(154) Grár hestur
I bought a Christmas card for my mother, but I wrote it out to my aunt by accident—when we opened the cards, it turned out my aunt had given the same card to my mother; and, in turn, my mother had given the same card to me. It was an owl in the snow.
Why do people hate Christmas? In the first place, the materialism—it’s a purely materialistic affair and it is miserable to experience. Women like Christmas somewhat because it’s a chance to buy people lots of presents and flatter their self-image as generous people (and also a chance to grumble in the kitchen that nobody ever appreciates the work they do—and to make spiteful remarks about what presents and/or lack of presents other relatives have offered). As an event, Christmas is far and away too commercialised; and pious rejoinders along the lines “the true meaning of Christmas” seem too manipulative—it’s about Jesus, and it’s also about pagan fir trees; it’s about both.
The holiday used to depress me; it took me years to work out why—it’s the materialism, it’s feminised; it’s about showing off by buying gifts; it’s about over-indulgence. A further factor is that it’s obligatory to be “in the spirit” and it’s always false to force an emotion—worse, you are expected to spend time with the people you feel most ambivalent about (your family) and pretend to be cheerful whether you like it or not. This is a recipe for misery; it’s not that you have to be grumpy—forced grumpiness is just as false, it’s mandatory to be unreal. Dickens is partly responsible; his Scrooge has set up the idea that kindness is mandatory, lest you die alone—yet that is also a recipe to be false; and so it contributes to the general misery at Christmas. It’s no surprise so many people are ambivalent about the whole holiday—and I suppose it’s why many drink or eat themselves into a stupor.