The holiday season is absolutely wonderful in theory -- the spiked drinks, the purposefully placed mistletoe, the memory of work bonuses that no longer exist. But in real life it's a disaster of a month wrapped in an overpriced bow because in order to get to all the good stuff (gifts) you have to endure a lot of family time, a lot of mediocre vegetable dips, and a lot of unnecessary Eggnog hangovers.
Now before you go off accusing me of being the Grinch, check out this list.
Receiving bad gifts is the cruelest joke that the universe can play on you. Not only do you now own a tie with golf carts all over it and/or your grandfather's "vintage" handkerchief, but you also have to look up at the gift giver, smile extra big, and pretend really hard that a Pokemon-inspired Chia Pet is exactly what you wanted. Instead of enjoying the rest of your gifts, you're forced to compliment your great aunt on her Werthers-candy-inspired perfume until she coughs up the gift receipt. End this problem by sending an e-mail (or letter by carrier pigeon to your elderly relatives) explicitly stating that you will only accept cash this year, preferably unmarked bills in a suitcase.
Being politically correct gets increasingly harder each year since every single person you know seems to celebrate a different holiday. Scientists have proven that there have been at least 23 other holidays added to the December mix since 2005. Now you have to end every conversation debating between stereotyping a person and guessing the holiday (Happy Chanukah, Mrs. Goldberg) or listing every single holiday and hoping the person's not an atheist. Stop worrying about upsetting people and instead go all out and offend everyone by ending each conversation with "and a horrible holidays to you, sir."
December's always extra stressful because 100 good movies are all released at the same time. You're suddenly forced to choose between Santa Clause 4: Tim Allen Marries a Reindeer and Oscar, a tragic epic about an Academy Award that will inevitably win all the awards. The Hollywood blockbuster guarantees you'll have tons of funny quotes to pull out at boring holiday parties while the indie tearjerker guarantees you'll look sophisticated and mature. Don't stress. Instead get high and go see the latest kids movie -- there's nothing like a Jim Carrey animated flick on shrooms.
Every single store, radio station, and parking garage blasts Christmas music endlessly despite the mathematical fact that there aren't enough songs to go one whole day without repeating. You wake up to Baby Jesus, you eat your lunch to Santa Claus Coming, and you fall asleep to Silent Night. Avoid wrapping jingle bells around your neck and hanging yourself by walking around with an old school boom box on your shoulder blasting the most offensive, disgusting music you can find. Bonus points if you can find a song that references Rudolph being a baby daddy.
Between sober-mandatory parties and obligatory secret Santa programs, the holiday season at the office can be downright brutal. While it's a great break from work, it's also a great opportunity for you to get out of control at the spiked punch bowl. One second you're complimenting your co-worker on her spreadsheet quality, the next second you're throwing up on your boss as you tell him exactly when you figured out he wore a toupee. Stop this disaster from happening by claiming food poisoning from whatever (insert co-worker you hate most) brought in for the party.
There is nothing more annoying than those volunteers who never let up on the goddamn bell ringing. They seem to multiply every year and it's no longer surprising to wake up and find them sitting on the side of my tub, ringing away. It's not that people don't want to give to charity, it's more like people don't want to give to a charity that makes getting close to their money bucket so hard on the ears. Solve this dilemma by purchasing an air horn, setting up a money bucket next to them, and blowing the horn each time they ring the bell -- let them get a taste of their own medicine.
New Year's Eve is by far the most overrated holiday ever invented. Between cashing in your life insurance to afford dinner and being forced to kiss a fast acting she-male at midnight, the night is usually a letdown. That's not even to mention the fact that you have to spend the last ten seconds of the year watching Ryan Seacrest on television. Skip New Year's Eve drama this year by asking a rich friend to cover dinner ('tis the season of giving) and lurking behind the hottest girl at the party ('tis the season of stalking) so she'll be forced to kiss you when the ball drops.
(Previously published on November 26, 2010.)