I’ve never made out with anyone underneath mistletoe.
To be fair, if I’m at a friend’s home I’m not going to attack his wife because she happened to walk by the mistletoe plant on her way to the kitchen. Or sprig. Or whatever the hell mistletoe is. Nobody knows. What I do know is that it’s never helped me get over with the ladies. In the past I’ve even brought a tube of lip plumper to these parties, and taped it up next to the mistletoe so women can get their lips right for a kiss. I’m nothing if not thoughtful. But this column isn’t about me and my problems. It’s about yours. We got so many damn issues on this one topic, Allison Arnone and I are doing a part II next week. We started this advice column several months ago, and each time we do it we get more and more entries. It’s very much appreciated, and we respectfully bow to you. Now, go endure your family for the next week. It will be difficult, sure, but hey, your folks still load you up with some decent presents, and you’re thirty-seven years old. Just grin and bear it when mom starts in on your weight. Happy holidays!
I am broke as a joke. Possibly broker than a joke. How can I stay fabulous during the holiday season on a budget??? – Farishta
Allison – I feel you, girl. The holidays are an INSANELY expensive time of year and I’ve decided that the person I should be buying lavish Christmas presents for is…well, me. For every gift I bought a family member, I bought myself two. I then decided I wanted to get outta Dodge for New Year’s Eve so I booked a trip to Miami with my girlfriends (spoiler alert: that wasn’t cheap). I THEN BACKED INTO A LIGHT POLE IN A PARKING GARAGE AND HAD TO PAY $500 WORTH OF DAMAGES ON MY CAR. This all happened this month, so, yeah. I’m feeling very Kristen Wiig circa Bridesmaids/”Help Me I’m Poor” right now. My suggestion? MAKE everyone’s gifts this year. You know, like arts and crafts stuff. When I was in elementary school and made macaroni art my Grandmother seemed to really like it, so who’s to say she wouldn’t now?
D.J. – I’ve had a number of failed relationships over the years, but I’ve always been successful at gift giving. You could call me the Ted Williams of gift giving, except he hit .400 and I’m batting 1.000. So lace up your cleats and get ready to take the field. I’m your batting coach. Allison is right. The trick is to make something instead of shelling out the black AMEX for the tennis bracelet that never goes on sale at Tiffany. I’ve bought a million broads jewelry, but nothing is more exciting to them than saying, “I made this for you.” Even if it’s a huge piece of garbage. Head to JoAnn and buy some yarn. Watch a cross-stitch video on YouTube. 300 hours later you’ll have this objet d’art. Total cost – $.17.
My family and significant other don’t like each other, so we all aren’t getting together. I feel guilty, what do I do? – Chiaseeds
Allison – I first read this question as “My significant other and I don’t like each other” which is way worse, so at least you have that going for you? Without knowing the circumstances it’s bit difficult to give my opinion or a thoughtful response, but I’ll try. If your family and S.O. don’t get along and it’s to the degree that a fight is going to break out while you’re enjoying your pork loin or whatever, then don’t risk it. The holidays are many things to many people, but they should NEVER be filled with tumultuous fighting, tension or aggression. JESUS WOULD BE SO PISSED IF Y’ALL FOUGHT ON THIS BIRTHDAY. On the other hand, if you guys can all suck it up and pretend to like each other for one day, maybe that’d be nice? The holidays are all about togetherness and bonding, even if you’re all faking it.
D.J. – On my first day ever of therapy, I asked my shrink how to fix my problems. She said, “That’s not what therapy is for.” When I asked why I was spending $140 an hour, she revealed, “My job is to help teach you how to cope with tough feelings.” Because I’m like Jessie Owens when it comes to tough feelings – I run. I’ve dated some women with awful families too, but you know what? You show up for the holidays, anyway. And you cope with the craziness of your partner’s family. It’s a wonderful opportunity to stretch the muscles of acceptance. You just remember to set some boundaries along the way – e.g. “Honey, if your father throws another empty whiskey bottle through the sliding patio door, we’re leaving.”
My husband can’t seem to make a damned decision (23 years now!) On whether he wants a repeat of Thanksgiving Dinner for Christmas Dinner or if he wants ham. WTH?!? It’s meat! Pick one! So, this year I’m going to let YOU decide what we will have! Turkey or ham? And don’t forget the side dishes! Or the breads! Or the desserts! Thanks for taking this decision out of his hands (and brain) this year and planning our dinner for us. – Chris
Allison – OH GOD THIS IS A LOT OF PRESSURE. Of course I have to make this difficult and say: neither. Doing Thanksgiving dinner AGAIN on Christmas — a mere ONE month later — is a bummer and a half. Two back to back holidays with the same damn tryptophan-filled gobbling turkey meat is lame. Know what else is lame? HAM. I mean, ham is FINE — it’s fine! It’s just that I think you guys can do better. I’m Italian so gluttonous binge-eating is super important, so I’ll share with you what Mama A is making this year: stuffed shells, filet mignon and a HUGE antipasto. Now that’s a dinner. Step ya game up, Chris.
D.J. – This is such a great opportunity to blow everyone’s mind. This year you do halibut. Nothing but halibut. If someone says, “But I don’t eat fish!” point them to the shrimp tray sitting in the living room. If they have an allergy to shellfish, you hand them a plain bagel and some lox. Then, during dinner start reading from health journals about the importance of fatty acids in diet. Pause every few sentences until someone acknowledges your cooking as being consistent with recent heart studies. For side dishes, more halibut. We all know that grains are the devil, so you’ll serve no bread. For dessert, freeze some halibut into the plastic ice cube trays and call them “Fish Pops.” And here’s the best news of all – you and your husband will never again be asked to host a holiday meal!
I’m in a group secret santa and I got paired with someone that recently pissed me off. Do I get a bad gift, not spend the minimum amount, or suck it up and be in the spirit? – Anonymous
Allison – Now, now — let’s not be petty here. Just because this person wronged you doesn’t mean you have to get them a bad gift. How about getting them a nice book? Everyone likes books, right? Here, I’ll even find one for you. Ooh, perfect!
D.J. – The best revenge is a dish served cold – like gazpacho soup. But don’t actually buy gazpacho soup because it’s a terrible present. Here’s what to do. You’re going to spend the appropriate amount and get your person a decent gift. But then you’re going to fart all over it. Eat nothing but pinto beans and cooked cabbage for 48 hours. Each time you feel the need to destroy the air, grab the not-yet-wrapped gift and explode all over it. Wipe the front of your privates all over it too (if you have stinky privates). Then wrap it up with the nice paper and ribbons. For extra cruelty, a few days after the gift exchange casually ask the co-worker, “How’s my present? It’s the shit, no?” Then laugh and high-five yourself!
My biggest problem with the specific holidays of Christmas and New Years is everyone’s feigned interest in “wrapping things up for the year” at work which is just office speak for passing the buck and pretending that you are doing your job. Truth is, if you did your job then the end of the year wouldn’t be a time a crunch to get everything done. Bums. – Matt
Allison – Did you have a specific question, or…? Listen, Matt, you sound like a real blast to be around (you’re probably a real bitchin time at parties, amirite?) but the truth is, most people are procrastinators. Most people are cruising along on autopilot for 11 months out of the year and then realize on December 1st: OH SHIT, I HAVE TO HIT MY SALES NUMBER! I have to make sure I met and exceeded all those goals my boss laid out for me in January! Is it too late to start actually CARING about this job?!?!
Look, people tend to cram 12 months of work into 4 short weeks and that’s just the way it is. We can’t all be overachievers like you.
D.J. – Hi Matt, it sounds like you’re in middle management. To which I say, you must continue to strive and edge out the competition until you rise the ranks to a board position within the company. Ever meet a board member? They only come into the office three times a year. They stay for an hour in a closed-door meeting and then eat an expensive meal on the company dime. Before dusk they jump into their private jet back to their home state of Colorado (board members love to ski). They’re never stressed, always smiling, and have their clothes custom made. And you know what they don’t complain about? Underlings. So there it is – you see your carrot. Run for it, Matt. Run fast.
I’ve been dating someone for almost a year now and we talked about spending Christmas together. Great, except this means having to determine where to spend it since our families don’t live close. I hate to miss Christmas with my family, and he feels the same way. What do we do? – Conflicted
Allison – I’ve been single for three years and one of the few perks of Singlehood is not worrying about ANYTHING like this anymore. My parents know I’m a surefire guarantee to be at their house for every holiday, probably forever. That said, I GET this question. I love spending holidays with my fam and have this obnoxious view that no guy I meet could EVER have a family that tops mine, especially in the holiday department. I ALSO have a codependent mother who is horrified at the thought of me not being at the kiddie table around on holidays. For that reason, she always tells me to find and date a Jewish guy or an orphan. AN “ORPHAN.” Those were her exact words. Now, since it sounds like ditching your dude for a nice Hanukkah-celebrating-gefilte-fish-eating gentleman isn’t an option, you gotta turn to the C-word I hate. No, not that one. The other one.
Maybe you’re with his family this year and then yours the next. Maybe you play rock-paper-scissor to decide. Either way it sucks being away from your people, so seriously…maybe consider dropping your guy and finding one that’s family-less?
Orphans make great boyfriends, according to my mother.
D.J. – To make this really simple, you choose the family with the better house. Having a lot of square footage is important because that means you can escape to another wing after you’ve had enough of in-law nonsense. Aside from determining who has the bigger home, it’s critical to check out bedsheet quality. Knowing the thread count and fabric will help you make an informed decision. The cable package of each family should also be researched. Lastly, does one family have an extra Italian sports car that you can take out and do parking-lot-donuts to blow off steam? Oh, and if one family puts a lock on the liquor cabinet, do NOT choose that house.