If you’re having a hard time during the holidays, may I suggest a horror movie?

Outside it was snowing and friends and relatives and neighbors and people I’d never seen before in my life were coming and going from my parents’ annual open house on Christmas Eve. Inside, Megan Fox was biting off a man’s face.

Just the night before Christmas 2014 and in the living room, It’s a wonderful life He was playing on a loop (or maybe it was really, really long, I wasn’t quite sure). It was the two-and-a-half-foot fake tree whose underlying tragedy my father seemed oblivious to on TV. Clam chowder and lobster chowder froze at the par Italian Christmas Eve on the kitchen counter.

My bedroom, though, was a world apart. I was crammed under a comforter alongside my best friend and her two sisters, cut off from the celebratory demise. At least I was. Then Megan Fox turned into a demon and scooped out a man’s face, and my friend’s younger sister screamed loud enough in the hops post to remind her parents, who were in the hall enjoying the open house, of our presence.

We were still kicking it under the blanket when my boyfriend’s mom showed up in the doorway to put them all in the car. December 24th was the last day of Hanukkah that year, which meant that my only ally during my family’s annual open house would be gone earlier than usual, as her family left to light the menorah. My heart sank, but stopped hitting the floor when I remembered the movie stopped behind me.

I watched their taillights drift out of view, then let the curtain on my bedroom window fall. Down the hall, George Bailey circled the moon. In My Room, the never-stopping Megan Fox stars in the holiday classic Jennifer’s bodylured her latest victim into an empty, unfinished house, and reveled in his heart.

This wasn’t the first time I had a holiday in a soft embrace, and it won’t be the last. I always felt the holiday season was fraught with danger. Here’s why I watch horror during the most dreadful time of the year, and how it helps me cope.

It’s normal for the holidays to get tense.

While some are welcoming the holiday season happily, research shows that for many, it’s a time of great stress, especially during the ongoing pandemic. For many people, depression and anxiety spike around the festive period. Retail, service, delivery and healthcare workers often find themselves bombarded with increased workload and unfair labor practices, not to mention the 18th delivery of “Jingle Bells” via the PA system. Many holiday celebrations prominently feature alcohol, which can increase people’s anxiety, and is especially trying and exciting for people affected by alcohol use disorder. The joy of gift-giving can be turned into a commitment to spend beyond your means, so as not to disappoint your loved ones.

Besides, the expectation of family togetherness associated with the holidays is everywhere, from social media to advertisements, and frankly, the pressure can be stressful. It can sting those who are unable to reunite with their families, whether due to the loss of a loved one, the imprisonment of a family member, the refusal of loved ones to practice COVID-19 precautions, or family isolation such as that experienced by many LGBT people. survivors of the assault. It can also be traumatic for those who reunite with their families, only to find themselves in a situation they don’t enjoy as much as they tolerate.

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