Season’s Stressings

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Said someone who’s clearly out of touch with reality.

Let me paint you a picture.

Once upon a time, the holidays used to be about spending time with family and friends and remembering that Christmas is about someone giving us a second chance. It’s about baking cookies (or just eating them) with Grandma, having snowball fights with siblings, sipping hot chocolate while watching The Polar Express with family and finally getting to nosh on the ham that Mom’s been slow-roasting in the oven for eight hours.

But this was 2020.

In 2020, when the holidays came around, you took your credit cards through the mall (or Amazon) where every store was shouting “BIG SAVINGS!” “60 PERCENT OFF ENTIRE STORE” or “FIND THE PERFECT GIFT HERE!” Be honest, you probably bought more for yourself than you did for other people.

The day of the family gathering comes. You watched as your family members tore into their gifts and tried to keep breathing when your cousin said they hate your gift and asked why you didn’t include the receipt so they can return it. You spent days agonizing over what to get them for them to sucker punch you in the stomach.

Sound familiar?

This is the sad reality of what Christmas has become. A holiday that was once about the birth of Jesus Christ is now about stuff. A day that was originally about kindness, compassion, charity, forgiveness and about a million other things I’m definitely forgetting has become materialistic and empty.

When I was a little girl, Christmas lasted for a good 36 hours. This 36 hours consisted of Christmas Eve mass, sleeping by the Christmas tree, opening gifts, enjoying Mom’s divine bread pudding and going to my aunt and uncle’s house for dinner and playing Just Dance with my cousins while the parents opened a bottle of wine.

Sadly, Christmas has taken a total 180.

For the last six years, give or take, Christmas has rarely come with fun holiday memories. After a few weeks of my mom being borderline unlivable while she stresses about the Christmas Eve mass, I hope to sleep until 9 a.m. because all I want for Christmas is sleep, but I don’t because I have two brothers who have no respect for my sleep schedule, so I begrudgingly drag myself out of bed and watch as the carpet is swallowed by a sea of wrapping paper. My brothers leave with my dad at some point, so by 11 a.m. on Christmas Day, the holiday is essentially over.

With no super memorable gifts and no fun family memory to take away, Christmas is no longer the happy holiday I remember. What I normally remember about Christmas is spending days thinking, “God, what am I supposed to get my brother, who’d want a giant nerf gun I cannot afford, nor would I want to get shot with?” or “I’m going to have to add ‘ax murderer’ to my resume if I don’t get a day during holiday break where I can take a relaxing bubble bath and watch anime instead of catching up on schoolwork.”

But this Christmas will be one to remember. Regretfully, it won’t be remembered for the positives. It’ll definitely be the negatives.

First, gifts. I knew exactly what I wanted to get for my mom, brothers and aunt. Except for my mom’s gift, I could get everything else easily…or so I thought. 

Pretty much every store had a line in front of it because they could only have so many people in one store at a time. That means a trip that would have taken 10, maybe 15 minutes was now three times as long, if I was lucky. Most of that time was spent waiting outside the store, twiddling my thumbs. Both of my brothers were really specific about what they wanted, so I knew if I got them anything else, they’d make me feel like crap for it. 

Meanwhile, despite my house being covered in a nauseating amount of Christmas decor, there was little holiday happiness going around. My mom and my aunt, both of whom are teachers, are stressing out because most of their students are failing. I’m stressing out because my mom is on my butt about my grades, which are tragic. It feels like there’s so much to do and I’m so close to snapping if someone asks me to do one more thing. With everything I have to get done, it’s hard to find the time to sleep, shower, eat and take part in other simple pleasures I used to have time for. 

With the exception of Satan himself, 2020 has been nobody’s friend. Seniors should have graduated. Five year olds everywhere should have started kindergarten. Awesome field trips students had been looking forward to for months or even years should have happened. I know there’s a lot I’m leaving out, but the bottom line is that 2020 has SUCKED for everybody.

Holiday cheer has been spreading since before Thanksgiving. I’m not usually a fan of this, but with the interesting year we’ve had, I don’t blame people for wanting something to be happy about. 

But really, what are we happy about? Are we happy about getting out of Macy’s with $200 worth of merchandise, but only paying $100? Are we happy about all the money we saved during Cyber Week when we bought Christmas gifts a month in advance? Are we happy that we got the last LEGO Ninjago set from Target before the place was cleaned out of LEGOs?

Why aren’t we happy about being healthy? Why aren’t we happy that a vaccine is finally ready for distribution? And if we’ve lost people this year, whether it be to the SARS-CoV-2 virus or to other causes, why aren’t we remembering the lives they lived and honoring the good they contributed instead of focusing on the fact that they’re gone? 

When the world’s gone to crap, it’s easy to see the negatives. Covid cases are back on the rise. Amazon is sold out of the one thing you wanted to get your mom for Christmas because thanks to Covid, everyone’s ordering online. You miss seeing your best friend at school and seeing them on Teams just isn’t cutting it. If there’s one thing humans are good at, it’s inflating the negative. 

This is where we go wrong. Looking only on the negative side means ignoring the positives. In the US, for every person who’s lost to the virus, 57 are still fighting as of Dec. 28. For every confirmed case in the US, about 19 people are either healthy or haven’t shown symptoms yet. For every negative, there is a positive, even if it’s not totally obvious.

The human race has been around for 200 thousand years, give or take. In the last thousand years alone, humans have survived a ton of diseases much worse than COVID-19. Just like this one, we didn’t know how to cure plagues and pandemics of the past and now, we do. We’ve survived history, and history’s pretty messed up. 

I won’t jinx 2021 by saying that it can’t suck anymore than 2020 has. If I do, God will come at me and say “Girl, you thought,” and the whole rest of the decade will blow up.  

Instead, I’m going to say “hit me with your best shot.”