99 Problems

Published on December 20th, 2019 | by Dartinia Hull


My December Hate List

I begin hating everything and get angry yearly around the first of November, at the first jingle of the first bell, and stay angry through December 29. That date is random, but it is what it is.

This annual anger probably has something to do with circadian rhythms, and light quality, and itchy clothes, car taxes due, cold weather causing my bones to hurt, especially my designing hand and the pinky toe that has been broken three times, and and and. When my kids were small, December represented everything that was right and everything that was wrong, in my life, their lives, at work. I worked hard to buy stuff they didn’t need. I worked so hard that I burned out. Their dad did, too. We both worked hard to make sure they had a quiet, safe life. We both lost each other for a while, and our kids noticed it, and I hated that it was obvious, even in the dim light of our Christmas tree. 

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Christmas music has been on the radio since the Halloween candy went on sale. It was 68 degrees outside the night we noticed the first showing of Rudolph. I hate global warming. 

And I hate Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I like Rudolph, but I hate how he got used by Santa. The only reason Santa came around was he saw what Rudolph could do for him. I hate how Rudolph got teased. Not only teased, he was bullied. And the person everybody thinks is holly jolly is the main bully. Would you trust somebody who talked trash about people who looked different? Would you trust somebody who encouraged this behavior? Rudolph’s parents should have stood up for him better. He was just a kid, their own precious being. I hate that nobody paid enough attention to the claymation snowman to find out that he was in pain. Either that’s brilliant metaphor or a fluke, but I hate it. And I hate the island of toys that didn’t fit a mold, or were somehow not perfect, even though I would have lived there and had big parties and would have tried to be everybody’s friend. We so-called weirdos and misfits have to stick together. “Normal” folks are welcome, because weirdos and misfits don’t discriminate.

I hate Frosty the Snowman. Are there any black kids in this show? Native American kids? I don’t know, I haven’t watched it in a long time because it grates on my nerves. It’s so sad. I can’t. HE DIED. I know it’s a show about seasons and life and renewal, but I. Just. CANNOT. With. This. Show. 

Photo by sue hughes on Unsplash

Why is The Sound of Music a Christmas movie?* Spoiler: This movie is essentially about World War II and Nazis and some money-grabbing blonde. It’s good storytelling. It’s great music. But when you’re sick and weak and whimpering with the flu and your small children are, too, and all you can do is sit on the couch and order pizza and cough, you only remember the music and the goatherd and the opinionated nuns/mechanics and forget you’ll have to explain Nazis and hatred and why that girl’s boyfriend wanted his friends to take the family away and why why why? My kids were the only kids in preschool and first grade who could explain Nazi Germany and the rise of fascism. 

*This movie might be a good one, after all. 

I hate that damn song about those damn shoes. “It’s Christmas Eve, and these shoes are just her size … Could you hurry? Daddy says there’s not much time.” I hate it more this year than ever because, even though granulosa, an ovarian cancer, spared me, so many people die of cancer, cancers that could be caught EARLY if doctors 1) discussed all symptoms that were unusual, 2) doctors weren’t so pressed for time that they COULD discuss symptoms, and 3) doctors were all on the same system and could compare notes. Somebody would catch something. If doctors stopped seeing a 50-year-old woman who “might” be in menopause and “might” be having age-related problems, and “might might might” be whatever, maybe more women would live. I hate this song because I know folks, close and distant, whose mamas have died of cancer. I hate this song because my husband had to tell our children that I had cancer, six years after we had to tell them that he had cancer. I hate this song because I have a friend in the hospital now who has cancer. 


I hate this song because so many people go into bankruptcy because of cancer and buying a pair of red shoes isn’t going to make or break them when they’re $50,000 in debt and working a minimum wage job.

Speaking of cancer, my color is TEAL, not pink. I hate pink. (PANK is different. I love PANK; it’s a whole different color.) I hate that pink is an automatic announcement. I hate why friends have to wear pink. I’m slightly jealous of the marketing machine that runs the pink.

No. I’m not over it. Don’t tell me to get over it. 1A cancer lets you know a few things, sets you up for a few things.

If the NFL did one thing right this year, it was to have a multi-colored cancer cap. 

I hate Alzheimer’s. I hate nursing homes that treat Alzheimer’s patients like trash. I hate that we have to have nursing homes. I hate that we don’t pay attention to what goes on in nursing homes. I say this because I have a friend whose dad is in a nursing home, and she has no idea why he has bruises on him when she visits. I say this because I have a relative who works at a nursing home and drinks nightly to cleanse herself of the truth. I say this because I miss my grandma. We had some fun, until she grew smaller and smaller in a bed in a nursing home, and then grew cold in a bed in Hospice.

I hate every “first” milestone after the worst thing that can possibly happen happens. A first birthday. A first day of school. A first driving lesson. The first time you need advice on potato salad. The first morning you wake and think “What is different?” And, then, “Oh. Yes. Grandma.” I hate the spending spree that comes afterward in hopes of alleviating the pain of the “yes.” Those Ugg boots will always remind me. Always is not a word anyone can trust, but in this case, it ain’t lying.

I hate a society that spends one month being nice-ish and kind-ish and one month being thankful-ish, and then goes back to being the kind of society that leaves people desperate and wanting, empty, fearful. Violent. Separate. Hungry, and hungering. I hate a society that puts 2 minutes into attempts, 3 into shrugs, and 55 into willful ignorance. I hate promises and confessions made to God and the universe, vows and admissions that don’t correspond to actions on any given day.

I hate when I speak my truth and am either hushed or given the side-eye. I can side-eye back with the best, don’t come for me, sweetie. And you will not shush me. My voice means all our children have a better chance at everything.

I hate that teaching to the test has created a society that cannot discern truth from fiction, or understand government, or comprehend nuance. I hate that forgetting where we have been, collectively as a society and as a world, is leading us in a circle of hate.

I hate that “When They See Us” got snubbed in the Golden Globes and the Emmys. How ironic is this, considering the title.

I love driving through the cold, looking at Christmas lights. I loved the house that had everything in the yard: Snoopy in a sleigh, Santa in a blow-up trailer, 5 snowmen and twelve manger scenes. THAT is Christmas, baby. I hate knowing that the man who put those lights up did it for the last time two years ago. I love getting lost in search of “that neighborhood,” the fairlyland one with the gigantic trees that have been decorated with twinkling balls. I love when we finally find it. I love that I’m not always the one driving now, that my babies—women—sit up front.


I love the Christmas Eve slide from the sounds hurryhurryhurry to the calm of everybody being at home. Standing outside on the porch, waiting for it as the sky goes from blue to orange to pink to lavender to blue to black with promise, waiting for it as cars silent, as my daughter drives home. I love that she still calls me “Mommy.” They both do. 

I love the timing of the unifying Baby Yoda. Our world needed it.

I hate knowing there’s a man living beneath an overpass on my commute, a man with a mattress, a thin blanket, the traffic his lullaby. I hate loving snow, yet knowing what it means to that man.

I love morning clouds that drift eastward toward the sun. I hate knowing that with that sun, the people who sleep in shelters overnight will be put back onto the streets, their own island of misfits and societal forgottens, right here, right now. How do I explain this to my daughters? That what’s seemingly innocuous on television is played out, daily, here, right here?

I hate knowing that the man and his friends will see the sun, and take up their space on the corner, hold signs, and watch the line of cars hurry past, kicking up wind and splashing melting snow. 

They want God bless me.

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About the Author

Dartinia Hull lives in North Carolina with her husband and daughter. One daughter has moved away. Dartinia isn’t sure how she feels about that. She is a graduate of the Queen’s University of Charlotte Master of Fine Arts program, and has been published in The Bitter Southerner, QCityMetro.com, and The Charlotte Observer. Her essay, “The Room With the Dying Fan,” was chosen as one of the top 12 reader favorites in the 2019 Bitter Southerner’s Folklore Project.

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