It is Christmas Eve. A time for peace and goodwill. A time for love and family. A time for tradition.
At least, it should be.
I do not practice very many traditions. I have no interest in repetitive ritual for the sake of historical precedent, so the only traditions I take part in are ones that I actually enjoy, and the only reason I do them is because they are fun, and not because they are tradition. That makes the end of this depressing year extra disappointing, because almost all of the very few traditions I hold dear are centered around Christmas, and thanks to the Covid pandemic, I will get to do exactly zero of them.
And so I cry and cry.
NORMALLY, in the weeks or months leading up to Christmas, my mother gets together with her lady friends, and takes part in a cookie bake off. Basically, they all make a million different cookies at home, then get together at my mom’s house and make a billion more, and then trade with each other so that they have countless sweet, sugary, delicious treats to share with their families throughout the holiday season. As a big, hairy, sausage-fingered beast man, I am not, and have never been welcome at the lady cookie party, which is absolutely fine because I’m fairly certain they all just drink wine, braid their tampon strings, and bitch about how much they hate their husbands and children while baking those sweet sweet cooks. But this year, the girls didn’t get to have their sinful gathering, and that blows because I WANT THEM COOKIES. If I’m not 63 pounds heavier and hobbling around on feet painfully swollen with diabetic gout by the end of the holiday season as sugar crystals the size of rock candy squeeze through my rubbery veins while my pancreas gives up, packs a bindle on a stick and squirts out my asshole to hop a convenient cargo train west, then what even is the point of the holidays?
To add insult to injury, not only do I not get to enjoy an unwise amount of homemade cookie treats this year, I also don’t get to visit with my family.
Every year since the beginning of time, my mother’s family has gotten together on Christmas Eve, and in recent decades the party has been hosted at my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Massachusetts. My mom has 376 siblings, and most of them had 12-15 children, and several of them have had children of their own, so on the day before Christmas an army of relatives large enough to sack mighty Carthage fill up my Aunt and Uncle’s cute little suburban ranch home until it’s packed tighter than a pre-1980s YMCA Men’s locker room on elephant walk night, and then they just sit, and eat, and talk, and laugh, and that’s it. That’s the whole party, and I love every minute of it. Almost none of my relatives even drink or do drugs at the party because they’re fucking NERDS, and you don’t even understand how much I love them. It’s not going to be much of a Christmas at all if I can’t drive up to Massachusetts, smuggle booze into my relative’s house, eat my weight in homemade meatballs, then vape weed, blast sneaker bumps, and rip shots in the dark basement with Mistress Kay and my two sleazebag cousins while all of the well-liked, well-adjusted cousins and other relatives gather upstairs around the Christmas tree and sing carols or whatever it is that those wholesome nerds do. God Damn I love them all so much and I miss them already. Missing out on the Christmas Eve party this year hits hard.
Not the least because, after the much anticipated Christmas Eve dinner party, I would then have perhaps the most cherished portion of our Christmas traditions to look forward to. I speak, of course, about the sibling slumber party. Usually, this beloved event would occur in Tiny Town, the legendary home of my ancestors, the 14 square foot farmhouse my grandmother and her sixteen siblings (that’s the actual number, not an exaggeration) were raised in, and the place where my mother, sisters, and I would spend Christmas Eve night eagerly awaiting Santa’s arrival. This place had everything. Uncomfortably low ceilings. Saggy wood floors. A fuzzy 19 inch CRT TV with attached VHS player. Grandmama ignoring us while playing solitaire on the kitchen table with her hearing aids turned off like a total fucking savage. Zero comfortable places to sleep. It was paradise.
Much to Wife Kay and my sister’s husband’s consternation, we continued this slumber party tradition well into our adulthoods, and would be happily continuing it this year too, albeit not in Tiny Town, since Grandmama now resides in a nursing home and Tiny Town is inhabited I assume by the Keebler Elves, but thanks to COVID, we not only don’t get our sibling sleep over in any location, we don’t even get to open presents together and have breakfast Christmas morning because it turns out my family HATES me and told me that I’m not welcome in any of their homes. Instead, Wife Kay and I have been generously invited to stand on a snow bank in my sister’s yard and peer through her window while her family drinks hot cocoa, eats candy canes and opens presents in sinful Christmas splendor without us, only pausing to periodically throw egg shells, coffee grounds, and other breakfast rubbish at us to eat from the ground like the wretched scum they think we are.
It’s okay, I only cried a little when my very own family told me that they wanted nothing to do with me this year, and that they’d rather chop off their ding-dongs than let me into their houses for even a second. I figured, at least Wife Kay’s family still loves me and we can still do our Christmas tradition with them, which would be to visit her dad’s house after breakfast while still in our pajamas, open presents there, and then watch a movie.
That is not the case either. They, like my family, have also made it clear that if we even set foot on their property, they would shoot me in the face with a blunderbuss full of ghost peppers and rusty nails.
Even though I work from home and am literally starved for human contact, and both Sadness Kay and I always wear masks and socially distance on the very rare occasions that we do leave the house, and we haven’t had so much as a sniffle all year, and we’ve passed multiple negative Covid Tests, none of our “loved” ones want to see us, none of my beloved Christmas traditions are occurring, and Sadness Kay and I will be spending a lonely Christmas alone crying beside our undecorated tree and opening the zero presents we got each other because we’re fucking poor, so 2020 is clearly going out with a last few kicks to my dangling veiny nut sack like the total bitch of a year that it was.