So you’ve decided to celebrate the holidays. Congratulations! Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year. If by “wonderful,” you mean the most anxiety-ridden, rage-inducing, stressful, sometimes depressing and expensive month.
The Holidays can be hell. But follow our handy, dandy guide and you’ll survive Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus and Boxing Day with your dignity intact.
(Editor’s note: Children under the age of 12 should stop reading right now.)
The first rule: know your audience. Your role as Santa will differ depending on your exact status. Are you single, married, have children, have a mistress, is it “complicated,” or is your significant other incarcerated? Of course, being married with multiple kids is the DEFCON 2 of responsibility. You have multiple people who potentially could be disappointed in you.
To avoid loved ones giving you the stink eye, advance planning goes a long way. Santa needs a list before he checks it twice to find out who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. Make sure the list-makers understand these are options, not guarantees. Little Cindy Lou Who may not get Hatchimals, Buzz Lightyear, AND a Tickle Me Elmo doll. But she might get two of three.
Gift-giving for adults is trickier. Some couples don’t even exchange gifts. Sometimes one significant other violates the agreement and gets the other a little something. That may lead to resentment. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page.
Here’s a helpful tip: Guys, if you’re thinking about proposing to your girlfriend this holiday season, don’t. Don’t fall for the trap. Ignore the commercials. By most accounts, December is the most popular month to pop the question. Some surveys have Christmas Eve as the No. 1 day for proposals.
Proposing on any major holiday is overkill. According to this story, 83 percent of women would not prefer to be proposed to at Christmas. The worst possible scenario would be proposing in front of family. It’s pressurized and uncomfortable.
If you must propose on a holiday, do it on Arbor Day. Nobody makes Arbor Day plans.
When purchasing your gift, for God’s sake, avoid the malls. They are overcrowded cesspools of sadness. People lose their freaking minds this time of year. Do your shopping online from the convenience of your home — even if it costs extra. Your mental and physical health will thank you. If you must visit a brick and mortar, shop local. Small independent vendors need your business.
Dealing with family
Sometimes the toughest part of the holidays is surviving a day or two with family. Finding gifts completely wore you out. Now you have to converse and be nice to people you may not like.
Everyone has a Cousin Eddie.
If you’re the host, you’re SOL. All you can do is make nice, play referee, and hope none of your relatives steal anything. (It might be a good time to invest in a home safe.)
Your best bet might be to get everyone out of the house occasionally. Find out if there’s a local ice skating rink. Take them to the movies. Go caroling: You can do it this way or this way. Do anything you can to diffuse the tension with these overbearing, judgmental people.
Some of them are just plain weird.
If you’re going to someone else’s home and plan to be there for a few days, here’s the best advice ever: Get a hotel room. Yes, it’s an added expense, but it might be worth it for your peace of mind. Many hotels in cold-weather cities have discounted prices during the holidays. And, of course, there’s always Airbnb.com.
Having your own space means that you won’t be trapped. When your siblings/cousins/ long-lost relatives get on your nerves, fake a headache and get the hell out of there.
Of course, there’s another option you should consider…
No, not the movie. An actual vacation. C’mon, you deserve to get away from it all. If you don’t have any family obligations, this is a terrific way to chase the holiday blues. For some cities like Key West and Las Vegas, Christmas is one of their busiest times. Many Europeans visit Key West in December, and Las Vegas also is an international destination this time of year.
For traveling within the U.S., New Orleans, Miami, San Diego, and Austin (Texas) are great choices. New Orleans is one of the best food cities in America (Cochon, Jacques Imo’s) with plenty of libations (Hurricanes! Hand Grenades!). Vegas is America’s largest adult amusement park (at least one casino actually has a roller coaster). Gamble away your savings in dark large rooms where there are no clocks, no windows, and no easily accessible exits. Or simply get totally hammered while playing video poker.
Party like you’re Rob Gronkowski on spring break. Just don’t blame us if you wake up the next morning in the wrong hotel room wearing someone else’s underwear. After the walk of shame, make sure to eat at Lotus of Siam. It’s off the strip, but worth the trip.
Miami is also wonderful. If you like beautiful, exotic people, this is the place. South Beach has its own weirdness (Don’t be surprised if your Uber driver tries to fix you up with his cousin’s daughter. It happened to me.). If you speak Spanish, that’s a plus. If you’re out of practice, perhaps you and a lady friend can practice conjugating irregular verbs.
One of the best things about San Diego is the weather. It’s consistent. The easiest job in America must be being a San Diego weatherman:
Bob the News Anchor: “Now, here’s James with the forecast.”
James: “Once again, it’s 75 degrees and sunny. Back to you, Bob.”
If you’re a hipster, Austin is the way to go. Austin is the Brooklyn of Texas. The airport Christmas music is all songs by Willie Nelson. He’s one of the town’s famous residents. There’s a statue of him downtown.
Austin has a world-renowned music scene. Check out the Elephant Room. Also, check out the old trailer parks which are now filled with magical food trucks. If you want to party down, Sixth Street is available, although many of the locals avoid it.
The holidays have gotten out of control. Too much stress. Has everyone forgotten Linus’ speech?
Perhaps Frank Costanza said it best: “As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way…”
I’m done airing my grievances.