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Rules for the Holidays

Surviving relatives, co-workers, and lovers drugged by cheer is easier when there are guidelines for action. THE EDITORS share some tips to help keep your step-dad’s paws off your Christmas sweater.

Proper responses to the question popular among six-year-olds, ‘Does Santa really exist?’

– ‘Why don’t you ask Mommy’s boss?’

– ‘Yes. And if you’re lucky he’ll be at the racetrack this afternoon.’

– ‘Who do you think was Jesus’s father?’

– ‘Yes, but in a quantum mechanics kind of way, which means probably not, at least not for you.’

– ‘Only in the red states.’

– ‘If by Santa you mean your father, then no, he’s in Antigua with Aunt Joan, and I’ll thank you for reminding me.’

* * *

Plane tickets have been purchased. Car-rental reservations made and double-checked. Presents wrapped, cards written, and everything packed between socks for safe travel. The children are bundled up in easy-to-remove layers and provided with new comic books to keep them busy on the flight. The airport’s reached just in time, and after a possible cancellation, the plane departs for distant Seattle only 20 minutes late and peanuts are served.

Meanwhile, a certain untipped doorman has discovered the porn collection under the bed.

Lesson: That checklist was worthless. You should have left the kids behind, souped-up on PCP and armed with Tasers, like your wife suggested last year.

* * *

The holidays are hell on retailers. They have to hire extra staff and work long hours, and those smiles that seem so appropriately ingratiating are actually upside-down expressions of hatred for you and many generations of your forebears.

So it’s just the time to comment at the register on how tough it must be to deal with infuriating customers, then ask to have your present wrapped once, then wrapped again inside a slightly larger box, and this one wrapped inside a much larger box, until you’ve reached the eighth box and forgotten you wanted a gift-receipt tucked inside the first one.

Also, steal the security guard’s gun, and if asked, say it’s the only thing your one-legged leukemic daughter wants for Christmas. Later you can wrap up the gun for your office’s Secret Santa pool.

* * *

Holiday work parties can be fun! Remember:

1. The boss loves your impression of your whiny coworker. Your coworker loves your impression of your smarmy boss. Mix up Smarmy and Whiny and you get Fired.

2. If you don’t like talking to a coworker normally, don’t find out what happens after three margaritas.

3. Good dancers have no doubts about their talents. Similarly, good dancers are rarely hare-eyed accountants, Stewart.

* * *

Cab drivers wearing Santa hats get an extra dollar tip. Cab drivers with eggnog-breath and a way with just missing pedestrians do not get tipped. Cab drivers who would like you to sit on their antlers and tell them what you want from Santa get a tip on where they can stick their horns. Twenty dollars for the driver who helps you remember the words to the Hanukkah blessings.

* * *

Mistletoe may be worn on a fedora or baseball cap, but not from the belt.

* * *

Celebrities particularly enjoy being recognized during the holidays, so if you spot Robert De Niro ice skating in Central Park, or Kevin Spacey enjoying a late dinner in Chelsea, explain how his fancy watch is the only thing your cycloped son with the balsa-wood arm wants from Santa.

Keep the watch.

* * *

Who doesn’t love a good snowball fight on Christmas morning? Your dad, still in his bathrobe, who bought you all those gifts that you just opened, you little bastard.

* * *

The holidays are best spent in good cheer, enjoying time with family. You may think it’s all about you the rest of the year, but not so these precious few days in December. Chat with grandparents. Play with your nieces and nephews. When the baby spits up on your corduroy blazer, don’t call child services and demand they remove the little beast. This year, you will not do that again. Instead, wait and remember until you attend the child’s high school graduation. At a post-commencement party, walk up to the graduate with a crisp $50 bill in your pocket and, blind drunk, vomit on his brand-new wool suit. Hand the 50 bucks to his mother, saying, ‘Hope the cost of dry cleaning hasn’t gone up.’

* * *

Nothing’s nicer on Christmas Eve than turning on the television for the loop of a burning fireplace. Except a fireplace.

* * *

A yuletide story: Jeremy and Scott bought an apartment in September and have planned a festive Christmas party to celebrate their first holiday together as a couple in their new home. A week before the big event, they decorate their small two-bedroom with strands of tinsel, a large fir tree, and a wreath for each of the windows facing the street. Eggnog recipes are researched. Invitations are sent out over email. Two days before the party, Jeremy catches Scott in bed with a girl from work, a holly sprig between her teeth. The party is canceled.

Moral: Buying an overpriced condo in Manhattan during a seller’s market is dumb.