Embracing a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Christmas Day

A gif of a woman in a beautiful dress, on stage, singing "It's the worst, worst Christmas of our lives"

How are you doing today?

I don't know what December 25th normally looks like for you, but if today is massively different from usual, and not in a way that provides some comfort, I was recently reminded of some advice from Dan Savage about crappy Christmases that might apply to you.

Unfortunately, it's from his podcast and I don't remember when I heard it, so I'm not tracking it down to share the link, but here's the gist:

He shared about a Christmas he had where he was alone. Maybe he was extra alone due to family conflict or maybe he was just a stranger in a new city and didn't have any connections yet. Either way, he felt completely on his own.

A movie theatre was open, so he went to see a movie by himself. The movie wasn't very good and the whole thing was super depressing.

Then suddenly, the situation became hilarious to him. Here he was! Alone on Christmas! Watching a lame movie! Feeling sorry for himself! What a cliche of a lonely soul!

He leaned in. If he was going to have a pathetic Christmas, then by jove, a pathetic Christmas he would have. And there are things to enjoy about a sad holiday, once you stop comparing it to what it could have been. He embraced his morose reality, and it instantly got a lot better.

As I type this, I realize that the advice is basically just, "Hey, look at this from a different perspective! Sure, your Christmas sucks, but maybe you can enjoy just how sucky it is!" For some of you, reading that advice might make you want to throw your computer out the window. If that's the case, sorry, my friend.

But maybe it doesn't. Maybe it's helpful to remember that our interpretation of our circumstances is about as important as our circumstances actually are. Maybe you are sitting alone on your couch, wrapped in a blanket, scrolling through the internet while you watch Arrested Development for the billionth time and it kind of makes sense to lean into--and even enjoy--your lame holiday aesthetic.

Think of the future, when you'll be sharing your pandemic stories with yet-to-be-born grandbabies (yours or someone else's), describing your sadsack Christmas in all it's anti-glory. How saving lives by staying home felt so lonely and pointless. How angry you felt seeing your friends who were lucky enough to live with family or (even worse) broke the rules to gather anyways. How vindicated you felt, knowing you would not be the instrument of your aunt's death.

Today, I wish you all the blessings imaginable. For peace and quiet, for cacophonous joy, for much-needed distractions, for dance parties, for thoughtful text message greetings, for excellent Chinese takeout, for deep contemplation, for simple pleasures, for an ironically bad Christmas, and for contentment, today and beyond.

The Receptionist Delivers!
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