Judge John Hodgman Episode 228: Feliz Gravitas

Paul F. Tompkins

Featuring Guest Bailiff Paul F. Tompkins! Siblings Rolland and Nyssa want to reboot the family Christmas. How should they go about it?

Go see Paul F. Tompkins live in LA at his monthly SPONTANEANATION shows in LA, or subscribe to his podcast in iTunes or right here.

And be sure to get your tickets to Judge Hodgman's ongoing Vacationland tour. This very week, he's in Chicago, Iowa City, Madison, Minneapolis, Toronto!

Thanks to Adi Heller for this week's case name!



Treat yo'self befo'e ya wreck yo'self!

A few years back our family started Treat Yourself Christmas, and boy, is it amazing! We spend the money we would spend on each other on ourselves. (At the time there were no children in the family. Now there is just my daughter who is 3 months old. Eventually we'll start getting her gifts, but it will be a reined in number.) There is no wrapping, no agonizing, no returning, no faking, no stress! This definitely makes you hate the rat race of other people's Christmas buying, but it makes things so much easier and enjoyable.

We still get together and have a nice dinner and share what we've purchased for ourselves. Perhaps this would be a nice medium for the family that is trying to cut down on clutter? I resisted the first year, but was totally on board when the next year came around!

Unfortunately, I have yet to convince my husband's family that this is the way to go.

Why not both?

The crux seems to be the length of this celebration. Why not use the movie as a solid end to the event? Invite everyone over, eat, limit one present per adult, and make everyone leave the house for a movie. After the movie everyone can go straight back to their respective homes.

These people do not deserve Christmas...

Not because they do not appreciate their family nor the fact that 90% of the joy of Christmas for adults without small children is tradition, but because they do not recognize that CAREERS IS THE BEST FAMILY BOARD GAME OF ALL TIME!!! Ugh...

A rough one

Boy this kind of a rough and sad listen. I could've used the Judge throwing the hammer down a bit harder. These people need to suck it up and spend time with your grandmother while you still can. You'll regret it when she's gone.

Have Yourself An Antisocial Christmas

The Judge is skilled at being diplomatic when litigants are being cluelessly selfish, but perhaps this was the occasion to be a bit more blunt -- especially when their answers evoked so many stunned guest bailiff guffaws.

Though one can only go on the little shared in the podcast, it seemed like the siblings were BOTH interested in antisocial outings; the brother was just more honest about it. She surely wanted to control the holiday party, but more tellingly -- by doing it all herself, in a shorter time frame. This would allow her to be completely busy from start to finish, and avoid a lot of familial interaction.

What stood out to me was that neither mentioned putting ANY effort into changing their grandmother's event to better suit them. Instead, they just want to give up on their grandmother's, mother's, and aunt's life-long tradition to do it all their way, everyone else be damned. There was no mention of bringing other games everyone might like more (in the age of a tabletop renaissance), or holiday movies to decrease conversation, no offers to help cook/plan the event to ease their grandmother's burden and change things up (from potluck, to shorter time frame, to a more structured/limited gift giving). They're not taking a cue from their father and going home after dinner, which is obviously allowed if they grew up doing it. They're not simply coming to the event later, after other in-law obligations/movie outings are filled.

They hint that there are issues with drinking, but the first part of the revised plan is cocktails. He says there are too many material gifts, but can only site a really useful gift he got from his sister.

Ultimately, there are many ways to improve the situation and appreciate a familial tradition that is in its final legs. But if they don't want it, they should just stay home, grinch out, and let everyone else party.

Book Christmas

We did book Christmas between the adults this year. Everyone buys everyone else either a book they think that person would enjoy, or even better a book they have enjoyed. Best X-mas I've had in ages.