How To Even…Celebrate XMAS

By Michael Gushue & CL Bledsoe

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Winter is cold and bleak and, due to climate change, won’t exist for too much longer, which is kind of a mixed blessing, considering we may not exist for much longer, either. But let’s stay on point here. If we divorce the winter holiday season from its religious elements, what we have left is a celebration of life during this dark time. It is, in effect, saying, “Yes, it sucks outside, but let’s have a party anyway.” Sort of like living in Ohio.

But the holidays mean more than that. They mean tradition. That’s when people keep doing something just because they’ve done it before, kind of like how Arby’s keeps customers. Some traditions are terrible, like eating at Arby’s, and some bring comfort with their familiarity, like eating at Arby’s. But the important thing is that they have those curly fries.

There are multiple holidays that fall during the wintertime, but Xmas is something that transcends religiosity (for marketing purposes). Regardless of the name of the building you sit on uncomfortable seats in once a year, we can all come together to spend too much money and watch movies that aren’t actually that good. Also, by writing only about Xmas here, we can milk the other winter holidays for more How To Even content later on.

Holiday Traditions

Certain traditions survive because they exemplify the best aspects of a holiday. Probably the most important holiday tradition is watching Die Hard. We remember the year our kids became old enough to watch Die Hard with the family. We think, in many ways, they saw a bit of us in John McClane. Our steely-eyed determination to do whatever it takes to save the people we love. Our ability to navigate cluttered, glass-strewn rooms without wearing shoes. Our thinning hair. Our recent marriage to Demi Moore, (Spoiler: they didn’t.)

But watching the greatest holiday movie ever made isn’t the only tradition people celebrate. There are lots of other holiday-themed movies to watch. And several novelty songs to rant against on social media. Let us not forget watching every version of A Christmas Carol ever made while our family, friends, neighbors, and eventually the fire department bang on the door (mostly because of the smell).

There’s also getting drunk and yelling at family members. Of course, with today’s busy lifestyle, you might be unsure what to yell about. We’ve provided this handy list of suggestions:

Topics To Yell Drunkenly About:

  • Politics, as in the politics of ancient Sardinia during the 18th Century BC.
  • Who doesn’t like pickles? Assholes, that’s who. Sorry, sorry, Uncle Bill, I forgot that you’re allergic to cucumbers. MY BAD. I guess everything is my fault. I can’t do anything right. Why am I even alive?
  • I’m in love with a squirrel, but it doesn’t love me back in that way.

Soon to be followed by crying drunkenly at family members. Feel free to play this one loosey-goosey, as long as you’re incoherent and melodramatic.

Another tradition is admitting some horrible secret to mom. Again, we’ve provided a handy list to choose from, since we assume you have so many horrible secrets.

Horrible Secrets:

  • I’m dropping out of college to become a street mime. Just kidding. I’m dropping out to MARRY a street mime.
  • I’m never going to have kids because, honestly, no one will do sex at me.
  • I’m not actually your child. I murdered your child and took over their life. I don’t even know if they noticed.

Decorating

Winter is cold and dreary because the sun is hiding behind the Great Snowball in the Sky, which means it doesn’t have as much time for us. This is a pattern that has been repeated in our lives. Don’t you recognize it? Remember when you were a kid, and your older sibling/s had less and less time to spend with you? Or your parents, who were always so busy throwing parties they never invited you too? Sure, it’s your own fault for being so meh, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Being reminded of all the many, many people who’ve let you down over the years can be kind of a bummer. It’s almost like the weather is mocking you, which it totally is. That’s why decorations are so important. When you string lights up on your home or put a fake drunk and stumbling Santa on your roof, you are telling the darkness — and all those people who let you down — No! I will not be sad!. It’s a beautiful, if ultimately futile act.

Decorating Pro-Tips:

Pro-Tip #1: Wreaths are expensive. Instead of buying one, steal a wreath from a neighbor (assuming they’ve rebuilt their house from the fire you “accidentally” set on Thanksgiving). When they buy another one, you’ll be helping to stimulate the local economy. #shoplocal

Pro-Tip #2: If your neighbor comes over to demand their wreath back, remind them that possession is 9/10ths of the law, that you don’t know anything about any wreath, and you wouldn’t have a wreath anyway because you’re allergic to them. If they happen to notice that there is a wreath, right this minute, hanging on the door they’re standing at, mention how tired they look and ask if they’d like to sit down and rest for a while. Point out some places outside that would be good to sit, like that bench in your yard (probably don’t mention you stole that from them). Regardless, tell them you have cookies in the oven and need to go. It’s always nice seeing them, and please leave before you release the hounds.

Pro-Tip #3: Odds are, your neighbor will try to steal their wreath back. This is why you should bolt it to the door and add a car alarm so they won’t be able to get it off.

Pro-Tip #4: It’s feuds like this that keep the holidays vibrant and relationships vital. Not just with your neighbors but with your loved ones, as well. When was the last time you and your spouse took a shot at each other or burned down a building you thought the other one was in? The holidays are the perfect time to rekindle the romance in your life, and if that means millions of dollars in property damage, then so be it. Folks just need to understand that love transcends things like property laws.

Pro-Tip #5: Many of us have already figured out the pro-tip of leaving the lights on the house all year, so we don’t have to put them up when it’s cold and dark out. This is a safety issue as much as a personal aesthetic one. Of course, Christmas lights can get expensive. The power bills can really add up. That’s why it’s best to plug them into a neighbor’s outlet. Think of it like this: your lights are bringing joy to the whole neighborhood. It’s only fair that everyone else pay for them.

Pro-Tip #6: We’re all busy folks. Old vehicles and appliances can pile up in our yards, on our sidewalks, or in the road in front of our homes. We simply don’t have the time to haul all that stuff off, and besides, we might sell it for scrap some day. Or even fix some of it. Those three refrigerators without doors only need new compressors. And doors. And that washing machine motor just needs a washing machine to go in. And to be fixed. So, instead of trying to get rid of your retirement fund, why not arrange it in a decorative way? If you want to go religious, you could do a manger scene with the old water heater as baby Jesus (paint a smiley face on the front) and the other old water heaters as the three wise men. Or, you could arrange old tires into a menorah. If your religious beliefs swing to the other side of the spectrum, with a little help, you could push those old junkers into the shape of a pentagram, which also serve as a protective cage in case you want to summon any holiday demons. Imagination (and probably alcohol) are the only limits.

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Food

There are certain foods that are synonymous with the winter holiday season, like eggnog and spicy chicken wings (when are they not appropriate, we ask you?). Thanksgiving is really the big food holiday. But something that’s become uniquely winter-holiday appropriate is cookies. Cookies with frosting. Cookies with sprinkles. Cookies made from the blood of our enemies and shaped like trees. With sprinkles.

There’s an odd sort of holiday tradition when it comes to food that, frankly, can be confusing. This is the celebration of food that no one likes. We get a taste of it at Thanksgiving with the pumpkin pie. But Xmas has the two main offenders: eggnog and fruitcake. This tradition goes back to the days of the Roman empire, when they would serve fruitcake and eggnog to get people to sober up after Saturnalia. So, though it might make no sense at first, these foods serve as a memento mori to balance the holidays. Sure, you’re having fun now, but remember: there’s fruitcake. That’s enough to bring anybody back down to dreary reality before they do something dumb like be happy or forget the misery that is existence.

***

No matter what religion you’ve been neglecting, all Americans celebrate the holiday of Capitalism — we mean Xmas. It’s dark, cold, and miserable out. You’re broke from buying presents but, let’s be honest, you were broke to begin with. On the other hand, you have the opportunity to be broke together with other people. Sure, they’re your relatives and friends, but they have their good points, too. As does humanity itself. If it wasn’t for them, you wouldn’t have the movie Dies Hard, or the Waitresses’ song “Christmas Wrapping,” or chocolate. Might as well get wasted, sing songs, and watch old movies.

The only blog you’ll ever need. By Michael Gushue & CL Bledsoe Archives: https://medium.com/@howtoeven/how-to-even-archives-3eeea1f52d31

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