One fun thing I’ve noticed about 2017 is that at least once a week, everyone has a National Conversation about something. The process seems to go as follows:
- The country wakes up in the morning.
- Someone gets into a snit about something.
- A National Conversation ensues.
In that spirit, and since it’s the holidays, I’d like to be so bold as to propose the next big National Conversation. I’ve chosen the topic du jour in the usual way: by conducting an extensive survey of my own feelings and realizing that something irritates me. The thing I don’t like, about which we as a nation are now obliged to converse because I say so, is Christmas party culture.
Now, before you rush straight to the name-calling portion of the National Conversation, let me assure you that I’m neither Scrooge nor a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union. I adore Christmas. I love the music, the decorations, the food, and even the gift-giving. More than anything, I love the religious significance of the holiday, and the chance to reflect on the divine incarnation, both at church and in the quietness of my home.
Of course, like many of you, I find it difficult to enjoy the quietness of my home when I’m not actually there. This brings me to Christmas parties.
Christmas Party Culture = Oppression
They begin innocently enough. You have a social group of some kind: a club, team, class, or workplace. Some alert member of the group looks at the calendar, realizes Christmas is coming, and concludes that a party, performance, or similar festive event is warranted.
Now, if you’re single, or have a family with only one or two associations in your lives, there’s no problem. A party or two at Christmas can be delightful. But when we take a typical American two-parent family with their 2.2 children, and multiply times three or more social groups per person (a conservative estimate in our activity-driven society), the situation quickly becomes untenable. December, once the most wonderful time of the year, is now reduced to a string of days on which to go to parties, buy presents for parties, bake cookies for parties, shop for ugly sweaters to wear to parties, and clean up after parties.
Even as your calendar starts to look like you’re running for president in late October, every other circumstance is conspiring to make you want to stay home. For instance, at some point early in the month, a beastly frozen wind started blowing. (Actually, I know exactly when it started: the same day you put up your outdoor Christmas lights.) That wind is still out there, whipping around at this very moment, ready to blow right through your fancy party clothes the moment you open the door.
It’s not just the weather: as we speak, approximately 27 different viral and bacterial illnesses are wending their way through the general population in your area. The average Christmas party is a veritable petri dish of infections, just waiting to be picked up and brought home for the holidays. Nothing says “family Christmas fun” like sharing stomach flu with all the relatives.
By contrast, your home—besides being comparatively germ-free—is feeling particularly twinkly and cozy at the moment. Perhaps you’ve put up a tree or hung a few stockings by the fireplace. There is a favorite Christmas CD all ready to play, and plenty of cookies and eggnog left over from various parties. Presents are waiting to be wrapped. Christmas books are waiting to be read. Christmas movies are waiting to be watched. And yet: the parties.
How to #Resist the Partyarchy
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Stop whining, you libtard, Trump-loving, fascist, cuckservative RINO snowflake.” (And you thought I didn’t read the comments!) Anyway, you have a valid point: I should stop whining. Just because someone’s having a party, concert, or other holiday event, that doesn’t mean I have to attend.
Nobody is holding a gun to my head. I possess the ability to defy every social convention and say “no” 30 times this month, half the time to my own children. It will be like our own special Advent calendar: every day we open another little compartment, and there’s another event inside that we refuse to attend.
Or, on the off chance that anyone else feels the same way I do, there’s another option. We could have a National Conversation about the Christmas party situation and—like we always do so well during these National Conversations—we could come together to find solutions. Ha, ha, ha! Actually, we’ll probably just yell at each other. But I’m going to hope for the best and propose two solutions anyway.
The first is the simplest: those of us in charge of clubs, classes, and other groups could ask ourselves a searching question: “Does my group really need to have a Christmas event? Really? REALLY?” I humbly submit that roughly half of us could either eliminate or streamline our festive events without ruining Christmas or causing Tiny Tim to die.
Second, for those who decide their event really is necessary, I propose an idea: the January party. Now, hear me out. What if December could be all about staying home, celebrating family Advent, enjoying the decorations, wrapping the presents, and watching the movies? It would be lovely and cozy, and we might reach Christmas Day feeling less like marathon runners at mile 25.
We all know what happens once it’s all over: January. We un-decorate. We put our presents away. We stop baking. We clean up our mess. We look around at our stark, un-twinkly homes, and we realize something: there are still weeks, yea even months, of depressing winter left. You know what would really cheer us up at that moment? A party.
It turns out that the traditional Christmas calendar—the one that puts Christmas Day at the beginning of the holiday season rather than the end—has precedent for the January party. The all-but-forgotten holiday of Twelfth Night occurs on January 5 or 6, and is still celebrated by a few stalwart souls.
But whether you’re ready to fully embrace the traditional calendar, or still bitterly clinging to your guns and late-November Christmas trees, spare a thought for the January party. Your friends will thank you. Either that or they’ll trash you on Twitter and make your life a living hell. It’s 2017. You never really know.