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On Dasher, On Dancer, On Prozac

By Tom ďYuletideĒ Waters
January 16th, 2003

Santa DrinkingWhelp, Iíve survived the holiday gauntlet.  From Thanksgiving until January 1st, there is no reprieve.  No sanctuary, no shelter, no quarter from family, family meals, stress, anxiety, depression, aggravation, noise pollution, and hustle and bustle on a scale of mental exhaustion.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.  Why not celebrate the holidays by running your immune system into the ground, gaining weight, drinking like a fish, and maxing out your credit cards?  Holidays are hell on adults, always have been, always will be.  I didnít really notice it until this year, but more people collectively lose their shit this time of year than any other.  I donít know how I kept mine together other than the fact that everyone lost their mind around me while I watched.  Iím reminded of the relationship between Hunter Thompson and his trusty sidekick in the film/book Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas; one of the two always kept their wits about them while the other blows it.  They took turns.  I made it straightaway up until three or four days before New Yearís before commencing into total collapse.

My grandfather died five days before Christmas, a fact which never escapes anyone in my family.  Itís been six years, but deaths in the family are like tattoos.  Nobody mentioned it this year, but Iím sure we all thought about it.  Hovering about like the ghost of Christmas past, memories of my grandpa and his subsequent passing left an indelible mark on our holidays forever.  It really sucks how relatives seem to die around the really important occasions.  That, or there are too many holidays to count, and it just seems that way.  Maybe thatís the end result of old age and the stress of the season.  I felt my age this year, and perhaps the burden of Christmas shopping and card sending and table settings will put me six feet under when I get older, too.  

Iím so sick of shopping and hunting and gathering that Iím considering moving to another country next year between the months of November and March.  Maybe Iíll move to France, where they donít believe in anything and criticize everyone else for believing in something.  Iím not a big fan of standing in line.  Leave that to the fucking soccer moms.  I donít chase down bargains or make the six a.m. toy runs the stores like to torture us with.  Itís complete madness.  Nothing will get me out of bed before eight oíclock (unless, of course, Iím still awake from the night before).  By December, people get a glazed, psychotic look in their eyes standing in the checkout lanes.  Desperation, exhaustion, and materialism bear down on their tiny brains.  Stupid people are much more likely to lose their minds around the holidays because they have less of it to go around.  You see them screaming at cashiers, elbowing their way through toys, and clothes-lining Christmas carolers.   

One expends a lot of energy participating in family meals, get-togethers and Holiday jaunts.  Entire days off are chewed up driving to a destination, sitting and talking with loved ones, having a meal, exchanging gifts, toasting champagne, and so on.  This leaves you with the feeling that not only donít you have any free time, but a vacuum of activity in its place.  While I prefer to nap frequently and laze about on days off running the occasional errand, these become a thing of the past in the winter months.   

Nothing makes you feel more alone than holidays, especially New Yearís.  Weíd all like to picture ourselves kissing our intended at the stroke of midnight rather than basking in our own solitude.  This is one of the many factors that pushes people right over the edge into insanity.  Seasonal violence has a cause and effect.  Itís modus operandi is the surmounting pressure that drives people to drink and play bumper cars with their new Lexus, grab for the shotgun and paint the walls, or gobble up that bottle of sleeping pills like a Christmas ham.   

Letís not forget the big two stressors, either: finances and weight.  The average American gains twenty pounds between November and January.  So many holiday snacks within reach; fruitcake, turkey, Christmas cookies, egg nog, and scotch.  One month on the lips, a new yearís resolution on the hips.  Most people worry year round about their budgets, and racking up gifts on multiple credit cards doesnít help.  Itís a holiday recipe for a breakdown. 

Itís a good thing the holiday triathlon only comes once a year.  Itís probably not any one factor that freaks people out so much as the sum of all of them.  That, and the close of the year.  Expectations for the coming calendar, and disappointment over the previous one.  The thought that weíre getting older at the speed of light, and that another year has gotten away from us.  Should old acquaintance be forgot....just give me one solid day off.  And let me hide out from family, friends, and shopping centers.     

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