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Dec 28 2005

My War On Christmas

Twisty\'s age-appropriate warmup suit

I’ve been waging (a completely ineffectual) war on Christmas for 20 years, and I don’t care who knows it. I hate the jingle bells. I hate the sweaters. I hate the songs. I hate that sucky columnists fling around the phrase “Yes, Virginia, there is a _______ (gadget that slices mangos,” government conspiracy,” war on Christmas,” etc) and act all like they’ve just earned their 10-cents-a-word.

I hate the traffic jams around all the shop entrances that impede my access to barbecue or tacos.

I don’t send cards. I don’t hollowly intone the reciprocal “Merry Christmas” to total strangers who could give a fuck if I am merry or not. I don’t even give presents. Usually I just dispatch $500 to some seemingly deserving charity, inform the fam that somebody in Zimbabwe now owns a cow with our name on it, and call it a day (the aforementioned fam pretends to be deeply moved by this sporting gesture, but in two minutes they’ve forgotten all about it).

Until this year. Man-o-man, what came over me? Why did I even think about buying gifts? Because, see, my gifts stress people out. This year, for example, to augment the thrill of the Zimbabwe cow, I gave my mom what I thought was a foolproof present: three pairs of fantastic fluffy socks from Title 9. She thanked me, but expressed her anxiety that these socks are so fluffy she doubts she’ll be able to wear them. In other words, she actively disliked these excellent fluffy socks.

She gave me a coral-pink warmup suit. In cashmere. I could be wrong, and I will of course consult the Manolo before doing anything rash, but it looks like I now require a pair of gold lamé Chanel sneakers and a condo in Boca.

One of the more touching aspects of Christmas is the way the cozy warmth of the holly-jolly season occasions extra violence against women. Staffers at Indiana women’s shelters are steeling themselves for an upsurge as two of patriarchy’s most beloved ideologies–misogyny and consumerism–clash at this magical time of year. The result, in terms of battered women, is described as “a spike in domestic violence incidents as tensions over finances and other stresses intensify.” You know. When your wife spends too much on cheap crap from China, or when your mom berates you in front of the whole family, or when your white male privilege generally fails to live up to the hype, just break your bitch’s jaw.

The corollary, which explains the eerie phenomenon of empty shelters on Christmas, is even creepier. “Some women” quoth a shelter director, “decide to endure abuse on Christmas because they want their children to be home for the holiday.” Indianapolis cops predict that after this lull the regularly scheduled violent outbursts will “escalate during the post-holiday letdown.”

Triumph of marketing: the Xmas consumer orgy is so profoundly integral to the American sense of, I don’t know what, middle class identity maybe, that women are willing to get beat up so their kids can enjoy the frenzy. And this colossal American Xmas narrative is so mesmerizing there’s even an official “letdown” afterward. A letdown wherein the crushing reality of one’s drinking problem or the unattainable hotness of a coworker’s wife or the unpayability of one’s bills all comes flooding back, requiring one to beat the crap out of one’s wife.

Ho fucking ho.

18 comments

  1. BitingBeaver

    Sadly Twisty, it’s easier for me to believe that women allow vast harm to be done to them ‘for the children’. A woman living in constant abuse has very little to measure ‘normal’ by. And, as we know, the Patriarchy has hit a homerun with it’s ability to make a victim feel like total hell about being a victim.

    Unfortunately, women living with that sort of abuse have to admit that they’re being abused before they can do anything and THAT is the biggest fear of all. When she finally *does* admit it, she’s marked as having bad judgement or ‘being a fool for not leaving’. She’s innundated with stupid people asking her “Why did you stay for so long?” and, “How could you make your children go through that” along with many other accusatory remarks that slyly tell her that her judgement, morals, ethics and even her mothering ability is wrong and horrible.

    It’s a damned shame that in an supposedly ‘enlightened’ society the first thing that comes from the mouths of the masses is “Why did you stay” rather than, “Why did HE beat you?”.

    In fact, most abused women have gone several rounds with local athorities (I know I did) and realized that the police will be of no help. They honest to god just don’t think that there’s anything horribly wrong with how they’re being treated. Afterall, if it was THAT wrong for their husband to beat them why don’t the cops do something? Why doesn’t anyone do something? Etc. etc. etc.

    Battered women’s syndrome does exist and we see it played out in these poor souls who stay in abusive relationships through the holidays. *sigh*

    God, I fucking HATE the Patriarchy.

    (btw, please forgive the typos, first cup of java this morning and my fingers aren’t sure they’re actually awake)

  2. Liz

    Gift giving is so fraught with peril. I wanted a pony, but instead I got…a new desk chair. Ok, I’ve been kind of having fun doing wheelies up and down the hall and spinning around furiously like a cyclone on crack and all. But still: a fucking desk chair?? (sigh.)

    Anyway. If I’d gotten a coral cashmere warm-up suit, I’d be first in line to donate it to the local women’s shelter. Somebody somewhere who had to flee home with nothing but the blood-stained shirt on her beat up back is going to love that thing dearly. It’ll be the softest, sweetest, warmest, most luxurious goddamn gift she’s ever received. May she wear it in eternal safety and lifelong dignity.

  3. Erin

    I got a gigantic necklace, with earrings bigger than my actual ears, all made of ceramic, and all painted with a mama leopard and two sleepy baby leopards. Someone did all of their shopping via QVC again. I think they would go smashingly with your actual coral warm-up suit and hypothetical gold sneakers. Say the word and the set is yours.

  4. Steph

    The knitter in me is lustful about the cashmere…

    The patriarchy blamer in me thinks Christmas is a way to make women do way too much work preparing for the day (shopping, cleaning, card writing, decorating), doing the day (hosting, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, smoothing all the family discord) and taking it all down at the end (more cleaning).

    And now it seems getting the shit kicked out of her for trying to maintain this “tradition” of worshipping the mall and all its tacky goodness.

    I still do Christmas (gifts, tree, dinner etc)probably because I have kids and some socialized belief that this is what I’m supposed to do (fucking patriarchy). But we’re scaling back a little every year. Now to get the extended family to stop with the guilt trip about denying their grandchildren a proper Christmas…

    You didn’t even get started on Santa Claus.

  5. emjay

    I highly recommend being Jewish this time of year. My entire effort in decorating consisted of moving the menorah from the wooden bookshelf to the kitchen counter, sinnce burning candles in a small enclosed wooded space is usually a no-no. I did, however, have to spend $1.05 on a box of candles. My family isn’t big on gift exchange. Only children get much in the way of gifts, and we’re in that peaceful generational lull where the youngest are in their early twenties. Then there’s me, oldest grandchild at 31, who is not doing her patriarchal duty and getting around to reproduction in a timely manner.

    Of course, Judaism does have its drawbacks, like the morning prayer recited by men thanking God for not making them women. Anothe favorite is the assumption taht women will bear all of the responsibility for childcare (exempting women from requirements linked to time, because they’ll be too busy caring for the children so that their husbands can pray at the assigned times). I am thankful to my grandparents for doing the old heave-ho on orthodoxy and passing on the tradition of Jewish culture without a whole lot of dogma to go along with it.

  6. bitchphd

    Oh, no, Twisty, actually with the bright coral colored cashmere warm up suit you so do not need to uglify it with lame shoes. Seriously, that’s totally wearable in an earth girl, I don’t give a fuck about fashion kind of way. Either for schlepping around the house in with dirty slippers, or for going out, paired with ass-kicking combat boots, maybe a more neutrally-colored, completely fashion-free jacket or cardigan thrown over it, and an attitude that says, “yes, I am wearing my pajamas in public, what’s your fucking problem?”

    Just think of them as pajamas in a really nice color, albeit one that isn’t usually used for clothing, but that’s what makes it kind of amusing.

  7. bitchphd

    (In case you can’t tell, I covet the cashmere coral jammies.)

  8. Ron Sullivan

    Twisty, I just want to know what that warmup suit feels like. Is your mom after giving you a big warm hairy hug?

    And yeah, there’s nothing that says “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” like watching Dad slug Mom over the tinselly wrappings, is there?

  9. piny

    You know, in the monochrome pajamas and the currently severe Twisty do, you could pretend to be an emissary from the misogyny-free future. You come in peace, to blame the patriarchy.

  10. wheelomatic

    Piny, this is PERFECT!

  11. Twisty

    Ha! Hahahaha!

  12. Chris Clarke

    I hate the traffic jams around all the shop entrances that impede my access to barbecue or tacos.

    Yay! I”ve got next year’s holiday card!

  13. Twisty

    Ha. This is gold.

  14. kathe

    Gosh, yes. I always annoy my hubby on Xmas so the kids can watch him punch me out. Fun fun fun.

  15. Christopher

    I’ve never understood that kind of thing, making yourself miserable for Christmas. If you feel like shit because you worked your ass off to make somebody else happy, then you’re going to communicate it, and the person you worked ytour ass of for is going to feel guilty that you made yourself miserable, as well as bitter that you resent them for something they didn’t ask you to do in the first place.

    It’s not worth it for anyone involved.

  16. bitchphd

    Twisty, I will see your coral cashmere jammies and raise you one blue ragg-type knit cotton vest with a red plaid peter-pan collar and appliqued snowmen with beads, glittery embroidered christmas presents and sleighs, and snowflakes all over it.

    Free to good home.

  17. Ledasmom

    Sure it’s worth it, Christopher. If I’m depressed I’m damned if my relatives are gonna be happy. I mean, it’s usually their fault I’m depressed. Two weeks of stress on my part for months of guilt on their part? Pretty good deal.

  18. retro

    Hard to believe Christmas is already around the corner. I am ready for some Thanksgiving turkey though.

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