The Grinch’s guide to surviving Christmas day
This was originally intended to be an ironic “7 Stages of Grief”-type Christmas survival guide, where I would provide helpful advice on how to cope with your family this Christmas morn and offer heartburn remedies to deal with all the sweet panettone you’ll be eating, but somewhere along the way I was overtaken by the holiday spirit and became honest with myself... Christmas Day is THE BEST.
Sure, it’s never quite as awesome as that great Dolly Parton movie. Romantic notions of cosy evenings by the fireplace are replaced by our humid reality, choirs of carollers replaced by the droning din of cicadas and drunken uncles, the best gift you’ll receive is a Piping Hot beach towel, and we don’t even have eggnog in this country to drown it all out with. But it’s still the season to be jolly, after all. It’s not that hard to enjoy the day; just embrace the magic.
Family gatherings, they’re all relative…
Many people dread having to spend the day with their families. Sure, it can be awkward catching up with aunts and cousins you share little in common with besides blood-ties, but I mean, go ask an orphan, families are pretty cool. It seems the only people who appear genuinely excited at Christmas family gatherings are children (obviously due to impending presents, selfish bastards) and grandparents. Clearly, I’m basing this generalisation on my own grandma, who would have an elaborately tinselled tree up in the living room from early October to mid-February. Even her last kindly deed on this earth was scrawling a shaky final Christmas greeting to all 800 of her grandkids (I exaggerate, but it’s a big family making her effort even more touching and impressive). I imagine being old at Christmastime is a bit like living a real-life bank commercial; the happiness they get from sitting amongst their progeny always seems so earnest and sincere. But who knows, perhaps they’re just sitting around thinking, “I made ALL these people!” That would be pretty satisfying too.
All I want for Christmas is food
There’s always someone at the party who spends half the day painfully exclaiming “Argh, I ate so much!” as though it was a bad thing. Some people are spending Christmas on the street eating shoelaces and newspapers, the least you could do is savour your sixth helping of ham with grace and class. And surely I can’t be the only person who loves holiday-themed treats like Starbucks’ eggnog latte or gingerbread mocha? Sure, Dr. Boring, I can see how such flavourful limited-edition concoctions are getting in the way of your “delicious” soy flat white.
Do you hear what I hear?
Another common complaint from Christmas-haters is about shopping malls endlessly blaring jazzed-up Christmas carols during the holidays, as though it’s humanly possible to be offended by a smooth Bing Crosby tune. I can’t remember the words to any Blur songs, but I could sing you 35 different Christmas carols in a row right now and they’d all make you join in by the second verse. If you’re not convinced of the power of carolling, then let rapper DMX sleigh you (zing!) with this heartfelt rendition of Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Santa Claus is coming…
Do you remember how old you were when you discovered Santa Claus was a lie? It’s strange to think that I may have still believed in Santa while I was headphones deep in NWA and Geto Boys tapes, but I’m pretty sure I was about 8 or 9. Yeah, that’s embarrassingly old, but my folks did a very convincing job of keeping the magic alive. Returning home late from our family festivities on Christmas Eve, my mum would distract my sister and I by the car door while my dad hurried inside to take a few nibbles out of the carrots we left out for Rudolph or quickly knock back the refreshing beer we left out for Santa (“Look, he even rinsed out the glass and put it in the sink!”, I’d foolishly squeal as I rushed into the kitchen, amazed at Santa’s manners). Anyway, what I’m getting at with this long-winded recollection is this: If you’re the chubby guy in the family, it’s your duty to don that red suit and make the children smile. Give the children their magic!
Nuts for crackers
I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh at a Christmas cracker joke. They are the greatest form of entertainment after sitcoms and Garfield comics. Ooh what, you’re some sorta genius because you scowled at something as innocuous as “Q: Who hides in the bakery at Christmas? A: A mince spy.”?
Take it easy, Bill Hicks. How ‘bout you just stick that paper crown on your head and deliver the joke with gusto, ‘cause you’re ruining Christmas comedy-gold like “Q: Did Rudolph go to school? A: No, he was elf taught.” for everybody else who’s not a Scrooge-y jerk.
Gifts that keep on giving
With the average Aussie projected to spend $475 on Christmas presents this year, it’s understandable that some folks have grown resentful of the gift-giving process. But really, stop being a tight-wad; Christmas is a special occasion that’s worth the expense, kinda how every dude has to spend $90 on a single rose on Valentine’s Day to make their girlfriends happy. Plus, Christmas presents are better than normal presents. I can’t remember any birthday present I’ve ever received, but I can easily remember the best Christmas one. It was a remote-control steam train that shot incredible plumes of smoke into the air every few minutes. The steam smelled like gasoline mixed with freshly-baked cookies; I remember it vividly and it’s still the greatest scent I’ve ever inhaled (even better than my girlfriend’s bottle of Annick Goutal Petite Cherie). Like a nasal Captain Ahab, I’ve been chasing that elusive smell my entire life. Anyway, within two days of opening that gift I was already bored out of my brain. Like a giant brat, I never played with it again post-Boxing Day. Yet here I am, 24 years later, still talking about it like it was the day I lost my virginity. Tell me that’s not worth $285 (sale price).