|"Surviving the cave christmas" from Lucia - a christmas story (2008)|
Plenty of people hate the HOLIDAYS, including many of my friends and me. But over the years we've learned to tap down the angst. And take Seneca's advice on how to celebrate Saturnalia: avoid crowds, eat, drink and be merry with a few old pals.
FOOD: In Finland it's luttefisk (cod cured in lye), baked ham and a bunch of side dishes that look like
baby food. In the US it's turkey with all the trimmings. Buck tradition. A couple I know in the US serve cold lobster, artichokes and champagne (or cava). Guests love to be invited.
PRESENTS: people go bananas and have a debt-hangover in January. Buy silly stuff and wrap it in an old newspaper (the Financial Times is pink and makes a pretty present). If the whole family gets together presents can be a big problem, if some cheap-out and others spend. In fact, obligatory gift giving is past its sell-by date. Kids are the exception. Do NOT give them electronic toys. Homemade wooden building blocks is a perfect gift for small children.
DECORATIONS: avoid anything fake. Pine Christmas trees, branches, fruit, even vegetables (red and green peppers). Americans spend billions lighting up the outside of their houses. Whole streets get in the act. If you're a hold-out you will be bullied into complying. Kids love decorating. It will keep them busy and out of your hair.
PARTIES: avoid stand-up parties packed with people. Impossible to talk or to hear. Hard to eat and to drink. Invite guests for a Christmas (or New Years) picnic. Try to find someone who plays the guitar and have a singalong of old favourites. Print out song sheets.
CHRISTMAS CARDS: don't send. Instead get in touch with postcards. Riikka and Eki sent me a 'Merry Birthday' hand-written postcard. I loved it and copied the idea.
CHRISTMAS CAROLS: mostly an English and American 19th-century tradition that goes on and on. Okay if you sing at orphanages or hospitals. Practice before preforming.
MUSIC: the best part of the holiday season. Especially classical. Or try to catch 'Cinderella' or 'The Nutcracker' ballets. Take the kids and give them a culture treat that's fun.
ESCAPE: this is a great solution. A family ski trip. Or park the kids with their grandparents and have a romantic couple of days away from the everyday. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. But keep it simple.
Sources: Financial Times Weekend, personal experience
Next Week: HELP: I'm a DIGI-Addict
Note: Merry Saturnalia!