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What Your Holiday Greeting Says About You (Hint: Probably Bad Stuff)

I don’t know if you guys have noticed at all, but there’s a lot of pressure on everyone to not act like their normal jerk selves around the holidays.

From the gifts you buy your relatives last-minute at the corner gas station, to the party invites you choose to accept or decline based on the variety and amount of booze being served, to the mall parking spaces you steal from the handicapped, all of these seemingly inconsequential decisions you’d regularly make without second thought any other time of year are now major opportunities to come off looking like a thoughtless, insensitive Christmas jackhole.

Unfortunately, the same also goes for how you greet people during the holiday season.  Which is why it’s important—nay, imperative—that you choose your words wisely, because everyone is judging you by them.  And by ‘judging’, I mean ‘writing down your license plate number to report you to mall security’. 

Lucky for you clueless people, I’ve already taken the time to decode a few of the more common holiday greetings based on my personal experience with humans so that you know what you’re really saying from now on.  Granted, not everyone uses a greeting for the same reason, and I acknowledge this delicate intricacy by providing helpful variations.  Simply choose the one that applies to you.

So here goes:

“Merry Christmas!”

What You’re Really Saying: (a) “Merry Christmas–I hope you can appreciate the sentiment even if your cultural or religious beliefs happen to differ from mine!”  or (b) “Merry Christmas–Kiss my ass if you don’t celebrate it, sinners!”

“Happy Holidays!”

What You’re Really Saying: (a) “I hope you enjoy whatever religious and/or cultural traditions you participate in this month!”  (b) “I actually have strong religious convictions but would rather not risk facing some sort of makeshift mall Tribunal for crimes against  intolerance just because I dared to use a vaguely religious greeting in public.”

“Season’s Greetings!”

What You’re Really Saying: (a) “Being that I am politically correct to a crippling extreme, I find ‘Happy Holidays’ far too controversial for my taste.  On a side note, I enjoy wearing beige, patternless sweaters, refer to white people as ‘Caucasian-Americans’ and listen only to the jazzy, non-confrontational musical stylings of Kenny Loggins.”  (b) “Hi there!  I work for Hallmark!  Please stop me before I kill again!”

“Happy Kwanzaa!”

What You’re Really Saying: (a)  “I know for a fact that you celebrate Kwanzaa and wish to extend to you your traditional greeting.”  (b) “I know for a fact that I celebrate Kwanzaa and wish to extend you my traditional greeting.”  (c) “I don’t celebrate Kwanzaa and I’m not sure if you do either, but I’m just going to assume so anyway because of your ethnicity.  Feel free to punch me repeatedly in my silly, presumptuous face now.”

“Happy  Hanukkah!”

What You’re Really Saying: (a)  See above, except substitute”Kwanzaa” for “Hanukkah”.

“Happy Al-Hijra (Islamic New Year)!”

What You’re Really Saying: (a) See above, except substitute “Hanukkah” for “Al-Hijra”.

“Happy Boxing Day!”

What You’re Really Saying: (a) “I’m Canadian!” (b) “I’m Australian!” (c) “I’m from one of those other countries that celebrates kooky holidays!”  (Kidding, my Canuck/Aussie/other kooky country friends!)

“Festivus for the Rest of Us!”

What You’re Really Saying: (a) “I’m a sad, aging hipster unable to deal with my grinding progression into adulthood, so I bury myself in the stale witticisms of early 90s TV reruns.  By the way, what do you guys think’s going to happen between Ross and Rachel?”

“Yule Greetings!”, “Yuletide Cheer!”, or pretty much anything with the word “yule” in it.

What You’re Really Saying: (a) “I’m a character from a Dickens novel who’s somehow been magically teleported into this strange and impossibly modern era.  Won’t you please help me return to where I belong?”  (b) “I’m a pretentious asshat with a flair for theatrics and a crippling need to appear unique and unconventional, even at the expense of my own dignity.”

“Phyllis Diller is the Pterodactyl Queen!  All Hail the Flapjack Revolution!!”

What You’re Really Saying: (a) “I am completely batshit insane and will likely throw feces at you if you come close enough.”

So there you have it, folks.

I recommend you pick one of the above phrases and start practicing now.

Happy Phyllis Diller is the Pterodactyl Queen Day!

…And Then I Got In A Fight With Jesus.

So several years ago around Christmas I got into this insane argument with one of Justin’s aunts about charitable work.  Really.  It was crazy.  Crazy because this particular aunt IS the very definition of a charitable person.  Even her career – and that of her husband – is about providing comfort and support and a means for those less fortunate to navigate through this confusing system of ours.  She is compassion incarnate.  Or something.

So what was the argument?

It basically stemmed from the fact that I tied the act of giving to the idea of karma.

Huh?

Allow me to explain.  We were talking about charity and random acts of kindness and such.  I said the beauty of any giving act is that while it certainly does some good for the recipient, it also instills in the giver a feeling of happiness, and… dare I say it?… pride.  And the reason this is a good thing is because this feeling is likely to inspire the giver to give again, thus perpetuating the cycle of good deeds and good feelings.  The design is flawless.

Or so I thought.

The problem with the correlation I made is that Justin’s aunt is devoutly religious.  She was deeply and personally insulted by my apparent insinuation that people only do good deeds in order to reap karmic rewards.  (And I assure you that is not what I said.)

Moreover, she would never dream of leading a charitable life simply because it made her feel happy.  (Again, not what I said.)

In fact, it was her duty as a Christian to help those in need.  (I can hardly argue with that, now can I?)

I tried to explain that I meant a nice “side-effect” of showing kindness towards others is the inevitable little warm fuzzy that nestles up in your face, your throat, your heart.  It can’t be helped.  It’s there, whether you want it or not.  And, whether you realize it or not, it encourages you to continue to feed it by doing more nice things.

What’s wrong with that?  Sounds like a win-win to me…

So you’re saying there is no such thing as a selfless act???

Sigh.

Of course not.  All I’m saying is if a “selfless” deed just so happens to make you feel good about yourself, what is so wrong with that?  The worst that could happen is it will inspire more selfless deeds.

Why do you think we like this guy on HGTV?

Mike Holmes

Or this guy on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition?

Or this woman, doing what she does best?

Because they perpetuate the good.  But no one can say they don’t get anything out of it.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter why a person does something nice.  It’s just that he/she does it.

Which brings me to Part 2 of my personal Christmas reformation project.  Part 1 started here, when I realized there is no possible way for me to make everyone I love happy over the holidays.  Even so, I shouldn’t let that deter me from getting as much enjoyment as I can out of the things it will be possible for me to do.  Is that selfish?  Perhaps.  But I’ve noticed over the years that the happier I am, the happier it makes people around me.  Try it.  You’ll see.

My next selfish step (aka. part 2) was to get myself a Christmas present.  The gift of a warm fuzzy.

(Now before you stop reading because you’re afraid I’m going to ask you for money, don’t worry!  I know these are tricky times for everyone.  I will include a link at the bottom in case you are interested, but that’s it.)

In order to get my warm fuzzy, I made a donation to a charity I’ve read a lot about in recent months – one I’m confident will make the most of my meager contribution.  And trust me, it was meager.  And, just like I predicted, I now want to do a little more.

What I have decided is that no one will be buying me a wrappable gift this year.  I’m tired of trying to think of something easy and affordable that someone could buy for me that I couldn’t just as easily buy for myself (because let’s face it – no one I know really wants to buy me this, andMark Zuckerberg has yet to accept my friendship request on Facebook).  So if anyone asks, I will send them to my charity.  It will literally take them 30 seconds to buy my gift, and they can spend as much or as little as they’d like.  Then, if they really want to go above and beyond, they can email me (katie@domestiphobia.net) or leave me a comment  here to tell me about it.  I want them to get the warm fuzzy too.

Everybody wins – and really, I don’t mind if they feel good about it.

I realize this is not a groundbreaking idea.  It’s not even a… um… ground tapping idea.  But it’s new for me.  And even if just one person gets me what I want this year (*cough*mom*cough*), I can honestly say that it will be the best gift I’ve received in a very, very long time.

To cross me off your Christmas list, click on THIS LINK to read about the GOD’S CHILD Project and then click the yellow “Donate” button.  You can also read more about the GOD’S CHILD Project on this website.

Don’t forget to send me an email (katie@domestiphobia.net) or leave a comment on this post if you make a donation.  And even if you don’t make a donation but like the idea or are doing something similar, please share!

Deck the Halls, If You Must.

Okay, I’ll admit it.  In case you haven’t figured it out already, I’m not one of those, “Oooh I’m SO excited that the holidays are almost here!!!” kind of people.  Which I realize makes me a bit of an oddity because I am (usually) a chipper morning person who enjoys engaging in social activity (with people I like).

Stipulations aside, I think being a socially-engaging morning person would normally also qualify me as someone who just can’t wait to dig out the ol’ Christmas decorations and tune the radio to one of the 24-hour holiday music stations and pull out my Frosty-the-Snowman-meets-Rudolph greeting cards to fill out, address and stamp while sipping hot cocoa and eating snickerdoodles in front of a crackling fire.

But I’m not.  In fact, the very idea – aside from the hot cocoa and snickerdoodles because those sound delicious – inspires a giant lump of un-enthusiasm to well up in my soul.

I think it might have something to do with coming from a broken family. (As a child of divorce, I’m so fortunate that I will always have that excuse to fall back on for any of my own personal failings.)  You see, no matter who we go visit for the holidays, there is always someone who doesn’t get a visit, and the inevitable guilt-inducing remarks are made, feelings get hurt, and rather than just enjoying the company I’m with, I end up worrying whether I’ve made someone halfway across the country feel isolated and alone by not gracing him/her with my presence this year.

And the thing that I (and apparently they) keep forgetting is that I have a guest room too, you know.

If you come visit me, I can pretty much guarantee a stress-free time.  The house may not be in perfect order and filled to the brim with Christmas decorations; I may not have 32 different varieties of fresh-baked Christmas cookies on hand; I may not be sporting a 12-year-old red and green knit Christmas tree sweater; however, your sheets will be clean and your wine glass will be full.  And against my better nature, I might even cook.  (Drink enough wine, and it will taste just dandy.)  If you want cookies, we can bake them together.  It will be fun.  We will have fun.  And we won’t stress if the cookies burn or the pups knock over my 3-foot-tall Christmas tree because c’est la vie, you know?

And if you don’t come visit, it’s no big deal.  I won’t make you feel guilty.  Why would I make you feel guilty?  That just means more wine for me.

But really.  Isn’t that the point?  Celebrating the life we have?  Sure, we can get all deep and thoughtful and say the holiday season is about giving, about family, about love.  Which is true.  But since we seem to have such a hard time with all that, let’s just take this in baby steps, shall we?

When you feel the holiday stress start to get to you because you haven’t finished gift shopping or the grocery store is all out of your favorite eggnog, here’s a revolutionary thought: enjoy it anyway. When it’s all over and you have nothing left but 3 trash cans full of multi-colored wrapping paper and a carpet full of tinsel, people aren’t going to remember that you had an $80 wreath on the front door.  What they will remember is whether or not you smiled.  Whether or not you laughed.  Whether or not they made you feel happy because they chose to visit you this holiday season.

Stressing during the holidays defeats the purpose.  Whether you live for the holidays or would rather crawl under the covers until tax season, they’re coming.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it – and it IS a choice – is to take a deep breath, another sip of spiked cider, and love the crap out of all of it.

It sure beats the alternative.

Dear Christmas: Screw You.

Dear Christmas,

Stop being a massive asshat to Thanksgiving just because it’s a laidback holiday.

You and I both know that Thanksgiving doesn’t ask for much.  It doesn’t want to make a big scene or bum anybody out.  It’s content to just hang out at your house all day with you and your folks, watching football and eating all your food.

I suspect Thanksgiving smokes a lot of pot.

I mean, c’mon, it has to, right?

But even though Thanksgiving’s too mellow to stick up for itself I, for one, can no longer sit idly by and watch you shove it around and treat it like one of those minor holidays no one really cares about.  Thanksgiving is not Flag Day, dammit.

You do this every year:  Steamrolling over one of the chillest, most unpretentious holidays so that you can barf out festive lights and candy canes and holly wreaths and manger displays (and seriously, how is it not illegal for people to have those gaudy-ass inflatable snow globes out on their lawn already??) all over every store window display and front lawn in America.

Look, I’ll get into your stupid spirit in due time.  I’ll tolerate extended jazz versions of “The Little Drummer Boy” playing on the Muzak system of every business establishment I enter.  I’ll watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” and “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” for the twenty-ninth year in a row like it’s the first time I’ve ever seen it.  I’ll listen to the incessant bell-ringing of that Salvation Army Santa squatting on every street corner–and I probably won’t even flip my sh*t and smack a bitch.  I’ll wait my turn to spend a half-hour elbowing strangers in line so that I can spend all my money on gifts that I’m pretty sure no one’s going to like anyway.  I’ll send out Christmas cards.  Ok, that’s a lie, but I’ll feel guilty about not sending out Christmas cards.

What I’m saying is, I’ll play your stupid reindeer games.  But I am not going to start playing them in early November and you know what?  I sure as shizzle wasn’t going to start in friggin’ October.

SO STOP WITH THE PREMATURE DECORATING ALREADY.

You are still over a month away.  That is plenty of time to stress everyone out and make the populace miserable in proper yuletide fashion.

So here’s the deal I’m going to make you, Christmas:  You hold off on cramming yourself down everyone’s throats until–I don’t know, say, December?–and I hold off cramming my foot up your ass in a fit of festive rage.

Capiche?

In closing, leave us to enjoy Thanksgiving in peace.  Also, leave Halloween alone.

I’m watching you, biznatch.

Love Fiery burning hatred,

Erin