By Ted Gargiulo – I’ll be blunt. Christmas protocols irritate me. I dislike shopping. I don’t enjoy decking halls or sending cards. I can’t stand TV specials. In short, I resent doing anything this time of year simply because tradition says I’m supposed to. If my wife of 31 years didn’t cherish the holiday—and if I didn’t so cherish her—I’d probably be the meanest, loneliest curmudgeon on the planet.
Verily, LOVE is a major game-changer. Friends claim it turned me from an old man into an old woman. However, I must tell you that marital harmony, unlike love, doesn’t just happen. It takes commitment, sensitivity, personal sacrifice…and, if you’re as cantankerous as I am at Christmas, extraordinary patience. Here, then, are some of Ted’s Practical Pointers on how NOT to ruin the holidays for the special someone in your life.
Squelch the critic. Christmas isn’t a time for railing against the beliefs or customs of people you care about. Labor Day or Millard Fillmore’s birthday, they might cut you a little slack. But not Christmas. Feelings bruise so-o-o easily. Tread lightly.
Get with the program. Candor won’t win you points during the holidays. Trust me, nobody needs to know what you’re really thinking…unless it makes them really happy. Wanna do yourself and everyone else a colossal favor this Christmas? Save that depressing crap for next year. What people want from you now isn’t truth; it’s theater. Give it to them. You’ve got the next 11 months to be real.
Know the script. Be willing to relearn it as often as it’s revised. Play the part you’ve been assigned. Know what’s expected. Be intuitive to the hints the missus throws at you. You lose points anytime she has to prompt you. If you blow it, there’s no telling how many future Christmases it could take to make things right.
Avoid negativity. Say “Yes!” to everything. Be fun. Be creative. Bend over backwards. Leap off buildings and enjoy the ride. Spend money…LOTS of money. No matter what happens, don’t poop on your wife’s parade by squawking when your best efforts backfire. Because they might. Even after you’ve done everything humanly and inhumanly possible to make her holiday merry, there’s always a chance she’ll poop on your parade by saying, “It doesn’t feel like Christmas,” or “Why do I bother anymore?” Don’t let it throw you.
Keep the show going. Having your Leading Lady crap out before opening night is as much a part of Christmas as knocking over the tree, or spilling eggnog on her new carpet. She’ll recover; she always does. Just don’t YOU get grouchy, y’here? Stay in character! Pretend you don’t know the end from the beginning. Like any actor who’s done the same play 100 times, you gotta make every performance appear fresh. Nothing poisons the holiday magic faster than cynicism. Don’t be a smart-ass. Avoid lines like, “I told you so,” or “Here we go again!” Hang tough now. Lick your wounds later.
Finally … disappointment, like marital harmony, isn’t cheap. You must invest you entire self into this annual brouhaha. Remember, your Number One Fan is counting on you. Want peace in 2013? Then you’d better shine this Christmas! You’ll be glad you did. And so will she.