I am going to say it the way it is and it isn't going to be pretty.
What makes it all the more appalling is that it is Christmas. But then, so what?
I am going to say what I've been itching to say --- and rock, rock from heaven ... if it hits you, I don't mind you getting pissed ... or dropping dead.
So here goes.
The TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT CHRISTMAS:
(1) I hate the sense of entitlement of some people to think that they can demand Christmas presents from you.
I can hear my mother in the background feeding me that brainwashing sort of stuff you get from ultra-Christian upbringing. It goes something like this:
"Hijo, that is why you are blessed by the Lord because you must be generous to share."
Yes, Ma. I heard that line about a zillion times before and it is true. I can also quote a whole litany of famous words of wisdom that go:
"You can't take your material possessions with you to the other side." (Well, not unless you want to be buried with your cars, your jewelry, your high-tech gadgets --- and even your trophy minions who make good accessories to impress others about how powerful you are. The Egyptian pharaohs use to do that ... and the Chinese bury their dead with effigies of everything from ice cream cones to mock-up mansions.)
But there is that thin dividing line between being generous and being had. There is that disturbing demarcation between being saintly, godly, unbearably human, self-effacing, self-sacrificing ... from being merely abused by all the buffoons of the world who think that Christmas is the peak season for extortion.
What I hate the most is the kakapalan ng pagmumukha ( translation: Guiness Book of Records-worth thickness of facial epidermis ) that would impress even a pachyderm.
Hey, listen, you Bozos of the World: just because they are playing Jingle Bells to death does not mean that the Heavens have given carte blanche license for everyone to go around anyone to get their share of Santa's imaginary goodies, right?
Well, this leads me to the second point.
(2) I hate those white envelopes being passed around with hastily written inscriptions that read: Merry Christmas.
Everybody knows this. Everybody has received this.
You get this from your mailman. You get this from the guy who delivers your weekly or monthly magazines. You get this from the garbage collector. You get this from the streetsweeper. You even get this from the ghost who supposedly lives on the balete tree at the end of the road.
Issue #1: Yeah, yeah, yeah! Call me stingy, call me tightwad but I am not going to give a single peso to anyone who is just there because he is doing his job.
If you deliver my weekly issues of Time Magazine, then this does not qualify you to be my immediate circle of friends and familiars. When my magazine subscription runs out, will you still remember to wish me a Merry Christmas? Fat chance. So there.
Issue #2: Do I know these guys personally? OK, let us make it simpler. Do they know my name?
I certainly do not know theirs ... so I assume that they must at least remember my name since they deliver my magazines, collect my garbage, haunt my street, etcetera. But chances are they don't. Otherwise, why would I be getting this generic white envelope with a clumsily written Christmas greeting --- or worse --- something that came straight from a rubber stamp that must have cost him about P25.00 to commission?
So this leads me to the third issue.
(3) I hate the kind of social pressure given to gift-giving as if it were a measure if you are a man or simply a textbook sonofabitch.
Some people are naturally generous. They give at the slightest provocation.
Some are armed with more than enough resources so give na lang nga sila ng give. But there are others who, despite limitations of what they have, would still go out of their way to give. These are the generous ones. And I am even more impressed when they do not call attention to themselves each time they render some act of charity, benevolence or magnanimity.
Gimme a break. We all know that some people make such grand gesture of how mabait they are as long as they can get media mileage from their pagkakawanggawa or pagkabanal. Yeah, the end justifies the means --- but I still choose to barf. chances are, people who make such a production number out of their acts of charity have plans of running for public office in the immediate future.
Therefore with all that grandstanding about GIVING, the heat is on. Anybody who chooses to think and rethink about not only what to give but also who deserves to be given are categorically lumped into the species of the greedy, tightwad, spendthrift, anally fixated sub-humans. In short, we are the assholes of the world.
But then again, consider ...
(4) I hate the idea of giving gifts just for the sake of saying you have given some body a gift.
I understand this in the context of the corporate world.
I made the latest count: I received three planners, two wall calendars and a partridge in a pear tree as company giveaways. You don't take that personally. They buy that en bulk together with note pad cubes, wall clocks, umbrellas, mugs and keychains. You can even throw in the eco-friendly tote/shopping bags to remind you that beyond Christmas, the Polar caps are melting.
But then again, there is that whole conscience ride about having to give some one a gift because it will not look right if you don't. Am I making myself clear? Have you also found yourselves in similar dilemmas when you tell yourself, "But I have to give him something because ... uh, I just have to." Not that you don't want to ... but then it has all come down to the level that you have to.
That, my friends, is a bitch.
It is a bitch because chances are ... you are going to give this creature anything but anything (a planner, a wall calendar, a thermos mug, a wall clock) just for the sake of clearing your conscience.
But then, the easy way out is when you actually re-wrap a present you received last year ... and pass it onto somebody else this year because you realize that you either have no use for what you got ... or you just hated it.
Hmmm. This brings us to even deeper thoughts about why ...
(5) I hate it when I am burdened by the pangs of conscience each time I recycle a gift.
Definition of terms: a recycled gift is one received in the previous year(s) that the recipient has decided to put back in a box, re-wrap and pass it on to another human being under the pretext that it is a thought-out offering to celebrate the Birth of Christ.
Argumentation Point for Point:
5.1. There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving a gift you receive to somebody who you believe deserves it better than you. Recycling can be termed as practical and even eco-friendly. The fact that you are giving somebody something that you have no use for ... or cannot find in both conscience and taste to appreciate ... is not an act of vulgarity. Maybe a proof of frugality ... but not one that demeans the receiver or the giver.
5.2. There is something somewhat malicious, condescending or even insulting about passing on to another something that you do not like or you think has absolutely no place in the order of your human existence. It does not only suggest scrimping on gift-giving expenditures --- but an easy way out. Not only do you diminish the clutter, but you impersonate generosity by handing the unappreciated gift to somebody else.
But this is also why ...
(6) I hate it when I get back from the recipient the same gift I gave him previous or some earlier year.
It can be interpreted as part of the karmic cycle.
This is when you actually receive the same gift you gave somebody the year before.
One actually has the choice to make a scene (perhaps end a friendship or ... in a worst case scenario, commit murder) or to just act coy and let this fly over your head.
After all, considering the delicacy and fragility and importance of friendship, will a faux pas involving gifts be reason enough to grow completely ballistic and result to threats of death?
Of course not. But, damn ... it certainly says a lot of things especially when the receiver gives you back the same gift while smiling and saying, "Merry Christmas." This can only mean that he or she is trying to make a point or he or she is a textbook imbecile.
(7) I hate it when I get text messages that demand for Christmas gifts from people who I have not seen or heard from the whole year.
Oh, come on: we all know that Christmas can also show the worst in us.
Yeah, yeah, yeah: God rest ye merry gentlemen and all that BUT when people pop out of the blue and send you a text message that reads:
PAMASKO KO? PUNTA KO DYAN, KUNIN KO NA?
... at first, you are left stunned. The completely floored and then infuriated by the level of brazenness that some low lives can get.
Again this is when you feel so violated because of that sense of entitlement of people that they can just go up to you a demand a Christmas present.
I posted a Twitter question to my followers, asking them for suggestions as to how to respond to such a text message. I realized that most of those following me in that social media site are actually nice and polite and true children of God. Some had straightforward replies:
Others had witty responses:
AY SORRY! AKALA KO DI KA DARATING, DINONATE
KO SA MGA NASALANTA NG BAGYONG PABLO. GUSTO MO
But my reply was ... uh, far more (how shall I put this) politically incorrect and reeking of the vulgarian side of me which I hide relatively well by being such an eloquent bitch. I texted back this creature with the following line:
HINDI NA NGA KITA INAANAK, HINDI MO PA AKO
MAANAKAN, TAPOS HIHINGI KA NG AGUINALDO?
ANO KA? SINUSUWERTE? U--L!
(8) I hate carolers who cannot sing a note to save their lives and expect to get compensated for desecrating Christmas songs.
Just a while ago, a Facebook friend complained about carolers.
Why is it that the moment you hand them your money, they stop singing and disappear? Well, it is because you are actually encouraging these street urchins to believe that Christmas is a money-making venture! You ask what is the best thing to do with such tone-deaf munchkins singing Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer and making it sound like Psy with dyspepsia? Throw a pail of cold water on the buggers --- and let's see if they can still caterwaul their version of O Holy Night!
OK, so it is part of the Yuletide tradition to have carolers ...but you just wish that those who indulge in such perpetuation of centuries old customs actually have some semblance of respect for music. Or have functional vocal chords...even if this has been diminished to a fund-raising activity.
And please, I want to get teary-eyed hearing The Christmas Song (Chesnuts Roasting on the Open Fire) or I'll be Home for Christmas or Pasko na, Sinta Ko ... because of the emotions that these song carry to literally pierce my heart. I want to cry because these songs capture if not encapsulate everything beautiful about Christmas ... and not because there is an entire platoon of tone-deaf morons who think they are singing but are actually creating havoc in the natural order of the Universe.
And speaking of the natural order of the Universe, can somebody please explain to me the next entry.
(9) I hate traffic in the city during the Christmas season.
I just need one question to be answered: Where the f--k do all these cars come from to clog up every major thoroughfare and side street of every city in MetroManila?
There is only one way to describe the Christmas traffic: it is a perfect way to have a nervous breakdown or suffer a stroke while seated behind the wheel.
I cannot believe the sheer volume of cars, jeepneys, buses, vans, trucks, cargo vehicles --- and even flying saucers --- clogging up every roadway in the city.
Is it a tradition that starting 16 December ... all the cars, including those in the junkyards ... rise from the dead and flock to the streets of Manila for some insane pilgrimage to the direction of the malls?
The saddest part is that not only are the streets constipated with all these carbon monoxide sputtering vehicles ... the drivers are irate, irritated and having various degrees of mental anguish, including some prone to paranoia or dementia. The streets become unhealthy not only to the lungs but also the minds of drivers.
It is not surprising that one day a driver will just snap ... and become a serial killer right at the corner intersection of EDSA and Shaw Boulevard.
(10) I hate the sheer volume of crowds populating the malls during the Christmas rush. Worse, I hate all those irresponsible parents who drag their babies/toddlers right at the heart of all this fiasco.
I committed one of the greatest mistakes of my life.
At 4:00PM, 18 December, Sunday ... I went to a mall. I should have known. I should have used my common sense. I should have trusted my instinct. But the inner shopaholic in me got the better ... and I ended up being at the far end of worst.
Once I thought my definition of hell was to be literally locked in a claustrophobic elevator with ten other people and a videoke that played nothing but biritera music. It just so happened that the ten people in that elevator are all aspiring contestants for reality competitions on tv. For all eternity, I will be hearing "And I am Telling You I'm Not Going", "I Have Nothing", "And I Will Always Love You" and other songs of similar timbre by very, very bad and ugly singers.
That for me is eternal punishment. That for me is my concept of hell.
Until last 18 December.
I suffer from claustrophobia. But the moment I stepped into the mall and swept by literally a tsunami of bickering, snickering and twitting people, I did not only feel crowded. I felt masticated. I felt like I was being pushed, shoved and caught in a current of heated, breathing consumer-obsessed creatures swallowed by the Beast of Capitalism.
To go from Point A to Point B took me forever. It did not help that I was not only protecting my crotch, I was also making sure no cunning and creative pickpocket will be given the chance to augment his loot for the day courtesy of my wallet. Between feeling crushed and violated and abused and exploited, I realized that it was hopeless to enjoy all this.
And all the while this was happening, the pipe-in music provided a ghastly counterpoint. The music playing was Jolly Old Saint Nicolas and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.
But deep inside me came an inner scream --- that primal rage that simply shouted: GET ME OUT OF HERE!
So call me Scrooge. Call me whatever. But don't get me wrong. There may be ten very good reasons why I cannot stand the holidays ... but I have a hundred more to prove that this is still the best time of the year to assure ourselves that ... well, we need each other. And it's all about giving, sharing and celebrating a very special baby's birthday.
OK ... OK ... Merry Christmas, Kids.