The 12 Cranks of Christmas: A Holiday Tradition
Maybe it’s the pursuit of the perfect Christmas season that magnifies the frailties of human behaviour, to the point that anything that intrudes on that idealised image drives us spare.
Then again, maybe I’m a cranky old so-and-so.
Either way, the act of bringing friends and relatives together over the festive season can be a fraught experience emotionally, and if you ask around, there are some archetypal Christmas crackers who are sure to go off in your face at some point this holiday season.
1) THE SCHMALTZY CAROL LOVER
It may not be in the spirit of the season to say so, but there is a special place in Hell for Mariah Carey, and anyone associated with the recording of her Christmas hit All I Want for Christmas is You.
There are plenty of others that bang on about frosty weather, snow, sleigh bells and rampant consumerism, too.
Traditional Christmas Carols are fine, of course. Most of them are solemn and appropriate to the religious aspect of the festive season. Anything else is schmaltzy, snowy garbage.
2) THE CHRISTMAS DECORATION EXPLOSION
If your house is covered in inflatable decorations so large they pose an aviation risk if a high wind blows them lose, or if your natural Christmas tree is so large and laden with lights and plastic trinkets that your lounge room should be subject to a total fire ban on a hot day, you have committed the act of Christmas Decoration Explosion.
Sometimes, less is more. Ease up.
3) THE FOOD FORCER
You might tell your guests not to worry about bringing anything to your Christmas bash, but that does not stop the Food Forcer.
They’ll arrive with Pyrex dishes full of food that they like under the guise that they just wanted to help, that people might appreciate the added choice or that they didn’t think there was enough food last year. Yeah, thanks pal.
4) THE EMPTY HANDER
Having said that, your mum or dad probably drummed into you as a child that one should never go to someone’s house empty-handed.
It doesn’t have to be much – a bag of chips or a box of Cadbury Roses for the hosts is enough to say thank you for the invitation without becoming a Food Forcer.
Now, Christmas is a busy time. It’s easy to forget your packet of Samboys or bottle of Coke on the way to the festive barbecue. We’re not talking about one-off lapses here.
Just don’t be that guy that turns up every year, stuffs his face and contributes precisely zero, including conversation, while he’s there.
5) THE OVER-GIFTER
There’s nothing wrong with giving gifts generously, but ensuring that gift is appropriate is more important.
A friend was once witness to the horror on the faces of the parents of a six-year-old girl whose auntie bought the tot a full make-up case, complete with a selection of kabukis and a range of concealers.
The same aunt once gave a toddler a huge Casio keyboard with hundreds of pre-set sounds and drum beats that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a pub stage when Santa was delivering a Fisher Price keyboard the following week.
Have a think about whether your gifts are suitable and the impact they will have on someone else’s household.
6) THE UNDER-GIFTER
A Christmas gift offered with thought and love need not cost a lot of money.
Thought and love does not extend to recycled gifts complete with dust and a card written for someone else under the wrapping, old chocolate with that white, scaly stuff on the outside or out-of-date Macca’s vouchers.
Now you’ll really be surprised when you get that ironing board cover.
7) THE SELF-IMPORTANT PUSHER
People go nuts when it comes to Christmas shopping, and their fervour only gets more intense the closer to Christmas Day it gets.
This is no excuse for people to cut lines, steal car parking spaces and snatch items from the hands of other shoppers.
The season is about warmth and love and generosity of spirit. Steal the parking spot I was waiting for, and I’ll stove in your taillights with a cricket bat.
8) THE CHRISTMAS SPOILER
These are the kids for whom the magic of Santa has already been spoiled, and make it their mission to spoil it for your kids, too.
These little cherubs are hard to stop because they tend to be backed up by self-righteous parents who judge the parents of the victim for not being honest about such matters.
If you want to lay some truth on your rugrats, go for it.
But try to get them not to lay it on anyone else because we’re lot all humourless jerks.
9) THE IMPROMPTU CALLER
Invariably, a long-lost friend or relative phones while you’re de-gibleting a turkey or serving the lobster and king prawns to 31 of your closest friends and relatives.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to hear from those people, but their timing could be better. And so could their ability to listen and respond to social cues like, “Oh, my custard is boiling over”, “My guests have just arrived” or “The electric carving knife has just hacked into my left hand”.
You don’t need to chat while super-gluing together little William’s Apollo XI model, complete with working rockets. The burns alone will ruin the experience.
10) THE CHRISTMAS CONTROLLER
These types always try to set the rules for the Christmas gathering they’re not hosting.
“Let’s have a Kris Kringle and limit it to $5 each!”
“Yeah, seafood’s great but that doesn’t suit everyone (ie – me). Can’t we have a traditional roast dinner?”
“OK, Rachel – you bring the coleslaw and Greg, it’s up to you to make the chocolate mousse, and Jane – you can supply the bon bons because the ones that Jamie supplied last year sucked.”
You can’t have everything your own way. Just learn to play nicely with others.
11) THE DIETER
It’s Christmas. No-one cares about your paleo, your Atkins, your Sarah Wilson-inspired no sugar kick, or your objection to the smell of roasting meat.
If you can’t eat it, don’t. And bother the rest of us about it.
12) THE CLEAN-UP ISOLATIONIST
He’s the guy who gets up from the table, switches the telly on and stares blankly into the middle distance without lifting a finger to help clear the table or do the dishes after a huge day of preparation and cooking.
Worse, he engages with no-one during the clean-up process in case somebody notices he’s there and drafts him into action. Would it kill you to pick up the salt and pepper shakers or rinse out the gravy boat, mate?
All whinges aside, Christmas is a magical time of year. I hope yours if safe, happy and filled with family, friends and love.