We’re in the dark in between. I know you know what I mean. That strange, ~listless~ week that resides in the chasm that exists between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. During the Christmas season, we spend all of this time masking the wrath of our paralyzing depression through the lovely art of distraction.
Why be plagued by pending doom when there are so many pretty things to look at? Why obsess over our gruesome loops of intrusive thoughts when we could just march over to that sparkly little Christmas store in Midtown west and pick out a plush little pine tree slaughtered and imported from upstate New York? Why spiral over what the hell we're doing with our meaningless, painfully-mundane lives when we could instead march those plush little pine trees over to our dingy little apartments fourteen blocks east? Beads of sweat will emerge on our damp foreheads as we haul those regal trees up to our six-story walk-ups. It’s a very *grounding* exercise. It’s what human beings were designed to do; lug trees around. It’s primal. It puts us back in touch with our caveman instincts. And if you worship at the altar of the bio-hacking bros that dominate the podcast charts—you understand the importance of being connected to your inner caveman. Doing manual labor and taking in cold air is what we’re biologically hardwired to do, babe. Sitting inside scrolling through a static screen is why we’re all so fucked up and lonely!
Once we've finally dragged those trees into our dutiful homes, we are blasted with an additional hit of serotonin when we free our Christmas ornaments from their storage box prisons. Have you ever noticed how ~lit up~ your brain gets from absorbing the glitter of those shimmery round balls our culture likes to hang on Christmas trees for whatever reason? Those little balls give Prozac a real run for her money.
Sometimes we decorate our tree with family or chosen family, which elicits wonderful feelings of connectedness. Because again, if we go back to the roots of humanity, we’re tribal creatures. We’re not meant to be reading snarky essays in VICE all alone in our studio apartments. We’re like dogs, we’re meant to be part of a pack, a community. And decorating a tree is a communal ritual. It Makes Us Feel Like We Belong.™ And We All Want To Feel Like We Belong.™
Of course, complicated feelings about family and childhood, and money creep into our orbits during the holiday season—but it’s easy to block out these unwanted anxieties because the streets are teeming with beautifully blinking strung lights! And the nasty bitch you see every day at the bodega—the one who grimaces at you—she actually smiles at you this time of year. And then there are all these little kids bundled up singing Christmas carols for charity in Time Square! And even if you’re like me, an old hag who doesn't have the gene that makes one coo over little snotty kids belting objectively annoying songs—your frozen heart can’t help but defrost a little bit over the whole scene. And then of course there’s all the eating and all the drinking. It’s the only time of year our diet-obsessed culture says a collective “FUCK OFF” to the sugar-less influencers who inundate us with scrolls as wide as the New Jersey turnpike with their unsolicited recipes that are “healthy alternatives to apple pie” as they flaunt their flat navels unto their beige feeds. We mute them and eat the goddamn brownie for once and allow ourselves to actually enjoy the goddamn brownie for once and no, bitch, we don’t covet your miserable rock-hard abs for fucking once. And when that brownie has swished its way through our systems and those blood-sugar levels spike to the heights of the highest heavens we’re rendered with a fun little ZAP of manic energy which—yes is fleeting—but holy shit it feels good in the moment. It's like poppers, but with fewer brain cells killed and a helluva a lot more calories. And while poppers and sugar do no favors to the central nervous system in the long wrong—honey—give us a break! We're living in the most tumultuous political hellscape we've ever had to endure in our lifetime! A couple of seconds of relief from the ever-present pain feels like a miracle. A Christmas Miracle. And right when the cheap thrill wears off and you feel yourself starting to crash into the kitchen tile, you can simply numb the chemical sadness away with a hearty pour of hot mulled wine and everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.
Christmas is like slapping a Chanel band-aid over the grotesque wounds that plague our maudlin souls. Christmas is like developing a minor cocaine problem so temporary it skips right past the life-wrecking consequences—and you just get to experience that beautiful burst of confidence matched with the euphoric beams of excitement that pump like a heartbeat through your veins. Christmas is truffle oil for your life. You can douse the blandest shit in truffle oil and it’ll still taste LUXURIOUS.
And then we get to give into all the ~trashy pleasures~ we normally pretend to be too sophisticated to enjoy. I’ve seen rock stars hum along to Christmas music which we all know is actually really bad. But it’s such a relief to just like the bad thing for once, you know? It’s such a relief to give into orange slices of saran-wrapped cheese every now and again. Our world is all about decadent manchego cheeses imported from fucking Spain and I love a decadent manchego more than I love my brother Blake—but sometimes I really just want to sink my teeth into a hunk of government cheese is that okay, Gloria?
It is okay.
And then the 26th BOLDLY opens the door to our bedrooms without even knocking. She drags us into our bathrooms and forces us to take in our vile reflections in the dirty bathroom mirror. Suddenly we can’t see our cheekbones. We’re all puff. Our eyes are red and swollen like a toad. We feel our spirit flounder in despair from the abuse of booze and chemical-laden foods and artificial glitter and all that pretending that the bad Christmas music was good. It's like out of nowhere reality has slivered her way around our waists. And she feels like an unwanted touch from a lover we’re suddenly repulsed by. "The uncle that you had a deep conversation about the family lineage with last night? He doesn’t believe in gay marriage." Reality purrs into our hungover ears. "You're disgusting."
I’ll just go to another Christmas party and forget all about how hungover and bloated and shitty I feel!
And then we remember Christmas is over. There are no more parties.
That’s fine I’ll just lose myself in work.
And then we remember that we’re off till January 3rd! Or that we’ve been laid off. Or that we hate our jobs. And yes we *could* take this time to start brainstorming our next podcast idea or whatnot—but we could also take this time to rot away on the couch for a while. Or we could take this time to get really fit but also what’s the point? The New Year is coming and the New Year is more exciting to hopeful depressives than the great rapture is to delusional Christians.
Because this New Year is going to be OUR YEAR.
In the New Year, you’ve got a goal to become Gwenyth Paltrow-level healthy, didn’t you tell me? Why not give yourself ~one week more~ of sinning? Because let me tell you—they’ll be NO sinning in the New Year, sluts. So the Dark In-Between is the time to sin.
Only we feel the sting of the sin on a visceral, gut-punching level because there are no more Christmas parties and there are no more reasons to purchase those charming Toy Soldiers in the Dark In-Between.
The Christmas band-aide has been ripped off and we’ve been reduced to raw nerve. So be like me and go extra hard in the Dark Inbetween, because in the new year we won’t be doing any of this bad shit. We'll be so busy becoming certified yoga instructors and manifesting love and taking ice-cold showers and journaling and doing breathwork and starting small businesses and finally getting our real estate licenses that there won’t be time for SALACIOUS DARK DEBAUCHERY.
So stop shame-spiraling, sweetheart. Because in the New Year they’ll be no darkness. Just bright spiritual retreats in Bali and sobriety and genuine happiness and off-the-charts work success and peaceful meditations and self-help books. So lean into the dark while can you, little sister. For the lights are about to turn the fuck on and there’s a certain fabulous hedonism that can only survive in the darkness.
So suck your champagne out of a straw and cry yourself to sleep because we’ve only got a few days left of weeping to reality TV blackout drunk.
My debut book GIRL, STOP PASSING OUT IN YOUR MAKEUP: THE BAD GIRL’S GUIDE TO GETTING YOUR SH*T TOGETHER is available NOW on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, AUDIBLE, and BAM! If you send me a screenshot of your order, I’ll send you swag!