It’s possible I may have mentioned this before but in any event it’s definitely worth repeating that the one thing a man should never, ever say to his wife at this time of year is: “Don’t worry, dear, it’ll all get done.”
Women hate it when men say that because, while they do know, deep down inside, that everything will indeed get done — eventually, as it is every year — it is they who will be doing the doing while their spouse is downstairs double checking the beer fridge to make sure it is stocked to his liking, or out in the shed admiring his tools, or tuning up his snowmobile or any one of a hundred other unimportant things that a man can dream up to avoid having to help decorate the tree, or any of the hundreds of other really important things that have to get done before Dec. 25.
Phew! After a sentence like that I’m pretty well shagged out, which is the way most of us will be when the big day does finally dawn, unless we make a concerted effort to reduce our stress levels to the point where they won’t bring on a complete mental collapse, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since old Dillon realized that it was his goat who was doing the talking.
The first step towards achieving a stress-free Christmas is to ask yourself one (two, if you want to get picky about it) simple question: Why am I doing this? And for whom?
If you can’t come up with a straightforward answer to that one (those two), chances are you’re getting all worked up about nothing.
Try to think it through rationally and don’t let yourself get sidetracked with inconsequential and irrelevant details, like whether you should have got cranberry jelly instead of cranberry sauce, or if the stockings are all hung by the chimney with care.
The thing to remember is that, in spite of all the running around you’ve been doing for the past few months preparing for the throngs of merrymakers and well-wishers you’re fully expecting to turn up on your doorstep, in actual fact, people just don’t drop by unannounced anymore.
They are far too busy trying to clean up their own houses on the off chance that you might pay them a visit, which is even less likely as long as you’re not going out in case any visitors of your own turn up while you’re gone, which isn’t in the cards because they’re waiting for you to drop by their place.
Basically, everyone is afraid to make the first move, which means that no one goes anywhere without prior approval, which isn’t going to change when there’s so much to do at home, both chore-wise and entertainment-wise.
So if nobody is coming, why are we all in such a panic?
Why bother with 35 different varieties of cookies if you’re going to end up eating them all yourself? Wouldn’t a box of Purity lemon cream biscuits and a few jam-jams suffice? And besides, you can always say that you’ve joined the “eat local” movement, which would also explain the bull’s eyes and peppermint nobs in the candy dishes.
And does the world really need another batch of fruitcakes?
Fruitcakes are a throwback to an earlier era when sugar was used to preserve certain foods, like fruit, which didn’t taste so good when salted or smoked over an open fire.
But fruitcakes have outlived their culinary raisin d’etre (excuse the pun, if you can call it one) and can be safely scratched off your “to do” list, which your guests — the few you might get — will no doubt count as a blessing.
Once again, this is not the Sermon on the Mount we’re talking about here. You will not be expected to feed the multitudes.
The same logic applies to house cleaning.
Have you ever checked under the rim of someone else’s toilet?
If so, you might want to seek counselling of some sort. My point is, though, that if you haven’t (stuck your head in the toilet bowl), which holds true for most normal people, what’s the point of scrubbing under your own? Who’s going to look? Particularly if they don’t show up to begin with. And even if they do inspect your bathroom, they’re hardly going to tell you about it, are they?
So that’s one less source of anxiety you needn’t concern yourself with. In fact, you can dispense with the housecleaning altogether. After all, the only ones who are going to notice the shine on your floor are the first ones in the door. After that, everything is going to be messed up again, as per usual — assuming, that is, that anyone drops in. Which they won’t. Unless you ask them. Which might not be such a bad idea. All things considered.
And so, over the next few days, lighten up and try to relax. It’ll all get done. Just like it does every year.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Tony Collins lives and writes in Gander.
He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His column returns Jan. 4.