Help me fix the holidays. There’s a number of things:
- Every year, it seems to come to the shops sooner. We can expect Santa Clauses mingling freely with easter bunnies within a decade. From both ends.
- Two weeks of rabid scouring of the dwelling. Look, it’s great to have a tidy place, and it does wonders for the festive mood and peace of mind. Which is why you should either keep it that way all the time, or hire a maid instead of spending half the “holidays of peace” wearing rubber gloves – or worse, making a wife or girlfriend do it. Or just accept that a bit of messiness is part of life. When you do clean, first make sure you’re doing it for yourself, not for the benefit of Aunt Daphne (see next).
Until somebody finally builds one of these.
- Visits to and by distant relatives and acquaintances you mostly wouldn’t mind being even more distant. Whole days of instant coffee and bad canapés instead of being with your nearest and dearest.
- Saccharine movies you’ve seen thirty-eighteen times, and can’t avoid seeing again because there’s always that one person in the house who loves them. (If it’s you, consider treating them like pornography and retiring to privacy.)
- Dtto for Christmas carols playing on repeat, down to and including Wham!’s infamous Last Christmas.
- Gifts. If you live in the western world, you and all your friends and family probably already have everything you genuinely need, and buy for yourselves most of the optional stuff you just like throughout the year, so you’re stuck in a limbo where everyone already has everything useful and reasonably priced, and the next tier of useful presents is houses and cars. Almost anything you buy for anyone is destined to a life in it’s original box atop a wardrobe or cabinet, or up some obscure crawlspace. Therefore you can either spend more than you can afford (leading to awkward reciprocal escalation all parties would desperately rather avoid), or resign to buying token bullshit, or struggle to come up with thoughtful, original presents. The latter is obviously preferred, but hand on heart, you probably care that way (and have the time to get such presents) for maybe two or three people in the world, and everybody else is getting something out of one of the former.
- Trees. Look, I’m not the greenest of guys. The whole environmental thing seems to be a prime example of a good (and self-evident) thing co-opted by misanthropic ideologues. But the millions of trees cut down each holiday season nag me. They nag the little boyscout inside me who never grew up, even though I rationally know they’re grown and bred specifically for the purpose, and the forestry industry actually increases the number of living trees. But instead of buying a dead tree, or as is more common in certain parts of Europe, heading off into the woods with a saw to steal one, I propose this: go to your nearest garden centre, buy a reasonably-sized potted tree sapling, take it home for the holidays, give it a name, and when the time comes, find a nice spot outside and plant it. If you start now, you will have planted a respectable-sized grove by the time you’re old enough to become fertilizer. You can go visit it with your kids or friends, have picnic under the mighty Christmas 2015 fir a few years down the line, and have a warm and fuzzy feeling each time you come near.
- The overeating.
You know what? Fuck it.
Put your feet up, grab a nice hot cup of cocoa, play some smooth jazz.
I propose a new holiday celebrated in the spirit of peace and quiet and actual enjoyment.
Seriously. Instead of an annual circus of stress and credit card overdraft, let’s actually spend the holidays properly, in peace and quiet with the people you love. I personally invite you to do it. You may share this with your nearest and dearest to bring them onboard and let them know your awesome plan.