During Thanksgiving week, it used to be a tradition of mine to get my ass to Florida (St. Augustine, Clearwater, Naples…) and eat entire restaurants out of business. Those were my holiday-cations, and they were epic. I’d lay siege to huge buffets, soak up gallons of wine and cocktails, and float atop heated pools like a bloated corpse. I was an ICBM, and the beach was my target. Sometimes I even followed it up with a encore Christmas trip. Can you say…awesome?
Sadly, miserably…those days are done. Anymore, I’m a holiday zombie.
Holiday Zombie (Noun) – Any human, lacking purpose, who sits on the sidelines during the holidays and rots.
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So what do dead men do during the holidays?
1. Black Friday – We complain about it. Then camp out Thursday night to buy a video game we could’ve bought for $3 more on Amazon. I’m completely kidding. I’ve never braved Black Friday in my life. With my luck, I’d sleep right through the sales crush…or get arrested for disorderly conduct.
2. Laugh Inside – We feel ever so slightly left out due to lack of social interaction (guess who didn’t get invited to the ugly sweater party?) but secretly relish the fact that we have no real holiday responsibility. While the living are out buying SUV’s full of presents, enduring hours and hours of Jingle Bells, and road-raging, we zombies are grilling brains (or ribeye steaks) in our backyards. In the snow. While drinking heavily and vaping our favorite red runtz.
3. Gift Failing – For the one or two people we actually love enough to gift gifts to, we buy something sweet only to fail miserably with the wrapping paper. Afterward, we curse the people who are good at wrapping (we all know someone whose sole life-skill is wrapping gifts). And then, looking down upon our failure, we give up and buy a gift bag. Thank you, gift bag inventor. Without you, children worldwide would know my horror of wrapping paper.
4. Damn Cards – We get plenty of holiday cards, but send none. Because, you know, we’re dead.
5. Well…maybe the Stove Top counts – We do things that have absolutely nothing to do with Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years. Like watch metric tons of SEC football, eat meals of Stove Top stuffing and Little Caesar’s pizza, drink Texas margaritas instead of egg nog, and write dark fantasy novels. Just normal stuff, really.
6. No ties either. Or Starbucks gift cards – We quietly bemoan that no one buys us anything cool (or anything at all) for Christmas….and then realize we didn’t need anything anyway. We suffer five minutes of angst, but follow it up with, ‘Thank gawd Aunt Selma didn’t buy me more knee-high socks.”
7. Laugh Inside again – We get sucked into attending a holiday event or two. We dress up, wear too much perfume or cologne to mask the dead smell, and shamble out our doors. And then, while grandpa’s getting wasted, the kids are screaming, and your co-workers are banging in the guest bathroom, we’re both bored out of our minds and smugly satisfied. (That everyone else’s life is just a bit more messed up than our own.)
So here’s to you, fellow single guys, lonely co-workers, cat ladies, introverts, Wiccans, divorcees, and vegans. The holidays are brutal. But I’m right there with you. Hanging out on the fringe, making mean-spirited fun of everyone brave enough to enjoy themselves.
J Edward Neill
Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy
Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives
Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera