The holidays can be a very stressful time of year, but with careful planning–and by being anyone but me–you can enjoy it without undue stress. Whether you’re cooking, traveling, shopping or performing other holiday related tasks, these tips will help you not screw up the holiday season.
1. Never underestimate the residual power of laxatives during holiday travel: Maybe this seems unusual to you, but I’m of the opinion I’m not the only one who has made this error before. I’ll explain. Back in college I was visiting an old boyfriend in North Carolina, and I was set to drive nine hours to middle Georgia on Christmas eve. I’d been taking medication that caused problems with the plumbing, so I took two laxatives the night before I left to help facilitate…er…the natural flow of things.
12 hours later and nothing happened, so I assumed they didn’t work. Not until I was driving through Georgia did I become overwhelmed by the urge to eliminate, but unhappily, I didn’t quite make it. I ended up having a small “accident” and had to drive the remainder of the trip sitting on a magazine, because I was too mortified to stop in public. Thank goodness it was only an Auto Trader.
2. Be careful and check the seasonings before you use them: My grandmother was the matriarch of the family, and we always spent Christmas at her house. She cooked a lavish dinner each year and prided herself on her amazing culinary prowess. Her favorite dish was the sage dressing, and she always waited impatiently for it to come out of the oven. One year she made a mistake and accidentally used oregano instead of another seasoning. BIG difference. The result was an interesting, spaghetti-flavored dish that tastes nothing like dressing. Granny was pissed.
3. Don’t re-gift unless you know what’s in the box: My aunt used to keep extra gifts on hand for when other people showed up unexpectedly, because there was always a straggler or two. One year, my uncle showed up with a new girlfriend, so my aunt had to sneak one of her emergency gifts and quickly wrap it. The girlfriend opened the gift and exclaimed, “Thank you so much for the beard trimmer. I LOVE it!” After a pregnant pause, my aunt made up a lie, but the damage was done. A for effort on the girlfriend’s part for playing it off, but a big FAIL for my aunt.
4. Have a fire extinguisher on hand (or at least common sense as a back-up): One year I decided to cook a nice holiday dinner for friends and family. I had almost 25 pounds of chicken baking in two large aluminum pans, but they were almost overflowing. As the chicken cooked, the grease began dripping down the sides onto the hot coils in the oven. The hissing sounds were menacing, but I assumed the grease would simply evaporate. WRONG. Suddenly, I heard a terrible “wooshing” sound and saw the bottom of the oven ablaze through the center window.
I panicked and compounded the woes by thoughtlessly throwing cornmeal and flour on the fire in an attempt to smother it. Moments later, I discovered just how combustible these two little starches are. That was it for the chicken, and the dinner guests had to content themselves with holiday pizzas.
5. Be careful with the Eggnog; you never know what it’s been spiked with: I went to a holiday party a few years back, and had the misfortune of encountering an old friend. I didn’t hang with her anymore, because her ultra-conservative nature and prudish behavior were annoying, and she was condescending. She hated going out and wouldn’t even indulge in a glass of wine. Even with heavy coaxing from our “heathen” friends.
She loved eggnog (virgin, of course) though, and at the party, she drank almost her weight in the stuff. I didn’t bother to tell her it had been spiked with Captain Morgan, because I thought it might loosen her up a little. About an hour after the party was in full swing, Miss Prissy Pants decided to entertain everyone. Face flushed and hair wild, she got up on a flimsy table and began dancing drunkenly. The table collapsed, and she ended up with a broken ankle, a nasty hangover the next day and the pleasure of hearing the story of what she’d forgotten from the night before. I narrated, of course.
There you have it, everyone. Five tips to help you navigate the holidays and come out fairly unscathed. Have any bizarre experiences to add to the list? Tell me in the comments.