It’s Christmas Time! [Jack Skellington Cackle]

December 22, 2023 — A strange thing has happened to the concept of time for me in this, my first ever anti-Christmas season. Wait a minute. Anti-Christmas. Antichrist-mas. Whoa. Is it too late to rename this blog?

I sometimes remember the Christmas seasons past that I loved as a panicky series of rapid moments that quickly disappeared like time was running at the speed of Santa’s sleigh—trying to get through the final, sloggy workdays of the year to get to Christmas break, frantically making all the plans you need to enjoy those days off, hoping to fit all the requisite traditions in on top of those plans, finishing the long list of errands that Christmas has become, and all while the gameshow clock ticks inexorably down to the final, ugly buzzer.

And when you finish it all…it all is finished. Time to get back to our normal, stressful, tinsel-free existence.

One day, you’re pushing off all your work responsibilities to after the holidays with a full-body sigh of relief, the next thing you know, it’s the saddest day of the year: January 2, when there are no more holidays to look forward to for months and everything you put off in the latter half of December comes rushing back a hundredfold into your mewling new year.

But now, for me, with few of those pressures, time has just…ticked. Regular. Like a metronome. It’s that oft-used scene in movies and TV where the main character is static while everybody else in the frame is speeding around in a blur.

I feel like I use that metaphor a lot in my writing.

Even during the Halloween season, I’m acutely aware of time passing—how long it’s been since my last OTIS post, if I’m timing the foliage right for my road trips, awaiting the sweater days, picking pumpkins to maximize time with my jack-o-lanterns before they rot, keeping an eye out for when the stores start switching their shelves to Christmas shtuff. Counting down to the last minute of the town-mandated trick-or-treat window.

This time, this Christmas, I’m not. I guess that’s because I’m not luxuriating in the holiday. And I’m not trying make it the “hap-hap happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye.”

I feel like I’m more ready for a new year than in years past. Mostly, that’s because the past few years have been devastating. 2021 was awful. 2022 was even worse. 2023 beat them all by being the most wretched year of my life. In my New Year’s celebration, you shatter the ball to the ground, not slowly drop it.

But, maybe, for the first time ever, January 2 will be a celebratory day for me. No more Christmas and some really bad years behind me. Or it could just be the beginning of a year to top all the previous in horror. Yay.

It’s now a pretty deep wound, it penetrates to the soul,
A mineshaft full of dead canaries and coal.
I’m not real sure how I’ll make it through the year, though
That’s the same thing that I said a year ago.