A Holiday How-To Guide to Avoid Becoming a Ho-Ho-Hosebag

By Jason Menard,

Too much of a good thing can ruin any experience. The celebration of the Christmas holidays can be saccharine enough by its very nature, but our more-is-better mentality can leave you feeling like you’re in a diabetic coma before the first gift gets unwrapped.

Today, at work, the cafeteria was decorated for the Christmas season. There’s a tree in the corner, garland abounds, and it’s a pre-winter wonderland. Now there is a reason, as we’re starting a charitable holiday drive, but regardless of the motivation, Nov. 15th is a little early to start getting in the festive mood.

So, without further ado, here are my rules so that you don’t become a Ho-Ho-Hosebag!

Indoor Christmas decorations: Dec. 1st is the first day that you should put them up. There are the odd exceptions, such as when Dec. 1st falls during the middle of a week, and you want to gather the whole family around to decorate the tree. Then you can extend to the latter parts of November, but that’s it.

Outdoor Christmas decorations: Again, Dec. 1st. Yes, you have the freedom to put them up in November, taking advantage of any of those particularly warm days that may crop up during the 11th month – and maybe you can even stretch that back until October. Keeping them up year-round? That’s bad form, but it can be forgivable – especially if you’re older or have an injury of some sort. However, no matter when you put them up, you must not flick the switch before Dec. 1st! There is no family rationale for flicking the switch before that date.

Christmas carols: For those of you who work in an office environment with Musak, or spend a bit of time in malls or grocery stores that subscribe to these canned-music feeds, you know that the festive music starts out slow – a song here and there, just enough to make you do a double-take to make sure what you actually heard what you thought you heard. By the middle of December, though, you’re so desperate that you’re actually hoping to have a Backstreet Boys song thrown into the loop! Again, Dec. 1st is the magic day, but take it easy on the rotation – you can get away with repeat plays of Feliz Navidad, but Madonna’s Santa Baby is enough to make you strangle yourself with tinsel after the second play. Which brings us to a related point.

The classics are classic for a reason: Leave them alone. We get it X-tina. You have a 7,000-octave range, but that doesn’t mean you need to warble and howl your way through Have Yourself a Merry, Merry Christmas. And speaking of Feliz Navidad, Celine, José Feliciano pretty much nailed it the first time – we really don’t need your interpretation. More of Elvis’ Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me and Bing Crosby and David Bowie’s Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy; less Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You and Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime. Which segues nicely into my next point, which is:

It’s called Happy Xmas (War is Over): It’s not called So this is Christmas or any other bastardization of the song’s title. And although it’s ostensibly a Christmas song, it’s really an anti-war anthem that just happened to be released during the holiday season in December 1971 as John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s gift to humanity. It’s a great song, yes, but not all that festive. It’s akin to watching people dance their booties off to U2’s Pride (In the Name of Love) – it’s about Martin Luther King’s assassination people. Hold off on the joyful revelry and moshing! And, although it’s a great song, Band Aid’s Do They Know it’s Christmas? falls into this same category.

Sometimes holiday classics come from unlikely sources: This may just be me, but I can’t get enough of Wham’s Last Christmas and Run DMC’s Christmas in Hollis. Yes, Bing’s arguably the king of holiday songs and there are a number of classics that have been around since the early part of the 20th century, but the next great holiday song could be just around the corner. The key is originality – don’t just remake an older song and put your spin on it. Chances are you’re never going to be able to match up to the original, not because of any limitations of your own voice, but rather because you can’t replicate the memories of holiday celebrations past that these songs convey.

Kitty sweaters: (And while they may not all have knitted kitties on them, you know to what I’m referring.) Yes they’re a holiday tradition – but not all holiday traditions are good ones. Like fruit cake, these gaudy articles of clothing should be kept in mothballs.

Christmas pageants: Enjoy them for what they are – horrendously awkward and off-tune expressions of our children’s love for us. So sit back and relish the opportunity to watch the diva-esque pre-teens who think they’re the next Beyoncés when, in actuality, they move like a quartet of out-of-sync Ed Grimleys. Try to be the first to spot the kid who smacks the classmate who forgets his or her line. And, most of all, remember that some things are so bad they’re good.

Secret Santa: Remember, Christmas is about the kids. You should be allowed to take an industrial-sized candy cane and whack the bejeezus out of a kid who ruins Santa’s secret identity for the others.

In the end, like anything, the holidays are best enjoyed in moderation. Too much of a good thing can ruin even the most festive of occasions. But with a little care, you can keep your hollies jolly all season long.

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