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A Brief Primer on Surviving the Holidaze

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Heads in the oven, fingers wrapped around a relative’s throat, a belly bigger than Santa’s, and hands coming up empty from the till—is this the legacy that baby Jesus meant to leave us?


I think not. Instead of stress, depression, loneliness, and financial woes, let us turn our problems into success during this time of buying, drinking, caroling, and national debting. Here’s how:


Problem #1: No Date for the Company Holiday Party


We’ve all been there: feeling like the social pariah, the outcast, the reject, for not having someone attached to our arm at the company get together. Everyone is with his or her spouse or significant other, outwardly indicating that they are normal, well-adjusted people who others find attractive. Even your two single work friends have somehow managed, magically, to conjure up a date. (Their gay boyfriend, a distant cousin.)


But you, sorry stag, are without. But before you go licking your wounds, remember that singles, just like blondes, really do have more fun. Look at that married couple over by the eggnog; they haven’t spoken a word to each other all night. And there, that young couple by the tree, engaging in an alcohol-fueled argument. Such anguish! No wonder the holidays are such an ugly, stressful time. For those that surround themselves with others, that is. You, independent singleton, are free to leave the party when your feet hurt, make inappropriate jokes during the stiff corporate cocktail conversation (they already think you’re defective, might as well live up to expectations), and hold your own hair back when up-chucking the eggnog. But the best part about being single and date-free during the holidays is: you don’t have to accompany someone else to their company party or their family’s house. Who’s laughing now?


Problem #2 No One to Kiss on New Year’s


Man, rough year. First, no date to the holiday party and now no one to kiss on New Year’s Eve? What kind of holiday season is this? Oh, I know, I know, there are at least twenty singles at this party just fawning for your attention, and you’re just being selective, just like last year. (Your common list of excuses: hairy palms, cleft palates, face to face with your breasts when standing.) But we know those are just pathetic attempts to avoid the truth, and unbelievable attempts at that. I mean, do you know how rare cleft palates are?


So instead of trying to shield yourself from some god-awful truth (that you are un-kissable), you need to turn tradition on its head. Why do we kiss people at midnight anyways? It’s supposed to be romantic, but you’re usually in a brightly lit place surrounded by lots of other people making out. Hmm … more like an orgy than a romantic evening. So, do we kiss others because of tradition? What does that mean? In the 1800s, we traditionally hung oranges in our homes during the holidays, to mask the stench of a gathering of infrequently-bathed Victorians. But times have changed. Now we have Febreze.


Problem #3: A Really Bad Gift


Rustle, rustle, rustle. You tear through the wrapping paper, hoping to find that gorgeous charcoal gray cashmere sweater you’ve been ogling all December, only to find, in it’s place, a—gag!—red and green Christmas sweater with puffy, hand stitched gingerbread houses dotted with sequins. As you search frantically for the receipt, in hopes you can return it, your grandma informs you that she made it. Herself.


Christmas, so much of the time, is about bullshit. Pretending like you like your in-laws, pretending that fruitcake is your favorite, pretending you don’t hate Republicans to appease some stodgy family member. Feigning love for an ugly gift is perhaps the easiest. It’s why you play poker for eleven months out of the year: to hone a good bluffing face. You can convincingly melt your brow from disappointment to delight. Oh my gosh—how lovely!


It’s even better when the giver of the bad gift isn’t there, because then it’s open season on ugly gift. When I was about twelve, I opened up a box to reveal a leopard print, hand made cinch purse my great aunt made me from a swath of fake fur. We had hours of fun at the bag’s expense. We made a long leopard snout for grandma. We made a leopard print papal tiara for my dad, who went around blessing everyone in Latin. It was the most entertaining gift I’ve ever received—and it went immediately to Salvation Army come January 1.


Problem #4 Giving


Some people like to shop, so Christmas is a good time for them. They embrace consumerism with open, American arms, and hug new purchases for themselves, and for others, like a mother holds her new baby. Malls excite, rather than tire. Hot dog on a stick satiates, rather than disgusts. Piped-in, synthesized, holiday muzak soothes, rather than grates. Perhaps these people are fueled by some inner giving joy, or perhaps they’re just heavily medicated with Prozac. Whatever the case, what about the rest of us?


Maybe you’ve come to realize that giving isn’t the selfless, generous act it’s made out to be. Giving is usually prompted by selfish reasons (it makes you feel good) or because of guilt. (She gave me one, so I would feel bad if I didn’t give her something.)


So what about giving something that doesn’t make you feel good? Wouldn’t that be truly selfless? A gift riddled with anguish and sacrifice?


When December 25, comes around, you can call up your boyfriend and tell him, “Honey, last night I gave you gonorrhea. Merry Christmas.” Now that’s giving.  


Problem #5 You Have a Dysfunctional Family


Maybe you bring your friend Sarah to Christmas dinner, who works at Planned Parenthood, and you look over to see her talking to your Christian conservative Aunt and Uncle—the ones who bombed the abortion clinic last year. Maybe your uncle Chuck is getting wasted and making pedophilia jokes—in front of your boyfriend who is a pedophile. The fact of the matter is that most of America has a dysfunctional family; we are a happily dysfunctional country. The question is: how do you put the fun back in dysfunctional?


Fight fire with fire. Only bring around friends that have thick skins, and can handle what is being dished to them and are also able to dish it back. Make jokes at the offender’s expense. I mean, what easier targets are there than drunks, pedophiles, and religious fanatics? But enough about Republicans …


Happy Holidays!

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