What NOT to Do During the Holidays: Insight from Martha

Statistically, the most likely time for an American man to die is just before Christmas. For an American woman, doomsday comes just after New Years. My theory about why this is so is that people let themselves off the hook when they finally get a chance for a well-earned rest. Men exhaust themselves in the period leading up to the holidays and then let go; for women, the holidays themselves represent a brutal overload of work. This year, I say we stage a revolution. Let’s turn this holiday into an actual holiday! 

Every now and then, I am asked to write recommendations about what we should allow ourselves not to do. For most people, this is more challenging — but more productive — than a “to-do” list. I’ve never done such a list specifically for the holidays, until now. So, if you’re onboard with our holiday life-saving strategies, read on!

  • Don’t cook. I mean this; you will receive approximately 45,000 calories of holiday goodies this year. Desperate people who have no gift-selecting ability are praying that you will actually want the cheese log or the moose munch that they picked up for you. It will only make these people sad if they find you elbow deep in cookie dough or fruitcake. For goodness sake, have some compassion.
  • Don’t send cards. Every hour, human beings chop down an area of primordial forest the size of a football field. Why contribute to this carnage just so people can glance at a holiday greeting and immediately consign it to landfills? Christmas cards are evil. Do not send them.
  • Do not buy gifts for people you do not like. Honestly, why send the wrong message? The body is a natural lie detector and it loathes hypocrisy. Do you honestly want to grow weak and sick purchasing a foot massager for a boss whom everyone knows is going to hell? Stop the madness!
  • Don’t go to horrible parties. By the time we’ve passed Thanksgiving, you’re almost certain to feel deeply stressed about fitting into your little black dress or cummerbund. This is the time to lie down quietly and reflect on ways to eliminate excess calories so that January does not find you deeply mired in self-loathing. You know perfectly well that you react to social anxiety by eating like a grisly bear preparing to hibernate. Going to bad parties is simply putting your body in harm’s way. That’s not, in my opinion, what Baby Jesus would do.
  • Don’t be virtuous. If you’re virtuous all the time, go ahead and sustain it during the holidays. But if December is a time you go into a frenzy of Scrooge-after-the-ghost generosity, you will disrupt your psychological homeostasis, and potentially, as we have seen, cause your own death. This is no holiday gift to give your children! This year, vow to be as nasty and selfish as your truly are.

I know some of you may be shocked and indignant after reading my recommendations — so please be cautious. Your blood pressure may already be at dangerous levels. Seriously, the holidays are about renewal, kindness, and joy. Judgment and oppression are the enemy of these sentiments. Just see how much more genuine holiday spirit you’ll generate when you follow your own bliss, rather than someone else’s holiday traditions.

Dysfunctional Family Bingo

Hello Blog Readers!

Martha Beck staffers Jessica and Bridgette here. We snuck onto the blog while Martha is ensconced finishing her book because we didn’t want you to miss out on playing Dysfunctional Family Bingo this holiday season. We whipped this post up for you.

Dysfunctional Family Bingo is the game where your relatives’ cringeworthy antics become your winning bingo card. Here’s how to play: You and your friends each print the blank card here:
http://www.mediafire.com/view/?vknd9jpb298zsd6 

Each of you then fill in the squares with your unique family holiday dysfunctions. Aunt Sue makes an inappropriate comment about cousin Bertie’s weight and Grandma has too many hot toddies and passes out at dinner are a couple squares from our own staff players. Bring your card to your family gathering and as your family acts up, surreptitiously text or email your friends. First one to get bingo gets a free lunch at your post-holiday debrief gathering.

If you’d like more information on how to save your sanity this holiday season (and who doesn’t really?), be sure to check out Martha’s original article where she introduces us all to Dysfunctional Family Bingo. 

Enjoy!

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