modern ms manners: etiquette for the holiday season
It is coming to that time of year when a rather overweight man in a red suit allegedly tumbles down your chimney, even though your house is now fitted with reverse cycle air conditioning. Stores are full of carols that do not make sense in the southern hemisphere, along with aisle upon aisle of gift ideas. That’s right, Christmas is only a few sleeps away meaning that the silly season is definitely upon us. Whether or not the holiday still holds any religious significance, most Australians nevertheless spend this time celebrating the year that was, with a day filled of family, friends and food.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I get really excited about Christmas. To me the day signifies a time to catch up with family and friends. Not to mention that as I have gotten older, I have applied the same anticipation that children normally afford to receiving a new bike to thoughts of seafood, rum balls and Christmas ham (which I have come to accept tastes more joyous than ordinary ham). I am yet to find someone who does not like Christmas. Well, that is, except for these guys:
However, despite the promise of joy and good tidings, the Christmas period is often associated with a period of great stress, as people madly rush to prepare for the big day. Suddenly, a relaxing holiday becomes a monstrous extravaganza that often leads to people feeling exhausted rather than merry. So in order to bring good tidings and cheer to you and your kin, I have identified the key pressure points that are part of the Christmas season and offer some friendly advice.
“Oh Christmas Tree, oh Christmas Tree”
The iconic image of Christmas remains a family all gathered to decorate their Christmas tree. Advertising will tell you that this is a joyous and fun event, filled with much laughter and song. This is incorrect. Sure it may start out this way; you might even put some carols on in the background so you can have a soundtrack to your festive induced happiness. However, somewhere in between trying to salvage Santa’s cotton wool beard on your year three handmade wreath and working out how the Christmas lights managed to get so entangled with the tinsel, the entire experience can be enough to encourage thoughts of maybe setting the whole thing alight and having a Yuletide bonfire in your living room instead.
- Pack the lights separately to everything else, especially the tinsel. In fact, keep them in separate rooms during the non-Christmas period. It is one of life’s greatest mysteries how these two seemingly inanimate objects always manage to find each other throughout the year so I suggest we just remove all opportunities of a chance meeting.
- Delegate tasks according to personality – if you have someone with you who is more organised, then they are the key person who should try and match up the Christmas baubles. Those with a slower attention span should be delegated any decorations that sparkle or make noises. It is probably best if you can keep these two personalities apart during this time.
“Toys in every store…”
The Christmas period is one of the busiest times of year for the retail period. Accordingly the local shopping centre transforms into a hectic and chaotic whirlpool of people snatching up the latest bargains, whilst angst filled store attendants are forced to wear flashing reindeer antlers in an attempt to get into the spirit of the season.
- Make a list of people you are going to buy for and a gift idea for each before you go out – Santa is not the only list maker amongst us and for a man who is buying seven billion presents, it makes sense to take a leaf out of his book.
- Your trolley is not a weapon – Christmas is no excuse to engage in grievous bodily harm at your local supermarket (see my previous article)
- Try and buy online – this means you avoid most of the rush and can also enjoy drinking delicious Christmas punch whilst you shop.
“We wish you a Merry Christmas…”
I think the biggest cause of stress in the Christmas period is due to people trying to stretch themselves too thin; whether it be in time, budget or social events. Unless you are a regular card sender, don’t worry that people will be offended if you are unable send cards this year. You don’t have to attend every social event (unless, of course, if you want to) – people will still be there after Christmas. You also don’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of money on people (again, unless you want to). Your time is the most important thing you can give anyone.
Regardless of how you interpret this holiday, Christmas remains a time for giving and for thinking of others. Relax and enjoy the season with those you care about and don’t mar the occasion with fights over who gets the last prawn. Eat heaps beforehand as first dinner so you can eat graciously with others. Merry Christmas!
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