We hear a lot about Scrooge and the Grinch at this time of year.
But those famous fictional grouches lacked staying power. They eventually turned into Christmas cupcakes.
Don’t let that happen to you. If it is your sincere desire to ruin the holidays for everyone around you, those two are inadequate role models. What you need is a detailed set of guidelines for curdling the eggnog, so to speak.
Welcome to the ABCs of Bad Cheer.
Some people have an innate ability to suck all the joy out of this season. Others have to cultivate this skill.
But now, thanks to the ABCs of Bad Cheer, anyone yearning to be a December downer can step right up. Just follow these festive instructions and you won’t have to worry about being mistaken for the late Burl Ives or seeing Tiny Tim and Cindy Lou Who beaming up at you.
• Abuse alcohol: There’s no lump of coal in the stocking quite like the presence of a sloppy, surly drunk. Whether it’s embarrassing the whole family at a big party or privately terrorizing the household with a snoot-full of meanness, nothing drowns the seasonal mood quite like a liquored-up loser stewed to the gills on holiday spirits.
• Bash the Big Guy: Taking it upon yourself to tell other people’s young children certain things about Santa Claus can lead to tears, slammed doors and a big bag full of bad feelings.
• Crab about carols: Insisting that you don’t want to hear any Christmas music – ever – can bum out everyone in your orbit.
• Deck the halls with Georgia vs. East Carolina: Making yourself essentially unavailable to your family for a month by dedicating yourself to watching all 79 college football bowl games says something. And it’s not “fa la la la la.”
• Elf-sized heart: Be sure that you discount the possibility that even a fairly jaded person can unexpectedly and fleetingly be touched by Christmas magic in the form of an old song or a silly TV classic.
• Fruitcake faux pas: Loudly mocking a seasonal treat made by someone’s great-grandmother is an excellent shortcut to getting people to hate you.
• Gift recon: One way to totally demoralize a parent or spouse is to find a hidden present meant for you and then declare before December even arrives, “Hey, I see from a tour of your closet that you’re getting me that iPadPodBoy I asked for – thanks!”
• Humbug 2010: “You call that tinsel? Why, in my day, tinsel was made of lead and asbestos!”
• ’Tis the season for poinsettia paranoia: Why check the facts when rumor and hysteria are so much easier? The truth is that these plants probably won’t do in every child and pet within a six-mile radius. But that won’t stop some from screaming, “You’re going to kill Pookie!”
• Join in reindeer games: Too much rum in the eggnog again.
• Knock other people’s New Year’s resolutions: Admittedly, these seldom lead to lasting change. But you’re sure to depress friends and family members by saying things such as “Get in shape? You? Ahahahahaha.”
• Lights insanity: Turning the innocent idea of outdoor decorating into a feverish obsession or cutthroat competition is a seasonal version of too much of a good thing. Way too much.
• Mistletoe mauling: Saying “Hey, get me, I’m a TSA screener” won’t excuse you.
• “Nutcracker” humor overkill: A little goes a long way.
• Office party horror show: Most of these gatherings are no longer fueled by booze. But a powerful display of sucking up can still leave everyone feeling a bit woozy.
• “Peanuts” bashing: Heckling “A Charlie Brown Christmas” while others are straining to hear Linus recite the passage from Luke will endear you to no one.
• Quit referring to the holiday dinner as “Roast Beast” and stop putting toy soldiers in the tabletop Nativity scene: Unbeknownst to you, there are members of your family who enjoy these annual antics and interpret their discontinuation as a sign that you just don’t care anymore.
• Religious one-upmanship: One way to take the air out of a room at this time of year is to constantly remind anyone and everyone that, when it comes to Advent and the meaning of the season, no one is as holy and pious as you.
• Shopping sourpuss: Being a petulant whiner about having to select a couple of presents suggests that you believe you are the only person who is really busy right now.
• Tree wars: Getting all ugly and disagreeable about the whole Real vs. Fake debate can turn what ought to be a fun discussion into a cup o’ resentment.
• Unwrapping presents like a crazed rodent: Never mind that a certain loved one went to some trouble choosing that paper and making sure the folds came out perfectly even.
• Venting about the commercialization of Christmas (a corollary to “R”): Never letting five minutes pass without earnestly decrying the corruption of the celebration is an excellent way to remind everyone to not have any fun.
• Worrying as performance art: Yes, it’s vitally important to keep an eye on the money. An undisciplined spending spree could saddle your family with debt that will last much longer than the stuff you buy. You don’t want that. But at some point, constantly expressing anxiety about the bottom line transcends prudence.
• Xmas letters that embarrass your entire family: Not everyone thinks six pages of your comedy stylings make your Christmas cards merry and bright.
• Yule force the rest of your family to lose it: If you say one more time that you would rather spend two hours in the Airway Heights prison than in this mall.
• “Zuzu’s petals – bah!”: Telling a co-worker that she is a sap for liking “It’s a Wonderful Life” reminds some that every time a bell rings another jerk voices an opinion.