I guess it's Christmas or something!

I feel like I’m supposed to post something positive today — to, you know, spread joy and love or some other such crap — but I actually think Christmas is kind of the worst.

If I were to take my Facebook feed at face value, I would have to buy that 100% of people are feeling 100% merry. But sometimes the internet deceives us *gasp*

So today I will be the grinchy one on the internet and point out, for everyone else who isn’t feeling the magical Christmas crappola, that you are not alone.

Contrary to popular propaganda, for many people, Christmas ends up being a super stressful and depressing time of year. Particularly if your life is less-than-perfect which, I think it’s fair to assume, most of ours are. People who have family issues (is there anyone who doesn’t?), suffer from depression, are not wealthy or middle class (i.e. don’t have disposable income, therefore making the Christmas consumeristic frenzy all the more stressful), or who are alone, suddenly feel all the more low about these day-to-day struggles.

I think it’s important to point out that, in particular, Christmas can be nightmarish for women who are living with abusers and/or are living in poverty. Alcohol consumption is high, stress is high, and police report a higher number of calls from women over the holidays than other times of the year:

Normal life is not going on. The children aren’t at school. People aren’t at work…The expectation of a good time adds pressure and alcohol can be an aggravating factor. (via Sky News)

For many, Christmas just reinforces the idea that if you are unpartnered or don’t have a traditional (and happyhappy!) family or family life, you are flawed. That, tied to the fact that incidences of domestic abuse rise over the holidays leads me to believe that, regardless of the overpowering surge of Hallmark-style status updates, the holidays are not as universally wonderful as we imagine they should be.

Oh right, also the whole world isn’t Christian.

While I do hope many of you are having a lovely, happy day whether it’s with family or friends or pets or just on your own, I noticed that the barrage of saccharine holiday-related posts made my general lack of interest in Christmas time shift from plain indifference to crabby. Is everyone lying? Or is it that those of us who may wish that Christmas would just be over with already so we can stop feeling flawed and guilty for not engaging in the week long holiday gush are silent?

So to all those who are having a MEH-ry Christmas — you are not alone! We just aren’t posting much on Facebook.

Catch you on the flip side, lovies.



Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Artemesia Goldman

    Thanks for saying it. Every year this bullshit… Christmas is painful for a lot of people. For all the reasons you say and more. And yes, people are lying. But why, I don’t know…

    • MLM

      A number of years ago a friend of mine took her own life around Christmas time. A few nights before that I’d been out with her and a group of friends and she seemed to be in wonderful spirits, the life and soul of the party that evening. She’d been really struggling and deeply unhappy for various reasons for quite a while before that. And I remember being so happy and relieved to see that she was apparently turning the corner and feeling better about stuff. The shock a few days later was incredible. And the guilt, too, that maybe the desire I (and everybody, really) had had to see her “happy again” had only made things even harder for her to drop the mask and admit that she wasn’t.

      When we care about people, of course we wish for the best for them. But when that turns into a bullshit pressure for them to live up to something they can’t, and makes them feel like they’ve “failed” if their life doesn’t match everyone’s expectations, we end up being part of the problem for them even if we don’t mean to be. With all my heart I wish I’d given my friend more permission to just be human and drop the pretence. I meant to, but somehow didn’t manage it.

      I think you’re right. “It’s a Wonderful Life on Facebook” is often a fiction that people feel compelled to present to the world. It should be perfectly okay to admit to having a Meh-ry Christmas, or any other time of year, especially if you need to.

      • Meghan Murphy

        How awful. And yes, I think feeling like we have uphold this facade of happiness or a perfect life is so stressful. There is so much in our culture that tells us we should just SMILE or, you know, STAY POSITIVE that, I think, only exacerbates depression because we feel like there’s something wrong with us for not being happy all the time.

    • Hollow-point

      Everyone is lying, pretending, and faking it. The holiday season has always been a huge bummer. Sometimes when women cry “tears of joy”, they are really just crying. The drive to be the perfect little Betty Crocker haunts us. Actually being alone with other women in the kitchen is nice for obvious reasons. Then the meal and the men are all “Oh wowie this is fantastic food. Mmm-mmm. We men sure can’t do this.” Oh, shut the fuck up.

      Now the women in my family (so lucky to have three gens of mostly females) are pulling away from the older patriarchs, even though there’s still a nigel and a mike in the younger ranks. But we women as individuals are trying to mend our shredded selves. We fight horribly sometimes. When I think of the real causes for why we fight- and I am the one who sees it most clearly of my family- I want to scream. Men like it when I want to scream. It rewards their hard work.

  • marv

    I also have a related but different take on Christmas which I call, Remaking the first Xmas – for dummies:

    I am perplexed and disgruntled, not unlike Scrooge, before his conversion. Sex liberals feel driven to spread their axiomatic creed of salvation through sex and consumption, yet they haven’t recreated the original biblical Christmas narrative. It is an enormous oversight on the freedom fighters’ part for neglecting to sex up the Virgin Mary. If sex is liberation then why have they avoided reconstituting the Jewish girl to be pimped out by Joseph to the shepherds and the three Wise Men, and sketched as pornography for masturbation. Or she could be scripted as a free agent. In either plot she would still become pregnant and give birth to Jesus, a pimp who redeems the world by bringing the sexual revolution to fruition – the end of sexual repression; Freud’s wet dream.

    Predictably the conservative traditionalists would be aghast and dismissive. Women must remain virgins or proper mothers and wives. Redemption has to hinge on the heterosexual monogamous nuclear family: the Holy Spirit, an older husband and younger wife whose male offspring delivers us from the sins of liberalism and selfishness. All abhorrent to the sex trail blazers.

    There it is friends: our prescribed life in story forms. We have two choices, liberal or conservative, two sides of Caesar’s patriarchal coin. A blend of the two is merely the edge of the coin not a new paradigm. But I digress and it is not news to you anyway.

    Wake up liberals from your failure of imagination. Do I have to do your thinking for you. Go the distance. Show some competitive “spirit” towards one of the major bastions of conservative puritanism – the Holy Family- so that you will triumph and our species can fully fuck (and shop) our way to freedom. You’ve applied your brand of sex inequality to Santa Claus and his naughty little female helpers. You’ve also been successful linking it to capitalism’s profit motive during the Christmas season and beyond. I guess that is what Marx meant by “primitive accumulation”; silly man.

    Surely the liberal vision was also the intent of the Mayan prophecies, now due to be realized: a new eroticized earth and heaven after the apocalypse.

    Tis the season to “do it”. Sexy holiday blessings to all including many new shiny gadgets!!!!

    PS. Failing the above, I am holding out for a visit from the three liberal ghosts of the past, present and future to transform my life.

  • Aims

    Thanks for writing this Meghan, it’s such a hard time of year when you’re failures and disappointments weigh all the more heavy. Meh-ry Christmas all right!

  • Aims

    Failures including not using the right “your”

    • Meghan Murphy

      Oh, we forgive you. It is Christmas after all. 😉

  • Maggie

    The best Christmas speech I’ve ever read and you should contact Channel 4 – UK it should be read out each year as an alternative xmas message .
    I made a fuss over my non partnered friend who came to came to mine for tea. She and I are single mums and we ignored my teenage children (who hate that I have a female friend, who hasn’t a partner, to socialise with), they may think they are with the current trends but if you don’t conform (it’s 2013 soon!), then you are still outside the norm. Sometimes I feel I’m back in the 50s. Will this ever end?

  • Andrew Pari

    Not a fan of the “holiday” but do celebrate with family, cause I like to see my nieces/nephews and the rest.

    I don’t find myself pulled down, but do look with wondered bemusement at all the “cheer” superficially going on around me. Watched a lady at a store murmur “fuck you” under her breath at someone who pushed their cart in front of her, only to hear her say moments later “Merry Christmas!” to the cashier in this genuine-seeming joy. That’s the hypocrisy of this time of year that I love to see.

    Also, never say MEHry Xmas used before, so if you made it up, genius!

    • Meghan Murphy

      I sure hope I did invent it! This will certainly be my claim to fame.