By Nicholas Edward Evans
Christmas is upon us once again. Oh god, it seems to come around every year.
You can almost feel the tension growing with the passing of every over hyped commercial day. This year, Christmas is sponsored by………..Christmas. Every advert is selling it, shops displaying it, songs jingling it, people talking about it. It’s everywhere.
The pressure is huge. It’s total madness. The most insane time of the year. So to help you out a little, here are my top ten tips for surviving the Christmas madness. Good luck. Yule need it. (See what I did there?)
1. Don’t Get Sucked Into the Build Up
It’s like a year long wait to get laid. The pre-match build up gets more hyperbole than a Royal Wedding. Everyone is whipped into a festive frenzy. We are fed an endless diet of adverts and Christmas messages. Most shops’ start in the spring. Women the end of the summer and men, well, we tend to start on Christmas Eve. Everyone has their own way of dealing with it. Don’t get sucked into the build up. Go at your own pace, not the one The Hairy Bikers or Heston tells you.
2. Ignore the Advertising
We are bombarded with constant messages, all selling us something. The consumer brainwashing starts around November.
Every TV break tries to sell you food that will make you obese, gifts that will put you in debt or booze that will get you arrested. Supermarkets are the worst, selling scenes of the perfect family xmas that just make you feel depressed, thinking, “Why haven’t I got that?”
Of course in reality, some people are either isolated or sit in silent resentment they have to spend it with their family. The perfect Christmas displayed in the adverts rarely exists. Watch out for their budget range designed for people on their own called, “I can’t believe I haven’t killed myself yet.” Tread carefully, and avoid these horrific Supermarket compare and despair self pity fests.
Witnessing endless repeats of Ant and Dec staring at Christmas food from Morrisons like it’s a naked woman in a whipped cream bikini is enough to put you off. Besides, they actually make the food look OK on TV, when you know that in real life it tastes like Simon Cowell’s sweaty ring piece after a hard shift judging the X factor Xmas Special. Do not buy into the advertising propaganda, unless you’re getting paid £250k like Ant & Dec. For that money, I’d lick Cowell’s starfish live on TV.
3. Christmas Presents
This is the ultimate pressure test. There are so many stressful variables. What if they buy you a better one? What if you choose a bad one? How many are appropriate? How much should you spend?
Don’t worry. Presents do not define your personality, nor how much you love someone. Having said that when you get a present badly wrong, it’s the beginning of the end. Thoughts like, “If they got it that wrong they can’t know me very well.” Don’t worry though: this process takes a good few years to play out. You still have time to get it right.
It’s awkward to know where to draw the line and who to buy for. But here’s a simple one: get yourself down to Poundland and stock up on a load of deodorant Gift Sets. Don’t get the Lynx ones, mind – they’ll set you back around £6. Get the Poundland Own Brand one – they’re a quid. Granted they smell like rotting flesh, but you’ll be covered. Trouble is, when people receive this kind of gift, the subtext message is simple: I hate you. Be careful who you give them to.
For other presents, avoid the temptation to max out on the credit card and, “Worry about it in January.” This will result in Wonga, 4000% APR, losing a Kidney to pay for it and ultimately suicide. Set your budget, stick to it, and don’t be frightened to go bargain hunting.
However, here’s a warning. If a woman says, “Don’t get me much,” or if they say they’re “Happy with something you made,” or, “It’s the thought that counts,” well? They’re not. If you don’t get them something glam, romantic or expensive they will effectively cock whip you for the next year. It’s just you won’t know about it. Women never ever forget.
Don’t stress too much about presents. There is far too much importance attached to them. Years of rampant commercialism have brainwashed us to such an extent that if we don’t get the new iPad from our loved ones, we think they hate us and feel abandoned. Nothing than a good dose of therapy about rampant entitlement won’t knock out of you though.
4. Christmas Shopping
Make a list, and then execute it with military precision. Be prepared for endless queues and confused men wandering aimlessly around looking lost. It’s a jungle out there. You’ll need patience, strength, courage, stamina and several large brandies. Christmas shopping is not supposed to be enjoyable.
Be careful of the neurotic women you’ll see flying around. You can tell them by their wild eyed stare trying to process 1546 things to do from their list. These are dangerous beasts. If you get in their way, you’ll be assaulted. Do not, under any circumstances, say, “Relax, you’re supposed to be enjoying Christmas”. Certain death will follow.
Don’t be afraid to be bold and barter. You can pick up some real bargains. Shops are desperate for business, though if you try and negotiate in Poundland, you’ve probably gone too far.
Of course, you could avoid the madness and order everything online. This is much easier. You can still bring the festive spirit home by filling your house with arguing mentalists and someone badly butchering Christmas carols. Whack Now That’s What I Call Xmas on, preferably while Susan is still destroying the Christmas carols, and boom: Christmas spirit achieved.
You must look after your health over the festive period. The average male consumes around 40% more units of alcohol and calories. The phrase, “Go on, it’s Christmas,” really means eat loads, drink loads and worry about it in January. So follow some simple handy tips to maintain health.
Over-Eating | How to solve the problem of eating too much? Simple, a little bit if Bulimia. This way, you can eat everything your gluttonous little mind wants and not put on a pound.
Alternatively, if you do over-eat, invest in some elasticated slacks for January. If you have really gone over the top, double up with some Velcro slip-ons. Planning ahead is a good call.
Drinking Too Much | Most people drink too much this time of year. It’s practically a nationwide sponsored binge drink. The crushing tedium of employing fake cheer at Christmas parties demands such binge drinking. Even people who rarely drink tend to get stuck in.
Top tip: Be careful not to wake up in a skip. Seasoned alcoholics are used to this kind of blackout but it can be unnerving for the amateur drinker. Do not be alarmed, though: blackout drinking makes you more interesting than you really are.
Try to infiltrate a group of alcoholics. You can hide behind their excessive drinking, thereby camouflaging your own.
Be kind to your liver and drink lots of water before bed. It has no actual benefit, but you’ll feel like you’re making an effort.
Mental Health | If you over-eat, over-drink, over-spend, under-sleep and experience high levels of stress, you are setting yourself up for a monumental crash after Xmas. My advice is simple: either keep drinking heavily throughout the rest of the year, or try not to overindulge in the first place. Prevention is better than cure.
It is crucial to look after your health. Over indulging can lead to feelings of lethargy, depression and fear. Eat the cold cuts, finish of the Milk Tray and drink the remaining Advocaat because you feel rubbish, but do it all at once and get it over with. Limit your blasts to a single day. The rest of the time, go steady, otherwise we’re back to talking elasticated leisure slacks for you in the January sales. (Not dissimilar to lycra leggings, if I’m honest.)
6. The Meaning of Christmas | Spirituality
Most people’s idea of feeding their soul is with Tesco canapés. As rampant commercialism has taken over the Christmas message, the only spirit nourished is Brandy & coke.
It’s important to feed your spirit. It’s what defines us, after all. Christmas jumpers or Mince Pies come and go. iPads and new trainers are just material things. Your soul and spirit makes who we are. It is our life force. So what are you doing this season for it?
Working with those less fortunate than yourself is a good start. Crisis at Xmas is a great way to give back to the community and also appease your guilt for being selfish the rest of the year.
If you’re not religious, it doesn’t matter. We can all pray, help another, take time for someone on their own, give a small gift, love or smile. We can all help in some way or form. Sometimes we get lost in the panic and hype so much that we lose site of loved family or even our fellow man. Time is the biggest gift of all and sometimes we are guilty of not giving enough of it. So give someone a little time this season, and don’t expect anything in return. I guarantee it will make you feel good. Although if they give you a Poundland Deodorant Gift Set, never go back.
A big issue this. Some people haven’t got family. More than 250,000 will spend this Christmas alone. Then, of course, there are the dysfunctional families. Addicts, alcoholics, mental health, poverty, unemployment. For some people, this time of year is horrible. Especially when you get those c***s at Tesco peddling such perfect family Christmases. There are kids all over the world who don’t get anything. It’s important to cherish and be grateful for what we have.
Even if you hate your family and spend your three day visit in a state of depression and searing resentment (especially when the trivial pursuit comes out), try to adjust your attitude. Think about what you do have, see their good points. I guarantee you will miss them when they are gone. Unless they’re total nightmares, in which case get as far away from them as possible. Goa for instance.
If you’re visiting your Mother, eat everything she puts in your path. It is her way of showing her love and a mortal sin not to accept the gifts of grub. If your colon tries to escape through the garden, gather it up and keep going. It is not about eating to enjoy food. it is about accepting love and prawn canapés from Morrisons.
8. The Big Day
Christmas Day is always something of a let down after the hype of the previous month. For most, it is a day of compulsive over-indulgence, low-level boredom and sloth. Sit down and force joyfulness.
After the breakfast, presents, calorie filled lunch, pudding,snooze, games, movie, quality street, cheeses, pickles, nuts, cold cuts, moronic grazing and monging in front of the TV, you will effectively be brain dead by 11pm. I have only one suggestion: DO NOT wear a belt.
Of course, there are other options. You could totally go the other way and do service for others on Christmas Day. Go for a long walk or even bugger off abroad. The important thing is to go your own way. Do not feel pressured to go conventional because everyone else does. Make the Christmas you want. If you do get loads of presents, try not to post them up on Facebook. Nobody likes a gloater.
9. That Bit Between Xmas and New Year
Dead time. Perhaps you are visiting relatives. Perhaps you are just padding around at home. Perhaps you hoover up all the masses of needlessly bought food to fuel your mild obesity.
What do we do in this country to celebrate this part of the festive period? We shop, of course. The sales begin. The commercial juggernaut starts rolling again. You have been given 18 hours rest and now the pressure is on again. Buy your presents for next year now!!! Madness.
My advice is to escape this and do things you don’t usually do. Go for a walk. Enjoy the countryside or coast. See people you don’t usually. Do something positive and good for your soul. The buzz you get from buying something for 50% will soon wear off, as will the double chocolate log. But go deeper in this dead time and you’ll feel refreshed.
10. Help Others
Oh God, there had to be an Oprah ending didn’t there? Sorry people, it’s the only way to end this survival guide.
If you’re seeking a little happiness and contentment during Christmas, by far the most important thing you can do over Christmas is offer the same to others. Help one other human being. I’m not suggesting you go out every day firing mince pies at the homeless. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture.
Drop in on a neighbour. Visit someone on their own. Listen to someone who’s having a hard time. Whatever it is – we are never happier in ourselves when we are giving something away to another human being. It is good for the soul. It is good for the spirit. It makes us happier, lighter and well rounded. If you get a new iPad off the person you help, that’s a double bonus. I never said I was a saint did I?
This post is light hearted tongue-in-cheek, but Christmas can be a hard time for many. If you are experiencing problems with alcohol, food, drugs, domestic abuse, debt or want to help out at Xmas here are some links below that may help you: