Mitì Vigliero Lami


It is undeniable that, every year more and more, the approaching of December 25 may cause in many of us what we could define in code CPS, the Christmas Phobic Syndrome.
The fault is probably of the general situation in which we live, soaked with an anxious sense of precariousness and repressed anger. The point is that the CPS doesn't take care of at all about the religious aspect of Christmas time, but instead it merely focus itself, with unconscious irritation, on the practical and consumerist aspect of the so-called "celebrations."

The typical symptoms start showing up gradually. Usually everything starts with an accusatory glance at the calendar ("What? Is it already December?"), and it becomes worse when we notice the first decoration lights hanging upon the streets ("What a waste of electrical energy!"), or even worse when we see the first decorations in the shops ("Ooh, I have to think about gifts..."), being more and more caught by an uncontrollable desire to turn the counters of the big malls full of statuettes for the Nativity and also to play bull's-eye with the hung up coloured little balls on the firs.

Passing the days and approaching the prophetic date, the people affect by the CPS become more and more gloomy, thinking continually, in a way not kind at all, about accursed consumerism, about hypocrisy of the good feeling once a year, and thinking, with increasing uneasiness, about the incumbent numbers of invitations, visits, wishes, gifts, lunches and relatives. To avoid bigger crisis of those expected, here are many suggestions to survive without too many traumas, and respecting the etiquette for the typical Great Christmas Manages:

Wishes: some people says that it is useless to do wish for someone you never see or call during the rest of the year; others affirm instead that after all it is a beautiful event to contact them again. Do as you want and in whatever way (phone calls, Christmas cards, e-mails, avoiding SMS if you are over 18 years) always remembering that an unexpected wish will be undoubtedly appreciate by the person who receives it, and it could also be a first step to solve little and stupid misunderstandings or to connect again forgotten relationships. Just if you want to, it is obvious! Only one rule: even if sometimes it could be a bother, you always should reciprocate the received wishes.

Gifts: every year we say out loud to the world: "Next Christmas, I will start buying gifts by September. It is cleverer, I can do things with more calm, it is cheaper etc." In fact every year, the 24th of December at 5 p.m. we will find ourselves again there to fight in crowded stores and with no merchandise, desperately looking for something to buy, with the result to give every year absurd and wrong presents like the perfume to the mother-in-law when we know very well that she is allergic to perfumes, the lighter to the uncle that has stopped smoking six months before because of possibility of heart attacks, a Barbie toy the little cousin who is by now 27 years old. Then, to avoid blunder and wastes of money, it is better perhaps aiming at simple things which will surely appreciate like books, prepaid "coupons" to spend to records or movies stores, plants, and very pleasant groceries, considering that nobody has lost the habit to eat yet.

Children: one of the typical sentences often said in this period of the year is "it is beautiful celebrating Christmas only it there are children in the house". It is probably true, considering that, at the moment, they are perhaps the only ones to be immune from the Christmas Phobic Syndrome. For this reason, we should not ruin this event, above all they are little children and still believe in tales. Instead we should share with them the magic atmosphere of the waiting preparing together the sweetened water and the two biscuits that will feed, according to the cases, the little donkey and Little Child Jesus or the reindeers and Santa Clause. If after the lunch they have to recite standing on the chair the Christmasl poetry (the only moment of the party abolished by children), we will try to make the ceremony the briefest as possible, avoiding to make repeat what the children said many times and trying not to joke too much with them. After all, adults imposed to children to learn poetry by heart, while the little children have the true Christmas poetry in their eyes.

Topics: at least during Christmas day we should not talk about money, business, affairs, ended friendships. We should banish political discussions, we should not bother others with personal issues and, to not draw other people in the darkest discouragement, try to shun accurate descriptions of catastrophes or illnesses of various kind. Even if the Christmas spent in family is inevitably often an occasion to remember with melancholy and affection who is not with us anymore, it is necessary however to try to avoid that the meeting turns him into a funeral vigil. And if the humour is very bad and the Christmas Phobic Syndrome is at the peak, it would be better then to kindly decline the festive invitations; after all this is notoriously a period of fever, colds, sore throats...

Relatives & Co.: the motto "Christmas with yours Easter with who you want" is one of the main reason of the many attacks CPS. There are people who fall in depression because of the loneliness that is stronger in those days, and others for which the arrival of the Christmas regularly coincides with the arrival of relatives who live far away, to spend the Christmas time together. They stay at your home and often at other people's houses living like in tents. Letting herds of uncles, brothers-in-law and cousins stay under the same roof, if you do not own a castle with 40 rooms and 40 bathrooms, can be funny and amusing even once, but it doesn't have to be in a "tax" forced for anybody. Then, if you do not really have the strength to stand this situation, saying a kind but firm "no" to numerous invasions is not sin. Then, what have the hotels been invented for?

Lunch: in some areas, it is preferred the dinner on Christmas' Eve (December 24th); in others, people prefer the Christmas Day "big" lunch at midday. However, the banquet is usually organized by mothers and grandmothers that would be offended to death if not everybody in the family, relatives acquired included, don't get together to their house: "But why don't you come to my house? You have always come there, I care very much about it, now it is a tradition... No, I do not want to go to the restaurant with you, I won't come there: I would rather stay at home by myself!". They are the same angelic matriarches that, the prophetic day, observing with grim eye their relatives sat around the table, don't touch any food and stay in religious silence through the all lunch; finally, as soon as possible and shouting so that all hear what they are saying, they phone their best friend with the excuse wish Happy Christmas: "I am exhausted (sigh), I made raviolis by myself for sixteen people (big sigh). Yes, I know that I could have bought them and I would have got less tired, but what do you want me to do (super sigh)... And seeing that all of my relatives are here this year (super sigh)... They take it for granted that they can come to celebrate at my house... (extra sigh)... But they don't see that I'm growing older and that, for once, even a beautiful restaurant... (final wheeze)". Ethic, a good restaurant booked at least about twenty days before Christmas will solve in the best way the problem, and who doesn't want to go at the restaurant, worse for them. Otherwise if the family is composed by many numerous groups, it is better to eat at one's house. Then, you can get together in the afternoon to exchange gifts, eat sweets and biscuits, play bingo and more.

Scuffles: they are often inevitable as well as are the last stadium of the Christmas Phobic Syndrome. You reach the prophetic date so stressed-out and nervous that you wake in the morning and things go already in the wrong direction, hating family, friends, telephone, having the desire to jump on the wrapped boxes or to set the tree on fire. The offensive official opening usually happens at the end of the lunch, more of all if you are with those relatives who you do never see during the rest of the year. These are good occasions to speak about affairs, hereditary divisions, to bring up childish jealousies, grudges or simply waking up quarrels and arguments of various nature. In lack of distant relatives, they quarrel with their children who want to go out with their friends or engaged, and demand the united family at least that day, with the partner who feel blue and ruins the party to others, with the cat that has decided to start sleeping stretched out in the centre of the crib. For this reason Agatha Christie wrote "Christmas is the right day for a homicide"; in reality, Christmas scuffles are straw fires which are already part of the tradition. By December 27th you may have forgotten, at least until the next Christmas day.

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