Cover Story: Try This on Dec. 25

10 unconventional ways to make merry

1. Go to your favorite dead person's grave. Put a ribbon or a bow on the marker. Take out a flask of your favorite Christmas cheer and toast the dearly beloved. It'll take mere minutes, and you'll feel more merry.

2. Visit downtown with 20 bucks in your pocket. Give it to the very first panhandler who approaches you. Don't worry about what she'll do with the money. It's Christmas.

It'll take mere minutes, and you'll both feel more merry.

3. Give someone the gift of one hour to do whatever he or she wants on Christmas Day. It can be a child, a spouse, a kid sister, an elderly uncle. If they feel like walking and talking with you, do that. If they want to cook something, sit and read, nap, receive a back rub, draw, tell jokes — make it happen. Baby-sit or drive or do whatever is necessary to accommodate it. Pick one person and give him or her an hour of whatever they want to do on Christmas. Sexual activity between consenting adults is, of course, a time-honored way to become merry. Or so I'm told by usually reliable sources.

4. Get over it already. How long has it been? Two weeks? A year? Two years? Ten? Call someone you've been angry at. Don't review the fight; just wish her a Merry Christmas. It might melt her heart. But even if it doesn't, you'll feel merry for trying. Maybe she'll get drunk and call you Dec. 31 to wish you a happy fucking New Year, and you can go back to feeling you were right all along.

5. Eat foods you've always wanted to try but never had the nerve, the time or the money. Have you always wondered what mincemeat pie tastes like? Is a tin of caviar just the thing to make you merry? How about an outrageously pricey cheese? Someday I'm going to have borscht. Just the name creeps me out: borscht. Sounds like a procedure. So I won't do it on Christmas, but you could.

6. Get high, go out in the night air and look up. Enjoy that a while. If you must, skip the getting high part; it still works.

7. Keep the TV off. This is a day for music.

8. Drop your anti-religious bias for a day. The story line is pretty cool, even if you believe it's merely a myth: The all-powerful Deity comes disguised as a baby in the middle of some poor-ass nowhere. Surprise! If you can muster the generosity, attend the religious service of someone else's choice — someone you love. Maybe he's always wanted to do midnight Mass but knew you'd just roll your eyes. Go. (See item No. 3 above). Don't let him see you roll your eyes.

9. Shuck off the consumerist agenda. Resolve only to give cards and gifts that you make — whether it's a poem, a painting, a schlocky homemade craft. Invest your time; people will value that even more than whatever you would have spent.

10. Go for the grand gesture. Bust the budget on that one special gift. Drive all day for just a few hours with those you love. Say words you've always secretly wanted to say. In the end, Christmas is what you make of it. ©

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