Getting Comfy With Misanthropy at the Holidays

'Tis the season to take out your existential malaise on others.

You hate the holidays. You probably also hate "the holidays," that wishy-washy faux-inclusive term for the Xmas shopping season. You're not alone in your hatred, even if you want to be. Pent-up stress manifests itself everywhere: Perfect relationships dissolve in torrents of deliberate misunderstanding. Carefully cultivated family civility erupts into maddeningly idiotic disputes. Even total strangers become comically bumbling villains in our dark subjective landscape.

But is it really any worse than the rest of the year? At least we're expressing our feelings honestly, even if those feelings are spiteful and monstrous. Each New Year's Hangover is a harbinger of another 11 months of dreary politeness and harrowing sobriety made bearable only by the promise of next December's festival of unabashed passive aggression. Let's embrace the dysfunction and have fun with it. We might as well enjoy our freedom and puke up as much bile as we can before January hits.

Got a family? Start there. It's just not Christmas if nobody cries, and better Mom than you. With zero risk and zero cost (those presents are all write-offs if you work it right), you can get the benefit of hundreds of hours of therapy by just being yourself. Bitchy, surly, selfish, bullying, resentful, whatever—and you get to blame "holiday stress." So go ahead, pretend to call the E.P.A. for gravy-disposal instructions. Hit on siblings' spouses. Explain to your nephew that you can tell he's adopted because he's so fat. What are they going to do, fire you?

On that note, if you can't beat job stress, spread it around. It's cathartic as hell to go out of your way to make coworkers as uncomfortable as possible. Subtlety is key here, as real-life consequences may result (unlike in family life). The easiest way is to take prolonged, screeching offense at any decorations, celebrations, or comments related to the holidays. "That menorah is phallic and patriarchal." "This cut-out snowman mocks Nordic pagan traditions." "How can you think about Kwanzaa at a time like this?" Or take the opposite tack: Go full-on-Baby-Jesus Christian and see if anyone tries to stop you. An out-of-court civil rights settlement is sweeter than any Christmas bonus.

If you're not single, you'll soon wish you were. Nothing's worse than putting up with a partner's holiday trauma—whether it's childhood history, retail stress, or just a mirror of your own awfulness, you don't have to play nice. December is the perfect time for a breakup; why not use the associated pressure as an excuse to dump that baggage and hop a new train out of town? Or if you're not ready to commit to being single, at least learn to love the good fights and bad sex brought on by blinking red lights and sweet, sweet booze.

Speaking of which, let's definitely not forget to drink this year. If your conscience is still installed and operating properly, you'll need something to suppress it while wreaking havoc on friends and family. Ale, spiked 'nog, mulled wine, and a screaming frenzy of liqueurs are all competing for the privilege of enabling your Yuletide trollishness. Booze it up and don't worry about the consequences—nobody wants to hold an intervention around the holidays, so you won't risk the boredom and discomfort of people telling you they love and care about you.

The Northwest has a leg up on other regions thanks to a little blessing called seasonal affective disorder. Because of our latitude and high levels of rainfall, practically everyone around these parts gets to sink into the warm bath of depression at least once a year. It's the perfect excuse for just about anything from laziness to, apparently, infanticide—you're a fool if you don't add it to your holiday toolbox. Lay off the St. John's wort, flush the Zoloft, and change your lightbulbs back to partial-spectrum. You'll be flat on your back staring at the ceiling in no time.

The rest of the year is for smiling, holding doors, romantic dinners, and appropriate social drinking. If it weren't for the holidays and our monthlong vacation from politeness, we'd all go barking, biting mad. Remember, nobody knows the depths of your misanthropy better than you do. Share it with everyone you meet this season, loud and proud. It's the Seattle Way.

Get It?

Think back to YOUR CHILDHOOD. Remember that thing Mom and/or Dad said that time? Recall the everlasting wounds and myriad humiliations, large and small, of ADOLESCENCE. And is it really fair for one human to have to endure so much HEARTBREAK and SEEMINGLY ETERNAL LONELINESS? Hey, how do you like YOUR JOB OR LACK THEREOF? Doesn't it make your blood boil when OTHER PEOPLE hit their kids in line at Toys 'R' Us? Why must the STATE OF THE WORLD suck so very, very much? Got it yet?

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