[ed. note: This essay was originally written a year ago for Josh's other blog, The Mousebed. Just know that some stuff has changed - he no longer lives close enough to Kung Pao Kitty to have them deliver.]
This may come as a shock to many, considering my famously rosy disposition, but I don't really care for Christmas. I'm not a huge fan of any holidays, really. This most likely comes from having had to spend miserable dinner after miserable dinner with my miserable family. Luckily, I suppose, I'm all but estranged from 90% of my family. I'm not particularly proud of it, but I really only ever talk to my dad and brothers anymore. With the exception of the week I spent in the same house with her, I haven't spoken to my mom in well over a year. I don't speak to her partially because I hate every single thing she says and does, and partially because I just don't want to bum myself out. Sadly, this doesn't mean I don't hear from her. She leaves me voice mails every few days, the content of which just serves to bring me down. She's a depressing person, especially around the holidays. Every message is the same.
“Joshua, it's mom. Um, just wanted to know how you are. How's Beepobo [my cat's name is Peepopo]? I hope you have a good (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, New Year's). I can't wait to come out to Los Angeles to visit you again. Call me right back. (Then, she gives me her phone number, like I don't already know it.)”
I just can't do it. I'm not even sure why I bother listening to the messages at this point. The worst is when she hijacks my dad's phone and tries to trick me into picking up. This just means I never answer when my dad calls. Incidentally, his voice mail messages are just as formulaic, but they vacillate wildly between hilarious and depressing. They usually contain information about my brothers' athletic prowess and my mom's shitty life. One particularly disconcerting message began with “Don't worry, there's no reason you should call me back about this, but your mom just got driven to Mass General Hospital.” Awesome.
Anyhow, now that I'm out of the will as far as most of my family is concerned, the holidays are a little less painful. A “family holiday dinner” for me now usually means my wife and I order food from Kung Pao Kitty and give Peepopo a tin of wet food. I don't go out for Halloween, I don't really do New Year's. I still, however, hate Christmas with a passion envied by the Grinch himself. I hate the music, I hate shopping, I hate crowds. I also hate being compared to Ebenezer Scrooge. By the way, why did everybody need to shit on Scrooge for hating Christmas? It's not like he went around lighting pine wreaths on fire or anything. What's really rough for me is how much I love crass commercialism.
I, personally, wish no ill will upon anybody who wants to celebrate Christmas. I mean, I have a fairly strong faith in God and the Bible, and even if I didn't, I wouldn't begrudge people their right to observe the birth of Christ in whatever way they see fit. I just don't want to be a part of it, is all. I like the idea of giving presents to my wife, although it almost always happens that we're too poor in December to even think about gift-giving. I'm also not one of those people who feels the need to get their pets Christmas presents. A girl at work asked me a couple weeks ago if I was going to give my cat extra cat nip for Thanksgiving. This would have been a lot more appropriate had she asked me on 4/20 - which, as we all know, is Peepopo's birthday. I told her no, I wouldn't be giving the cat extra cat nip on Thanksgiving, because that doesn't make any fucking sense. She's a cat, she wouldn't understand the significance of the gesture. Also, we need to renew her medical cat nip license before I feel good about giving her anything more potent than one of those dingle balls.
One of my biggest dreads is the idea of raising children. It wouldn't be fair to project my hatred of Christmas onto my child - although the idea of raising him 1/12th Jehovah's Witness has crossed my mind. If his birthday is in December as well, then double score. Christmas really ought to be the best day of the year for kids. Presents, family, Jesus, it's all there - the idea of taking that away from my progeny is unconscionable. I fervently hope that I'll be able to provide for my child an environment only half as shitty as mine was growing up. Hopefully by then I won't loathe everything as much as I do now, but let's face it, that's a long shot.
With only a little over two weeks until Christmas actually happens, I still hold out hope that this year will somehow be different than every other. It can't be as bad as two years ago when my wife had an asthma attack so bad that she nearly died on Christmas Eve. It also probably won't be as bad as that Thanksgiving when I woke up covered in pepper spray. The thing that will be most different about this year is my job. I'll probably end up working both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I'm okay with this. It'll provide me with something to do on Christmas besides sit around and wait for my mom to leave me a sad voice mail and then spend the next six hours moping about my apartment wondering why the family I refuse to talk to didn't send me any Christmas presents.
More than anything it'll give me something to do instead of hate myself for getting my wife nothing for a second consecutive Christmas. Three years ago I bought her Primatene caplets from the Long's Drugs on Hollywood and Sycamore, which ended up saving her life. That's almost as good as a card with 20 dollars in it.
Josh Grimmer lives in North Hollywood with his wife and cat. He kinda sorta runs this blog, and has another one at http://mousebed.blogspot.com, where this essay originated. Twitter him up at http://twitter.com/JoshGrimmer