Friday, January 8, 2010

How to Horribilize Any Holiday: an annual report

the 9 Essential Keys
click on the pics below to see them full-size

January 6th - the real 12th day of Christmas - has come and gone and the holiday season is truly over.  After all these years of directing and managing the holiday celebrations I thought I'd pass along what I've learned about really making it a truly memorable time of year . . .

  1. Never lose sight of the enormity of it all. Don’t let yourself forget for a moment that this is her LAST Christmas at home (or his first, or your first together . . . ). You must, must, must remember at all times that everything must be fairy-tale perfect – anything less equals total failure and you might just as well never have even begun.  HOW'D WE DO?  B- Pretty consistent awareness of the looming changes up ahead.  Too many points deducted for the times you forgot to be anxious about making a memorable holiday and just enjoyed each other.  But that snit on the afternoon of Christmas Eve?  - fantastic!

  2. Overindulge. You must see that every rich savory and super-sugared fatty morsel you can lay your hands on makes it past your teeth and down into your gullet. Don't miss any opportunity to drink and eat everything and anything at all.  Ignore feelings of satiety. If you must avoid some food, see that you choose to miss regular meals.  Choose processed grains as often as you can and plenty of saturated fats.  Turn up your nose at anything green except mint ice cream.  And don't forget that high-fructose corn syrup! HOW'D WE DO?  C or  A Terribly inconsistent  - swinging from gloppily gorgeous indulgence to abysmally green and leafy.  Work on this! Extra points for every regular dinnertime missed and for every bag of chocolate chips purchased. (And the gingerbreading! - not only the house is unbalanced in that picture!)

  3. Don't sleep.  An important rule not just for adults, but children also.  Everyone in the family should stay up until their eyes glaze over or the speech becomes slurred. This will ensure a consistent buzzing of  irritation  throughout the season, not to mention fuddled forgetfulness and resulting schedule mess-ups, all of which will have a magnifying effect on #1.  Take advantage of the usual over-scheduling and over-involvement that can be found everywhere at this time of year.  HOW'D WE DO?  Well done. 

  4. Avoid all open-air exercise.  Keep yourself wrapped up in layers and blankets and try not to move.  At all.  If you do slip up and find yourself physically exerting - do stay inside well-heated buildings and/or cars.  Remember: If it's not in the seventies you don't want to be out in it.  Try to keep breathing in and out the same air over and over for as long as you can as you watch all the TV you can fit in.  HOW'D WE DO?  D Needs serious improvement.  Hopping on the bike to dash over for pomegranates, frozen peas, vanilla yogurt and a pound of butter with the sister-in-law did us no favors.  This score would have been an F except for the number of movies watched, books read, and the days the morning walk went by the wayside - and only thanks to charity points given because the swimming, basketballing, and riding the bike-trainer were all indoors.  Serious point deductions for every time kids went for walks with friends and you wiped out all chance of a D+ by going out in the snow to throw snowballs at the first opportunity.  Very, very disappointing.

  5. Spend money you don't have.  It is terribly important that you spend money -  lots and lots of money on gifts, decorations and all the goodies you need for over-indulgence.  When choosing gifts look for things that are likely to break or that require the spending of more money.  If you make gifts, make sure the cost in materials alone is far greater than you spent last year.  HOW'D WE DO?  D+/C- Again, only those bags of chocolate chips saved you.  Especially sad was to see YoungSon choose from out of his treasured rock collection one lovely rock that reminded him of each family member, and wrap it up in gold paper with notes like: "I think this rock is pretty and I think you are too."  Soppy!

  6. Reinvent the wheel.  No one wants to see the same decorations on the tree or to get the same kinds of gifts year after year.  Not only will the new purchases help in achieving #5, but will increase the rush and bustle so necessary to this time of year.  Always remember that if something has worked in the past, it's time to try something new.  The last thing you want is a sense of tradition to build up.  HOW'D WE DO?  D And I had such hopes for you!  Especially egregious was Middlest making a tin of No-Bake cookies for her dad for the nth year in a row.  This may have won you points in #2 but hardly enough to make up for the tradition factor.  And whoever decorated the jade plant again - not to mention the pretzel garland from how long ago? - cost your team a bundle.  At least there were fewer Christmas carols sung together thanks to the overscheduling of #3, but overall a very unsatisfactory performance.

  7. Keep busy with the surface bustle so that you never have to dive deeper. What is the reason for these celebrations anyway?  It's not enough to merely focus on the tinsel and the big red bows, you also have to look for time-consuming activities that will keep the eternal things at bay (which is why keys #1-6 are so very, very important).  Especially dangerous are any traditions that encourage stillness or reverence.  HOW'D WE DO?  C Despite a discouraging focus on that 12 Days before Christmas idea with the little daily packages of small reminders (1 votive candle, 2 jingle bells, 3 heart erasers, 4 Hershey hugs, etc.) and accompanying scriptures foretelling the coming of Christ, the strong performance in the overscheduling department worked to your advantage.  Score would have been much higher if the usual quiet Christmas Eve sitting around as a family with singing and candles and reading from Luke, etc., etc. had been steered clear of.

  8. Remember it's all about you and the stuff you get.  Build up huge expectations so that reality has something to fall short of.  And then point out everything that is less than wonderful about people's singing, gifts you receive, gifts you don't receive.  Tear through the gift-opening without pausing to think about the very peripheral people who provided them.  Ban thank-you cards.  HOW'D WE DO?  F Really, it was almost as bad as the year the girls asked for "chapstick and a surprise."  And adding stamps to the usual habit of thank you cards in the Santa stocking meant that thank-yous were in the mail Christmas afternoon - no points at all.

  9. And if all else fails -  blame it on Obama.  Or the environmentalists. Or listen to hours and hours of political radio talk show.  Where they do it for you. This will improve any day, not just holidays.  HOW'D WE DO? ? (Score still pending the grading of final papers . . . )

Overall, a far from horrible holiday - better luck next year.


suzanne said...

Hi Emma. I love your words and pictures. Thanks for reading my blog and telling me you did.

Emma J said...

Suzanne - it's always nice to know we're not typing off into nothingness . . . isn't it? Thanks!

Filigree said...

Too funny! If it makes you feel any better, we performed equally poorly this holiday.

The red image with the keys is beautiful.

m e l i g r o s a said...

your kids are so cute, and love the pretzels decorations - pretty fun!

Emma J said...

Thanks meligrosa!

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