I think it’s safe to say that I don’t “do” Christmas. My lack of participation has nothing to do with religion or any anti-corporate political sentiment. Christmas just never seems to work out for me, but I have no hard feelings. I don’t have any children to disappoint, and traditional Christmas activities don’t hold my interest, so I prefer to just take the day and relax and do what I want. I don’t even know why I should care or feel guilty about it. Most Americans (myself included) have too much stuff anyway, so I’m less inclined to feel guilty about not shopping. Our attics, garages, landfills, and thrift stores are full of crap no one needs. Why contribute? My mother and I used to hit the Indian casino on Christmas –before she was injured, I mean. She was blind in one eye and almost blind in the other, but she could still kind of manage certain electronic slot machines. Me? I’m a blackjack girl.
I actually love shopping. I love buying gifts. I get quite a rush when I find something interesting that reminds me of someone I love. I wouldn’t say that I have expensive taste, but my taste is at least a solid middle-class. At the moment, I am not middle class. I was thankful that I was able to give (and sell) my BFF some things that she enjoys, so I could at least give her something even if I can’t really afford to buy anything. I have mentioned this before, but I was almost certainly a compulsive shopper for many years before I experienced the events that led to my poverty. That’s really the only reason why I’ve been living like this so long and I still had so many things to sell and give away. I am still making sales online. I found a designer purse at a local Goodwill, and if it’s still there this weekend, I may buy it with sale proceeds and try to make a profit. At least I’m considering it.
Christmas was set aside this year because with my current jobless state combined with preparations for an overseas move. Last year I was unemployed and stressed. The year before that my whole team was laid off 11 days before Christmas when our jobs were outsourced. The year before that I spent a large part of Christmas in the hospital after major surgery. The year before that, I had a low-wage receptionist job and I had spent every penny and maxed every line of credit in moving expenses to get my last apartment and away from the apartment with gross people and no hot water.
Being estranged from my family makes any major holiday complicated. I’m completely okay with being estranged from them. In fact, I wish there were more distance. Estrangement –at least in my case– is a very good thing, but being “the orphan” has its downsides. It’s awkward when acquaintances ask me if I’ll be visiting my “parents” for the holiday. It’s even more awkward when acquaintances invite me to visit their parents. I went to my drunk cokehead roommate’s family Christmas celebration in 2004. Her family was very nice to me, but I was out of place. I’d never met them, but they bought me presents. I appreciated it (and still have and use many of the gifts I received) but I felt so guilty. I was stunned by how unappreciative my ex-roommate was of her parents. I had gone to her parents’ house expecting no more than a family dinner and I nearly wept when I saw that they prepared a stocking for me. They filled the stocking with cute novelty socks, scented lotions, lip balms, and a bottle of wine. My ex-roommate received the same stocking stuffer gifts that I received and all she did was complain about them not being to her taste.
I’m uncomfortable when anyone puts out any effort for my sake, especially if they don’t even know me. Especially if I can’t reciprocate.
My current roommate invited me to spend Christmas with her family but I declined. The last time I spent a holiday with her and family members, there was hitting, slapping, and ultimately police intervention. Oh, and the phone used to call police was smashed to bits. And there was dog poop thrown at my roommate’s car — and this was all after an argument about how often to feed a cat! My family is crazy, but they aren’t that kind of crazy. I thought that things like that only happened in sitcoms. Having the house to myself for a couple of days is far better than any gathering with someone else’s family. Tomorrow or the next day, I will spend time with another friend who hates her family. That’s really the best way to spend Christmas, in my opinion.
Now that I live in a house with cable, I will watch A Christmas Story, which I don’t believe I’ve seen in full since I was maybe nine years old. Such a shame that Flick ended up a porn star.