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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Emily, the Grinch


For some reason I am all of a sudden feeling very down on the holidays, and Jezebel informs me that it is ok for me to complain about it. Where to start?

  • Every year I read the InStyle Magazine gift guide, and every year I wonder who it is meant for. Are there women in the world who spend $2,000 on a Louis Vuitton fur scarf for their friends? Is the gift guide meant for me to hand the magazine to my husband? Does he also want to read about Amy Adams's parenting philosophy and how to perfect the cat eye makeup look? If you want to give me a gift guide, InStyle magazine, here is what I am in the market for: something along the lines of tins of cookies, ornaments, or small, cheap fashion accessories for my coworkers, books or cds for our dads, maybe a reasonably priced piece of jewelry or lotion for our mothers, and something for my husband that hopefully will make the house cleaner like a wine rack or bookshelf. In fact, I can't remember in my life a girl friend of mine buying me any kind of significant Christmas gift. Are there groups of women who buy each other $500 sweaters? Do they all work at magazines? Also, everyday on my way into work I listen to NPR and hear how much no one has any money. People don't have money to pay back student loans, they don't have jobs, and businesses that have lasted 30 years are closing up shop. Who are these people who can afford this? And also if I were that person who was in the market for a $2,000 scarf I think I would know where to acquire such an object. It was reminding me eerily of wedding planning - magazines telling people they need things that even well-educated, gainfully employed people are not anywhere near being able to afford.
  • Now sometimes I love me some Martha. We even went to see her show taped.  But the new issue of Martha Stewart Living is ridiculous, or rather the attitudes about Christmas it reflects in our society are ridiculous. Basically - make tons of things yourself, with enough food to bring out things from the freezer if guests show up with no notice whatsoever (who are these guests who show up at a moment's notice, and what are they doing still expecting cookies made from scratch without giving you any warning?), and make a million crafts to cover your whole house - because it is important to be festive (magical, even!). Most importantly, have fun and make it all seem super easy - like you put forth absolutely no effort at all!! That last step is always important to Martha. Make sure you have flower arrangements by the bed in the guest room including a bottle of water and a clean glass (facing down so no dust gets in it!), and then act like it all showed up there on its own! Well, we have a friend coming to stay tonight, and as I was cleaning, Scott said "If he doesn't like it he can stay in a hotel", which is true enough. According to this interesting article, one way to make a house feel like a home is not to feel like you have to constantly apologize for signs of life in it. When I had friends over a couple weeks ago, the pizza I made pretty much made a huge mess in the kitchen. My friend said something like "There is no way to make pizza without destroying your kitchen". So why should I feel bad about it? People are there to see you, and I don't see the point in freaking out trying to make your living space look like people don't live there. 
  • There's also the inevitable feeling of guilt in one way or another. You can't see everyone every time. I actually think families should get together in the summer when the weather is nice, it is cheaper to travel, and there is less pressure and expectations of complete joy at every moment. Would it be the worse thing ever if I stayed on the couch and ate fruitcake and watched a "Real Housewives" marathon? Who would that hurt? Of course a holiday Pottery Barn catalog can take your breath away, and the movie "A Family Stone" managed to portray a family that celebrates the holidays in a way that is both relaxed and fun, but the fact the holiday movies I remember liking most from growing up were "Home Alone" (kid spends holidays eating pizza and watching movies) and "Christmas Vacation" (movie that makes fun of the whole thing, including the food and relatives in a way that is actually sort of mean) says a lot about how stressful it can be. 
  • Black Friday is ridiculous. Who are these people? If you can't afford something without getting a ridiculous deal on it, maybe you should just bake everyone cookies this year.

I guess I just feel like the media expects people to spend a lot and put forth an enormous amount of effort for the holidays whether people have the money (they don't) or feel like it (I planned a wedding this year - I am fresh out of crafty energy). I don't know. I guess I am not up for it this year - and InStyle telling me to buy women I know more expensive clothes than I would ever buy myself, and Martha telling me to fill my freezer with cookie dough in case random people show up on my porch without me inviting them, well, it kind of just made me less into it that I might have been otherwise.

3 comments:

  1. I could've written this myself. Seriously, could not agree with you more on every point, especially Black Friday and overpriced gifts. Rampant consumerism is sickening and it totally gets me down.

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  2. It is so far from the intended spirit of the thing.. do you think anyone really expects an expensive gift anyway? I think people just want to be able to spend time together.

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  3. It is in the media's interest to tell us to spend more - just like the bridal industry.

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