After Halloween (can I get a "huzzah?" Love, love, love this holiday) comes Thanksgiving (love that one too, despite a few li'l drawbacks...see below).
And then, believe it or not, we're shuffling right along toward Christmas and Hanukkah.
And they're all great. Really. I love these, as well as pretty much any other, holiday. Always have.
But as I've said, they do come with their drawbacks...for everyone, but in particular, for anyone who walks the alt or counterculture walk day to day.
If you're anywhere off the beaten path and you're planted smack in the middle of an average but not-very-accepting family and/or circle of friends, you can look forward to decking the halls with any random selection of these:
- The uncomfortable comments from Grandma ("Oh, I see you got another cheek piercing! My neighbor's friend has one and he's a GOOD person. He isn't in prison and he doesn't do drugs AT ALL!").
- The black (and not in a good way) looks at your black (in a VERY good way) gear from the other people in line at the store, all clutching adorbs plastic snowmen to their chests in horror.
- Your aunt turning around at the table to scream with over-enthusiasm, "Oh, sorry, I know the WICCANS here don't say 'Merry Christmas.' So Happy Wicca to you!" (Insert your religion, belief system or lifestyle here.)
- Endless maudlin holiday music in stores that would sound so much better with some shredworthy electric violin.
- Feeling...you know...kind of alone. And this will especially hold true if you DO love the holidays. Because you want to share them with others, but you just kind of feel like...well, an outsider.
There's a Bright Side...But Don't Worry, it's Not Too Bright
We have good news...and don't worry, it's not TOO sunny (we know how so many of our readers feel about that...here, share our UV parasol).
Balancing out the negatives are the following li'l rays of joy:
- Having the one very funny, very shocking, very awesome holiday card on everyone's wall...you know, the one that makes the recipient say "I can't BELIEVE I'm laughing along with this" but yeah...she is.
- Being shoved temporarily to the kids' table as penance for your outrageous outfit by your very, very funny mom who "gets" you and loves to see you laugh.
- Getting gift cards and cash, because nobody really knows what the hell to get you in the way of presents. (Cash FTW!)
- Decorating in truly unique ways, and we don't just mean black, skulls, or leather (though those are fine too). Rather, if you love the decidedly non-beaten path, your creativity is probably off the charts, too. You either know how to create something amazing and unique, or you know where to buy something amazing and unique.
- Having, pretty much like clockwork, at least one friend, family member or even a total stranger come up to warmly wish you happy holidays without any caveats or disclaimers whatsoever. That's worth its weight in gold.
Why Being Different is Tough at Holiday Time
Look, we get it. No matter what we say, or what anyone says - including those of us who have been there - being counterculture anything can feel pretty uncomfortable during the holiday season.
But as much of an outsider-looking-in as you may feel these next two months or so, the truth is that though they're meant to bring people together in a climax of seasonal joy, holidays can be tough on anyone.
Let's take one illustration (literally), to wit: Even straight-arrow Charlie Brown dissolved into tears every time a yellow H was marked on the calendar.
It's pretty obvious to any viewer or reader of the decades-beloved Peanuts (they're eternal, aren't they? But not in an inky-black, fanged, throat-bared way, unfortunately) that Charlie Brown's main issue was that he never felt he quite fit in socially. (And he WASN'T cloaked in black or covered in Palest Ivory foundation.)
For those who walk a different path through life, particularly if it "shows" - in hair and makeup, fashion sense, music, your choice of job or any overtly visible way - the isolated feel at holiday time can be very, very real.
While all around us, people are decking the halls and awww-ing over plastic mangers, we're head-banging away - to music, though, not (hopefully) on trees. We don't think cute OR "ugly" holiday sweaters are cool. Where do we really fit in?
But surprise...as alone as we feel, we may actually, for once, be in the majority, at least when it comes to holiday awkwardness. Which leads us to this revelation...
A Different Perspective (Hint: NOBODY 'Fits In')
The truth is that holidays can be overrated on their "white bread Christmas" bent. If you think you're the only one who feels like something is just sort of missing at Thanksgiving and Christmas, think again.
Studies show it's not just the people who actually, literally are alone on the holidays who can feel depressed; changes of seasons and missed expectations can also contribute to the holiday blues.
That means if you feel you stand out, you may be surprised how many apparently "normal"-path individuals feel outside the holiday loop, too.
For once, we're the same as everyone else.
Being Normal...For Once? Don't Worry...We'll Never Tell
I know. Noooooooooooooooooo!
But it's true. You and I and, well, anyone may be exactly the same when it comes to our deepest wishes and dreams: to love and be loved...to laugh...to celebrate.
So here's another secret you may not quite want to admit: secretly, we're willing to bet you LIKE some of this holiday shit. In fact, you may like A LOT of this holiday shit. You might love hot chocolate. Bing Crosby. (Yes, srzly.) Candy cane striped anything and everything.
And do you know what?
That's okay, too.
In your rush to wonder whether you're being kept alone during this time, make sure you're not keeping yourself alone, by imposing a bunch of silly rules that you'd slap anyone else for trying to impose on anyone you love. (Think of it THAT way and then I dare you not to stick up for yourself on every level in your right to celebrate whatever you love, however you love to do it.)
So if you're feeling like a sore thumb on a white-Christmas hand this holiday season, remember that nearly everyone is, or at least feels, like an "outsider" - the difference being, you show it on the outside...and with pride.
So go ahead - let your alt flag fly this winter, but allow as much holiday cheer as you want into the next few weeks, too. You don't have to be sad - and you don't have to maintain a specific persona, either. Grab some cocoa (how about red velvet?), snuggle up to a Normal you know and love so she realizes she's not alone, either, put on whatever tunes turn you on, and have yourself a merry little holiday the way you want to...this year and every year.