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By CL Bledsoe

The winter holidays can be an ordeal. First off, there’s all the cooking and decorating, the expense of gifts, travelling in winter, seasonal depression, etcetera. These things can be wonderful experiences or onerous time-sucks, depending on circumstances. For a lot of people, the winter holidays mean having to travel to spend time with people they don’t really have anything in common with, maybe don’t even like, or have been scarred by. Or, if they eschew the ordeal, they get to feel guilty and weird. There’s just too much baggage for some of us to enjoy the holidays. So, we need to declutter.

But first, we have to determine what makes the holidays enjoyable and worthwhile. I’ve compiled a brief list to help, in no particular order:

1. Dessert.
Let’s not get territorial. Any dessert will do. We can debate about the merits of cake vs. pie, but let us not forget cookies. Or bars and brownies. Or even ice cream. The point is, we don’t need a massive feast. Of course, desserts can actually be some of the hardest things to bake. So, if you aren’t feeling the baking, have you seen Oreos? They’ve got like twenty different flavors.

2. Seeing loved ones but also not.
There’s a decent chance the only reason you or they are traveling is out of guilt. This sounds like a job for FaceTime! Also, winter is the worst time to travel. If your estranged sibling is flying in from Madeupistan, why not do it in the summer, or spring, when you can actually enjoy the trip and do some stuff together? Let’s just get away from this whole traveling in winter thing.

3. Sleeping in.
The big problem with Christmas is the whole getting-up-early-to-open-presents thing. Screw that. This is a holiday. We should be able to sleep till about 3 p.m., get up for something to drink and to use the bathroom, and then head back to bed for a nap.

But kids love getting up early to open presents. And kids, let’s face it, are the only reason we’re doing any of this. That’s why we need Christmas to be a 2-day holiday. Day one, just shut everything down while everyone catches up on some sleep and eats Oreos. Day two, get up early for presents and more Oreos. Win-win.

4. Not having to work.
This is a no-brainer, but the fact is, many people have to work on supposed holidays. In the U.S., we have Black Friday, which is the biggest shopping day of the year. It happens the day after Thanksgiving, with all sorts of sales on big-ticket items like electronics. Stores started opening earlier and earlier, with people camping out to be the first in line, until stores finally started opening on Thanksgiving. This means that low-wage workers have to work on Thanksgiving, one of only two holidays they used to be guaranteed off each year. It’s only a matter of time before stories open on Christmas for “last minute” deals. Some movie theaters are already open on Christmas. Again, this means some low-wage workers are having to work on what’s supposed to be a holiday for family. That stinks. We need a sacrosanct holiday where no one has to even leave the house. In fact, let’s have one a month.

Okay, so we’ve pared it down to the bare essentials. Some folks might want to argue to try to include a few things, but I can’t hear them because I’m typing this alone and they’re just muttering to their computer screens. It’s a harsh world sometimes. Of course, there are all sorts of other holiday traditions. I haven’t mentioned watching holiday movies, like Die Hard or Trading Places. Or the Thanksgiving tradition of sneaking out to get high with your cousins. The most important thing to keep in mind during the holidays is…um…hmm. Have we talked about Oreos? They’re really doing some amazing things.

CL Bledsoe is the author of sixteen books, most recently the poetry collection Trashcans in Love and the flash fiction collection Ray’s Sea World. His poems, stories, and nonfiction have been published in hundreds of journals and anthologies including New York Quarterly, The Cimarron Review, Contrary, Story South, and The Arkansas Review. He’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize fifteen times, Best of the Net three times, and has had two stories selected as Notable Stories of the Year by Story South‘s Million Writers Award. Originally from a rice and catfish farm in the Mississippi River Delta area of Arkansas, Bledsoe lives with his daughter in northern Virginia. He blogs at


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