The 10 commandments to survive Christmas (Part One)

Every year, the arrival of Christmas is an injection of happiness for many people and a source of stress and problems for many others.

If you belong to the second group, you’re in luck, because I have studied the 10 main focal points for Christmas worries, and I am going to try to give you a solution for surviving each and every one of them.

1. Drink water, my friend.

Particularly during dinners with people other than good friends. But especially during your company dinner.

Few people like the idea of spending a whole evening with their bosses, the colleagues they spend all day arguing with, etc. And, as it has happened to all of us at one point or another, just to make a bad situation even worse, we’re seated right next to the annoying bore. Putting up with him all night long without drinking a single drop of alcohol is very difficult and the temptation is great. But as the night goes on and everyone else gets more and more drunk, you’ll start to see the advantages:

  • From your privileged position, you’ll start to see movements which pass by unnoticed for the rest of the drunk people, and you’ll see how the boss does nothing but try to subtly move closer to the girl from Accounts, who in turn does nothing but look around for the intern, who has mysteriously disappeared with the new Admin girl, only to reappear fifteen minutes later with his shirt on back-to-front, etc. Who needs Big Brother when you can go to a company dinner and see it in real life?
  • As well as being like Big Brother, company dinners are also one big Game of Thrones set. Gossip like “did you know that Paco is going to be the new department manager because he stole four projects from Merce and now the director thinks he’s the bee’s knees?”, “I’ve just heard that Puri is leaving in January, because she’s been offered an amazing position with our competitor”, “And Pepe is going to get fired, he hasn’t been performing well for half a year and they don’t know what to do with him.” Believe me, you can get much more information out of a company dinner if you’re sober instead of drunk. And more importantly: you won’t be one of those people letting things slip that they shouldn’t.
  • And the most important thing of all: you won’t have to regret waking up beside a work colleague you’ll have to see for the rest of the year, barely remembering what you even did together. If you stay sober, you might wake up next to that person anyway, but at least you won’t be on the back foot.

2. You can’t multiply yourself or be in two places at once.

At Christmas time, everyone goes home and everyone wants to meet up for a coffee or a few beers to catch up and to remember old times. But you’ll be better off preparing yourself, from this very moment onwards, for the fact that it will be impossible to meet up with everyone and that you need to prioritize, because otherwise, the day will come when you realise that you’ve arranged to see three different people the same afternoon. And in the end, you’ll be so exhausted that you won’t enjoy any of it.

3. The past should stay in the past.

Another classic Christmas activity is the dinners with ex-classmates from school, ex-teammates from the basketball team, ex-friends from university, etc.

These dinners appeal to you much more; they’re your friends, you have really good memories of them, you love them and you want to see them! In theory, these should be the dinners where you have a really good time. In practice, it isn’t like that.

The nightmare starts on the day you’re added, along with thirty other people, to a WhatsApp group named “old classmates dinner”. You’re minding your own business at work, because it seems as if all your friends are on holiday, and when you look at your mobile, you suddenly have 728 unread messages: “Which day should we organise it?”, “I can’t meet for lunch that day”,  “I can’t meet for dinner that day”, “I have another dinner that day”, “I want to go somewhere cheap because I’m unemployed”, “I’m a vegan, we’ll need to look for a place where I can eat”, “But it needs to be near a car park because I’m coming from outside the area”, “But are we talking about meeting in December or in January?” And between each message, three WhatsApp memes.

Three days later (or, put another way, 2500 messages and 12 more WhatsApp memes later), you finally arrange to meet up. And the date chosen is the very one when the friend you most want to see can’t make it.

If after all that you still want to go, and you end up going, you’ll see that some things haven’t changed, such as the class bore who is still as much of a bore…and that other things have indeed changed; for example, the most fun girl in the class has become a boring housewife who does nothing but look at her mobile to see whether her kids have had a proper dinner, or the “lost cause” set up a company and now earns more in a month than you do in a year.

Remember this for next Christmas: if you don’t have any contact with them throughout the rest of the year, there’s a reason.

4. Father Christmas, the Three Wise Men, the invisible friend…

I would tell you that ideally you should think about and buy presents throughout the year, to avoid stress and a last-minute rush. But to say that at this stage would simply be rubbing salt in the wound.

Even so, however late it may be, try not to rush out to buy presents in all of a frenzy. Try to make a list of possible gifts to buy and try to tick them off as soon as possible. More than anything so that you don’t find yourself running around at the very last minute, trying to get through closed-off streets while you desperately try to find a shop that closes later than 8pm.  And because Spain is full of Spanish people with the mentality of leaving things until the last minute, just like you. And it’s very likely that if you leave your Christmas shopping too late that the presents you’re looking for will be out of stock.  Especially the ones you definitely wanted to buy all along.

5. Show me the money.

At Christmas time, the costs spiral out of control. And if you spend the money and have a good time…great. But the majority of the purchases we make are so unnecessary that we barely notice when we do it. Whether it’s new ornaments for the tree, a new table decoration, a little gift for that friend you haven’t seen in a long time, or one for another friend who isn’t actually really a friend but you don’t want her to get offended because you gave the other girl a present and not her…

Recycle. Get your nieces and nephews, who are bored at home during the holidays, to make the tree ornaments out of cardboard.

Give your friends a gift of a framed photo of a special moment of yours.  It will be cheaper for you and they are sure to be more pleased with it than the first piece of junk you find that doesn’t exceed your budget.

If every time you’re about to waste money unnecessarily you think twice and keep the money in a jar, when Christmas is over you’ll realise that you have enough money to pay for a spa session and forget all the stress which accumulated during the holidays.


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