A Scrooge’s guide to the holiday season | VailDaily.com

A Scrooge’s guide to the holiday season

Harry Brooks
Special to the DailyHarry Brooks loves the Holidays .... really.

For most, the holiday season is a special time of year. A time summoning memories of the family huddled together around a roaring fire, with a floppy-eared dog sitting contentedly beside a huge stack of presents while mother knits socks under the mistletoe. But for a select few of us, festive celebrations inspire a dread equaled only by errant tigers and tax returns.

Somehow, the incessant festive jingles, family-mandated shopping trips and the prospect of four days with the in-laws just don’t bring a smile to our faces. For us, the festive season is not so much a holiday as an inescapable trial, an annual assault on the senses.

On the folly of preparation:

Many of the mysterious holiday-enjoying crowd believe that preparation is the key to successful festive celebrations. Nonsense.

Walk past those gleeful vendors of ornamentation, the mongers of Yuletide miscellany, as if blind to their presence on the streets. Contrary to popular belief, many of the best presents can be found the evening before celebrations begin, just moments before the gas station closes. Who could fail to be beside themselves with gratitude at the sight of a discerningly selected ice-scraper or an amusingly decorated disposable lighter? In this confusing postmodern age, who’s to know what really constitutes a “good” present anyway?

Christmas trees are terribly passe. The Victorians were very keen on them, but they were probably just high on opium at the time, so don’t pay too much attention to them. Instead, go avant-garde this year, with a pleasing arrangement of low-maintenance cactus plants.

Consider painting them silver for that extra “wow” factor.

Stocking up on alcohol is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gives you the option of embarking on a three-day bender covering the most trying period of the festive season, which could potentially result in the holy grail of holiday survival: total amnesia.

But beware: alcohol and extended family are uneasy bedfellows. A four-hour debate on the pros and cons of great-great Aunt Peggy’s running off to join the circus in 1928 is a possibility, and a most unwelcome one at that.

The day of reckoning:

Firstly, don’t waste time thinking about all the people you failed to send cards to, or all the poorly chosen gifts you reluctantly purchased. Lowering the expectations of others is an important life skill, and chances are you did yourself proud today.

Besides which, a brief glance at the presents you received should be enough to relieve any guilt you feel about that bottle of anonymous liquor product you bought your dad. That “special” themed sweater he got for you isn’t exactly the acme of taste and sophistication either.

If you’re unlucky enough to have been burdened with the task of preparing food for others, try not to panic. Well, perhaps do panic a little, but remember that when plied with enough alcohol, most people will be more than satisfied with half a bag of chips and a bath to sleep in. Whatever you do, don’t under any circumstances attempt an elaborate feast requiring much kitchen-based knowledge.

Canned goods have made remarkable progress in recent years, so there’s really no need to exert yourself.

On Making the Best of a Bad Job:

If you’ve followed the sage advice contained in this article, chances are you’ll be nursing a post-holiday hangover till mid-January. Perhaps your tired and emotional state will excuse you from the traditional festive activities of Cleaning the Kitchen and the Big Family Argument. With any luck, you’ll have time to take stock of the situation, and ask yourself some important questions: what went wrong? Why did it go wrong? How can I avoid being blamed?

Eventually, after much soul-searching, you’ll come to the conclusion that the traumatic nature of the holiday season is probably intrinsic, so there’s no need to feel personally responsible.

Anyway, there’s always next year …

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado CO

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