I have a bone to pick. (What the hell does that mean? How do you pick a bone? Why is bone picking a euphemism for complaining? It sounds incredibly gruesome, as if it has to do with picking clean the bones of a corpse. Which I also intend to do today, but later. For now, I just have a complaint I want to share with you.)
It's about Christmas. Actually, I have a list of complaints. I've tried writing them all out in list form and sending them to Santa, but the asshole never responded. So I'll post them here for you, not because I think you can do anything about them, but because there's no real joy in being grouchy unless you can infect others with your misery.
1) Why am I being tortured for a month and a half with the worst music ever created? Everywhere I go the same 15 bad songs are playing over and over, til not even the voices in my head can drown them out. I'm humming them under my breath while I wash dishes, to my unspeakable horror. They're more catchy and insipid and torturously omnipresent than Madonna songs were in the 80s. And it's not the subject matter of the songs (Christmas and Santa, etc.) that grates on me, it's the bad music itself. Somehow in every other aspect of the music industry, making a meaningful song with a good beat is the focus. (Not that they always succeed, but at least that's the goal). Yet when it comes to Christmas music, you can put out any piece of half-baked crap you want, and if has the word snowman or Christmas or sleigh in it, people will add it to the cartoonish loop of bad music that we're forced to listen to exclusively this time of year.
2) Why can't I go to the mall for the entire month of December? Every store in town is bulging with angry, frantic people and their crying children, and they've all gotten together at some point and made a pact to drive no faster than a turtle with Muscular Dystrophy can crawl. No checkout line in town has fewer than12 irate, eye-rolling, toe-tapping people in it, and every cashier is sullen and bitter. I know better than to wait til the last minute to do my Christmas shopping; I'm usually done well before Thanksgiving. But if December rolls around and I decide I need a new pair of jeans or a spice rack for my kitchen, the world suddenly conspires to prevent me from buying those or any other items. Oh sure, I could go out there and do battle with the mall traffic and the disgruntled customer service agents and the hateful shoppers, but someone's going to get hurt. And don't underestimate me. I'm small, but I'm scrappy.
3) Why do I have to send a card to everyone I've ever met? I understand why I'm expected to send them to relatives in Canada that I never see, but why do I have to send one to my friend who lives 10 miles down the road from me? Here's how most Christmas cards are conceived: You buy a box of 50 or 75 or however many identical cards, and you send that same card to everyone on your list. Very impersonal. Worse, you don't even include a handwritten message tailored to the individual recipient, just your name scrawled at the bottom. When the stack of cards with the signatures is ready to be stuffed into the envelopes, it's totally arbitrary which addressed envelope gets which card, because the cards are identical, inside and out; totally impersonal. If you've enclosed a picture of your kid, that's a different story; everyone likes getting pictures. But why must I send an impersonal card with my illegible signature to my neighbors who live down the block? The only time it's worthwhile to get a card in the mail with nothing but a signature inside is when that card is coming from an incredibly famous celebrity whose signature is worth big bucks. Even better if the celebrity manages to die in the few days before the U.S. mail delivers the card to you--but that's a long shot. Don't even dare to hope for that.
(That said, do not take me off your Christmas card list. There's nothing sadder than a mantle in late December that's completely devoid of Christmas cards except for the one from your insurance agent. As an adult, we get few opportunities to look really popular, and an empty mantle in December smacks of extreme unpopularity. If necessary, I can forge your signatures on cards I buy myself, and put those on display to fake popularity, but do you really want to reduce me to that?)
4) Why does a holiday for which everyone is expected to travel have to occur in the dead of winter? Who wants to pack up the family and travel across the state or country in December? I spend the entire winter season thinking up excuses not to leave my home. Now I have to bundle up and leave my nice, warm house to take a trip across the state? Can't we all make a pact to use the Easter holiday for cross-country family bonding from now on, and just sit at home with our immediate families at Christmas?
5) Why do I have to engage in a whole decorating project just for this one holiday?
I have to redecorate my whole house? I have to hang wreaths, put up cutesy little knicknack snowmen, big gold bows, garish silver garlands, fake greenery, hideous red tablecloths and sappy welcome mats? I have to use Christmas plates? Christmas napkins? Everything in my lovely, tasteful home has to suddenly turn red and green, the two worst-matched colors on earth?
I'm expected to climb up on my goddamn roof and risk life and limb to put some lights up there that are only going to cause a fire hazard and potentially burn my home to the ground with my family inside?
I have to chop down a live tree and drag it INTO my house? A beautiful tree that was formerly growing just fine outside, where God put it? Now I'm going to kill it and schlep it into my freaking living room? Then cover it in trinkets and more fire-hazardous lights? Am I really going to celebrate Jesus's birthday by killing one of his trees?
6) Why do I have to feel guilty about writing the word Xmas instead of Christmas? It's just faster and easier, which accommodates my incredible laziness. Anyone prone to indignantly shouting, "You're trying to take Christ out of Christmas!" is overestimating me. That would indicate that I'm ambitious or dedicated to a cause of some kind, when the plain fact is I'm just trying to shave off a couple of letters so I can finish writing whatever it is I'm writing and go take a nap.
Now that I've gotten my list of grievances of my chest, I will say that I love one thing about Christmas--the gift buying. I really do love buying things for people, and I put a lot of thought into what I get each person. Oh wait, I love another thing: The booze. Well, okay, and the food. And the family. In that order. Wait, no--put booze at the top of the list. Really, the booze is the only thing that keeps me from losing it when I hear "Jingle Bells" for the 2,679th time, and stabbing the nearest 5 random people in the eye with a photo Christmas tree ornament.