Friday 7 December 2012

Surviving the Hell That is Christmas: A Guide

As we head into the dreaded Holiday Season I can feel my anxiety ramping up.  It's going to be a rough ride.  It always is.  As I may have mentioned a few times before I am not fond of Christmas.  This is a holiday that usually leaves me crying on the floor.

But not this year.

Not this year.

This year I've got a plan.  Now that I'm a seasoned veteran of Christmas I should be able to anticipate most, if not all, of the insanity.  And so, in the spirit of giving I will share my wisdom with you.  In guide form.  May it serve you well.

1. Delay For as Long as Possible.

This really should be a no-brainer.  Why in the hell do we need Christmas to last so long?  I'm good with limiting my Christmas to the month of December, preferably to just about a week before the event, if not later.  In my house as soon as my kids get a whiff of Christmas they basically lose all sense of self-control and start making me fantasize about taking a little vacation in the psych ward.  We don't even say the word "Christmas" in our house (I call it the "C-word".  My kids will be so confused.) until we have no choice but to give in to the collective pressures of TV, school and the world in general.

2. Start as Soon As Possible.

This year I got smart and started planning Christmas 2012 shortly after Christmas 2011 ended.  Because that's the best time to buy Christmas stuff for half-price, which sometimes includes stocking stuffers and gift sets.  This wasn't easy because after Christmas is when I have pretty much no money left, so I also collected up my Christmas shopping throughout the year.  I'd been meaning to do this for years and now that I finally have I can say that my anxiety about Christmas shopping has been significantly reduced.  Like 75% less than normal.

3.  Stock Up.

In the effort to loosen up my available cash situation prior to Christmas, I also took advantage of the cheap and plentiful food available in the fall and stocked up.  My grocery store had a sale on whole chickens for $5 each.  I bought ten.  They had bacon on sale for $3/lb so I bought six.  For awhile we ate a lot of potato or french onion soup because I could buy 10lb bags for $2.  I bought huge sacks of flour and rice.  I froze all kinds of vegetables.  Every square inch of freezer space and pantry is occupied.

At this point I pretty much have enough food to get us through a small apocalypse.  (You know, one that doesn't involve nuclear destruction or mass-extinction causing asteroids.)  Which means aside from milk, eggs and fresh veggies I shouldn't have to spend much money on groceries.

4.  Stop Giving a Fuck.

Seriously.  Stop it.  In a normal Universe this would be a simple one day celebration.  Just because the whole rest of the world decided to go batshit insane for Christmas does not mean that you have to.  And the less you Give a Fuck about Christmas the less you will Give a Fuck when something threatens to ruin it.  So you broke the handmade Santa figurine that your mother made?  Clean it up and get over it.  So the store didn't have that toy your kid specifically asked for?  Get them something else, they have too much stuff anyway.  So your kids woke up early on Christmas morning and opened all their presents without you?  Ummm....

5. Stock Up on Booze.

I will purposely go through the month of November without drinking so I can save my booze money and low tolerance of alcohol for the Christmas Season.  There is some shit you just can't shrug off.  I have found that going through the Holidays in a mild alcoholic fog is the best way to Not Give a Fuck while experiencing ongoing and generalized shit like:

  • constant fighting between your kids
  • constant whining from your kids
  • constant shitty Christmas music (Christmas shoes, Jingle Bell Rock, Anything Mariah Carey)
  • constant shitty Christmas movies (Christmas Shoes, Jingle All the Way, Anything Tim Allen)
  • constant questions about Christmas ("Is it Christmas yet?  How 'bout now?")
  • constant questions about Santa Claus ("How does that fat bastard fit down our chimney?")
  • extended family

In a pinch, alcohol also helps you to not Give a Fuck when experiencing some of the more surprising and acute sources of possible rage stroke.  Like when your kids knock over the Christmas tree during a sword fight and break several antique ornaments in the process, or when one of them has not only eaten all the chocolates in his advent calendar but all the chocolates in his brother's as well.  (Helpful Hint: chocolate advent calendars are more trouble than they're worth.  Don't buy.)

Be careful not to overdo it with the drinking because Christmas with a hangover is something to be avoided at all costs.

6.  Make a List.  Then Burn That List.

Sit down and make a list of all the activities and fun stuff you'd like to do for Christmas.  Be sure to put all the things you can think of that would make your Christmas especially special.  Did you make sure you didn't leave anything out?  Good.

Now throw it on the fire.

Seriously, look at the size of your fucking list!  That is a lot of awesome fun shit that I can personally guarantee will be nowhere near as fun and awesome as you think it is going to be.  It is Christmas and your kids are pretty much determined to ruin every fun family experience you can dream up.  The level of experienced devastation will be directly related to how much you care about  just wanting to spend some quality family time together it's Christmas, damnit!

Stick to the stuff you absolutely have to do and if you have any time left over, do whatever is easiest.  My kids actually have more fun baking prefab Pillsbury cookies than the ones from scratch. They are just as happy with Rice Krispie treats as they would be with Gingerbread houses.  And the fewer crafts they make the fewer fights they have over glitter glue and scissors.  You don't have to feel guilty.  A magical fat man and flying reindeer are going to show up in the middle of the night and leave toys and candy.  Your kids are already having fun! 

7.  Themed Gifts

Another source of Holiday stress is shopping for that perfect gift for all the people on your list.  I get so worked up with wondering what will they like, do they already have it, will it fit, can it be returned for each individual that it takes several weeks to recover from the PTSD.  So I finally decided to get lazy and do themed gifts.  If you pick a good enough theme you can eliminate most of these questions without even having to worry about looking lazy.  Last year everybody got blankets.

This year I think I'm going with soap, booze or a combination of the two.  (Surprise, family members who read my blog!).  Themed gifts also has the benefit of limiting your time spent shopping.  If you do it right you should be able to get it all done with one stop.

8.  Shit All Over Christmas.

Finally the best thing I have always had going to cope with Christmas is to just shit all over it.  Don't get me wrong: there is plenty to love about the Holiday.  Maybe when my kids are grown up and moved out I can come to love it again, but in the meantime I just need to take the piss out of Christmas because it's kicking my ass.  I'm not out to ruin Christmas for everybody or declare war on it.  I don't hate people for loving it (there's much to love) and I don't go around "Bah! Humbug!"-ing everyone I meet.

But here, in my blog and on my facebook page, I have found a nice safe space where I can let off a little steam by flipping the bird at Christmas.


  1. Not giving a shit is a very good point. I'll try to abide by that. Also, I'm psyched that we hate the same Christmas songs. Do you also like Wham! and the Waitresses?

    1. Actually my favourite Christmas music is the deeply religious "Ave Maria" "O Holy Night" stuff. That or the Rat Pack. I'm oddly traditional that way.

      I think it has a lot to do with the fact that all that stuff is quiet and soothing.

  2. I knew I loved you! I like to watch Christmas themed horror movies. It makes me happy to see Santa killing people.

  3. wow....i just typed in the hell will I survive Christmas....and your blog popped up, it seemed like the only one worth reading!!
    I love it.....and its certainly helped in a little way to relieve some of the anxiety im suffering with.
    Thank you