Well, here we are again.

The “Holidays.”

I really don’t know when I started hating the holidays. I honestly don’t.

It wasn’t, as some assume, when my folks divorced. This season became annoying, of that there’s no doubt, but I didn’t hate it.

When the kids were little, I certainly liked how excited they got at the season, especially Christmas mornings with all the shrieks and delighted squeeks of gift opening. I love happy kids, and I am, for better or worse, addicted to my children smiling.

My dislike for the season pre-dates working in retail, too, though the last few years certainly haven’t done anything to change my mind.

It’s not a reflection on the perversion of religious themes and iconography either. I don’t care. Christians, for the most part, spend the rest of the year tarnishing their brand, so, come the celebration of the Prince of Peace’s birth their shitty behavior is just old hat, really.

I remember a few times, as a kid, having giant family parties where everyone dressed up in bathrobes and pretended to be shepards, wise men, inn keepers, etc. Basically, a wildly inaccurate cultural appropriation that would have been offensive if not for the casual ignorance and unaware white privilege of the party planners and participants. It was silly, really, but earnest. I learned the dreidel and found out that chocolate coins taste like soap.

It’s not Hanukkah. I like the optimistic simplicity of Hanukkah. A celebration of throwing off the yoke of Greek-Syrian oppression? I get it. An eight day observance of a very well made, fuel economic lantern? What’s not to like?

It’s not Kwanzaa. If anything, I wish Kwanzaa were celebrated even half as loud as Christmas. “Nguzo Saba” are a wonderfully structured collection of good advice for how to live a life. It’s a celebration of African and African-American cultures that, in hindsight, I wish I’d spent more time teaching my kids about when they were wee.

Pearl Harbor day? No.

Dewey Decimal System Day? Maybe a little residual damage from pre-internet researching gigs, but, overall, no.

National Oatmeal Muffin Day? Absolutely not.

I’ve never seen the movie Elf.

It’s not the societal pressure to spend, either. I love giving people presents. Aside from rent, car payments, utilities, and trying to buy food after paying all of that stuff, one of my employment regrets is not having enough money to buy cool shit impulsively for people I love. I love gift giving.

Having a deeper than usual chat with a friend a few days ago, politics and the holiday season sort of popped up. When I was working political jobs over the last 20+ years, come November, I was suddenly, if obviously, unemployed.

A lot of political operatives end up in penury during the holidays. It’s hard to get employment when your resume looks like a stack of temp jobs. You look flakey as hell, and, on paper, any employer can easily reach the conclusion that you’ll be out the door come the next campaign season.

We had so many “Dollar Store Christmases” when the kids were young. We were broke as hell every December, and it was my fault for my selfish addiction to campaign work. It was a wild disappointment for my oldest kid, and every year I felt more shitty than the year before not being able to match the neighbors in the holiday largess. My oldest son is almost ten years older than his younger siblings. He knew he was getting short shrift, I knew it, and hated it, but I couldn’t do anything about my addiction to trying to get people elected.

I just don’t know.

Most likely it’s a combination of all of it.

I’ve tried, off and on, over the years, to stuff it all down and give the holidays a chance. I really have. There have been few successes.

I even recorded T’was the Night Before Christmas a bunch of years ago in an attempt to wrestle some Holiday cheer out of a jaded and pessimistic heart.

No, I hate the Holidays. It’s just part of my DNA now. I don’t begrudge anyone their enjoyment of the season. I like watching people be happy. I enjoy the sight of smiling people. I think Christmas lights are pretty, and I regret not decorating more before I lost the house. I like giving gifts, and I’m only mildly uncomfortable receiving them.

Here’s the thing, though … I’m trying not to hate the holidays. I try every year. I smile, and I cook, and I give, and I get, and I try. I think that’s one of those things that make this season special, at least a little, is that most folks are just doing the best they can, and a lot of people can drown themselves in festive cheer with a childlike enthusiasm. I am not one of those people, but I think I want to be, so, I’ll keep trying, and maybe before I shuffle off this mortal coil, I can find a way to feel the simple joys of this time of year without being weighed down by the guilt and regrets of the years before.

So, for you folks, I hope you find this a very happy holiday season. No matter your religion or culture, I want you to be happy, and safe. I hope your curmudgeons are trying as hard as I am to fake it until they make it.