Holiday commandments: A get-real guide to surviving

I. When thou bakest the holiday goodies, treat thyself to some of the goodly ones and not just to the slightly burnt ones that ye would be too embarrassed to give unto others.

II. Yea, though ye walk through the mall on December 24, ye shall not buy any singing fish, nor any pull-my-finger gags, no matter how desperate thou art to find something for thy brother-in-law.

III. When thy child's school doth gear up for another fund-raising sale of holiday wrapping paper, think ye of the 37 unused rolls hiding in thy closet– and buy another five rolls as thou always doth.

IV. When I regift unto you, and it turns out to be something ye gave unto me, lo, these many years ago, just put it away to give unto me again next year. Have faith in this most venerable truth: I will never remember.

V. When I write the holiday newsletter and proclaim that I have been asked to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, refrain from recalling my memorable turn massacring "Like a Virgin" at the high school talent show.

VI. Nor will ye tie onto thy animals reindeer antlers or bells that do jingle. Thy husband, however, be fair game.

VII. Thou shalt not partake in the wearing of the matching mother-daughter outfits until someone figures out how to make the mother not looketh like a veritable idiot.

VIII. Thou shalt not wear holiday-theme sweaters. Verily, no Santas, Rudolphs, snowmen, nor elves. Especially elves.

IX. When thou deck the halls, I say unto you, the tinsel must be placed one strand at a time. Except when thy husband turns his back, then ye may throw it on in clumps and no shame shall be upon ye.

X. Thou shalt gain weight over the holidays. It is the way of all flesh. Get thee over it.

XI. I say unto you: No holiday decoration may be put up sooner than two weeks before the Great Day, and all must be taken down before the next Thanksgiving. Verily.

XII. When thee and thy husband agree not to exchange of the presents this year, hold this truth most dear: He really isn't going to giveth anything unto you.

Beth Levine's essays have appeared in Redbook, Woman's Day, Family Circle, the Chicago Tribune, USA Weekend, and Newsday. This one originally appeared in Good Housekeeping.