I always learn something new around holiday season. Last year it was "leaving your Hanukkah candles in front of your turbo-jet heater will not only blow them out, it may end up causing your rug to catch on fire."
The year before that, it was "always know your audience before you make a joke about Jesus" (My favorite? Jesus walks into a hotel with 2 planks of wood and some nails. He says to the receptionist, "can you put me up for the night?").
This year it was all about holiday parties. As a Jewish Communal Professional, and the husband of a liberated, working lady, I attended many holiday parties. Some where cheesy, JCC-based affairs where kids drew horribly on their own faces to win oily treats. Others were formal dinners for day schools, who tried valiantly to convince their parents and donors that everything was ok while we ignored the asbestos dropping out of the ceiling and into our salads. I'm totally sending Child there - he needs immunities, and we're supposed to expose him to stuff like chickenpox. Asbestos is the same thing, right? Just like mercury, and lead, and whatnot?
But in other settings, "holiday party" is a euphemism for "Christmas party." Don't patronize me, Christian coworkers. If I'm going to a party with a gigantic pine tree shoved into the corner of a living room, and there are stockings on the mantel, and red and green tissue paper strung up all over the place, and fat bearded guys in Coca-Cola red ho-ho-ho-ing over the Ipod, then even I know it's Christmas time.
Here then, are some lessons I learned while attending Wife's office "holiday that celebrates Christian traditions and Jesus" party:
- if you're going to make jokes about Christmas creep, don't wear a kippah.
- if you're going to wear a kippah, don't go around demanding gifts in Jesus' honor. "What, I'm Jewish, he was Jewish, we're like the same person!" doesn't work. Even if you've grown out a beard, and are wearing a robe and sandals. Even if you made your own crown of thorns. If you turn water into wine, then you should at least get first crack at the Christmas tree cookies.
- Don't refer to the holiday as Xmas. It's weak. And it makes baby Jesus cry.
- Tell funny stories about your spouse to her/his coworkers, but not the one about how she stripped her way through PT school. Because some people will remember that gem through their drunken haze, and will ask her about it at work. Which segues nicely to...
- Don't be the first one at the party to get drunk.
- Don't be the first person to take your pants off.
- Don't be the first person to suggest swirling some Ecstacy into the punch and "letting nature take its sexy, sexy course."
- Always hold on to the car keys. That way, no matter what you do, even if you get locked out of the house, you can sleep in the car.
- Don't compare male PTs to nurses. They don't appreciate that.
- Don't compare male nurses to dainty ladies. They have no problem hurting you in front of your spouse.
- Always thank the host. Especially if she's your spouse's boss. And she was nice enough to help you retrieve your pants from the bushes out front.
- If there is a Yankee swap, hold off on loudly mocking the scarf that looks like it was knitted by a blind arthritic thumbless freak. It was probably made by a coworker.
- If you don't like what your spouse ended up with at the end of Yankee swap, don't challenge the male nurse to a wrestling match for the Barnes & Noble gift card. You will lose.
- If you do take your pants off, remember to wear underwear. Ideally not a leopard print thong.
I found these lessons to be useful. If you feel they will ruin your good time, feel free to ignore them. Just remember: flowers can only make up for so much. Ignore enough of those rules, and you may have to shell out for jewelry. Maybe even real gold.
A quick update on the No Fear Player of 2008 - Old Rambling Man made a good case (albeit not in the Comments) for honoring Congress, but I don't like handing out awards to multiple people - trophies are expensive, and I'm trying to save up for some real jewelry for Wife so I don't have to sleep in the car anymore.
So your No Fear Player of 2008 is... Sarah Palin! I have to say, I'm giving this to her in honor of her becoming a grandma, and also because I appreciate her efforts in setting back the Republican Party a good 12 years. So thanks, Sarah! Good luck with the whole Alaska thing.