<content warning: mention of slut shaming, COVID-19, ableism, fatphobia, dieting violence against Indigenous people and LGBTQIA+ folx>
I was in my early teens when my uncle called me a slut at Thanksgiving dinner. He blamed it on my very in (at that time) blue eyeshadow. I’m sure you and I can agree that wasn’t the cause.
Throughout the past several weeks the phrase, “The winter is going to be hard because the holidays won’t be the same” has been repeated as often as Christmas music in December. First, given record screenings at airports leading up to the publication of this essay, I question how many people actually changed their Turkey Day plans. Secondly, blaming the challenges of this winter only on changes to holiday plans ignores the many other reasons it will be hard.
Because, this winter is going to be hard. Full stop.
With virus cases and deaths surging, seasonal depression setting in, unemployment, housing, and food insecurity at high levels, a lack of national leadership, competing approaches to public health, and generally being burnt out, there are, indeed, dark, grief-filled weeks ahead of us. That part is objective truth.
It’s the reasoning—that changes to the holidays are to blame—that I take issue with, and the privilege in assuming that everyone has family to gather with this time of year, never mind fond memories of such gatherings. How this assumption erases the racist, genocidal origins of this holiday; the continued oppression of Indigenous folx; the lived experience of immigrants whose loved ones live elsewhere; and, the thousands of us for whom the holidays have often been a fraught, even dangerous, time.