Tuesday, 19 December 2017

[ xmas rant ]

Stay calm. Move slowly. Breathe deeply.

I know, I know. It snuck up on us again. Without warning, without fanfare. Shock. Horror. *Gasp*

Or not, rather. That'd be like, 12 years in a row now, right?

It's xmas*. It's 8 days away and everyone is losing their proverbial shit. To be fair, the CBD is feral, the humidity has gone up, and no one has had a good nights' sleep since October.

A little panic is not unjustified.

But that's where my patience ends, good people. That's where I draw the line and start to think about real stress, real anxiety.

Going a little serious on you, here it is; this is not a great time of year. People are spending every waking hour at the office trying to get things done so that they can spend the break with their family.

Health workers are doing shift work and getting hammered by incidents mainly involving drunk twits, while desperately trying to help nanas who've had falls in their kitchens.

Retail workers are pasting on their brightest smiles, and using their chirpiest voices, to deal with aggressive idiots while listening to carols on repeat for 9 hours.

It's tense, it's full-on, and it's really, really hectic.

At the same time, there is this pervasive and insidious weirdness to the season. An enforced jollity and creepy cheer. You know the one; where we all pretend to be shiny happy people holding hands,  celebrating the 'joy' of the season.

And being judgey-McJudge-judges on each and every way that people like to spend their holiday season. But in a passive-aggressive way, and delivered with that horrid, jokey laugh we put on when we're being awful.

Oh, you're doing a beach xmas this year? How quaint!

You're going to get them that for xmas? That's...nice...

Sit around and watch xmas movies? Gosh, wouldn't it be nice to have the time!

Xmas isn't festive. Xmas is torture wrapped in tinsel with a side of pavlova. 


Every year, scores of parents tell their spouses that they will be the one taking the kids to the shops, or the one doing the xmas shopping this time. Grandparents say they'll come to the kids place this year. Cousins and close friends arrange holiday houses, where you can all get together for a special xmas catch up. 

Every year, scores of these same people - these generally reasonably-mannered people - turn into nasty, rude, occasionally violent nutters who inflict their displeasure on all and sundry, as if everyone in a 100m radius is set on doing them wrong. Set on challenging them to an argument.

To be fair, some of them don't. Some of them actually potter through the season, hanging out with family, giving and receiving gifts, and generally having a decent time.

Half of latter do it purely to avoid a confrontation with the former...  


Which leads me to something I'd like us all to keep in mind this time of the year. Just a moment of contemplation. Be warned; it's not pretty, it's not festive, and it sure as hell isn't wrapped in novelty holiday paper.

December is a tricky time for people emotionally. Add that to our increasing suicide rate throughout the country, and you have a seriously worrying trend. And I'm going to say something really blunt, so brace yourself. 

Xmas makes some people want to kill themselves. 

There, I said it. 

Pretty shocking, right? You thought I was being dramatic, building tension. I wasn't. I stated a fact, an inconvenient truth that we make concerned faces over, but don't really do much about. Xmas is a lonely, stressful, and anxious time of the year. And some people will listen to and put up with the most appalling behaviour just to get through it.

I don't have an answer to such a mammoth issue, and I certainly don't expect any of you to. Mental health is still blushed with taboo in our culture and the times are changing, but ever so slowly. 

What I do expect however, is compassion and love. And yes, dammit, goodwill towards your fellow beings. And yes, I do expect it a little more of it at this time of year.


Having to take your kids to the shops isn't stressful. Just because little Timmy is screaming his lungs out for a Batman action figure, and little Alice is pouting her bottom lip in a fashion a Kardashian would be proud of, does not make you hard done by. 

The woman in the corner of the cafe, quietly trying to get her sick baby to feed, looking sleep deprived and close to tears; she's doing things a bit hard. She is heroically trying to keep it together, and deserves our sympathy.  

Not getting the park you want, even after you waited 10 minutes behind some fool in a 4WD, is not a great burden on your day. Circling around for another 10 is not, in fact, going to utterly ruin your life as you know it. 

Grandpops, in his little Mazda, beetling along slowly, deserves a break. He's a polite driver, he doesn't get out much, and he certainly isn't as quick as he used to be. So when he accidentally pinches your spot and gratefully waves to you enthusiastically, he hasn't earned your aggression. He hasn't earned you calling names out your window, or worse, fronting up to his car and Hulk-ing out. 

If I haven't quite made it clear, let me put it this way; your problems are not insurmountable. They are not earth-shaking, they are not life-altering. And what you think you deserve at this time of the year - let alone any other time - is not actually what you're justified in getting.  


All the little things we enjoy, all the ease with which we sail through life, suddenly becomes more apparent at xmas. At least to me. With all the hard times I've been through, there is someone having a harder one. And that's certainly not the platitude it sounds like.  

Can't afford the holiday to the UK you wanted? Whining to the family the only reason you are coming to xmas lunch is because the airfares were just so expensive? There are people who haven't had a holiday in years; they can't afford to go to the Gold Coast, let alone international. 

Cranky because, yet again, you have to schlepp all the way down south to the parents' place, where you will eat too much, drink too much, and fall asleep in your childhood bedroom, still dressed in your party gear? How embarrassing...

But better than the woman who barely gets to see her kids, has to beg to spend time with them, and then spends a fortune she doesn't have on a xmas day she's not sure her family will end up coming to. 


Not to sound like a broken record, but xmas is hard. It's depressing. And it goes on for weeks.

In the end, I'm not asking a lot, and I'm not asking anything that I'm not already doing myself.

Stop taking your kids to the shops. Plan your day so it's not going to be feral, the kids aren't going to go mental, and you're not going to lose your mind. Get public transport, arrive early, take a friend if you need moral support. Spend less on crap, more on stuff you want to, and have the cajones to tell the family we're you're at. 

You're all grown ups, you know how. 


During the holiday season, no matter what your faith or inclination, you reflect on all you're grateful for. You perform little traditions to show how thankful you are for the people around you, the privileges reap, and life you lead. Some of them are fun, some of them are lame, some of them are both.

But some people don't. They don't have family around, they don't the time or the money to go somewhere to relax and celebrate. Some people aren't appreciated for all they've done; in fact, they are openly taken for granted. 

So for those of you who want to tell me how much you miss your family right now, or how this time of year makes you sad because that someone special isn't around; come here. I have a hug, some spiked eggnog, and many hours of comfort at your disposal. 

But for the rest of you, those of you who whine that Aunty Mary is only going to give you socks again, or Cousin Dave is just going to tell you the same story, or even that your parents are making you travel again, I have something to tell you.

This year, I'm giving out candy canes and smack-downs. And I'm plumb out of candy canes... 


*To avoid the inevitable; I spell it like this out of respect. Not because I'm an illiterate tween who thinks this is how it's actually spelt. 20-odd years as a pagan and bought up a Catholic, I still want to show my respect in my way for religion by not using names, terms, or even curses really, I don't have faith in. Little odd, sure, but respect is still respect. We all have that in common.

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