My wish for you this Christmas

Many of us will return to our childhood homes to celebrate the holidays or at the very least will be surrounded by aunts, uncles, grandparents, and countless cousins — some of whom we haven’t seen since last Christmas.  I always envision these gatherings as being somewhat reminiscent of the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, a disparate group of individuals thrown together through a random gene pool and forced to celebrate holidays for life.

Of course if you’re like many families, you always have to keep a sharp eye out for flare-ups throughout the evening due to in-fighting; made worse by close quarters, chit-chat with other family members, and the old reliable: alcohol. Cousin Elle isn’t speaking to Aunt Ida because of something that happened 20 years ago but no-one quite remembers what happened except it had something to do with a silver set or perhaps a dog or maybe it was a chicken. Uncle Bill, oh good grief, don’t even get him started on the JFK conspiracy because he’ll never shut up (and he gets quite irate at no one in particular so therefore everyone) and you’d think that something like that just wouldn’t come up in conversation but somehow it always does. It’s uncanny really.

Then of course you have Aunt Joan who lets her children do everything (the word no doesn’t seem to be in her vocabulary) and her polar opposite Cousin Bette who doesn’t let her child do anything. Poor Cousin Bette ends up heavy sighing a lot (very melodramatically I might add) as Aunt Joan’s children run mad circles around the house in full-on manic mode. I have to give Bette credit though, the “Sweetie, you shouldn’t do that,” she uses to correct Joan’s children as they’re climbing the bookcase is a lot nicer than the admonishment that would be falling off the tip of my tongue.

Uncle Larry? Well, he knows everything, so if you want to know something just ask. Or don’t. He’ll probably tell you anyway. Really loudly. More than once. He likes to repeat things. In case you didn’t get it the first time.

Ahhh…family. Just because you’re family doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to get along. I think in some respects family can drive us crazier than anyone else. They’re talented like that. Especially during the holidays.

So.  Here’s hoping we all survive our holiday get-togethers with our families….or at the very least let there be copious amounts of alcohol to help us through with a sense of humor.  Or bail money. That’ll work too.

The Holiday Party (or How NOT to get on the Naughty List)

There’s still plenty of time to be put on Santa’s Naughty list. So watch out! What’s the quickest way to do this? Oh sure, you could deface Nativity scenes in front of a church or slash inflatable snowmen in your neighbor’s yard, but I tend to think that most of the people reading this blog aren’t evil in that way (you’re not, right!?) so I’ll focus instead on a common slip up that even the best of us can fall victim to, thus ensuring a lump of coal in the stocking.

The holiday party. Two words of advice: be careful. If you haven’t had your work party yet, heed these words. You don’t want to be that person. There’s one at every holiday gathering. That person who drinks too much. That person who makes inappropriate comments to the senior partner. That person who for one night mistakes his work colleagues with his old college buddies. Be careful, everyone.

I don’t quite understand what happens at these parties, but it’s almost like there’s an aerosolized drug in the air that turns some of the people into Mr. Hyde versions of themselves. Maybe the pull of finally being able to cut loose is too great an urge and they have trouble reeling themselves back. Maybe the desire to get things off their chest is too strong to stop once the eggnog is flowing through their veins. Maybe the stress of the whole Secret Santa gift thing is too much to bear. Whatever it is, this transformation is mystifying to me mostly because it happens every year.

I’m not saying not to let your hair down some. Have fun. That’s the point of the party, after all. But also be mindful for goodness’ sake.  These are people you’re going to have to see again on Monday in the conference room. Do you want to be the reason people quickly shush whispered conversations when you walk into the room? Doubtful.  But alas, the holiday party brings out all kinds and those whispered conversations are going to take place about somebody.

The worst (in my opinion) is when the secret Casanovas start showing up. You have the IT guy who has a couple mugs of mulled wine and decides the party is the best time to bare his soul to the svelte account executive he’s been harboring a crush on for the past six months. It’s pretty simple: try not to ask anyone out on a date at your holiday party, especially if it’s your boss. Trust me, it’s been known to happen more than a few times. Another simple rule: if the object of your affection has on a wedding ring, abort abort abort! And ladies… please, please, please keep ALL of your clothes on. No matter how tempting it might be to do otherwise. Essentially, whenever you do something where HR might need to get involved, you know you’re going down the wrong path. Sadly, with a little too much mulled wine, you might not realize this until Monday morning…therein lies the paradox of holiday work parties.

On top of that you have the guy who decides to go all Chevy Chase on his boss and let him know how he really feels (oh come on, who hasn’t seen Christmas Vacation?). Not a wise move either. Hilarious to the rest of us… obviously. We’ll be sitting at our tables enjoying the hell out of it. But it’s definitely not a wise move for him.

And should you end up in a mutually amorous situation, do us all a huge favor and find someplace truly private to have your tryst. That sorta, kinda semi-dark corner just 6 feet away from the dance floor is NOT as hidden as you may think. People will see and then they will talk.  Oh, how we will talk!

I don’t know which alter egos you readers have, if any, all I’m doing is advising that you exercise some caution. That flare-up of your more hedonistic self isn’t going to be the one that has to look co-workers in the eyes on the next work day.  It’s worse than that walk of shame home after a one night stand (*ahem*…I only know this from what I’ve seen on T.V.).  Because the walk of shame to the conference room for that Monday morning meeting, past people you’re going to see every day for the rest of your work life with that company,  is going to be a killer.

Have some spirits and bond with your fellow cohorts, just try not to end up on that Naughty list. It’s a hell of a lot easier getting off Santa’s than your boss’. Or so I’m told.

XMAS naughty or nice