The holidays are a time of joy and good cheer. They're also a time of unending crisis and an unrelenting cascade of tears.
Sometimes it feels like the entire universe has been saving up all the anguish in the world for December, when it unleashes everything it's got — from your mom's ridiculous facelift to your dad's 18 year-old-new girlfriend — on an unsuspecting you. But luckily there are three things in the world that can make this season much more bearable: Food and drinks. And I'm here to provide you with the perfect pairing for all those holiday moments you'd much rather forget but don't have enough Xanax for. (There just isn't enough Xanax in the world.)
Crisis: Your dad's new girlfriend—whom you hate because she is not your mom—has just announced she's pregnant. You are also pregnant and were planning to announce it at Christmas dinner. Now your announcement is ruined and if you mention it at Christmas, your dad will accuse you of trying to steal her spotlight again. AND, worst of all, you can't drink because, remember, pregnant.
Solution: The best way to get through this is to eat your way through an entire package of cookie dough. I know that someone somewhere once got salmonella from doing this, but I've been assured that cookie dough is now very, very safe (by the man at Safeway who sells me my cookie dough). The consistency of the dough will calm you and give you something to do with your mouth that isn't shrieking in a rage about how inappropriate your dad's choice of mate is and what the fuck was he even thinking with that goddamn toupee are you fucking kidding, dad???? and the sugar will give you a temporary feeling of elation. Pair that with a delicious cookie dough shake (cookie dough in a blender) and you're on your way to feeling better than fine.
Unfortunately, Bath and Body Works doesn't carry a cookie-scented candle (their closest is something that smells like a cross between red velvet and cinnamon buns), but their new Twisted Peppermint scent is nice and calming. Just don't get the spray, it's basically nerve gas.
Crisis: Your mom's new Botox looks weird and you don't want to say anything because she's been saving up for it for over a year, but she can't even talk right now because her face is in such a state of rigor mortis. Honestly, your dead grandma—RIP NANA—looked better in her casket.
Solution: Eat nothing. The less emphasis you place on food, the less likely you'll have to spend some uncomfortable time watching your mom attempt to eat a gingerbread man without using her lips or the lower half of your face. This holiday season is going to be all about drinking for you and you're going to have to drink hard. Start with something light (a shot of rum, perhaps?) and work your way up the alcohol ladder until you're able to look past the fact that your mom looks like a melting wax figure now, but she was also the only one who supported you when you chose to get a degree in liberal arts. It's probably going to take some vodka to get there, honestly.
Crisis: You're a newly turned vampire. You didn't even think shit like this existed anymore, but here we are, in the middle of Hanukkah and you a blood-sucking member of the undead. Thanks, PlentyOfFish! Thanks, a lot.
Solution: The most important thing is not to panic. Just because you're an unholy creature now doesn't mean you don't get to enjoy the holidays like the rest of us. Look, my bunny is the most evil thing that has ever existed upon this earth and even she gets Christmas presents.
I looked up some information on the dietary needs of vampires and besides that whole sucking blood thing, many credible sources on Yahoo Answers suggest that you can eat as much garlic as you want and even eat dairy, which is great because that means you can eat as much pizza as you want without gaining any weight!
You may want to avoid sunlight, though, according to someone who knows a vampire:
Yes, absolutely [Garlic has] no effect on them what so ever. Trust me, the vampire I know is Italian. Basically the only thing that could effect them from the myths is sunlight. Some real vampires have allergic reactions when in the sun too long.
So stay out of the sun, have a fucking pizza and drink a Bloody Mary. Thank whichever deity you're supposed to that you're not immortal and remember that people have to invite you into their homes now, you can't just waltz in anymore. If you're feeling festive, you can purchase blood-scented candles on Amazon or from this Tumblr user and Christian Witch who may or may not be using actual real blood. May want to check the legality of that out first.
Crisis: You have a case of hot farts and have to stay away from everyone for fear that you might accidentally gas a small child or ailing relative to death. Oh, you're also at your new boyfriend's house. Good times.
Solution: Don't hold the farts in and don't push them out. A wise man once told me that farts, if deferred, do not dry up like raisins in the sun but just disappear, so what you're going to want to do is breathe and time the intervals between traumatic gastrointestinal episode or go into the bathroom and try to fart it all out, which won't work, because it never does.
At this point there's nothing you're going to be able to do to save yourself. You're probably going to have to spend the evening in another room, hoping that no one will be able to smell anything if you're farting under a blanket (they will, way to fail physics in high school) and trying not to die of embarrassment.
Your best bet is to either try to calm the farts or, like Pinocchio, irritate the shit out of them so they turn into one mega-fart and that ends the entire conversation. Try the former first: Grab a couple of Tums and a packet of activated charcoal and wait it out for an hour. Don't drink beer, but clear alcohols such as Smirnoff and Tequila should be fine. Is there a peppermint schnapps in the house? Have one of those to soothe your nerves.
Didn't work? Of course not. So now you're going to have to go nuclear. Get a bottle of Tabasco sauce and drink five drops. Then, have a piece of cake and then another. Wait until you feel like you're going to birth a tiny alien from your stomach, go outside (into the hallway is fine, this is for your benefit; they'll be able to smell this in China regardless) and just let it go, let it go, don't hold it back anymore. Just know that, like Elsa, you'll likely be ostracized, if only for a little while. Have a glass of Everclear. You deserve it.
Crisis: Your entire family was killed right before Christmas and you were the girl that death left behind.
Solution: Stop living in a Lurlene McDaniel novel. Is this even a serious thing that might happen to someone? Why are you people fucking with my ability to give practical advice?
Crisis: You're at your partner's family's house and the entire thing is boring as all get-out because they're talking about cheesecake they ate once and also may not even be speaking the same language you are. Someone mentions something about buying you a sofa.
Solution: Is there a christmas tree with lights or another manner of festive holiday display? Are you in a wet or dry household? The answer to these questions will change the way you deal with this situation drastically.
If you are in a dry household eat holiday cookies and look at the pretty lights until you fall asleep. Hopefully you will be woken up when it is time to go home and your partner will defend you as "just being tired from the long trip." If there are no lights, eat cookies anyway. If there are no cookies, demand something with a carb in it. Do they have butter? Butter is a carb!
If you are in a wet household, drink until the pretty lights meld together and form one giant halo of beauty. If there are no pretty lights, drink until you see some. If your partner's family looks at you passing out below the Christmas tree in your underwear and whisper "alcohólico" at each other, that's just their way of inviting you to take another shot of their Costco brand whiskey. (At least that's why my partner told me.)
Crisis: You're 80 percent sure the dude you've been chatting with on OkCupid is actually four 12-year-olds using a fake profile.
Solution: You know those holiday displays at the grocery store? The ones that are full of cookies and pastries meant to symbolize the joy of the season? Buy one. No, not a box, an entire display...because nothing is going to make this better, baby bird. You were fooled by not one, not two, but four 12-year-olds and you've been chatting with them regularly. You may have sent nudes. How did you not figure all this out more quickly? Listen, If you're 80 percent sure, then you're 100 percent sure so now all that's left to do is eat yourself into an actual diabetic coma and hope that you come out of it by the time this dreaded season is over. What the fuck, OkCupid? What the fuck, humanity?
Crisis: Your tiny Jewish dad insists on wearing his newsboy cap everywhere.
Solution: This is not a crisis. Frankly, your father sounds adorable and you sound like an ungrateful monster, so maybe turn it down a few notches, lay off the drinking and light a Vanilla Bean Noel candle to remind you that this season is all about love and generosity, not shaming your dad for expressing himself.
If your crisis wasn't covered here or you have a non-holiday crisis you'd like a food, drink and candle pairing for, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Sad Sommelier."
Illustration by Tara Jacoby.