A Seasonal Fulmination

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by Stephen Phillips

What's that I hear? Is it the sound of jingle bells and Santa's sleigh cruising the celestial highway, on its way to deliver goodies far and wide?

Hell, no--it's the sound of advertising executives wringing their hands in glee at the prospect of once again fleecing the general public out of their hard-earned cash.  It must be Christmas time again.

It's a wondrous, magical season, which the kids have been harping on since about August.  A time that parents dread, due in no small part to the expense involved in making sure the kids have a Christmas to remember-- which will last all of two days, until they're bored with the expensive "GI Joe Blast ' em Up Doll with the Kung Fu Grip" that they absolutely had to have.

'Tis the season to be jolly?   My arse, it is!  'Tis the season to be well and truly fed up.   The season to spread good cheer and wishes to all?  More like the time to spread the credit card payments.

Ah,  Christmas!   What a great time to eat too much, drink too much,  and show those in your life just how much you love them by giving such wonderful, useful gifts as that singing lobster that you just knew they'd get a kick out of.  (If anybody sends me crap like that, they can expect it back next year, with extra love.)

Maybe if you're lucky, Auntie May will brighten up your Holiday season by knitting you a sweater that makes Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat look bland in comparison.

You know what really gets up my nose about gift giving? You ask well in advance, "What would you like for Christmas?"  And what do people do? They "um" and they "ah," and eventually, it comes down to "Oh, I don't know.  Anything from you is fine."  Well, in my book that's carte blanche to go out and buy you whatever I think you'll like. 

Then on Christmas morning, I'm all fired up, thinking that they're just going to love what I bought them.    Are they?  Oh hell, no.   The look of disappointment on their faces says it all.  And of course, I end up feeling guilty that I've completely ruined their Christmas, and vow that next year, it's going to be Denny's gift certificates all around.

Let's also not forget the office Christmas party, the social event of the year--the one occasion when everybody in the company, from the highest management to the lowest peon on the totem pole, gets together to spread good wishes to all.  It's more likely to end up with the company secretary and the mail room boy engaging in a little tongue wrestling in the supply closet.   Oh, and don't forget to bribe someone to sit naked on the photocopy machine and show their best attributes.

It used to be a sure-fire thing that somebody was going to end up in a fistfight (way to go! ),  but even that amount of fun seems to have gone out of parties in recent years.   Now they seem to have all the ambience and fun of Grandpa's wake.  Talk about putting a damper on the festive season!  I've had more fun watching pine needles fall off the Christmas tree. 

Now, I can understand that we all tend to go a little overboard with the Christmas sprit at this time of year, especially when it's mixed with tonic and a slice of lime.  Please remember, though, that Santa will not be picking your sorry butt out of the gutter if you decide to do an impression of Dean Martin at a Jack Daniels convention.

And in all seriousness, if you're intending to indulge in a little liquid libation over the holiday season, there's one very important thing to remember:  DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE.  First of all, it's just bloody stupid;  and second, in a worst-case scenario, you'll end up killing either yourself or some other poor soul, and it's really hard to buy gifts for you if you're dead.  So get smart--or better still, get a taxi.   (Alternately, you can just get so roaringly drunk that you end up paying homage to the porcelain god in your host's bathroom.  That's what I plan to do.  Friends, you have been warned.)

So have a safe and happy season.  And if you're thinking of buying me a gift, remember:  no ties, no socks--in a nutshell, no crap.

Happy Holidays.


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