'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
AVOIDING CHRISTMAS STRESS
Well, it’s that time of year again. The Christmas season is upon us. (Doesn’t it seem like we celebrated Christmas only a couple of months ago? Is it just me, or is time flying by way too quickly?)
Christmas, of course, means different things to different people. Some people love the blinking red and green lights—except in Fort Collins, Colorado, where city leaders tried to ban red and green lights as a violation of the “separation of church and state.” I guess that stems from the Nativity story in the Bible, where Joseph hung up blinking red and green lights around the stable while Mary was giving birth.
For other people, especially children, Christmas is a time of anticipation, waiting to see what gifts Santa Claus will leave under the tree. As you may have heard, this year Santa is being encouraged to drop his trademark, “Ho, ho, ho!” in favor of a less offensive, “Ha, ha, ha!” This is because the word “ho” is now a slang term for prostitute, and is often used by young black rap singers (and old white radio personalities) to insult women. We can’t have Santa insulting the nation’s entire female population. However, his whole breaking-and-entering thing apparently is still acceptable.
For yet a different group of people, Christmas has become the season of non-stop stress. This group is made up of women who have children and/or husbands and/or in-laws. And the reason Christmas is so stressful is because these women are responsible for doing all the gift buying. I’m not sure why this responsibility falls onto their shoulders, but it might be due to the male instinct of “planned incompetence.” For example, most guys instinctively know to put a red tee-shirt in with a load of white laundry, which produces two things: pink underwear and a lifetime ban on ever doing laundry again—exactly what we were hoping for (the lifetime ban, I mean, not the pink underwear).
Most men have been asked at some point in their lives to help with Christmas shopping. The moment after Grandma peeled away the wrapping paper and said through her loose dentures, “A carton of beef jerky?!” the men received yet another lifetime ban—again, exactly as hoped for.
As usual, it’s up to the women to do all the Christmas shopping. Well, this year I want to help. I have a great idea to remove all the stress from Christmas gift-buying, not to mention the hurt feelings that often accompany gift-giving. (Let’s face it, when someone receives a $20 shirt as a gift from a person to whom they just gave a $200 iPod, it’s difficult to be jolly.)
So here’s my plan: when friends and relatives get together for the annual gift-giving festivities, make sure every person has a $100 bill in his or her pocket. Every time you greet someone say, “Merry Christmas! Here’s a little gift for you,” and hold out the $100 bill. Then the other person says the exact same thing and holds out his or her $100 bill. You exchange the money, give each other a hug, and move on to the next person.
Keep doing this all day long, and when the party is over, you can say to yourself, “I gave out $3700 in Christmas gifts this year. Boy, am I generous. And my friends and relatives gave me $3700 in Christmas gifts. Boy, aren’t they generous, too?” Then the day after Christmas, take your $100 bill to the mall—when everything is on sale—and buy yourself something nice.
It’s a foolproof plan—that only a fool could’ve thought of.
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