In case you’ve been living under last year’s Christmas tree and missed it, the holiday hassles have begun.
Don’t judge me based on the post title. I actually like the holidays. I like food, cooking, shopping for other people, wrapping gifts, decorating the house and so on. But there are some traditions and other activities that seem to come up every year that I’d like to see go the way of Blockbuster stores:
- Secret Santa: I hate this tradition. A five-dollar limit buys nothing. You can’t even get a decent doggie chew toy for that price. And why do workplaces still have this exchange, anyway? Why would you want to spend money better used on people you actually like?
- Holiday pot luck: These could actually work, if there was some real planning involved. As it stands, most offices/block parties have the same cheapos who grab the “responsibility” of bringing the paper goods and the bargain-basement beverages. I don’t have a problem with store-bought versus homemade, as long as someone steps up and makes sure that lunch does not consist of six bowls of potato salad and a tray of raw unwashed veggies.
- And the potential bad first cousin to the potluck – the office party: This is one that can cross a fine line. To offer or not offer alcohol? To have it catered at a hall, or take everyone to a restaurant? Open bar, or cocktail hour? Done with class and dignity, a good holiday office party is a thing of beauty, even if there are no raises or bonuses to go with it. Done cheaply, it’s guaranteed to be the main topic of eye-rolling conversation – for a year.
- The fundraiser hard-sell: Wrapping paper, cookies, candy, popcorn, candles, cards – all of it from the schools, all of it sold in the name of raising money. Remember parents: no means no. Your fellow employees may seem like a captive audience, but the workplace is not a prison; you cannot glare or gossip your fellow employees into buying your kids’ crap.
- Holiday shopping: I’m good with this, until I hear the siren screech of a small child in a store. It happened yesterday, while in a craft store. The child was about six or seven, and out of control. Running around, pulling things off shelves and facing no discipline from a woman I presumed was her mother, until WHACK across the backside. And that, of course, produced forty-five minutes of nonstop crying and wailing, while mom continued to shop. Parents, don’t be oblivious. Kids like shiny, pretty things. And they know the holidays are coming. Either the kids stay home, or lash them to the shopping cart.
- Spending time with unlikable relatives: I’m talking about people who wouldn’t care if you suddenly caught fire right in front of them. And frankly, you feel pretty much the same way about them. Yet spending time with wacky Aunt Mary or creepy Uncle Mike is a hill your parents or spouse seem willing to die on, because “it’s the right thing to do.” No, it isn’t. Life is too short to drink eggnog with these outlaws. Or inbred-laws. Or whatever you want to label them. Unless the brandy, whiskey or rum added to the eggnog is really good.
- Using the holidays to evangelize: As one friend of mine (whose husband’s family insists on acting out the Nativity in full costume) said to me, “They only started doing it when he told them he was an atheist, and we were not bringing up the kids with any particular religion. Now they consider shoving their religion down our throats their life’s mission. It’s like they’re daring us NOT to come to their house.”
- Holiday music: there is a time and a place for it. Playing it 24/7 beginning the day after Halloween is not the time or the place. It gets older faster and sticks in your brain longer than It’s A Small World from that idiotic Disney ride.
There are more humbugs, but that’s enough to get started. Happy Holidays, everyone. Or should that generic statement be considered a humbug, too?
- Bah! Humbug! (consciouscacophony.wordpress.com)
- Bah! Humbug! A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens narrated by Patrick Stewart (fictionfanblog.wordpress.com)
- Halloween? Bah Humbug (raymondjlogan.wordpress.com)