Holiday! Celebrate! – Madonna, “Holiday”
You know those random things you suddenly remember? For no apparent reason at all? Especially the kind of memory you’ve never remembered since it happened? As if I haven’t given you ample proof of my weirdness as a kid already (and an even weirder adult), I was ashamed of watching the anime version of Heidi as a kid. It was a programme on TV, on the weekends, and I would not admit to anyone at my school that I watched it. Why? Because it’s a very cute, endearing show, and I’ve never done cute. When everybody watched Teletubbies, and aspired to be Lala or whoever, I laughed at them. Hey Arnold was more my thing.
The point is, anything too happy just doesn’t settle well with me. I think “Barbie Girl” by Aqua is to be blamed for this. When the song came out and became a massive hit, back in the 90s when music lasted in the collective consciousness for more than a minute, I was of the age where every school function, kids’ party and whatever it is that kids are subjected to, little girls my age were made to dress up and dance and scream their heads off declaring to the world that yes, they are a Barbie girl, in the Barbie world, some lyrics about plastic we don’t need to worry about, you can brush my hair, some lyrics about undressing you don’t need to worry about, look at me impressing you with the words “imagination, life is your creation” and so on. I’d rather be absorbed into walls like I’d seen in horror films, than put on my fluffy frock and do all that.
In case you did not exist, or lived under a rock in the 90s….
You’d say, smart kid. Gold stars for both Hey Arnold and being suspicious of “Barbie Girl” even then. But, I was, or I am, Wednesday Addams wearing a summer frock. Morose, but not morose enough to be cool. And that is why I am awkward with holidays, and celebrations in general.
And I’m subjected to those all year. Seriously, if you want holidays year round, live in India. We celebrate everything. I don’t know if the statistic was from last year or the year before, but 33% of working days, sans summer and winter break, were holidays. That is, 1/3rd of your time at school or work, for which you pay or get paid, are days you’re off, potentially celebrating one thing or the other. What could be more wonderful than that?
As much as I love time off, holidays drive me crazy. Celebrations of any kind, but weddings are the worst. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been keen on mine. I don’t mind the marriage bit, but if I have sit starving and looking like a Christmas tree (oh yes, those great Indian weddings you keep hearing about that go on for days and have every excess imaginable? The bride is supposed to starve through them), you better watch out for the Bridezilla to Kill all you Bills off. As a guest, I keep to being an environmentalist and pointing out the cringe in each and everything.
Why are you killing the holiday spirit, Amrita? At least, you could be like some of us more fickle folks and stick to the materialism of Christmas? I associate Christmas as much with Home Alone and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, as I do with…they don’t too many Christmas movies promoting misery, do they?
I suppose I’m suspicious of happiness. I can’t always buy it as a true thing. I don’t go around discussing divorce statistics at weddings, but you know what I mean. Misery loves company, and I’ve always been miserable. I don’t know how to pose in photos with other happy people, how to help in the kitchen without conducting it as an army canteen. Thank God for pop music. If there wasn’t something as infectious as Madonna’s The Immaculate Collection album, I wouldn’t know how to survive among other happy people, give them the impression that I am one of them. Share in the illusion of the magic, the spirit of XYZ celebration, when we all know it’s not true.
I want to be a believer, of course. I wanted to put on the fluffy frock and only commit to the innocent bits of “Barbie Girl”. I wanted to like “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. I want to be like every other reasonably happy person. I want to declare my love for the show Little Lulu twenty years later, especially now that I know little Lulu was voiced by the genius Tracey Ullman. When will I grow a heart?
Perhaps, I have a heart. Perhaps, it’s not Ebenezer Scrooge’s heart. Perhaps, it’s Robert Smith’s heart. Perhaps, I am a goth. I obviously do not have the musical skills, nor the pale skin, and I also find some of the gothiness a bit ridiculous. But, there’s a difference between having a dark, murky heart, and no heart at all. Perhaps, secretly I am full of heart. I just haven’t had reason to declare it yet. I’m certainly not declaring it in my hypothetical great Indian wedding.
And my dark, murky heart wishes you lots of love, cosiness, material as well as familial happiness this festive weekend. Have a good one.
How do you celebrate Christmas?