The last three months of the year are unarguably my very very favorite months ever in the history of mankind, ending on the month that is in the #1 fav slot, December. Close family and friends see this as an obvious ranking, and chalk it off to the fact that I am a “December Baby.” This is true, both that I am a December Baby and that most December Babies I know love the month of December (or at least like it, or at the very least don’t hate it.) I am guessing there are few people who actually hate the month they were born, and those who do I am also guessing had awful childhoods.
But I would like to think that my love for December, (and then, in rank, #2 November and #3 October) has a deeper rooted meaning than just that it has the day I was born. It is true that the placement of my birth has made it the longest birthday ever had. My brother has dubbed it “the month long birthday” and my friend Sarah coined the phrase “Season of ALI.” My birthday lands on December 1st, which , as tradition, usually means I receive my first gift on Thanksgiving from Grandma, and the rest of the cards, gifts, parties, etc., trickle on through the month until around Christmas Eve, where people who didn’t catch me on my birthday could swing in a gift then. I’m not gonna lie, it’s awesome. I love the attention, and when I compare my personal holiday to others’, I seem to feel like mine was just made into a bigger deal. My birthday party was probably better than yours. Sorry.
I really have never had a bad birthday. Seriously. The worst one was probably when I turned 22, and that was only because it was clearly overshadowed by my 21st, the nation’s favorite birthday. But even then, for being my worst, it was still pretty great. I had flown home for Thanksgiving to Colorado from college in Arizona, and stayed a little longer so I could have my birthday with my parents and boyfriend; something I hadn’t done in over three years. My parents even gave me the traditional breakfast in bed that we got when we were little, complete with the decrepitly sad “Birthday Bear” candle, which I got to blow out while my parents and boyfriend watched with bed head and morning yawns. (My boyfriend, then 24, could not sleep in the same bed as me at the time per Mom’s super gay gay rules, and kindly slept on the couch, which was maybe the only drawback of that morning.) The day consisted of relaxing with my usually long distance boyfriend, watching it snow outside and drinking hot chocolate. And that was my supposedly worst year.
Other years have included:
23rd – My college roommates flying out to my new Chicago home and having a girls weekend of drinking, bar hopping, shopping, and all four laying on a fold out couch and making fun of ex-boyfriends.
21st– College shit show. I had four Colorado friends and my boyfriend fly out to AZ, and we, as well as my three roommates, crammed into our small apartment and had a power hour one night, an Elementary School themed party the next night, and a hangover lay around day the final.
20th – Xmas sweater themed party in my new apartment with my roommates. First of the epic-ly big theme parties in our then new place.
19th – An Olive Garden where a waiter spilled on us and gave us (all 19 year old dorm girls) free drinks all night. Then an ASU surprise party with Colorado Coors Light!
18th – Senior year of high school, and I got around thirty people to dress in formal wear and go eat at Denver’s infamous Casa Bonita, a Mexican Chuckie Cheese, but better.
I could go on, but I’m already feeling braggy and all I’m trying to do it illustrate the point as to why my closest friends assume I love December. (Oh and side note, I am not one of those lame girls who struts around in crowns and boas like it’s my fucking bachelorette party. I don’t feel the need to be snotty or annoying ‘because I can!’ I don’t wear my birthday on my sleeve, my birthday is cool enough to just come to me.) This year the party will be fun yet again as I will be in AZ and then in LA that night visiting my bestest best friends. Okay – done bragging.
And yes, my birthday certainly helps December’s case as being my favorite month. I have always felt loved on my birthday. Very loved. And I will never pretend that that notion is insignificant. I spend the bulk of the year trying to find love and acceptance, as a performer (Cast me!) a non-native (Hey AZ, hey Chi-town, wanna be my friend?), and even as an employee (Raise?), so it is easy to forget all those who are far away that probably check my facebook once in a while and read this blog and who care.
But, and here’s the best part, I am not the only one who gets that around December. Most everyone does. Because it’s HOLIDAY SEASON, and you’re a dick if you don’t care about someone around HOLIDAY SEASON.
Now I recognize not everybody loves HOLIDAY SEASON (and yes, I will capitalize HOLIDAY SEASON, because I think each letter is a pronoun in that phrase), and I’m not saying that all those people are dicks, but I will say that there is something wrong with jerks who don’t take a moment to call their mom on Christmas Day, or who don’t kiss their wife on New Year’s Eve, or who don’t buy a stupid box of chocolates for their secretary on that day where you get to eat treats during Hanukah. I recognize that I go overboard with my holiday excitement, which may annoy those so inclined to be unenthused. I am the reason all those Hallmark movies exist and why radio stations play nonstop jingles beginning November 1st. I get pumped when I spot the Starbucks red cups (they just make coffee taste better) and I am all for the Festival of Lights coming to Michigan Avenue in mid November.
This reason, I think, is a little more significant in what makes these three months and THE HOLIDAY SEASON my favorite time of year rather than just because I’m a “December Baby.” For one, the HOLIDAY SEASON, for me, begins in October. Yep. October. It is the month of the first big holiday. Halloween. (I almost want to argue that it has now slowly become the month of two holidays, Halloween and Breast Cancer, but according to my roommate that’s apparently an offensive comment.) Halloween is a big holiday because it’s the first time where major retail stores and restaurants actually alter into a theme. There are many other holidays that make commercialism go under this transformation, but Halloween is more important because 1) it steamrolls into the remaining holidays with no breaks for retail to go back to the neutral decor, 2) National grossing-wise, it is the second highest bankable holiday in America, 3) it’s fucking cooler than Valentine’s Day.
Now with Halloween I have to say I don’t go all out as much as I can. There are certainly those who are much more Halloween devotees, and I think a lot of that lies in the fact that I cannot afford it and I also do not like being scared. I’ve never been a scary movie fan or like the sensation of haunted houses, but I really appreciate those who do. I’m a fan of enthusiasm, even if it is not mine. Halloween is great because it makes normal people theatrical people, and theatrical people basically flamboyant gay men. (And do not underestimate my love for flamboyant gay men.) The candy content is off the chain, and if you are over eighteen, then replace the word candy with the word alcohol. Sluts are acceptable, humor is acceptable, and those witty enough to create a visual pun out of a cardboard box usually win something at a bar.
Then it’s on to November, like, immediately. And that’s the early month of Christmas and the official month of Thanksgiving. Many HOLIDAY SEASON haters guaf at Xmas for trumping over Thanksgiving’s thunder, but I feel just the opposite. I feel like Christmas has rather embraced Thanksgiving and allowed it the opportunity of special holiday membership. I mean, let’s face it; Thanksgiving isn’t the greatest holiday. And those who claim it to be their favorite are either hipsters and/or starving. Thanksgiving has a terrible origin story, besides the amazing food. There is no influx of Thanksgiving songs because nobody really has anything to say about it, and usually the day is spent sleeping. But because it is a part of the HOLIDAY SEASON, I love it. I love the fall colors, mashed potatoes, and, really, who doesn’t love a day of football and sleep. It’s Gluttonous. It’s American. Bitch.
And then, again immediately following Thanksgiving, it’s the grand finale.
No, just kidding. I, of course, mean Christmas. (and Hanukah, and Kwanza, too but I’m gonna run them all together here. I spoke with the Jews and the Africans and they said it was okay.) It is such a vastly unique time in our culture, because it’s the first time in our mildly productive year that we as a society are allowed to push the repeat button. We get out bits of nostalgia and sing along to nostalgia and hang nostalgia and create new things that will become a part of nostalgia. (Case in point – I have four huge Christmas stockings that my roommate in college made us, and they will be making their third year appearance in my schoolhouse.) Sure we are forced to spend a lot of money and do a lot of traditional things that maybe we don’t want to do or never work. There is an entire sub-culture of the Christmas season with people who joke and hate Christmas. There are an infinite number of essays and skits and movies made on the idea that “Christmas is the worst.” The fact of the matter is, even that counter is about the HOLIDAY SEASON, and those worsts are also repeated every year.
And I love it all. Even the haters. It’s all a part of a collective whole.
(Side note: The woman I nanny for is a December Baby and says she hates Christmas. I really didn’t know what to do with or about that. Weird.)
I attribute absolutely all my love for Christmas to my wonderful childhood. I assume anyone who loves Christmas probably had a great childhood. (or they’re born-again Christians, but then those are folks who kinda love Christmas in a sad way. Eh – I’m not gonna get into it. That’s for another blog.) Though it seemed pathetic at the time that as a young artist I was not living this lonely, tragic, and poetic lifestyle; I have come to really appreciate that my parents did a good job. I will never apologize that I grew up in a stable, loving, and supportive home (despite the fact that it made me completely unrelatable and unimportant to my high school drama teacher.) The only person I knew growing up who loved Christmas as much as me was my good friend Danielle Winslow, and she grew up with the PTA power house mother Christy, the most actively involved mother in all of Boulder County. Of course Danielle loved Christmas, it was her mom’s duty.
And my parents’ too. They did the best they could every year. I’m still not sure how, but they were really good about the magic. I swear I was the last person ever to find out about Santa Clause being fake, and even then I think I pretended to believe anyway just for good measure. My parents didn’t give us the most expensive toys on the market, but they certainly showered us with gifts and kept an element of absolute surprise. They allowed us to play with our Christmas ornaments and lick the batter from leftover cookies. My dad wrote the best Christmas letters, my mom made the cutest stockings. Those times were just so happy as a kid, I almost burst thinking about all the times I almost burst then.
I could list all the stupid traditions, but upon me hearing so many other people’s traditions I learned it is only cool to hear them if they are entirely similar to yours or if, somehow, you were going to take part in it yourself, so really it is only exciting for me to tell than for you to hear. (i.e. Unless you are my boyfriend watching White Christmas with me on Christmas Eve, you don’t need to know that’s what we do. Hey….. you like how I stilled slipped in telling you about a tradition?)
The ironic thing about my love is there is a tinge of depression that happens to me during this overwhelming amount of anticipation. As you get older, you realize Christmas will never be as good as when you were a kid. (Halloween too! Thanksgiving? Eh.) I would be lying if I said that my gumption to decorate and sing songs and type a blog about Christmas in October doesn’t set me up for disappointment. Last year, despite being around Downtown Chicago’s sparkly lights and Salvation Army bell ringers, I still had to work til midnight at this shitty restaurant and ride the train home when it was 20 degrees out. I was working two jobs, broke as fuck, and not allowed to go home until Christmas Eve. I was lonely. Isolated. And no one watched Holiday Inn with me. I felt sorry for myself.
But, really, those moments are beside the point. I was talking with my roommate Kyle about how he hated last year’s Thanksgiving because he didn’t get to go home. I was really surprised because I rather enjoyed my Thanksgiving, and we had the same one. There were eight of us who didn’t have a place to go, the group was comprised of then members of the sketch comedy troupe Honorary Degree. We decided to have our own Thanksgiving together, and each person took on a dish. The most impressive was Brian Street’s and Keith Downey’s homemade apple brine and turkey cooking, but special nods go out to Kyle’s sausage balls and mashed potatoes and Stacey’s greenbean casserole. I woke that morning and watched the parade by myself (my tradition) we all played football (Kyle’s tradition), we cooked, ate, and drank into the night playing Charades. It was a Thanksgiving I’ll never forget, the homeless eight creating a little family just for the day. Now, thinking about it more deeply, I’m sure I was sad about it too. I’m sure I was miserable to be away from my own family and pissed that no one did my traditions with me but seemingly jumped at the opportunity to do Kyle’s. I know I was peeved at having to work at 4am the next morning, and drank the night away into a sleeping stupor. Alas, and still, I am thankful that day happened now because it will be like a little notch in my life when I was young and poor and did the best I could.
Yep. And now I sound like a Christmas Special. But it’s true!
These are my favorite months of the year, and even though they will never be as cool as when I was young, (this year I am spending Thanksgiving with my best friend’s family, and though it will be nice I know it won’t be the same as my mom’s home cooking), I still jump into these months head on and excited. It is a time to be loved and a time to celebrate! And even though I will have dips of sorrow that the season will surely provide (I mean, it’s not like I get to go home any sooner, or I have any more money than the year before…) I know for a fact that I want to be at that bar when that cardboard facebook profile costume wins a free shot.
And also, did I mention December 1st is my birthday?
– One El
“ Here’s the lettter F! F…F…F! Here’s the letter G! G…G…G. Here’s the letter K! K…K…. woops.”