There are many ways to get into the Christmas spirit: decorating the tree, hanging a wreath, baking sugar cookies, singing carols, and fainting at the sight of your credit card bill.
But there are lots of ways to get out of the Christmas spirit, too. Here are some of my favorites:
• Store Christmas displays starting the day after Halloween. Why not put out Valentine hearts filled with chocolates in December? Oh, wait ... they do.
• Black Friday begins at 6 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving because people are up all night doing dishes anyway. So dry the last plate, put away the last fork, grab your wallet and head for Walmart, where you can be trampled or hit with a stun-gun before breakfast and get a PlayStation 3 for 50 percent off. I don't shop on Black Friday; I stay home and hit myself in the head with a hammer. Sure, it hurts; but it's a lot safer than being at the mall.
• On Cyber Monday, people return to work after the Thanksgiving weekend to do their holiday shopping online (when the boss isn't looking). I don't shop on Cyber Monday, with its frozen screens, carpal tunnel, and bleary, red eyes from searching for bargains all day. I cyber-shop on Oh-No! Tuesday, the first Tuesday in November. That's when it hits me: Christmas is only six weeks away, and I haven't bought a single present! Once the packages arrive, I realize that what seemed super-cool at 2 a.m. on Oh-No! Tuesday is really stupid; plus, I don't remember ordering it. Also, I forget what I bought for whom and end up giving Doug a spa set with body butter and a loofa...for two years in a row.
•. The local post office, where everyone on Earth is mailing packages and Christmas cards at the same time; and where I have to go to send back most of what I ordered on Oh-No! Tuesday.
• Wrapping gifts. I've won the not-coveted Golden Scissors and Tape Award for being the world's worst gift-wrapper for 50 years running. I try; but I'm still terrible at it. Last year, I used up a roll of paper just trying to wrap a pair of earrings — and they weren't even dangles. The Christmas before that, Doug picked up three messy balls of paper, ribbon, and tape and tossed them into the fireplace ... before anyone opened them. In the winter of '05, I got lost under drifts of crumpled wrapping paper and smooshed ribbon. Doug tied one end of a rope around his waist and the other around a table leg so he could enter the room and rescue me. Once he'd yanked all the Scotch tape off my head, I was partially bald till mid-January.
• People who get upset when someone wishes them "Happy Holidays." It's good for 90 days — from Thanksgiving through Christmas, all the way to New Year's Day —- and includes holidays, like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, that also happen this time of year. It's not a war on Christmas; it's a salutation that covers the entire season while showing those other cultures and faiths that, not only are they included in our good wishes, but we respect their traditions and beliefs as well. So get over it; respond in kind; and move on.
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• People who say they finished their Christmas shopping in August. I don't care, and I don't want to hear about it. Bah, humbug.