In 2018, retailers jump-started holiday ads in early November. For ye olde brick-and-mortars, it feels like a desperate attempt to convince us they're still viable. Amazon's Hurricane Florence-level flooding of the airwaves has a sadistic air of triumph.
Charlie Brown is looking like an optimist these days. The message of Christmas has been diluted, perverted, squashed and left for dead by the side of the information superhighway.
Or maybe it's me.
In my 20s, in my first apartment, Christmas was joyful. I held the first of many tree-trimming parties and began the holiday category of my growing collection of "stuff."
In my 30s, as a wife and mother, Christmas joy increased as I shared the traditions with a new generation.
In my 40s, my marriage ended and I restarted the tree-trimming parties that had been usurped by 20 years of my husband's preference for New Year's Day parties.
Now, at an age that could only be considered "middle" by scientists overly optimistic about expanding life expectancy, I find myself feeling more and more curmudgeonly.
I'm long past my stuff-gathering mode. In fact, I've downgraded much of my "stuff" to "crap" and two weeks ago, dumped a ton of it, including Christmas ornaments. (I let go of none of the early tree-trimming party gifts, however. Take that, Marie Kondo!)
I store my decorations -- and my three-piece tree -- conveniently behind the couch in January because it feels like only weeks before they'll come out again. Sometimes over the summer I think, "Almost Christmas."
I vividly remember sitting alone in the dark gazing at my Christmas tree in my first solo apartment, Even though it was in Queens, I felt a sense of contentment. Last night I tried that in my beautiful, Christmasy, non-Queens living room and just couldn't get there. It felt like sitting down to meditate but only running through a to do list and litany of regrets.
Despite my message of Hellish Holidays, I'm generally upbeat. I recognize the anguish holidays, and the attendant family functions, guilt and overeating can bring, but don't let the negative outweigh the positive. This year, that's harder than it's been.
Worst of all, I can't blame Trump.