The Twelve Truths of Christmas

Christmas is nigh. Isn’t that what they say in all the traditional poems? I admit it; I enjoy this time of the year.  Spending an hour untangling all the lights for the porch, only to find that strand you meticulously hung over the tree at the side of the house has a burnt-out bulb and is rebelliously unlit. People grimacing festively in an attempt to appear happy in the lines of Walmart as they are regaled with Holly Jolly Christmas for the thousandth time. Just while standing line. Arguing over “dibs” on the last box of generic, non-gender specific, all holiday inclusive non-religious box of cards left on the shelf. Okay. I will admit that I absolutely love holiday cards. I specifically look for ones that focus more on nature or animals or snow-covered lanes…but I adore them all and have quite the collection. I have so many that if I never bought another card, I would be well into my 80’s before I ran out. My daughter Sarah has forbidden me to buy any more for this year, but I have news for her – I’ll just hit the sales after Christmas to restock my stash for next year! That’s what she gets for not being more specific on her stationery ban.

I have, over the years, found some things that never change.  I know you are reading this on your phone, hiding from guests in the bathroom at your party.  So, pull up a bottle, or box (I don’t judge), of wine and enjoy these Twelve Truths of Christmas.

  1. Santa Claus is a better weapon than any other ever devised.  If they had an adult version of Santa Claus, there would be no crime.  Threatening an adult with “if you don’t return that library book, Santa will bring you coal” would be very effective, if only the price of coal wasn’t enough to make that threat a welcome alternative to vacuum cleaners and cookware.  Poor Santa is already the most used threat in the world of children, with threats beginning December 26 and lasting through December 24 of the next year.  I personally prefer Krampus-themed threats – but that’s just me, and admittedly I’m not the best parenting role model.
  1. Facebook will post over 12 million pictures of dogs wrapped in garland sitting under the tree, trees knocked over with expensive ornaments shattered on the ground and shame-faced pets standing nearby, and cat butts sticking out of the top of the tree branches. Each picture will be accompanied by a thoroughly appropriate “Aww, how cute.” The posters of such cliché comments, however, are actually thinking to themselves “my precious Fido and Buttons would never dream of doing such a thing…they are just so well behaved.” Then, of course, precious Fido and Buttons become just another Facebook statistic by knocking over the tree and everyone posts the required “Aww, how cute.”  The circle of Facebook life is now complete.
  1. If you want to believe in the power of last minute redemption, look no further than kids in December. For eleven months out of the year, Billy and Sally Mae are hellions.  Rude, obnoxious, spoiled hellions.  The magic of the season strikes on December 1st, and suddenly these two future ax murderers are the picture of perfectly behaved children.   They must be on to something, because every year Santa brings them cool stuff no matter how naughty they were the first part of the year.  This reminds me of felons who find sudden clarity and remorse in court when faced with jail.  Not to say that Billy and Sally Mae are future felons or anything. But, you know, just saying.
  1. At least a third of the presents you buy will be for people you don’t really know. Of that third, half will be for people you don’t even like.  In the true spirit of the holiday, you will be buying gifts for your mailman, the teacher who grades on a curve, your kid’s bus driver, the guy who serves you coffee at McDonald’s, and your sister’s hairdresser’s brother.  You will take one heroic step more in the spirit of the season and get “something small” for the janitor at your son’s school, even though you don’t know his name and he sort of creeps you out.  Yay, Christmas!
  1. Whoever wrote those impassioned songs about the joys of holiday shopping has never had a fistfight with an 82-year-old grandmother in Toys-R-Us over a Hatchimal. Don’t worry that you don’t even know what the hell a Hatchimal is. No one does. Shopping brings out the worst in all of us.  The tension, the pressure, and the expense stretches our nerves to the breaking point.  We play right into the greedy hands of manufacturers who, every year like clockwork, deliberately under-manufacture the hottest items on the toy list so retailers can hike the prices to unreal levels while at the same time creating a shortage vs demand situation.  Shamed parents will pay those prices so that Billy and Sally Mae don’t miss out on the toy of the year. The same toy that will sit in the dark of the closet after about an hour of play – if you’re lucky.   Normally pleasant people find themselves being unpleasant; I can assure you, 82-year-old grandmothers can still have a wicked left hook.
  1. There is a reason there is so much talk of holiday spirits. Tis the season for eggnog.  And spiked cider. And wine.  And even just plain beer.  This is the true “holiday spirit.”  The stress can cause even the most well balanced individual to crawl inside a bottle of rum and stay there until the New Year.
  1. The sales, commercials, and songs begin earlier and earlier each year. Don’t even get me started on store decorations. They won’t stop until the first official shopping day of Christmas is Labor Day. Hey, Christmas!  Thanksgiving called, and it wants its week back.
  1. The reason you waited until the last minute to buy Aunt Gertrude’s present is because you have no idea what to get her. Unfortunately for Aunt Gertrude, you still have no idea; and your imagination is all used up after buying for fifty-hundred other relatives and she is getting a pizza scented candle from Walmart because that was the only scent they had left on the shelf.  Wait; do they actually have pizza scented candles?  What a great idea! It’s mine, people…no stealing.
  1. The Elf on the Shelf is Santa’s spy. Spying is treason. Treason is punishable by death. Don’t blame your kids for trying to drown the Elf on the Shelf.  They are merely doing what is required by law.
  1. It’s hard to feel jolly when your credit cards and bank accounts are giggling behind your back. On an unrelated note, you can sell blood plasma for about $50 a pint.  True story, Google it.
  1. No matter how hard you try to pull off the perfect holiday get together, your dog will poop out tinsel in the hallway, your cat will get stuck in the tree, you will put your 8 pound ham in the oven at 9 AM and forget to turn the oven on, your child will pee on the neon green, orange and puce comforter that you bring out once a year because Auntie Evelyn knitted it by hand and will be coming over tonight, and you will use cooking alcohol in a “one for the recipe, one for me” kind of way not recommended by the cook book. It happens. To everyone. Get over it early and you just might survive.
  1. Christmas is a flawed holiday, perfect in all its imperfections. Slow down and enjoy every moment of this totally impossible, thoroughly enjoyable holiday because it passes all too fast.

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