A Holden Caulfield Christmas

© Carmela Alvarado

I hate Christmas. I don’t think it makes me cool or rebellious to have that opinion, and in fact, I always feel awkward sharing it. Even those who aren’t “holiday people” still get excited about some aspects of the holiday season, and they still manage to use words like “joy” and “togetherness” without irony. I just can’t do it. I still feel like a cynical, Salinger-esque adolescent sighing about how phony everyone and everything seems to be.

The first reason for this is that I grew up close to my dad who also hated Christmas. He didn’t understand the point of it, or why feelings that nobody seemed to express or act on the rest of the year were arbitrarily tacked onto the month of December. He was an old hippie who hated consumerism and felt like buying Christmas presents was the equivalent of trying to prove to your relatives that you loved them by spending money. He passed away eight years ago, and I always find it ironic when family members talk about missing him more during the holidays. I miss him all the time. The only reason I have for missing him more at Christmas is because he’d be there to make fun of it.

Another reason is simply taste. I think Christmas music is almost universally terrible. Most Christmas movies are also terrible. I like Love Actually, but it’s because of my love for great British actors more than anything else. Holiday sweaters are ugly. Holiday light displays are garish. I’ve never in my life understood the appeal of a pumpkin spice latte. I don’t bake. I’m not religious. I’m just not sentimental. I’m also a summer person. I’ve never been able to romanticize winter weather, and tinsel is small consolation.

Maybe you want to drink, bake and wear ugly sweaters. That’s okay. But I’m willing to bet I’m not the only Holden Caulfield at Portland State. So my message for the holidays is don’t feel bad if you don’t feel the things everyone tells you you’re supposed to feel. If you’re excited about winter break because of a trip you’re taking, or because you get to catch up on sleep or because of the Doctor Who Christmas special, you’re not a bad person. If you hear people talk about togetherness, joy, peace and other sickly sweet terms, and deep down you don’t really know what they’re supposed to mean, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re forever removed from them. We can be grossed out together.

You know which holiday I don’t hate? New Year’s. There’s something really powerful to me about shedding the skin of the old year and starting fresh. I like the idea of resolutions. I like staying up until midnight and celebrating. Sure, it’s an arbitrary date on an arbitrary calendar, but I still look forward to champagne and watching the ball drop on television. See! I can do this stuff. I bet Holden hated New Year’s.

Happy 2014. We can make it if we try.


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