Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Just call me Grinch

Why I ‘hate hate hate, double hate’ and entirely loathe the holidays
(Photo: AlchemillaMollis/Pixabay)

As I’ve gotten older, the holidays have become more about endurance and survival rather than celebration. Although I know that there is a population who enjoys the holidays, I’ve never been able to relate to the shiny, happy, clean image that is usually portrayed in the media and by American culture at large. Despite knowing what a nightmare my mental health can be like during the holidays, I can’t ignore the pressure I feel to perform as if everything is fine.

The way that I experience my grief every year feels more like a confrontation. It starts early fall. Then there is a slow, numbing burn through the new year. In order to override my discomfort and pain during a time that gets romanticized, I’ve learned to compartmentalize my memories and feelings. 

While I know I’m not the only one who grieves throughout the holidays, going through this type of grieving period can be an isolating experience and confusing to others. So I am writing this for the others like me, who feel like they are on the outside looking in during their festive family gatherings– still trying to put on a worthy performance of positive, loving vibes despite it all. 

The holidays seem to highlight family and family bonding. But some of us are perpetually missing one or more members of our families due to death, incarceration, sickness, and estrangement– which reopens wounds we wish we could close during this bonding time. In my experience, acknowledgment of grief during the holidays is avoided for the sake of other people’s comfort, which can be a form of disenfranchised grief. 

Those of us with severely dysfunctional or strictly traditional biological families can get pressured to be with them during the holidays – instead of our chosen families – in order to circumvent being disowned and estranged from them. Additionally, if you have a partner to share the holidays with, the planning and scheduling often becomes a draining task as there is usually an expectation to split time in some way – instead of being able to gather in one place. 

A big family isn’t necessary in order for there to be drama and contentious interactions. In my family, I’ve noticed that bigotry is tolerated the most during this time in order to “keep the peace,” however it’s anything but peaceful when there is oppressive, passive-aggressive, or commonplace hate speech in your family and a genuine conversation can not be had. To add insult to injury there’s usually an expectation to give gifts to family members that I dislike or only have a surface level connection to, usually because they only show up during “special” occasions – like the holidays.  

I imagine for others who struggle with sobriety, that the holidays can invite a time of relapse which could last indefinitely.

A new holiday hallmark of dread for me now is being around the abundance of substances that are usually involved throughout christmas and new years. My sobriety journey has been lonely, as I’ve completely stopped drinking this year and I don’t smoke anything. Being fully sober around inebriated people is not fun for me due to how triggering it can be– the “fun” is just a drink away, and that’s too close for me. I’ve also witnessed people becoming aggressive, angry, and depressive when drunk and I’ve a majority of unpleasant memories when navigating and witnessing holiday drinking. I understand the intention of bonding through spirits and other substances, but I’ve hardly seen alternatives presented for those who are recovering from substance dependency or choosing sobriety– and I haven’t seen enough sensitivity around the subject either. I imagine for others who struggle with sobriety, that the holidays can invite a time of relapse which could last indefinitely.

I’m not telling anybody to hate the holidays just because I do. However, I think some traditions should be deeply questioned and challenged. I just want to live in a society where “unorthodox” relationships are given equal value and respect, and where gifts don’t require a yearly deadline, are only material or highly money dependent, and aren’t given from a place of obligatory pressure. I think year-round acts of service should be the most valuable gift we can offer each other, especially when the window of time left to show up for our loved ones is unknown.  

About the Contributor
Nico Addams-Tumaneng, Staff Writer
Nico is an east bay original. Nico’s interest in journalism started around middle school- with their yearbook and newspaper class- and expanded from there. Nico has a background in photography and an interest in photojournalism. They have also worked with filing, storing, and updating information at Oakland public libraries for three years. Nico seeks out novelty and has a wide range of (sometimes very niche) interests as a result. They feel passionately towards shedding light on folks and places that get overlooked or taken for granted in all aspects of life.
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