Last year the Ministry of Christmas piloted a helpline to provide advice for distressed Christmasers. It was a massive success, and is being rolled out nationwide this year. Here are extracts from the transcripts of last December’s calls.
Q: Is it okay to call Christmas Xmas as a handy abbreviation?
A: Yes, but you must also call Christchurch Xchurch. (While you’re at it, why not Ytangi Day?)
Q: How long does the queue for the free present wrapping in the mall have to be before I might as well just wrap them myself?
A: People will go to almost any lengths to get something for free, but giving someone a mall-wrapped gift is like giving them malaria – it isn’t part of Christmas. People will be able to tell if you didn’t wrap the present yourself: it will sit under the tree, stinking like a dead bird in the letterbox. If that is the effect you’re after, by all means queue up.
Q: What is the best way to tell children Santa isn’t real?
A: Well, here at the Christmas Helpline our policy is that Santa is real.
Q: But he isn’t.
A: Well, that might be, but our policy is that he is.
Q: In that case you owe me $20.
Q: Yeah, sorry, but my policy is that you owe me $20.
A: Well, I’ll ask Santa to give it to you for Christmas.
Q: … Touché.
Q: Why do we have Christmas trees?
A: Bringing a tree inside is nearly the only remnant of a tradition where we used to bring all outside things – trees, animals, fences, dirt – inside, and take all inside things – the furniture, knick-knacks and wallpaper – outside. Eating a barbecue outside and peeing in the garden are the other remaining customs in this beautiful tradition.
Q: Should I make my own Christmas crackers?
A: Don’t be stupid. Where are you going to find a small enough rubber band to put around the hat and the joke? And don’t you know those jokes have been tested and tried, modified and honed year after year since 1963? Reactions are tested: a simple cringe won’t suffice – the joke must vacuum joy from the room. When combined with a hat so flimsy it rips if you think about it roughly, a novelty item with the power to redefine disappointment, and an explosive charge – well, if you think you can make something that awful yourself, be my guest, buddy.
Q: What is the perfect way to allocate time on Christmas Day?
A: 3% opening presents. 7% consoling children who liked other children’s better than their own. 12% cooking. 63% doing the dishes. 4% looking for gift tokens in the discarded wrapping paper. 22% eating. 23% wishing you hadn’t eaten so much.43% driving.
Q: What should I do with the Christmas tree after Christmas?
A: It’s important not to rush to take it down. You must wait until the ornaments lie smashed under the tree and the water stinks like a dead fish in a chillybin on a hot day in Rotorua. When it’s good and brown (Queen’s Birthday?), drag it outside to a corner of the section. Mow around it until you put your house on the market.
Q: Is it really Christmas already? Haven’t the decorations started too early?
A: For a few decades now Christmas has started earlier each year. In fact, the decorations you see now aren’t for this Christmas, they are for next Christmas. This Boxing Day shops will start advertising specials for Christmas 2017.
Q: What’s the only good Christmas joke?
A: It’s the one where Darth Vader goes. “Luke. I know what you’re getting for Christmas, Luke”, and Luke says, “How do you know that?”, and Darth replies, “I felt your presence, Luke.” But it only works if you do the voice and the breathing noises.