Ah, the idyllic holiday. The turkey is an Instagram, #nofilterneeded glory. The children aren’t sticky faced crying monsters. Everyone has on their matching sweaters and perfectly crisp jeans lounging on the grass looking into the camera for the holiday card photo. It’s a glorious moment in time that exists in the reality of very few. For most folks we want to love the holidays but we’ve made it a hot, horrid mess of saying yes to too many things, saying no to the wrong things, shopping excessively and dreading the credit card bill and getting so busy planning the perfect holiday that we actually forget to enjoy the season. I gave some thought this year to how I can make my holidays more enjoyable and because I’m self-centered how my friends can make my holiday more enjoyable. Here’s what I came up with:
- Save yourself time and don’t write that Christmas letter. If we’ve not talked all year we’re not really friends and that’s okay. Facebook has made it’s fortune off faux friendships and we’ve all embraced the lie. Let’s just keep sipping the Kool-Aid together but not make it more than it is – a feel good cult. I don’t need a 15 paragraph letter detailing your partner’s promotion, your first child losing a tooth and anything else that’s happened in your life. If we cared about one another we could have chatted, if only for 5 minutes, once in the past 365 days.
- Don’t buy your friend’s gifts. Give booze or food. We all have houses chock full of stuff. That last conversation we had we spent 10 minutes each lamenting over how much stuff we have and how after reading The Magical Art of Tidying Up we touched each item in our home and realized none of them bring us joy. I have so much stuff it took me 261 days to touch each item. I’m frigging exhausted. Hell no, I don’t need those cute (insert here) that you found and made you think of me. I cried to you on day 234 so why pray tell are you giving me more stuff? Give me a consumable. I can down that fifth of Jameson, maybe toss some into a cake recipe and remember you with fondness but that candle holder you gave me makes me resent you every time I dust it. And no I can’t give it away because you’d notice it gone and no I can’t regift it because we have the same circle of friends. Just hit the ABC store and give me a gift I can really get behind.
- Just say no. I sent you an Evite. For the life of me I can’t figure out how to get rid of maybe as a response. All together now, just say no. If you’re not sure if you can come, that’s a no. If you’re waiting to see if you get a better invitation from the neighbors down the street in the big ass house you’ve been dying to see the interior of, just say no. Either you’re coming or not. I like to be able to plan and if I invite you I expect an answer within a reasonable amount of time, say a day or two. Not a hold on, let me let you know 3 days before the party. While we’re at it. Read the invitation. Your children are lovely but what about an invitation to a happy hour sounds kid friendly to you? Get a sitter or just say no we can’t make it but don’t email and say I know it says adults only but Jimmy is really good with adults, can he come? No, Jimmy is 7. Drinks will be flowing and there might be some foul language. I don’t want to be the reason your kid ends up in reform school. So, just say no.
- Thanks for having me over but your little darling is not as talented as you think. It’s wonderful little Sara is taking piano/dance/Mongolian throat singing but for the love of all that’s holy don’t make me sit through a mini-recital. Or, if I must at least pass out the drinks first. One song okay but when it turns into America’s Got Talent and really your kids don’t, it makes me stabby. I want to stay friends. Don’t make me stabby.
- Don’t impose your diet on friends. I’m not macrobiotic and don’t like raw foods. You know me. I’m a carnivore. I will climb onto a whole hog, coat myself in its grease and rip meat off its bones like a lion on a felled jackal. Feel free to exclude me from your gluten free, raw food, lacto exploratory food fest. I appreciate you thinking of me and wanting to include me but know your audience. I’m going to scoff at your spread and then spend my time combing your pantry for something, anything with some life-sustaining fat in it. The lotion in your bathroom that’s made from coconut oil and cocoa butter . . . yea, I ate it BECAUSE THERE WAS NO REAL FOOD ON YOUR TABLE. If you have a special diet, that’s cool and I respect that but if you’re having folks over who don’t share your diet the least you can do to be hospitable is pick up a Stouffer’s lasagna and some Cole’s Garlic Bread. You eat raw earth and I’ll eat all the butter – win/win.
- Booze: I don’t care that your party is an “Open House” at 10 in the morning. There better be a bottle of bubbles beside that orange juice. I want to see you and enjoy your holiday decorations but the room sure looks better through some alcoholic lenses.
These are my simple tips for enjoying the season. Things will go wrong. The turkey may burn. The children will cry. The store might sell out of that one item your 4 year old wanted. But don’t worry brothers and sisters, the shelves will soon be stocked for Valentine’s Day and Thanksmas (since it’s all one season now we need a word for it) will be but a memory. The season is short but the memories last a lifetime. Make them good. May you be kind to one another and may your memory be long so you don’t regift an item to the original giver.