I recently had another one of those annoying talks with someone who informed me (within the first five minutes of conversation) that he grew up without a television. “I don’t know pop culture,” he said proudly. Sigh. Mozart was pop culture at one time. As was Shaw.
Yes Darling, it is the time of year for Grinches to come out of the woodwork. And before you enter into effective combat, you must first check that you yourself have no Grinchy tendencies. It is the time of year to ask: Are you kind or are you kind to those who have more money, power and position than you? Are you helpful or do you help and then expect effusive, public thanks? Are you a braggart? Are you dense? Are you self-centered?
A grinch is a person who sees the world only through their own ideals and experiences – if they do it, it is good. You can recognize them at a distance by the pinched look about their faces (as if their shoes are too tight) and the sniffs of disapproval at anyone having fun – if you meet any, please play K-pop versions of Christmas carols at them and keep them away from the alcohol. They don’t need or deserve it. Give them pieces of birdseed cake and tell them it’s the latest trend in hors d’oeuvres, vegan seed compote from Finland.
And never give a Grinch a present. If it’s not right for them, they will sniff and be condescending (“Oh, a Harrods hamper. How kind. I don’t know if I have space for it just now, Hortensia just gave me a Imperial hamper from F & M. Perhaps, if you don’t mind, I will hand it on to my dry cleaners.”) If it’s a nice present, they will lord it over other people (“Lunch? of course, let me just jot down a reminder with the lovely Montblanc Esmerelda gave me for Christmas. What did she give you? Nothing? Oh.”)
Give money in their name to an organization that is impeccable but they hate. Adopting an unattractive animal at a zoo is an excellent choice (scorpion, eel, vulture, sloth, etc.) as is making a donation to a cultural activity they despise (ballets, opera companies, symphonies) or training for Olympic sports they never watch (“Oh! You like SKIING! I thought you liked CURLING!” or “Oh! Well, you said you had such a nice time in Sweden, I thought you would be interested in Nordic Combined!.” This is especially useful for hard-core athletic Grinches: “Oh! Sorry! I thought Biathlon was the same as Triathlon! )
Pretend to not see any flagrant displays of status such as new medals (“Oh that’s a medal? How silly of me, I thought it was one of those tinfoil stars from Sainsburys that you put on to feel festive”), Rolls Royce (“Is that the new Honda Accord”?), pure-bred anyhings (“What a darling rat! I heard they are all the rage as pets this year! Oh! It’s a dog? Really? Oh. Is that’s it’s own tail? How sweet.), purses (“Did you get that on Black Friday at Target? My sister has the same one, only $14. Oh. It’s Dior? Oh. Sorry. Yes, it’s very chic.”) or watches (“How cute! That’s what I wore in middle school!”).
If they have to come to your Christmas party, tell two or three good friends to pretend they are deaf whenever the Grinch speaks (“What? Sorry, what did you say? You just got back from catching fleas? Oh. You were skiing. Where? Australia? I didn’t know they had good skiing. What? Oh. Switzerland.”)