The Reason I Dread the Holidays — It’s Not Why You Think

By Buddy Early, December 2018 Issue.

As I was contemplating what my column would be about – back-to-school craziness, NFL predictions, new fall movies and television shows I am excited about – it occurred to me that perhaps I need to pay more attention to the passing of the calendar. The year is almost over, for crying out loud. I need to try to be more aware of things before they happen. (Cut to me continuing to forget to wish each of you a happy birthday on Facebook until you’ve posted a “Thank you all for the birthday wishes” message that seems passive-aggressively pointed at me and then it’s just plain awkward.)

The truth is this time of year is one that I simultaneously look forward to and dread. As an avid moviegoer the October through December calendar is always jam-packed; but as a person who is paralyzed by the appearance of any college or professional football game on television it is a high-wire act trying to schedule movie time around couch potato time.  And as a person with an English degree it is important that I squeeze in time to drive for Lyft, GrubHub, Amazon, Postmates or for some new side gig that any one of you would be welcome to private message me about.

This is, of course, to say nothing of the annual War on Christmas/War on Christianity in which I have taken a leadership role. (If you’re wondering, we’ve combined the two wars in order to cut overhead and maximize volunteer efforts.) It crept up on me especially fast this year, as I was still juggling my responsibilities as Corresponding Secretary for the newly announced War Against the Flag. That’s a position that sounds fun until you realize it is mostly trolling losers on the Internet and making tamales for the retreat because that’s what everyone else wanted even though you said it would be easier to order a bunch of pizzas.

On top of all this insanity, the holidays are a time of year that I simply try to get through without any scars. It’s not because of seasonal depression and anxiety. Although my bouts with those troubles have already been documented in the pages of this magazine, many of my less tactful friends and acquaintances are quick to point out that I am a miserable person 12 months out of the year. My curmudgeon-y ways in March are no different in December. At least that’s what I am told.

My real dread for this time of year is dealing with all the invites to dinners, parties, dinner parties and party dinners. It’s one thing in the middle of July to politely decline an invitation to a pool party – which is something I totally get invited to all the time, by the way – but worming out of a holiday gathering is not so easy.

First of all, there’s the sheer number of events that makes managing excuses terribly problematic. If Person A talks to Person B and they both compare notes with Person C, and they all discover I used the “working overtime” excuse they’d definitely become suspicious since they probably know I’m not exactly a workaholic. As a result, I end up attending at least one event, if for no other reason than to use that event as an excuse to not attend the next.

This brings me to my second point: I am mentally and physically tired. Like, all the time.

Making commitments that I must follow through with means being even more tired. Yes – I get tired from sitting in a chair for eight hours. So, if I am considering accepting an invitation for an after-work Wednesday event, I need to make sure I am not doing anything Tuesday or Thursday. Having things to do two nights in a row could have disastrous effects on my biorhythms.

Finally, let me tell you about the good-byes. I loathe the good-bye routine during which every Darren, Kyle, Brenda and Robin requires a parting salutation and even a hug. “We should get together soon,” says the person whose name I can barely remember. By the time I get through the series of good-byes and so-longs, the line at Charlie’s taco stand has doubled in size. That’s why I prefer to employ a tactic most of my friends and family refer to as “pulling a Buddy.”  I just disappear. I could tell you the many tips and tricks of perfecting this craft, but I like to keep them close to the vest.

None of this means I don’t like to be invited to your party.  Everybody likes to be invited, right?

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