Ironically, the holidays are probably the least transparent time of the year

Family Holidays

I always find this funny, every single year, at every single job I’ve ever had and with almost every friend I’ve ever known and their subsequent co-workers: people run around from Dec. 6 on talking about how busy they are, how slammed they are, how everyone wants everything by EOY, how there’s absolutely no time to get it all done, and then, like clockwork, pretty much everyone stops working at about 1pm on that Friday before Christmas, even if Christmas is a Thursday (which, lo and behold, it is this year). I don’t mean people in Amazon fulfillment centers — I assume they’re working as I type this — or oil refineries or anything. I mean standard, white-collar office jobs. Everything is a priority. Everything needs to get done. But at the same time, we can duck out for multiple holiday parties and go off the grid for two weeks just because.

Again, irony. The holidays are some of the least transparent times of the year.

I find it ironic because the holidays, on face, are associated with family and loved ones. That should thusly be associated with a safe space and the ability to be truly honest about what’s going on, but — like with Thanksgiving — it’s typically the polar opposite. 

There’s an obvious reason for this: people need to put their best foot/best face forward at the holidays. After all, at work it’s the end of the year. Gifts are being exchanged and priorities for 2015 are being set. Everyone appears busy. You have to appear that way too. It’s the currency of the modern age, after all. We know depression is higher at the holidays, and we even know the holidays are a trigger for depression — yet I very rarely walk around and actually hear people say they’re depressed. Part of it is because we don’t talk often about failures while at work, even though failures happen every hour (ironic), so we keep up this facade of “Oh, everything’s great, just so busy…” even though we might be struggling inside.

It’s probably because the holidays are supposed to be a joyous time — think of the songs, the cookies, the marketing efforts — and no one wants to be the person in their circles who brings that down. I get it. It’s perfectly rational.

But sometimes it can feel like the least-transparent time of year: everyone’s putting on some type of con somewhere, be it sales-oriented, telling people how busy you are and then scooting off for 2.5 weeks, telling people how happy you are when secretly you’re not, etc.

The above probably sounds pretty depressing and/or like I have a problem. I don’t really — I’m definitely happier this holiday season than I was during the last 2 or 3, and that seems like an improvement — but I’ve just always found it ironic that the time of year most associated with family and togetherness and love and all those emotions/concepts is also the time of year people seem to put on the biggest show. I could be very wrong, and of course, every case is different.

If you stumble across this and think that the holidays can sometimes be a time where transparency disappears and fake ideas reign, feel free to leave a comment — or if you think I’m horribly misguided and wrong, do that too.

Ted Bauer

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