Thursday, November 12, 2015


So apparently it’s the Christmas season. Despite all the kerfuffle over its simple red cup, Starbucks has the holiday soundtrack streaming as I try to cram in some writing time. (Since everyone is supposed to weigh in on the red cup debate, I’ll say I’m fine with it. The coffee is as hot as ever and, truthfully, I can’t tell the difference between a Christmas blend and the Sulawesi. Maybe all that hot coffee burned my taste buds.) I want to scream “Humbug!” as Michael Buble sings, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. But, dang it, I know the tune too well. I’m listening more than I want to. The lyrics dance about in my brain.

And I like it.

Again, dang it. I set aside the outline I’m working on for a new manuscript and surrender to Christmas. Or at least to Mr. Buble. But this distraction does not pass. Celine’s on deck, singing “The Christmas Song” and, despite the fact, that roasted chestnuts do nothing for me, I’m feeling calm, even warm, as if that open fire were right by my side.

My natural reflex is to resist All-Things-Christmas. It’s about self-protection. ‘Tis the season when I am in danger of feeling lonely. ‘Tis the time when I am hit over the head by the fact that I don’t have a boyfriend to hold and to fret over getting the perfect gift. ‘Tis the period when I have to prep myself with a simple soundbite over why I must answer “No” to “Are you going home to see your family?”

While others feel jolly, I struggle. Until a year and a half ago, I would berate myself with “What is wrong with me?” Now I know. I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder. It’s chronic. Goes back to adolescence, possibly as far back as when I was five years old. I’ve always been overly sensitive and that led to anxiety which evolved into depression. Holidays are hard. And Christmas is the hardest.

The good news is that I seem to have a handle on my depression. I have a new psychiatrist who is earnest, if not terribly effective. (It beats the adversarial relationship with the last one.) And, after shutting down any talk of medication for a year, I’ve given a drug a chance. It took some tinkering, but the meds seem to be working. I haven’t experienced the lowest of lows in weeks, maybe even a couple of months. Christmas will be a big test.

It’s early in the season. Frankly, it shouldn’t even be the season. But Starbucks started it. And there are other signs. As my commuter bus headed over the Lions Gate Bridge in morning darkness, I spotted one house fully decked in Christmas lights in West Vancouver. Keeners. Maybe they’re the sort that never take down their lights. The Christmas spark has been lit.

And Buble is still in my head. What am I to do? I suppose I’ve spent too much energy resisting, year after year. I’m going to try something different this time around. I’m going to let it be. I may even enjoy a few traditions. Shortbread! The smell of pine indoors! I might even buy a carton of egg nog this weekend. (And, yes, I’ll add rum.) My favorite TV show of all time happens to be Christmas-themed. If some guys can go on and on about “Star Wars” and the December 14th release of “The Force Awakens”, then I can say a little “Woot!” in my head over the December 1st airing of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”. I’ve got a soft spot for all those misfits.

Ready or not, it’s coming. Starbucks says so; yes, even in simple red. The season of pumpkin lattes is over. If you can stomach it, sip an egg nog latte and rejoice in the fact that you don’t have to spend a weekend writing Christmas cards. You can probably just try on a hideous sweater with Santa and some snowmen, snap a selfie and pre-program a “Happy Holidays” post for Facebook. Send one card to grandma. She still likes that tradition. Then, use the extra time to try new shortbread recipes. Be merry or at least be lulled into a sugar coma.

Happy November 12th. Time for me to “fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la” off.




oskyldig said...

The only signs of Christmas where I live is the half-effort approach to putting up a Christmas tree and pretending like Christmas is a thing here by featuring students and teachers in a talent show to Celebrate. No snow, warmer weathers, and lack of spirit really do make a difference.

I can't even feel the Asian celebrations during important holidays; I just hear fireworks and brace for cover thinking bombs are hitting my village. Ha!

Rural Gay Gone Urban said...

Interesting to get your perspective from afar, Oskyldig. I wonder how I'd fare if Christmas came and went without ANY of the familiar symbols and traditions. (I suspect I'd feel a slight pang and then get over it!)