I don’t know about you…but sometimes the holidays stress me out.
Sure, last month I made the vow to switch things up a bit this year for the holidays, transitioning from stressed to blessed.
But let’s be honest. Even in a “perfect” world, that would be a tall order… let alone trying to mesh that vision with the craziness that is the life of an Army spouse.
One of my coping mechanisms for stress is humor. (Usually this is a good thing… usually.) Last year, I shared some “Humorous Holiday Hacks” here at Army Wife Network. Apparently, they were well received. (That or people were desperate for a laugh.)
Either way, I have been asked to expand on my “hacks” from last year, adding some fresh ones to the mix.
As mentioned in the post from last Christmas, these hacks aren’t guaranteed to make your holiday season easier… but I can almost promise you that if you kick them into motion, you WILL be more entertained. (I can’t say the same for those people around you. Sorry, spouses/neighbors/strangers on the street.)
Proceed at your own risk. And enjoy!
1. *Sigh.* Every year, I struggle to get my beloved husband on board with holiday enthusiasm. Family! Fun! Decorating! All the things! My hubby responds to my requests with a heavy sigh, muttering something at the ceiling and slowly sliding out of his recliner after my umpteenth request, which at this point is now classified as nagging. How can I get him fired up to celebrate?
Hack: Oh girl, you are doing it all wrong! Our men don’t speak our language—most of them speak man (#Beer #Sports #Sleep) or they speak Army. I recommend you re-frame your approach and set the holiday shenanigans up like a mission.
Cut an ‘OpOrder’ when it comes to Christmas Day timeline. Construct a terrain model to map out how you want the things decorated. Don’t go “Christmas shopping.” Do “Gift Recon.” Feed the man an MRE for breakfast if you have to. (I have heard that the cheese tortellini ones are delicious. But be sure to trade and get M&Ms for dessert.) Throw in random ‘Army-esque’ words into your conversations, like “roger” and “copy” and “wilco.” Come up with holiday call signs for one another, like ‘SF Santa’ or ‘Ranger Rudolph’ or ‘Infantry-Ice-Man’.
Oh, and one more thing. It will never hurt to randomly say AMERICA after all completed holiday tasks, especially within earshot of your now-motivated holiday-loving husband. Taking the ham out of the oven? AMERICA! Wrapping the final present? AMERICA! Getting out of Target for under $100? AMERICA! (Actually, I recommend you implement that last one year round…) Do all of these things and when the New Year rolls around, you can both lean back, relax, high five and say “EndEx, RTB!” (End of Exercise, Return to Base.)
2. What is it about the holidays and needing new attire every single year? Decking our halls is expensive as it is—how am I supposed to deck our family out in style too?
Hack: Easy fix…just get creative. I recommend you invest in an ugly Christmas sweater and plan on wearing it six out of seven days a week from November 1 to Jan 1. It is a hypothetical scientific fact that 98.73% of all holiday gatherings are themed as “Ugly Sweater.” The other small percentage of holiday events will take place outside, which means you will be wearing a coat, so who really cares what you wear.
Don’t freak out if you check out “ugly” sweaters at Goodwill, and, like me, realize they cost at least $30, which is more than you would pay for a “normal” semi-attractive sweater. Make your own ugly sweater with holiday-ish stuff lying around the house. Better yet, have your kids help. I mean come on—thread, needles, hot glue, holiday trinkets and tiny humans… Sounds like a recipe for success, plus some memories you will never forget. What could go wrong? After all, the doctors working in the ER need Christmas cheer too (and not to mention some good stories to tell.)
3. My kids have so much “stuff” already. I really don’t want to buy them ALL. THE. THINGS. How can I still give them a memorable Christmas without them nicknaming me “Mama Grinch?”
Hack: Okay, this one will take some strategizing. First, it depends on how old and/or smart your kids are. If they are still young, like preschoolers or below, you can probably do some switcheroos with the toys that Great Aunt Charlotte bought them at their last birthday. Because an accordion or wood burning kit for a 2-year-old was just a terrible life decision. Re-wrap it and give it as new, if they are now a little more age-ready. Or pull out some of the toys you use on a rotational basis that they have forgotten about, slap a bow on there and go to town. (“Don’t worry about the bite marks on the ear of the Ms. Foo-Foo doll, Emily. It just means she’s ‘vintage.’ It’s a thing these days. The interweb said so.”)
Better yet, just give them random stuff in wrapping paper—because smaller kids just love destroying things anyway, and the wrapping paper demolition is usually the best part.
If you have medium to older little humans in your house, do some swaps with their friends and neighbors, trading them for the toys/gifts they play with at each other’s house and are constantly harassing, I mean lovingly petitioning, you for.
“Mom, this tablet is just like my friend Jimmy’s!”
“Well honey, you said you wanted one just like his for Christmas.”
“But it has all the same apps, his wallpaper and even his Apple ID.”
“Oh son, that is because we wanted to give you only the best. We are all about the real deal here, darling.”
4. I swear. If I get ‘voluntold’ to attend another Christmas party or event, I am going to lose my mind. I don’t think punching people in the throat says “Merry Christmas,” but I am about at my limit. How can I suffer through these without creating more stress in my life?
Hack: Just don’t go. See? That was easy.
Okay, maybe it’s not so easy. Have a believable, and often true, standby excuse readily available. “We just want to spend more time as a family.” (Um, yes please.) “Our kid is just getting over a cold.” (This is likely to be true 87% of the time, especially if you have multiple children and they spend more than 60 seconds in public per week. Because I personally believe that school or daycare is mostly just kids licking doorknobs and sharing germs.)
If you aren’t feeling those excuses, use one of my all-time favorites: “We can’t make it because we are volunteering at the soup kitchen/church/helping the less fortunate.” (Disclaimer: I wouldn’t recommend lying about this one. Because you will get busted. You should actually do this and volunteer. It’s way better than attending another party when you eat too much and have to listen to that annoying neighbor talk about his latest bunion issue. But, I digress.)
If you just can’t bear to say no, bring a tray of Wal-Mart cookies and show up. This is honestly pretty easy because you will already be wearing your Christmas sweater. (See Hack #2)
5. Help! My circle of friends just decided on the spot to go Christmas caroling around the neighborhood! I hate singing and can’t carry a tune in a bucket. I think I am breaking out into hives! What can I do?
Hack: First, don’t panic. Feel free to engage any of the above excuses in Hack #4. Or be all philanthropic and hostess-y, offering to stay behind and “whip up” some refreshments while they are out bringing joy to all the world with their voices.
If that doesn’t fly, put your coat on over the Christmas sweater you are already wearing, plaster a smile on your face and fake it till you make it. I have heard that mouthing the word “watermelon” makes you look like you are actually singing the words to any song, from Jingle Bell Rock to Pour Some Sugar on Me.
I might also recommend that you strike up a Hunger Games-like alliance with another anti-singer in the group, so you can both take solidarity in the fact that neither of you are singing. That way, you can stand by each other mouthing the word “watermelon” with complete reassurance that you will not be ratted out.
Finally, I always recommend keeping a small set of jingle bells, a shaker or tambourine in the console of your car so you can “play” instead of sing. But, be sure to clarify to the group that you need to focus solely on the “playing” of your instrument, so you don’t have to sing at all. (I just hope you have SOME level of rhythm, or it will get awkward in a hurry.)
See friends? All of these hacks are easier than ditching a fruit cake on December 26th.
Dear readers—which “Hack” is your favorite? What hacks would you add to the list? I always love to hear feedback—join in and leave a comment here.
Oh. And I pray you have a memorable and oh-so-humorous holiday season this year!