Here comes another one and this year we’ve got the classic triple threat: Easter, Passover, and Ramadan. Ah, the holidays. Nothing says warmth and community like obligatory celebrations. Thou shalt invite people you don’t particularly care for over to eat too much. Thou shalt wear uncomfortable shoes and make small talk. Thou shalt buy things you can’t afford, drink things that make you feel ill, and eat jelly beans.
Many, many jellybeans.
No, I wasn’t always like this about holidays. Are you kidding? I’m the one who grew up in Ohio’s answer to Mayberry. Small town America does holidays. Does ’em all. Hell, we even celebrated Arbor Day.
And the biggies? Christmas was a six-week orgy of anticipation that culminated in a road trip to rural Pennsylvania, many drunken grownups, a tree that was almost completely hidden by presents, and the most bewildering sense of letdown before the long ride back to Ohio. Easter was candy and so was Halloween. But Easter also included scratchy new dresses and tight patent leather shoes.
And they all featured tables weighed down with food. Acres of food. Every horizontal surface covered with plates and platters and bowls.
Was it all some ghastly ordeal? Oh, hell no. I was a kid and anything to break the dull routine of life in small-town Murika was welcome. Maybe what changed is that I don’t live a dull routine life so I don’t need those breaks. In fact, back when I still felt obliged to participate I resented the intrusion. There came one bleak, dark December day when I looked around the apartment I shared with no one and realized I was now going to have to take down all those stupid decorations and put them away for another year.
I took them down and gave them away.
Friends are ever so slightly condescending when another season of holiday cheer rolls around and I don’t join in the festivities. I don’t buy anything I wouldn’t ordinarily buy. I don’t travel anywhere. Ok, one Christmas I traveled down to Houston Street to shoot billiards and order out Chinese with Pete. No tinsel was involved.
I’m hearing those friends excitedly ask each other “What are you doing for the holiday?”.