I think we are heading for an historic, happiness-record-breaking Christmas season. No, seriously. It will start slightly early—Nov. 9, after The Event Which Must Not Be Named. A sudden urge to look at a bright shiny object will cause millions of Americans to shift their attention to anything else. And guess what that anything will be.
That’s right—a thoroughly over-the-top, schmaltzy, reality-defying holiday season. We won’t even care whether folks say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” since they won’t be saying “%$#^” or “*&@#.” In our urgency to shift the topic of public conversation, we won’t just move on, we’ll stampede away from the previous 45 weeks to the beat of “The Little Drummer Boy” sung by the Russian Army Chorus (which is quite good, in a creeptastic way).
We’ll be buying all those silly gifts the internet will mock, such as T-shirts with nothing written on them. We’ll string up excessive amounts of Chinese LEDs and choke down eggnog, which studies show is the worst thirst quencher, and we’ll pretend to enjoy it.
Doctors have discovered the last few moments of a medical procedure are how people judge the whole procedure, just like speakers know a great exit joke can offset a dreary presentation. We can use this brain hack to redeem a lamentable year to date.
While a group exercise in history denial might seem a little foolish, it could also look downright ingenious compared with the rampant illogic of the preceding months. This is not to say there won’t be some collateral damage. Pundit unemployment will skyrocket as the mere sight of talking heads will provoke a channel change to an old basketball game played when players’ shorts were actually short.
Pretending is nature’s first line of mental defense. A strong fantasy game will get you through PTA meetings, strategic planning retreats and most soccer games. I suggest it can salve our cultural wounds. It might take a few years, but that’s all the more reason to get started.
So here’s my plan:
· Spend an hour every day on Amazon looking for the perfect gifts for every person on your list. You need not actually buy anything, since everyone expects your usual Applebee’s gift card. This will, however, cause internet algorithms to fill your inbox and populate your Facebook feed with a cleansing flood of merchandise ads instead of vitriolic propaganda.
· Decorate something you never have before, such as your air-conditioner or batwing mower. I’m adorning our LP tank to resemble a traditional Victorian Christmas Submarine, for example.
· Learn the second verse of some Christmas carols. Better yet, make up your own. When you keep going after the first verse, it’s hilarious to watch fellow singers mumble incoherent syllables trying to join in. Alternatively, learn all the verses to one song. I suggest “Good King Wenceslas”—eight minutes of holiday entertainment.
· Lose the mistletoe. You do not want to go there this Christmas, believe me.
· Prepare fresh arguments to replace inadvertent slips into political quarrels. For example: Is it acceptable to use orange Halloween bulbs as replacements during Christmas? Are there really 2 trillion galaxies or has the number been juiced by astronomers who got bored after counting a few hundred thousand? Burl Ives—dead or alive?
· Ask old people about their favorite Christmas from back in the day. Be sure to have plenty of refreshing eggnog with you—or better yet, in you.
By my calculations, if we expend just 10% of the effort it took to get us all lathered up into the toxic hysteria that preceded Nov. 8, I’m certain we can similarly create a joyful Christmas season out of thin air. After all, it has been said there is no functional difference between being brave and pretending to be brave. If enough of us try, I bet we can make that apply to being happy.