Catherine Durkin Robinson: 10 things I hate about the holidays

Christmas is commercialized, Chanukah (my holiday) is boring, and Kwanzaa is a lot like underwear you put on before pantyhose…I’m not sure I understand the point. By all means, enjoy the nog and rotting trees in your living room that violate at least 19 fire-safety laws.

This list is for the rest of us:

1. Oil

If you’re wondering which Jewish holiday it is, take a listen outside our bathrooms. Passover is notorious for constipation so it might sound like someone’s giving birth. On Yom Kippur, we’re starving so the only thing you’ll hear is a person sneak-eating a granola bar before they kill someone with their breath.

Chanukah is the holiday where oil is everywhere, in potato latkes and French toast and salad dressing, but especially in our lower intestines – just moving everything along at lightning speed.

If I hear you outside my bathroom, I might send you for more wet wipes.

2. Small Talk at Holiday Parties

Get dressed up and attend a party at night with people you can barely tolerate during the day, then add in some alcohol, well, you’ve got an assault charge waiting to happen. This year I ended up sitting next to a woman who talked about “the upside of torture” all night with spinach dip in her teeth.

Nobody read Lena Dunham’s new book. Nobody saw Boyhood. I asked around.

So I had no choice, really. I had to elevate passive aggressiveness to an art form and loudly discuss topics like personal records, negative splits and how calories don’t create problems if you move every once in a while.

In my defense, they had it coming. Next time maybe everyone will go easy at the dessert table and quit trying to sell me on Homeland.

3. Lame Gifts

Nothing in our history together suggests I need or want a) a box that will transform perfectly good wine into something called a “spritzer,” b) an assortment of fruit that looks like flowers, or c) a tree planted in my name somewhere near Duluth.

4. Cooking

I once believed cooking was an admirable skill to acquire, leading one to more fully appreciate the food we eat and the company we share.

After six holiday dinners where relatives descend on my house empty-handed to eat, drink, and discuss my prominent role in their end-of-life plans, I’m longing for the days when my personality was a detriment.

5. Bad Attitudes

What’s up with all the hostility? Isn’t this supposed to be a happy time? Peace on earth and all that?

If I’m able to fight through a crowd of mouth-breathers to pay for a vibrating egg for my mom’s gag gift this season and still conjure up a smile and say “Happy Holidays,” I expect the same. Not some middle-aged shop clerk with anger issues responding through clenched teeth, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

Fine, OK, that’s what I meant anyway…please don’t shoot me.

6. Overpriced Gifts

Good grief. What the hell am I going to do with a fondue kit?

7. Songs

Listening to “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” by Paul McCartney or “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Coldplay would be enjoyable if it didn’t cause cancer.

8. Free Time

I once wanted the home where my sons and their friends would hang out.

Then they all turned 14 and started high school. Two weeks of free time coming up, where teachers are actually discouraged from giving homework or projects. This means I get to run around slapping a coaster under every drink, encouraging teenagers to keep their voices down because we have neighbors, and threatening the next kid who picks his pimples with a one-way ticket to Mexico.

9. “War on Christmas”

Anyone who says or posts “Jesus Won” gets a care package from me that includes Kirk Cameron’s new movie and paint thinner disguised as whiskey.

You won’t know what hit you.

10. Christmas Cards

Please don’t sum up your year for me. We all get that you are super proud of what your uterus produced. But half of us think those gymnastic pictures are borderline inappropriate and the other half are totally disappointed your near-death experience on Black Friday didn’t encourage some clarity.

The pictures are even worse. Sure, your children, siblings, nieces, nephews and parents look adorable in matching pants and similarly colored tops positioned just so in front of your staircase. I can almost smell that cranberry-scented candle in the background.

But what happens at dinner? The women get lost in scrapbooking competitions, the men are upset that the Jets didn’t perform better this year, the children are only interested in their phones until Dad gets their attention when he puts down his sixth bourbon and barks: “Remember kids, it’s not sexual assault if mistletoe’s involved.”

Why not mention that on Facebook?


Catherine Durkin Robinson is a political advocate and organizer, living in Tampa. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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