Neck deep in holiday party season, you know I couldn’t let it slip by without a few basic observations.
First of all, I feel like Christmas becomes such a caricature of itself by the time you’re in your 20s, because you’re too old to take it as seriously as a kid does, too young (if you’re not a parent yet) to have to take it seriously for the sake of your kids, but still have some of enough Christmas excitement leftover from childhood that you can’t help but enthusiastically celebrate the season.
So we embrace all those holiday traditions– the songs, the cards, the trees, the eggnog, the presents– but we twist them into ironic, R-rated versions of themselves. Instead of a family Christmas card, we stand in front of the mantle in ugly Christmas sweaters and awkwardly grope our housemates for a photo. Instead of red and green bulb ornaments, we hang empty beer cans from the tree with fishing twine. Instead of Secret Santa, someone throws an erotic gift exchange party, where everyone competes to see whose gift can make people the most uncomfortable (i.e. used Handerpants).
I’m not really sure what all this is about. It’s like some kind of weird, quarter-life, not-a-girl-not-yet-a-woman Christmas crisis we all go through. It’s like we think that we can get away with loving/celebrating a holiday really hard while going out of our way to make it clear to the world that we recognize how arbitrary and consumer-driven and absurd Christmas has become, and in doing that we absolve ourselves from all the shame.
My second observation, along the same lines, is how amusing it is to watch men try to throw Christmas parties. As a standard for comparison, my three lady roommates and I threw a holiday party two weeks ago. We sent out an Evite weeks in advance with a specific 8 pm start time, had a series of talks about how we were going to divide up the cleaning and house decorating labor the weekend of the party, made eggnog-tinis with grated nutmeg, baked brownies (an extra batch for the neighbors!), had Christmas lights twinkling in the fireplace, pine-scented candles, Christmas carols on the iPod– the whole shebang. Of course, we also ordered a keg, took the obligatory lesbian prom mantle photo, and ended up burning our own deck furniture in the fire, but the whole time we were planning the party we were really torn between our desire to have the kind of classy Christmas party real adults throw and our desire to have a loosely-themed keg party.
Then yesterday, I went to a holiday party thrown by a house of five men. They sent out an email that said the party started at 2 pm, but when my roommate and I arrived circa 3:30 pm, the guys laughed at us and said the 2pm start time was obviously a joke, that half of them weren’t even home yet from work and various other Christmas parties, and that the actual party was probably going to start around 11. NINE hours later. We asked them whether it occurred to them that some people, namely Women, might take the start time seriously, and they said that yes, that did occur to them, but they decided to let it roll and see what idiots showed up early.
This turned out to be great, because we got to observe first-hand the debacle that is five men preparing for a Christmas party.
I’ll paint the scene for you: every ornament on the tree was an empty beercan, some of them sliced and scrunched up to look like space ships. The “angel” at the top of the tree was an upside-down wine bottle with tin foil wings. There were five stockings on the mantle, and they were stuffed with all of the roommates’ current belongings. Two men were sitting on the couch wrapping up various household items to put under the tree, including a beer opener, the remote control, a handful of Chex mix, a pen, door handle (still attached to the door), a Smirnoff Ice, an orange and my half-empty can of Miller Lite (wrapped while I was in the bathroom)… because in addition to wanting the look of a full present pile, they thought it would be really funny and exciting to go back and open all those items later that they forgot they had wrapped.
There was no stress about having enough food or alcohol. There was no stress about music, no manic housecleaning, no brownies to the neighbors, no moving of furniture to accommodate potential dance floors. They just wrapped up their beer cans, put them under the tree, took naps, ordered themselves Chinese food and then came downstairs to join the party.
I normally don’t spend my days wishing I were a man, but every once in a while, when I get a glimpse of a phenomenon like this, I can’t help but resent my X chromosome.
Hope you guys are having a smangin’ holiday season.