The Grinch guide to Christmas

Nicola M. Sebastian - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The holidays are supposed to be happy, but what if you aren’t generally high on the nice? We don’t have to get all cozy with each other just because the air’s a bit colder, and all those Instagrammed smiling faces doesn’t mean yours has to be, like, all the time. Christmas is a stress and anxiety-inducing, BMI-blowing season, and I don’t care how many chestnuts are roasting on that open fire. Here are some steps to surviving all that cheer while staying true to yourself, so you can avoid the possibly worst-case scenario of running amok among empty-eyed, last-minute shoppers in an SM on Christmas Eve.

1. If you don’t want a gift from someone, don’t get them one. Some of us get panicky and start thinking we need to buy the whole subdivision a present, but the truth is as Bilbo would (sorta) put it: We don’t know half of everyone half as well as we should like, and we like less than half of everyone half as well as they deserve. What he means is that we don’t need to like everyone—I think. So, why do we need to give everyone a gift? Draw up a list of people you can actually stand, cut out three people (c’mon, stop being so nice), and don’t think twice.

Of course, there are certain instances where you need to get everyone something, anything. For gifts en masse, stick with baked goods — they’re sweet and easy to get in batches. That or soap. Bitches love soap.

2. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Why wait for spring to do your spring cleaning? In fact, we don’t even have anything that remotely qualifies as spring. (This is also a not-so-subtle message to people trying to make parkas happen. Or wooly sweaters. Or boots with the fur.) Christmas is the perfect occasion to sort the gold from the old. Admit it, there are a couple (dozen) things in that plastic wardrobe of yours that you haven’t used — you’ve probably even forgotten about a good portion of them. You know what they say, one mindless consumer’s trash is a weird officemate’s Christmas present.

Ukay ukay’s another brilliant way to find cheap, one-of-kind gifts that have the added plus of making you look (but hopefully not smell) funky. If that fails, do your shopping online. Sweating it out in all those Christmas bazaars is so 2000-late.

3. As Tito Sotto so incredibly showed the entire online community, nothing feels better than moral superiority, perceived or otherwise. And that enjoyment seems to increase exponentially the greater the odds/people/science/common sense/mom bloggers are stacked against you. Give it a try and spend a couple Saturdays (or a couple hours) with some orphans, typhoon Pablo victims, or recovering Facebook over-sharers. Then you can excuse yourself from shelling out for presents and tell friends of friends that you don’t buy into this commercial hoax, and that you gave your goodwill and your old Topshop dresses to people who actually need them.

4. Save the shots for New Year’s. Well, I already broke this one but, really, we don’t need to be battling a headache from overeager alcoholic cheer as well as from glorious holiday traffic. In the Philippines, Christmas isn’t an Eve, nor even a Day; it’s a months-long marathon, so choose your benders wisely if you want to stay merry and bright all throughout. Of course, the one thing most of us know how to do well during the holidays is getting smashed, but don’t say I didn’t warn you when you get a flashback of dancing on the table at the sight of your boss’s awkward smile the next day.

5. Eat all of your meals out of the house. I’m serious. With all these Christmas dinners, the rest of your dietary consumption should consist of oatmeal and water, maybe some bananas if you’re feeling peckish. That is, of course, if you want to fit into your festive little dress come December 24. This way you can order the Wagyu and smile sweetly at your nourishment-starved, vegan friends as the heavenly juices drip from the corners of your mouth. They know they love it.

6. Let’s set the record straight: Christmas greeting cards are the most thoughtless thoughtful thing in the world. The same goes for mass text greetings to all the people in your phone book. And don’t even think about hitting “forward” on that chain message. Believe me, there is nothing in all those little ones and zeroes that will multiply your manifold blessings, the love of baby Jesus, or my kind thoughts about you, so let’s not waste everyone’s time. Bake me some cookies, buy us all a round of drinks, throw me a high five, or post a cute picture of your dressed-up, pudgy toddler or Shih Tzu with the words “Have a cuddly Christmas” and be done with it.

7. If the holidays are getting you blue and you can’t quite make that smile reach your eyes anymore, blow off the long-time-no-see friends and polite well wishing and spend a day with Junior or Skip. No one knows how to be themselves and enjoy a moment more than a kid or a dog. Go to a toy store, roll around in the grass, stuff yourself with candy, throw stuff at cars — or do it all by yourself. Forget the shopping lists and social calendars and family duties, because Christmas only lasts for so long. If you’re still all wrapped up in your own problems after that, then get over yourself. Don’t you know it’s Christmas?

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Tweet the author @nicolapops.











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