7. Mistletoe. This is a dumb tradition. And it can get really awkward when you’re at Christmas parties with your ex-boyfriends, girlfriends, lovers, booty-calls, etc.  I don’t want to kiss people I don’t know.  I don’t want to kiss most people.  Please don’t make me kiss anyone.

8. Wrapping Paper.  I hate wrapping paper.  It is awful and wasteful and messy and wasteful and expensive and wasteful.  It’s not good for the environment.  It’s not good for anything.  BUT HOW ELSE AM I SUPPOSED TO PRESENT THIS CRAP I BOUGHT PEOPLE?  I know, I know… I could re-purpose an old t-shirt.  I could use some bags or newspaper – and I’ve done that.

9. Stressed Parents.  Specifically, parents who are stressed and in public places with their children.  The children are being awful.  A few days ago, I saw two kids sitting in a cart, one kid was beating his sister in the head with a box; she just took it.  She was too tired to fight off his awfulness.  Kids are crazy.  Parents are tired.  They will hit you with a cart and not think twice about it.  They probably won’t think once about it.  They don’t care about you; they just want to buy a damn barbie and leave.

10. Fatness.  You will get fatter, and then you have to go back to work – fatter.

A Hobo is not a Halloween costume

Halloween: the chance, once a year, to pretend to be someone you’re not. I like to think Halloween costumes say a lot about a person. They also say a lot about what we think but never say.

Take this, for instance:
I saw a picture recently of friends of friends of friends dressed up for Halloween. They were supposed to be homeless, complete with “Will Work for Food” signs, tattered jeans, and worn out flannel. Similarly, I see people every year wearing sombreros and telling people their costume is “A Mexican.” Or folks who stick some feathers in their braid and throw on a pair of moccasins to be “An Indian.”

Not okay.

Halloween apparently is not only a time to “be someone else” for a day (or two, or three, depending on how many times you celebrate), it’s time to let our collective, offensive, racist American id run wild because it’s hopped up on too many Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins and Four Loko. Do I think these people mean to be offensive? No, likely not. Really they just want to shotgun some Busch Lights and hook up with the cute guy in the “Where’s Waldo?” costume. Being an historical figure (who is, perhaps, Native American or Mexican/Latino) would be one thing, but to say “I’m (ethnic stereotype – regardless of negative, neutral, or positive implications)!” is short-sighted, foolish, and–well–racist.

There’s a certain responsibility that comes along with picking and putting on a costume; any costume you wear inevitably says something about you and your attitude toward other people. Choosing insensitive costumes matters. Just ask the employees of Steven J. Baum’s firm in Buffalo, New York. These geniuses thought that it was a good idea to dress up as homeless people and create fake sections of foreclosed homes at their office Halloween party. Are you outraged? Yes, you likely are. And so should you be. At the same time, however, these people dressing up as homeless people for Halloween is not much, if any, worse than when people who aren’t legal actors in the foreclosure crisis do it.

This Halloween, dress up. Go out. Drink Four Loko to your little heart’s content, and stuff your face with Kit Kats, Snickers, Reese’s pumpkins, and everything in between. Just try not to be your own id.

I’m bringing my AK-47 to the Christmas Party

We are, after all, in a war, right? To save Christmas… Oh, we aren’t?

You’ll excuse my momentary rhetorical strategy of playing dumb, but the idea that there is some sort of ideological war against your Yule log is absurd.

Christmas is pervasive. It’s everywhere. I’ve seen complaints about this being referred to as the “Holiday Season” and otherwise intelligent folks getting all up-in-arms when someone wishes them “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” What gives, people?

I like to wish people a Merry Christmas. Sometimes I wish them a Happy Holiday(s). Sometimes I just say, “Enjoy the Holiday!” Once in a great while I may even pull out the “Happy Christmas.” (That’s only if you’re real lucky). In the past few years, I’ve become accustomed to wishing one half of my family a “Happy Hanukkah/Chanukah.” (Depending on their spelling preference, of course.) This doesn’t mean I’m some kind of Christmas-hating heathen. It just means my world view isn’t dominated by people who only celebrate the same holiday I do in the winter. Happy Holidays is just an easy way of covering all the bases. Instead of assuming someone is a Christian, you can still spread the joy of the season that comprises many holidays for people in all walks of life by saying “Happy Holidays.” You cover Christians, Jews, people who celebrate Kwanzaa, winter solstice-celebrating folks, atheists, and other groups. Instead of asking someone to identify themselves, which takes time and is, quite frankly, kind of rude, you can just wish them “Happy Holidays,” and hope that you made their day a little brighter.

If there’s one thing people need to recognize amidst all the celebrating by gorging ourselves and racking up a bunch of credit card debt on crap we probably don’t need but that makes us happy, is that Christmas has become a secularized holiday in addition to a religious one, and in both worlds the point is to bring joy to other people during a period of celebration (of togetherness, if you’re not religious, and of Jesus’s birth if you’re a Christian). So instead of outlining all the ways you’re different from (and apparently superior to) all the other folks who have holidays to celebrate during this time, maybe you should be more concerned with making sure everyone shares in the joy that marks this time of year by wishing people a happy holiday, whichever one they choose to celebrate.