While in the midst of pre-Christmas ramp up, the full-on throes of Hanukkah, and the generic “holiday” time euphemistically referred to at the office, there are a lot of opportunities this month to overdo it – food-wise, drink-wise, arguing-with-Mother-wise. Let’s talk about it.
The first impending doom signal of the holidays at my office is the arrival of gifts from people we spend a lot of money with. We’re talking towers of Godiva, mountains of novelty popcorn tins, and acres of shortbread. Everyone in the office plays a fun game called, “Move the treats away from my desk before I have a full-on sugar crash and murder you motherfuckers.” There are no winners. Everyone goes home with a toffee-related hangover. The best-case scenario is Brenda from accounting gets greedy and smuggles all the treats home to give to her weird boyfriend. Bless you Brenda – you save us from ourselves!
The office across the hall got 20+ cases of Moet delivered and I threatened mutiny. Luckily for my workplace, I found out these bottles were actually for their clients (i.e., people who spend oodles of money) and that the staff, instead of getting to drink them, actually got to spend hours painstakingly addressing them, affixing tiny bows and ribbons upon them, and shipping them out. Bah Humbug. Meanwhile, in my neck of the woods, this is the only season in which booze + work mix. I learned years ago that just because a bar is open, it doesn’t mean my gullet should be. I still have nasty flashbacks to slurring at a board member that “we should really have tacos here.” True fact, but not the right time or place.
Fam Jams from Hell
You know your second cousin who has two sets of triplets and a newfound affinity for Jesus? Yeah, your mom’s gonna invite her over for no reason. And your uncle’s stepson with the terrible political views, too. And a lot of people who should be medicated but aren’t. And a lot of people who self-medicate when they really shouldn’t (see also: Holiday Drinks).
Friend-mas, Take Ten
Some friends like hosting intimate, wine and cheese and dip-laden affairs that are actually pleasant. For every one of those you get invited to, there’s going to be some other “do” you don’t want to…well, do. Take the friend who thinks “ragers” don’t best belong in second year of university and who will ask you for help cleaning up wine spills at 3am after you already helped her find her lost cat for two hours in the dark. Or the one who invites a bunch of weird idiots for “networking” purposes and you are stuck making small talk about commercial real estate with a dullard all night. Attend anything with invites on paper or by an informal, secret series of texts. Anything in the middle gets junked – especially an evite. Bless you.
The richer someone is, the more adorable they find it to force their poor plebeian employees to do an activity like horseshoe throwing or a “winter harbour cruise.” Beg off sick to anything that requires special footwear or motion sickness pills. Attend anything where they hand out gifts or bonuses, or where you get a really fancy meal out of it. Wear something cute but noncommittal in case you and your most junior co-worker decide to take off early in a cab to find a dark bar.
Fuck it. Fuck it forever. You deserve better than plodding along like a salmon swimming upstream through masses of dazed consumers in bad lighting, sweating through your coat and gloves and ten bags you’re carrying. No, sweetie. Internets can do that now. Whatever you can’t order online or during off-peak hours, don’t. You are a perfect creature of the universe and the mall is not a part of the universe’s plan for you. Unless there’s a seriously banging Boxing Day sale, in which case, full steam ahead.
Keep it to a dull roar. Make it very clear what you are willing to spend on others and what you want if people are going to buy you stuff. Anything you get that you don’t like, immediately re-gift or donate. Your guilt cannot justify filling up a closet with crap you won’t use and don’t like and didn’t ask for.
Here’s how days off over the holidays should go: sleep; eat; relax; cuddle your loved ones; Skype the ones who are far away. Eat delicious foods but not to the point of being made ill – same for booze. Drink good coffee or tea. Catch up on your Netflix. Make a weird craft. Vape, if that’s your cup of weed. Make very low-grade brunch plans for 2pm one day with a friend who is at least equally, if not more, flaky than yourself. Go to a dumb action movie matinee and sneak in illicit treats. That’s it.
Here’s the shit you can cut out: stress, party jumping because you “can’t say no,” driving hours to see relatives you don’t like very much, spending a lot of money on long distance calls where people put their toddlers on the phone with you, under sleeping, eating weird food that’s been sitting out at a potluck, spending hours buying and wrapping gifts for people you don’t give a fuck about.