I've never been religious, and my family wasn't what you'd call Christian, but we did celebrate Christmas. As a kid I sure loved the hell outta that holiday. My sister and I had a running agreement that whoever woke up first on Christmas morning would wake up the other kid, and we'd creep into the living room together. It didn't matter what the presents were; the lights on the plastic Christmas tree and the festive smells of the musty old stockings and scented candles and the sheer anticipation made everything perfect.
By the time I was a teenager, however, Christmas had become a somber event. As time goes by your heart gets broken a few times, tensions develop between family members, people die, manic-depressive disorders set in, and after a while the once fond memories of childhood holidays start to remind you of what you've lost, or worse, what perhaps was never real to begin with.
As an adult I struggle with the holiday every year. Living in the northwest, the shift in season is painfully apparent. You're still mourning the loss of summer, and then suddenly it's December. You know it's the so-called “holiday season” because the people you encounter around town are a little edgier, a little more desperate, maybe even a little panicked. Everyone is so wrapped up in their own internal struggle they just don't have time to deal with your shit right now. They're going through divorces, shitty jobs, deaths, births, layoffs, breakups, school, and there's never enough money, and now this damned holiday is coming at the worst possible time, and I'm trying to get off this bus but this fucking asshole won't get out of my way!
My advice: Smoke pot. Smoke more pot than you usually do. If you don't normally smoke pot, pull the enormous stick out of your ass and smoke that.
Also: Drink. Fill your gut with dark beer and spiced wine and cheap champagne and vodka and gin and whiskey and rum and hell, take that shot of tequila just to remind yourself that summer ain't that far away and nothing is as horrible as it might seem.
Take a moment to absorb your surroundings. Gaze through bloodshot, uncritical eyes at the people around you. Make peace with your present situation. For better or for worse, everything is about to change, and you don't need to be lugging around any unnecessary baggage. Make peace and let it go.
Maybe we'll see each other at the bar, where we can exchange the gift of a nod, a raised glass, and a “Merry Christmas.”