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The Darkside Of Christmas

The Darkside Of Christmas

By Graham Green

A wise old man once observed, "Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." The optimism is endearing, but it's also remarkably naive. For most of us, Christmas is a never-ending procession of guilt trips, drunken relatives and last-minute shopping excursions that makes the Gulf war look like a stroll along the beach.

As Christmas creeps ever nearer, it's time to take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly moments that await you this holiday season.

THE GOOD

Drunken office benders
Let's be honest: Under ordinary circumstances, your chances of scoring with the hot new secretary at work rank somewhere between "slim" and "none." But thanks to a little something called "The Office Party" and a little something else called "free alcohol," you're suddenly looking better than Tom Cruise at a Gay Pride Parade.

Mistletoe
Mistletoe gives even the hairiest Wookie the opportunity to enjoy a little Christmas snogging. Think of it as a kissing booth without the charge. Just beware of lurking aunts and drunken grandmothers.

Peeing your name on the beach
We all want to leave behind a legacy, and peeing your name in a freshly cleared pile of sand is the perfect way to say "Bob was here," or if you prefer, "Blue Bulls Suck." Only your imagination (and the fullness of your bladder) need limit your artistic expression.

Big-budget movies
It's a well-documented fact that Hollywood releases some of its best and worst movies during the Christmas season. This year, you can look forward to quite a selection once again.

THE BAD

Retail madness
For 11 months of the year, malls are safe, unassuming places full of mediocre Chinese food and seniors with pants pulled up to their nipples. And then arrives the weekend before Christmas. Everybody goes crazy and credit cards get maxed out within a matter of hours.

Having to return bad gifts you never wanted in the first place
As if having to brave crowded malls before Christmas wasn't bad enough, you also have to fight the masses afterward when you return unwanted gifts. Honestly, how many pairs of socks does one man really need?

Buying gifts for people you don't even like
Doling out cash for loved ones is one thing, but having to lay down R100 on a gift for your girlfriend's second cousin twice-removed is quite another. After all, isn't this the same schmuck who smells like a garbage scowl and picks his nose while talking to you?

TV repeats
We have nothing against TV re-runs. After all, we liked them the first time we saw them. We were even amused the second and third time we tuned in.

BUT, does anyone realise that SABC have been running the same movies over the festive season for the past 6 years? We ask of you...why do we let them get away with it every single year?

Furthermore, its bad enough they fill our viewscreens the rest of the year with all the good the ANC are doing for us, but do they really have to keep doing it during the festive season as well? We strongly doubt that it will get them more votes in the next elections.

Christmas charities
We have no problem donating money to worthy causes, but it seems like every year we get buried beneath an avalanche of new (and often dubious) charities. Sandwiches for Somalia? Hats for Haiti? Condoms for Zimbabwe? Who the hell are these people?

THE UGLY

Spending forced time with family
It's been said that "the best Christmas of all is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up with one another." Pardon us while we gag. The reality is that most people would rather listen to Michael Bolton while having their toenails pulled out than have to spend another night in with their relatives.

Cheesy Christmas albums
What is it about Jesus' birth that prompts boy bands and B-list celebrities to release uninspired Christmas LPs?

Having to assemble impossibly intricate gifts
Apart from "the check's in the mail" and "I'll respect you in the morning," there are few phrases as deliberately misleading as "some assembly required." Like it or not, you're guaranteed to be spending half the night piecing together a needlessly complicated gadget with the aid of screwdriver the size of your thumbnail and a manual written in Swahili.

New Year's Eve
In principle, New Year's Eve can be the most wonderful night of the year. After all, it's full of the promise of hope and fresh beginnings. You might want to keep that in mind when you find yourself kissing an open-mouth-breathing troglodyte once again at 12:01. Then again, what choice do you have? She is your mother.

Home-knitted Christmas sweaters
Your grandmother undoubtedly means well, but let's be honest: The old gal just hasn't been herself since the end of WWII. Unfortunately, that's little consolation when you have to wear yet another of her oddly misshapen handmade Christmas sweaters. It's bad enough that the top is wider than the bottom, but why does it have five arms?

bah, humbug

In the end, Christmas isn't a time or a season; it's a state of mind. And if your mind is relatively calm and stress-free, your odds of survival are infinitely improved. So even if the weather's bad, your date is ugly and you're good for nothing, there's no reason why you can't still have Christmas in your heart.

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