The holiday season officially starts on the last Friday of November, when the first shopper is trampled at Walmart. But the holidays really begin on December 26, the day after last year’s Christmas, when your child formulated a gift
demands wish list in preparation for the next haul.
For example, one seven-year-old girl wrote this list, to which her dad added his thoughts.
• “Black, light blue, green, purple, and pink North Faces.” Five North Face jackets at 100 bucks each? Dream smaller. That is apparel meant for serious outdoorsmen who dangle from belayed ropes on the south face of K2. The outdoorsiest we get is when we roll down the window at the Wendy’s drive-through.
• “A new radio.” Done. I’ll throw in my old Betamax collection as a stocking stuffer.
• “$1,000.” You want cash? Clear the spiders out of the attic. I’ll give you three bucks for it.
• “A light-up Razor scooter that is the color blue.” “Dad, for Christmas, can I get hit by a car?”
• “A new canape that glows up.” So, like, a glowing miniature crab cake with a toothpick in it? I could maybe do that.
• “A pet puppy border collie with a peace sign coller and a leash.” Do you see any borders in this house that need patrolling, apart from the bathroom door when Daddy is
having his alone time? No.
• “A black rist bange.” I don’t know what this is, but done. —Drew Magary, from deadspin.com
Of course, gift giving may not be everyone’s strong suit.
One year, my father gave Mom a DVD. In and of itself it wasn’t a bad gift, except a) it was a rental, and b) we didn’t own a DVD player. —Amy Marshall Hodges, Canton, Michigan
Santa’s a pro, which is why kids bypass parents and appeal to him:
• “Dear Santa, Please text my dad. He has my whole list.”
• “Dear Santa, Sorry for what I did in the past, and thank you for the Christmas letter—I love it. But what I want for Christmas is $53 billion dollars.”
• “Dear Santa, How are you? I’m good. Here is what I want for Christmas: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0032HF60M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410271945&sr=8-1” —Sources: wgna.com and someecards.com
What happens when kids’ letters arrive at the North Pole? Does Kringle and Co. sell the data to online marketers? We read the fine print on Santa’s website:
• Why Do We Need This Information? Santa Claus requires your information in order to compile his annual list of who is Naughty and who is Nice and to ensure accuracy when he checks it twice.
• What Information Do We Collect? We obtain information from the unsolicited letters sent to Santa by children all over the world listing specific items they would like to
receive for Christmas. Often these letters convey additional information, such as which of their siblings are doodyheads. The letters also provide another important piece of information—fingerprints. We run these through databases maintained by the FBI, CIA, NSA, Interpol, MI6, and the Mossad. If we find a match, it goes straight on the Naughty List.
• What Do We Do with the Information We Collect? Sharing is one of the joys of Christmas. For this reason, we share your personal information with unaffiliated third parties: the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Hanukkah Harry. —Laurence Hughes, from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
The gift list is done, and there’s a nip in the air—time to get your gaudy on!
My daughter and I took the long route through the neighborhood to admire the Christmas decorations. One yard contained a trove of lights, ornaments, elves, carolers, trimmings … in short, it was a mess. My daughter summed it up perfectly when she announced, “It looks like Christmas threw up.” —Cecille Hansen, Seattle, Washington
Do you hear what I hear? That’s right; music is filling the air! Have you downloaded the latest holiday album? It had them boogying in the streets of Bethlehem centuries ago!
The Little Drummer Boy’s Greatest Hits: Includes the songs “Pum Pum Pum Pum,” “Rum Pum Pum,” “Ba Rum Pum Pum,” “Rum Pum Pum Ba Rum Pum Pum,” and special bonus track “Pum Pum Pum, Ba Rum Pum Pum.” —Source: someecards.com
Hope you like schmaltzy, sentimental holiday movies because that’s what will be playing on cable 24/7 for the entire month. In case you’ve forgotten these films you’ve seen only 47 times, some brief reviews:
• How the Grinch Stole Christmas: “Crimes against Who-manity”
• A Christmas Carol: “Bob, Marley”
• Elf: “A Christmas Ferrell” —Source: fwfr.com
Next, the tree. Note: The real trick isn’t picking the right pine. It’s getting it inside your home. But with our 15-point plan, you’ll be trimming in no time.
1) Cut the cords that bind the tree to the roof of your car. Allow them to snap back and strike you in the eye.
3) Slowly pull the tree toward you.
4) Wobble under its weight for a few seconds, then fall down.
6) Stand up and notice the fresh scratches in the roof of your car.
8) Drag the tree to your front door. Spend 15 minutes figuring out how to open the door while simultaneously getting the tree through it.
9) Drag the tree away from the door so that you can enter with the tree facing in the right direction.
10) Once inside, fill the tree stand with water.
11) Knock all the water out of the tree stand because you forgot to wait to fill the tree stand until after putting the tree in it.
13) Your tree should now be in the stand. Notice the fallen needles that have reduced your tree to half the size it was when you bought it.
14) Down seven cups of eggnog to settle your nerves.
15) Slur your curses.
You’re not home free yet. Much more can go wrong!
Securing Christmas lights to the tree can be a production. One year, when we finally stood back and flicked on the light switch, I noticed that a branch obscured our prized angel ornament. I grabbed the pruning shears, mounted a stool, and snipped once, and the lights went out. My husband quietly said, “You don’t have your glasses on, do you?”—Lynn Kitchen, Parksville, British Columbia
Your Christmas tree has practically become a member of the family: The needy, spoiled, flamboyant side that knows when it’s time to go:
“All that time spent selecting and decorating, and a week after [Christmas], you see the tree by the side of the road, like a mob hit. A car slows down, a
door opens, and a tree rolls out.” —Jerry Seinfeld
Let’s relax and read Christmas cards! Far more than just holiday greetings, they allow you to finally see what your accountant’s family looks like.
We once received a card with a photograph of a family in costumes and masks. No name, no text, no return address. We never did figure out who sent it.—Glynis Buschmann, Yuba City, California
Would you like to learn how to write a boastful, overly intimate holiday newsletter? Our indispensable how-to guide can help, illustrated with real quotes.
• Open strong with a passive-aggressive attack on a loved one: “[This year is] barreling to a close as Deborah spends yet another Saturday at
the wine shop.”
• Brag about any new job developments—especially if you don’t deserve them: “I got promoted this year to VP … shows how little they really know about my past!!!”
• Be creative! Even good news can be delivered so the reader cringes: “[My wife has] felt almost every negative feeling you can have during a pregnancy—nausea, fatigue, rashes, arthritis, sciatic nerve pain, hip pains, and strong emotional conditions.”
• If you want to cement your status as least favorite distant cousins, just write the most dreaded words in the English language: “We thought it would be cool if we shared what’s going on as a PowerPoint presentation.” —Sources: gawker.com, worstchristmasletters.blogspot.com, Brandon Specktor
There are those who live by the credo that it is better to give than to receive. These people are, of course, fools. Still, without them, we wouldn’t get as many presents. An ad spotted in a newspaper:
“Congratulations George B. for pleasing 15 women for an entire day! We were all exhausted and very satisfied.”
The next day’s ad: “Our sincere apology to George B. Our intentions were to thank him for a generous holiday shopping trip, which he arranged. Any inappropriate innuendos were unintentional.” —Source: clamorly.com
Wait, we all know that presents are not what Christmas is all about. (Actually, they are. But for argument’s sake, let’s pretend they’re not.) Let us pause while these children remind us about the story of Christmas:
What animals were there when baby Jesus was born?
“There was a donkey, a sheep, and a cow there as well as Mary and Joseph. It sounds quite crowded.” Hannah, age seven
What gifts did the three wise men bring?
“They brought Jesus presents of gold, frankincense, smurr, and silver. But I think he would have preferred wrestling toys.” Jay, age five
—From the Daily Mail
OK, enough pretending. Give us the presents already!
Scene: Christmas morning, and I’m opening my gifts.
Dad: “Open that one next, sweetie.”
(He points to a box, which I open. Inside is one of those obnoxious singing-and-dancing robot Christmas trees. I’m a bit shocked, as I had pointed out how much I hate these things when we went shopping the week before.)
Me: “Uh, weren’t you listening when I said I thought these were the most annoying things ever?”
Dad: “I know, I know. But … open that one next.” (This time he points to a long, heavy package. I open it up to reveal a sledgehammer.)
Me: “Is this for what I think it’s for?”
Dad: “And you thought I wasn’t paying attention!”
Even the family pet takes part.
My First Toy
My first toy
Has wood for me to claw
My first toy
Has string for me to bite
My first toy
Has a hole for me to hide in
My first toy
Is called, “Oh, dear God, no!
My first toy
Is the best toy of them all.
—Francesco Marciulano, from the book I Knead My Mommy, And Other Poems by Kittens (Chronicle Books)
The gifts are opened, the eggnog consumed, and your kid has begun a demands wish list for next year. If you’re feeling woozy, it may be because you’ve contracted at least one of these seasonal maladies:
• Pay Saks Disease: A mania for buying gifts and abusing credit lines, followed by a compulsive urge to carry ten shopping bags at once.
• Seasonal Affection Disorder (SAD): An exaggerated emotional response (typically shrieking and air-kissing) triggered by seeing insignificant acquaintances at annual parties.
• Gift-aphasia: Loss of memory that causes the accidental recycling of gifts back to the same people who gave them to you last year.
—Bob Morris, from New York Observer