EST. May 2000 (AD)


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The Twelve Minutes of Christmas

By Elizabeth Hanes

Who has time for holidays anymore? And even if you did have time, would you really want to spend it with your surly children? Your alcoholic in-laws? Your toad of a husband?

Unfortunately, social mores still dictate that we do "something" for the holidays. But this needn't mean you must spend weeks, or even days, performing the traditional rituals of the season. In fact, in just twelve minutes, quicker than you can say "Merry Christmas!", you can have the whole season wrapped up and be on a plane for Barbados to pamper yourself throughout the remaining six days, eleven hours and 48 minutes of your Christmas vacation. (Note, this method can be easily adapted for the eight minutes of Chanukah or the seven minutes of Kwanzaa.)

Minute #1: Buy presents. Count up how many gifts you need and write the total on a piece of paper. Let's say it's "30." Point your browser to Click on "Books" in the left-hand menu. Order the first 30 books you come across. So what if Grandma winds up with "HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS"? Isn't she the one who always said, "It's not the gift, it's the thought that counts"? Then let her put her money where her teeth used to be.

Minute #2: Wrap the gifts. In your Amazon shopping cart, for each book, check the "Add gift-wrap/note" box.

Minute #3: Decorate. Unroll an entire box of aluminum foil. Fold in half lengthwise. Make a series of cuts every 1/4" from the edge towards the fold, ending 1/2" before the fold. Staple or tape these "icicles" along the top of the living room wall. Say "Merry Christmas."

Minute #4: Trim the tree. Place all lights, tinsel, construction paper chains, ornaments, and other traditional trimmings into a large box. Stand on a stepladder and pour the box contents over the top of the tree while someone rotates the tree on its trunk. Tie a Barbie doll to the top. If anyone objects, sneer at their taste and state cryptically, "If it's good enough for Martha, it's good enough for me."

Minute #5: Christmas letter. In your word processor, pull up last year's holiday letter. Change the date and the children's ages. No one reads those things, anyway, so no one will notice Larry had another liver transplant or Simone lost her front teeth over again.

Minute #6: Christmas cards. Announce your new commitment to the environment by mailing a single "chain" card. Include a copy of your Christmas card list and ask each recipient to cross off their own name before forwarding the card to the next recipient. Remind them to add fresh postage. Also remind them if anyone breaks the chain, they will be cursed for twelve days.

Minute #7: Go caroling. Crowd the family onto Junior's skateboard or Razor scooter, with Dad at the rear. Have dad push you down the sidewalk at breakneck speed, while the rest of you melodically scream "Deck the Halls" at your neighbors' houses on your way by. Watch out for the curb.

Minute #8: Cocktail party. Send email to all your business and social acquaintances, inviting them to a holiday cocktail party. With your husband posted at the back door, you greet party-goers at the front door, then direct them to the living room where one child will give them one hors d'ouevre and a pre-poured glass of wine in a festive plastic cup. Have another child guide them to the back door, where your husband will send them on their way with a hearty slap on the back and a "thanks for coming!"

Minute #9: Christmas dinner. Pick up the phone. Using your speed dialer, connect to Pizza Hut, Quang's Chinese X-Press, or other favored food delivery outlet. Schedule delivery. If anyone complains about not getting a traditional turkey or ham dinner, remind them "there are children starving in Africa" who would be happy to be dining on Moo Goo Gai Pan, no matter the season.

Minute #10: Stuff stockings. Retrieve uncommonly used items from the medicine cabinet and junk drawer. Cotton balls, dried out permanent markers, and outdated NyQuil all make excellent "stocking stuffers."

Minute #11: Open presents. Gather up all the gifts and send everyone outside into the frosty winter air without a coat. Drop the gifts in a big pile and say no one can come back indoors until all the gifts have been opened. Lock the door.

Minute #12: Volunteer for charity. Sneak up behind a Salvation Army bell ringer and push them to the ground. Wrest the bell from their hand while demanding that everyone within earshot to put money in the bucket, "or else." Continue for 60 seconds or until the mall policeman approaches. Drop the bell and run away. Feel good for "doing your part."

There you have it! You've accomplished all the requisite holiday activities in a minimal amount of time, thereby freeing up hours and hours to spend on the most important person on your holiday list: you.

©Elizabeth Hanes All Rights Reserved