It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and people’s minds are starting to turn towards how best to celebrate this wonderful season of goodwill. Hallelujah!
But we don’t want goodwill! We want conflict. We want divorce. We want family bust-ups and blood! Can we do it? Yes, we can!
Here’s how to go about ruining Christmas, both for yourself and for everybody else around you:
Step 1: Aim for perfection. Nothing else will do!
Begin putting the pressure on right now. Start visualising the Christmas of your dreams. There must and shall be diamonds. There must and will be luxury. Relationships will be harmonious and serene. Children will never whine. Relatives will never argue.
Everything has to be just as it seems in all those Christmas adverts on TV. Everything will go to plan and nothing can fall out of place, ever. Beautiful.
Ann McCracken, chairman of the International Stress Management Association, says that high expectations are one of the biggest causes of Christmas stress. People who place absurdly high demands on what is, after all, just another holiday, risk wrecking everything. “They have such huge, high expectations of Christmas – and when you have high expectations there is usually one outcome.”
If you want to wreck everybody’s Christmas, then you’ll need to expect both the season, and loved ones, to be everything they can’t and never will be—perfect.
Step 2: Christmas is a time for family!
Oh yes it is. Be sure to invite every festering sore on the buttock of humanity to your home, simply because they happened to pollute your gene pool in some manner. Leave nobody out. Invite every single one of your wretched and leering, tetchy and sneering relatives and you’re destined for a family get-together you’ll never forget.
If your home isn’t suitable for such mass-meetings of the united-only-by blood brigade, run yourself ragged attempting to visit them all in every part of the country. Don’t give any time to yourself. Don’t consider the feelings of partners, children or pets.
Simply insist that Christmas is a time for family cheer and trash it all for everybody.
Christmas is commonly wrecked by our insisting that our festivities match up to some Disney ideal. Why bother spending time with family at this time of the year if you’d quite happily avoid them for the rest of it?
Arguments often take place because partners can’t agree on how to divvy up their time. So negotiate. Compromise. Accept that you won’t be able to please everyone and focus on what feels right for you.
Step 3: Aim for a traditional roast dinner. Even if you hate it!
Everyone both expects and demands the perfect Christmas meal. Let’s get started!
You’ll need at least three courses of food which you’ve never attempted to cook before and which you’d never, ever, order in a restaurant. Arrange it so that you spend at least half of your holiday season crossing sprouts, defrosting dead birds and peeling root vegetables which leave you bloated with gut-busting wind.
Don’t budget. Don’t plan. Just fudge it and ban all others from offering their help. Go on, be a martyr. You’ll receive all the praise you could hope for and you can spend the rest of the holiday resenting the fact that you didn’t get one. Oh, and washing the dishes.
Cook whatever it is you’d like to eat at Christmas and say “balls to tradition,” particularly where fussy children are concerned.
Step 4. Never venture outside!
In 1984, The Journal of Social Psychology studied the folk-term “cabin fever.” They interviewed a bunch of Minnesotans who found themselves isolated and home-bound during their long, snowy winters. They found evidence to suggest that staying indoors for prolonged periods of time induces depression, restlessness, irritability and increased emotional volatility.
If step 2 doesn’t appeal, then simply stay in for the whole season and drive both yourself and your loved ones crazy. Add in step 5 and things could really head south.
To summarize: never go outside. Visit nobody. Have nobody over. Barricade yourself in your home. Imprison your entire family and become as one with the pioneers.
Divorce lawyer, Irwin Mitchell, surveyed 2,000 couples and found that one in four were considering a separation after spending Christmas together. Do all you can to generate a dose of cabin fever and you could be one of them.
Alternatively, get the hell out of your house sometimes. Socialise with people whose company you enjoy. Visit that part of your family you both love and like. Get out! Fresh air works wonders!
Step 5. Drink, eat and be merry!
We don’t want to be healthy. We don’t want to be happy. We want to spend the entire holiday season stuffed to the gills with sugar, booze and fat!
The Nursing Times, a British publication, explains how the traditional Christmas meal is full of foodstuffs which are prone to leaving us bloated, lethargic and buzzing with sugar. Combine this with cabin fever, family disputes, simmering resentments towards partners and disappointed expectations and you have a potent mix.
Just do it! Spend all day stuffing chocolate into your face. Store up guilt and depression when stepping onto the scales in January. Avoid all exercise. Ruin that figure and ruin that mood!
Don’t forget to get drunk all the time, too! Alcohol-fueled arguments are a prime cause of marital breakdown at this time of year. Hey, you might even get to lose your job because of what you got up to with that co-worker at the office party. Go to town! It’s Christmas, right!? We’re supposed to enjoy ourselves.
Whatever you do, refuse to intersperse Christmas treats with light, nutritious and simple meals. Refuse to give yourself a day away from the booze. Party on!
Every good holiday needs a patron saint. Yours, this year, will be a Chinese teenager called Wang.
In 2012 Wang sold a kidney for £2,000. He sold it so that he could pop along to the shops and buy himself a brand new, sparkly iPhone and iPad. His parents must have been so proud.
How beautiful a moment it must have been for him, staring through an anesthetized haze at the screens of objects which now, in all probability, lie silently rusting at the bottom of a drawer. Such a hero! What a role model for us all!
You can aspire to this too. Train your children to expect the very latest, and most expensive gadgets, every single year. Insist on the best for you too, no matter what your family budget or partner’s salary could realistically support. Forget the fact that bills come in January and break the bank right now. You only live once, right?
Wang is now in his 20s. His iPhone, once so proudly brandished, now lies obsolete and near-forgotten. One antibiotic resistant infection and he faces an early death. In time he will come to rue the day he put his consumerist greed before his health.
Don’t be a Wang. Object-driven happiness fades long before the bills get paid. Find out what’s really important in your life and focus on those things, instead.
Step 7. Tell yourself it’s going to be awful!
Confirmation bias can be learned. Tell yourself how miserable, contrived, hypocritical, vacuous, materialistic and ruinously expensive Christmas really is and you’ll be partway along the path to making your thoughts come true. Try really hard and you’ll begin to see only those things which confirm your pre-conceived beliefs. All else will fail to register.
What’s more, your miserable approach to a holiday will annoy and upset those around you who are trying to have a nice time. They’ll in turn, be more likely to argue with you and your relationships will turn south. Self-fulfilling prophecy or what?
Be a “bah humbug” kinda guy and wreck it all for everyone. Make no effort to be merry. Don’t involve yourself with friends or family. Make yourself miserable. You can do it if you really want to!
Step 8. Live in the past or the future and ignore the now!
Yes, this year has been awful at times. Yes, next year threatens to be dodgy too. Perhaps the company you work for is in financial danger. Perhaps 2016 was peppered by disasters. Perhaps the sky really will fall in at some point.
Why enjoy the present when you can spend the whole time focusing on the troubles of yesterday or delighting in what dreadful things may happen tomorrow?
Cry into your beer, sob into the sprouts and weep! Grumble and mutter darkly through dinner. Make a real meal of it. Your family will thank you for it and things will go great.
Christmas is a season full of pleasures and treasures, pitfalls and traps. You could make it a lovely time or you could make it a Hell on Earth. It’s all down to you.
Choose how you’d like it to be and remember that if things don’t go perfectly this year, you can try again in the next.
One of my best Christmases featured a meal during which, half-way through, we realised that the turkey had never made it into the oven. For some people, my mother amongst them, this would have spelled disaster on a Biblical scale. For us, however, it caused nothing but amusement and laughter. We were having too good a time to notice or care.
Live in the now.
Take it as it comes.
All things in moderation and this Christmas could be a holiday to remember for all the right reasons.
Author: Paul Hughes
Image: YouTube screenhot
Apprentice Editor: Julie Barr/Editor: Katarina Tavčar