Beating the holiday rush can be the secret to good mental health. Whether your holiday commemorates a birth, death, miracle, harvest, or seaborne invasion, you can find the social demands of the day punishing. Here’s a few tips to help you glide, rather than stumble, through.
A. If your holiday involves presents; when you buy them early, you buy them cheap. If you leave it until the last day the merchants in the bazaar, souk, or Westfield will gradually raise the prices – knowing that this will match your level of desperation. This equation reverses itself with printed ephemera and decorations after the holiday and if you are of a mind to pick up cheap stuff for next year, this is the time to do it. Beware of items that have year numbers. 2012 calendars are cheap but fairly useless.
B. If your holiday involves food – and nearly all the best ones do – remember that it will be harmful food. NOTHING that is served to a joyous crowd is good for them. The converse of this is true – nothing that is good for them will make a crowd joyous. Broccoli And Bean Surprise Cake will surprise the guests all right, but be prepared for a few surprises as the flavour sinks in. Be prepared with a wet cloth…
C. If the holiday has traditional or special ethnic foods, there will be someone in town who makes them very well. And someone who makes them very badly. Ask around before you buy the Special Sausages and in particular ask around to see what last year’s holiday food was like. If there is a lot of it left over and it’s still on sale you have the first clue…remember that there can be holiday rushes for the facilities as well.
D. Will there be special ceremonies? Make sure your holiday hat/crown/gimp mask is clean and in good order. If you are expected to take part in rituals read up the procedure – it is no good forgetting the steps or the bowing and scraping or the anatomy of the sacrificial animal and then having to do the religious version of humming the tune.
E. Will you be meeting people during the holiday who you have been avoiding all the rest of the year? Well, remember that they will be in the same position. You can either put aside differences and be pleasant in the spirit of kindliness and humanity or fall on each other with sharp knives. We hesitate to judge which is better – to get through another year or to make the best use of an opportunity. It all really depends on whether the stain will come out of the carpet, doesn’t it?
F. Are your holiday celebrations going to be held at a sensible time of the day or are you going to have to kneel on broken glass past midnight? Will there be wailing? Do you need to do it or can you pay someone else to wail for you?
G. Will you be forced to watch a Disney or Pixar movie about your holiday and will it have animated characters with exaggerated rural American accents for comic relief? If this is the case would you consider switching holidays? You might have to put up with Adam Sandler or Bing Crosby if you change sides but at least this would not be Disney.
H. Holiday sex. No-one mentions the topic but it is bubbling away there. Particularly at office parties. Especially down the back of the warehouse shelf stacks. 9:30 to 11:00 is particularly hot. I wonder if people realise that the surveillance cameras are still on?
I. Does your holiday have a mythical creature who rewards good and punishes evil? Like a fairy tale version of the local Magistrate’s court, but more effective. If not, consider adding one. Something that will frighten the children – like Exam Man or Santa Needles. If they are well-behaved you can promise visits by cute forest creatures with big eyes. If they are being little shits you can show them pictures of the Poison Loris – same big eyes but this time it is to locate prey in the dark.
That should about cover it, unless you are part of some obscure Inuit cult that centres around walruses. You’re on your own there – it is a far bigger tusk than I care to undertake.