The Twelve NOPEs of Christmas

By Leah BouRamia

The groans we emit when that first jerky radio station starts playing Dominick the Donkey every hour on the hour, isn’t just because we are all Scrooge-like killjoys. It’s because we can no longer harbor the illusion that the next two months will be fun. Now, some folks thrive on this energy. Others might consider this: Just say NOPE.

NOPE 1 of Christmas: Black Friday. My next door neighbor, Jen, is one of those nuts who stands outside in the freezing cold for hours at three or four big box stores every Black Friday. You know what I do on Black Friday? I mean, besides text her cruel pictures of my warm cozy house? Nothing. I do nothing, because it is not Christmas yet. It is the beginning of the Christmas season, by most cultural standards, sure. But the absolutely brutal competition and consumerist warfare that Black Friday brings, simply horrifies me. I went out there once, in 2007, I think. I went to Macy’s. In the spirit of goodwill toward men, I saw a wild-eyed lady actually shoulder-check an elderly woman into a purse display, and a fight breakout over a purple cashmere sweater. My response to this? Go home and have some wine.

NOPE 2: Christmas cards. In my community of yuppie parents, we take a sweater-clad family photo and embed them in cards we make on websites using laser-printing and modern fonts to show how hip we are. Except every year I try this, my two toddler boys decide that picture day is the perfect time to run wild, buck out of my arms, pick their noses, whine and be otherwise obnoxious. My sweet boys become monsters. It’s like they know. That camera pointed at them is like a cue: “Let’s get craaaazaaaay!!” So there I am struggling to find one picture that doesn’t look heinous, while my poor photographer attempts to actually photo shop together several pictures to make one in which we are all smiling and my mouth isn’t open mid-threat to my eldest – ‘YOU BETTER STOP IT MISTER!’ – between the pearly smile in the final picture. So then the cards arrive and sit in their box. Maybe I dash off about half of them to the people whose addresses I know by heart. You know, like five. Panic ensues around Hanukkah (my family celebrates both holidays) when I realize it’s mid-December and the pile of cards still taunts me. If I am really unlucky, two relatives will be at a function and realize only one received a card. Eugh. Just Skype grandma and call it a day. If the questions come, simply purse your lips, and scrunch your brows together in the international expression of “concern.” They’ll back off eventually.

NOPE 3: Christmas lights. I keep the icicles up all year, but they still look lame, as I try to access an outdoor outlet, which seems to move from year to year. I’m out there in the freezing cold some night after the kids are in bed, rummaging through the bushes for an outlet that has mysteriously shifted locations. Does anyone really care about the lights? Why add another expense to, arguably, the most expensive time of the year? Like the song says, “Turn out the lights….”

NOPE 4: Christmas parties. Gotta host something, right? How about a cookie party? A buffet? Cocktails? Desserts? Why does this feel so obligatory? Maybe in the 50s we were expected to go back and forth hosting one another, but the plethora of cheerful holiday parties starts to overwhelm even the jolliest among us. I mean…the tablecloths/ festive napkins, music, scented candles, wrapping paper, that strange electronic Santa and Mrs. Claus waving light bulb candles, plus the perfect menu, perfect cocktails, perfectly clean house. Here is an idea: a week in advance, tell your friends you will be hosting a Sunday supper. You will make a main dish and a dessert. They are welcome to bring a dish or a bottle of wine to share. If you have a Sinatra CD somewhere, go for it. Buy three loaves of good bread and some red wine. Call it a day. Some folks enjoy baking. So bake. If not, that’s what Whole Foods is for, folks. It is 2016, it’ll be ok if you buy the cookies. Magazine quality parties where you do all the things, and spend the majority of the night running around, sweating and apologizing. Yeah, no way.

NOPE 5: Visiting Santa with the kids while they cry on a strange dude’s knee.

NOPE 6: Work parties where 60 year-olds suddenly get in touch with their inner frat boy, and professional women lose their chill in front of the boss lady. So much for that raise.

NOPE 7: Those crappy cookies in the blue tin.

NOPE 8: Fruitcakes.

NOPE 9: Watching a holiday movie every damn night for six long weeks.

NOPE 10: Listening to holiday tunes exclusively at the office because that one older woman thinks it’s sweet. Sorry, Marjorie, time for a little Elton John. It’ll be ok.

NOPE 11: The pressure foisted on women to actually make or buy every single person they know a gift in the Land of Pinterest. My wonderful friends and I have all agreed, by the way, that none of us wants a damn thing. Seriously. Just stop.

NOPE 12: Guilt over not doing more. Let go. Come over and let’s hang out if you have a free night. Heck, let’s go for a drive and look at everyone else’s lights. And hey, folks, if you happen to see a woman looking confused in the bushes, it’s cool.

Wish her a Merry Christmas.