The Secret Diary of Scrooge


November 27

Dear Diary: Bah! As the first signs of the dreaded holiday season appear, a dark gloom descends upon my soul.  Black Friday, indeed. Hoping to beat the hordes, I head to the mall at the crack of dawn to return the turkey platter I used for 20 minutes tops, only to find the dag-blasted place already swarming. Every century, I think the Christmas craziness is going to ease off, but it just keeps getting worse. Wish I could crawl into a cave and have somebody wake me when it’s Valentine’s Day, a holiday that at least holds the possibility of a cheap date.

November 30

Dear Diary: In an effort to escape the incessant Christmas music that seems to be playing everywhere, from PBS (“Adeste Fideles”) to the country station (“Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”), I turn in utter desperation to the hip-hop station, only to find rap rife with holiday humbug. Snoop Dogg’s “Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto”? “O Holy Night [expletive]”? Who knew? I am now wearing noise-canceling headphones at all times.

December 6

Dear Diary: Neighbors in an uproar because “someone” removed all the wreaths, garland, and fairy-light icicles from the porches on our block in the middle of the night. When the police ask if I saw anything, I have to say that yes, yes I did: My next-door neighbor’s nasty little boy did it. When they protest that he is barely tall enough to reach the bars of his crib, much less strip a dozen porch eaves of their decorations, I stick to my story, even when the little hellion started sobbing and clutching for his mommy. Ho ho ho.

December 11

Dear Diary: My executive assistant Bobbie Cratchit rushes out of the office in the middle of the afternoon today, mumbling something about candles and latkes. Okay, okay, I get it by now that I have to give Bobbie off on Christmas Day. And when she married someone of the Jewish faith a few years ago, she insisted I throw in the first night of Hanukkah. But now that she’s had a baby, she’s also making noises about Kwanzaa, saying she wants to teach her little girl about their African-American heritage. I point out that she already gets Christmas off, and tell her she has to pick between being Christian and being black. The only good thing to come out of this exchange is that I’m probably one of the very few people who’ve actually seen steam come out of someone’s ears.

December 19

Dear Diary: When a business acquaintance invites me for dinner, I go innocently enough, lured by the promise of free food. Foiled again by the Ghost of Christmas Right Here, Right Now, I have barely stuffed a few olives and a couple of roast beef sandwiches in my mouth when I find myself caught in the middle of a full-fledged holiday party. Women wearing hideous Christmas bulb earrings! Men in red and green plaid trousers! When a brazen hussy in velvet antlers lunges at me beneath the mistletoe, I bolt toward the door, stopping just long enough to grab back the wine I brought, along with some cookies for the road. But just my luck: Instead of secular chocolate chip, I get stuck with pfeffernusse.

December 20

Dear Diary: Up in the middle of the night with a pfeffernusse-related malady, accept a Facebook friend request from someone I think is my coal salesperson arranging for my annual delivery. Wrong: It’s the antlered woman, making some inane comment about my hotness.  Sick? Or insane? Only time will tell.

December 24

Dear Diary: Employees think they’re going to stretch this blasted holiday into something called a “four-day weekend,” a concept I think they invented just to torture me. When I demand that they work until 5 pm—a major concession on my part, IMHO (that’s text-talk for in my “humbug” opinion), since that leaves me here all alone to answer the phones and field the e-mail until midnight—they rebel by erecting an aluminum tree, holding a Secret Santa grab-bag, drinking Coke in glass bottles, and actually laughing out loud. Bobbie has the nerve to leave early, claiming her daughter is “sick.” I finally resort to barricading myself in my office, noise-canceling headphones clamped to my ears. Never mind, I’ll get my revenge in 2010, when Christmas is on a Saturday, and Kwanzaa, if it still exists, will be on a Sunday. Mwah, ha-ha.

December 25

Dear Diary: After a restless night, wake up to a strange brightness in my chamber. Snow!  Feel as close as I get to happy, and then remember: It’s the worst day of the year. And to make things even more terrifying, there’s a loud thwack against my window.  A snowball!

Creeping to the window in my nightshirt, I remove my nightcap and my headphones and peek through the curtains.  There in my driveway, I am astonished to see my new Facebook friend, Antler Woman, motioning me to let her in.

Is she going to try to convert me? Thrust a fruit cake into my mouth? Force me to drink a cinnamon latte? Doesn’t she know who I am?

But I am pleasantly surprised, upon opening the door, to discover that not only is Antler Woman not wearing her antlers, there’s no Christmas paraphernalia anywhere in sight. No wreath on the hood of her SUV, no sprig of holly pinned to her lapel, no beribboned gift in her hand. The only slight cause for alarm is the brown paper bag she thrusts toward me. “Pfeffernusse?” I ask, with trepidation. “Bagels,” she grins. I let out half my breath. “Jewish?” Her smile widens. “Hindu!” Namaste, baby!

It’s a match made in heaven. Or by Bobbie, more precisely, who thought we’d be perfect for each other and hosts us over for an un-Christmas dinner of California rolls, chicken biryani, and smoked salmon. Tomorrow we may go back for Kwanzaa—if we get out of bed on time, wink wink. I even hold Bobbie’s baby as she says her first words, “Merry Christmas, everyone,” though I refuse to join in myself. I have my image to uphold. Yours in humbuggery, Scrooge.



12 SEASONAL WEIGHT-LOSS TIPS We, or someone who looks an awful lot like us, often struggle through the holidays swearing that we’re not going to gain weight, only to greet the New Year five or eight or a dozen pounds heavier. This year, don’t let that happen. Make holiday temptation work for, rather than against, you.

  1. Chop down a tree and drag it out of the forest for maximum calorie burn, but then just leave it lying there for someone else to use.
  2. Don’t eat at holiday parties, but be sure to carry a festive hanky to catch the drool.
  3. To cut down on the calorie count of holiday drinks, skip the fattening filler and chug your booze straight from the bottle.
  4. Watch your weight and your budget by going to the mall at the busiest time, when you have to park a mile away and fight through the crowds, and then leave without actually shopping.
  5. Skip the latkes at the Hanukkah party and simply munch on a raw potato.
  6. Wrap gifts while holding them over your head.
  7. Instead of playing Santa this Christmas, make like the reindeer and prance while hauling a sleigh.
  8. Insist on decorating the entire house all by yourself this year. Burning extra calories while scoring guilt points is a win-win combination!
  9. Rather than baking Christmas cookies, roast Christmas carrots or grill Christmas peppers.
  10. That sneaky tradition of eating all the cookies the kids leave out for Santa? You’re just going to have to break their little hearts and tell them the truth: your waistline comes first.
  11. Instead of roast goose and mashed potatoes for Christmas dinner, serve a nice chicken Caesar, dressing on the side.
  12. For extra motivation, request that all clothing gifts be bought two sizes too small.


10 Recessionary Swaps To Make This Year
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and that includes the holidays.
Try making some of these swaps for your old over-indulgent favorites…and we’re only half kidding.

Shopping online so you’re not even sure what you’re buying or spending.
TRY: Shopping local, on foot, with cash: Keep it real!

INSTEAD OF: Baking dozens of elaborate holiday cookies for all the kids’ and charity events.
TRY: Go on a sugar-free diet right after Thanksgiving. Sorry, everyone.

INSTEAD OF: Decorating the house from stem to stern.
TRY: Trimming the hedges (yes, by yourself) and then using the cuttings to fashion wreaths and garland.

INSTEAD OF: Downloading lots of new holiday music.
TRY: We think they call it a radio.

INSTEAD OF: Hosting the annual neighborhood blowout.
TRY: Isn’t it somebody else’s turn?

INSTEAD OF: Wrapping all your presents in your trademark elaborate style with hand-printed paper and real silk ribbon.
TRY: We heard Santa’s back in town…and he doesn’t wrap.

INSTEAD OF: Generous cash gifts for children, nieces, and nephews.
TRY: Regifting those losing stocks.

INSTEAD OF: Turkey feast for 18 friends and family.
TRY: 18-piece bucket of KFC.

INSTEAD OF: Post-Christmas trip to the islands or the ski slopes.
TRY: Post-Christmas trip to the stores to swap all those pricey sweaters for two on sale.

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