Dear Nicole: Is my girlfriend setting a Christmas trap?

Dear Nicole,

I am dating a girl and she wants me to bring over my favorite Christmas movie for a movie night. I’m a dude who has no favorite Christmas movie. Is this a trap? What do I bring?

— Christmas Movie Grinch

Let us do a brief analysis of some of your possibilities and what bringing each one says about you.

“A Christmas Story”: You’re a slightly retro and possibly an ironic person.

“It’s a Wonderful Life”: You’re a sap and possibly secretly depressed.

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”: You’re a man’s man.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas”: You’re a film buff who consults IMDB at least once a day.

“The Polar Express”: You like Tom Hanks movies. (And yes, that tells me everything I need to know about you.)

“Holiday In Handcuffs”: (Surprisingly an ABC Family movie.) This says “I want you to temporarily freak out while I tell you the title and just be relieved when it isn’t what you thought it was the rest of the night.”

“The Grinch”: A not very deep, overall safe choice. Not long, not religious, slightly cheesy.

“A Muppet Christmas Carol”: You were one to those kind of cool musical theater geeks in high school.

“The Holiday” or “Love Actually”: Unless you want to marry this woman, do not open this can of worms.

“Home Alone”: You’re a goofball in search of the truth. Also, you may still eat Lucky Charms in your pajamas some Saturday mornings.

So you can go 1) touching and deep to show her your sensitive side. 2) goofy and retro to have fun with the theme and not go too deep feelings-wise. or 3) go unusual/offbeat and hope it translates.

Please take this opportunity to see what she selects and what you think that says about her. Let me also take the opportunity to say, if anyone dumps you over your Christmas movie selection, good riddance. They would have dumped you later on for something equally frivolous.


Dear Nicole,

My husband and I have families that live an hour and a half apart. Because of this, every holiday requires us driving … a lot. Since it is possible, it’s like everyone expects us to do it. So we are supposed to have Christmas Eve at my in-laws and go to Christmas church services in the morning with them, then hit the road and be at my parents for lunch and present opening. My grandparents host dinner, but since my parents’ house is too small we have to go back to my in-laws to sleep then drive five hours home the next day. I return to work exhausted. How can I make sure our kids experience both families at Christmas without putting almost 1,000 miles on my car … and my family?

— Driving Us Crazy

I am exhausted just reading this! As your kids get older, they will become less and less enthused to be put in a cold car with blasting heat and driven all over the place. Instead, have alternating Christmases.

Scenario A: One year it’s your family, the next year your husband’s family. If required, get a hotel room near your parents’ house. Let yourselves chill out at a location for a couple days. You can even enjoy, say, a hotel pool or jumping on beds that aren’t yours, make it an adventure!

Scenario B: One year you do Crazy Travel, the next year you stay home. Last I checked, roads go in both directions and your family could make the journey to come see you if they wanted. (This is the schedule we follow and this year, it is our turn to stay put. And guess what? My family is coming to visit, something I honestly never thought they’d do!)

By setting a schedule, you are not making a new decision every year. You just communicate so everyone is clear what is happening and they, and you, plan accordingly.

Because you deserve to enjoy the holidays too and not just look at them through your rear-view window.


Dear Nicole,

I am a recovering alcoholic and this is a really tough time of year with holiday parties and boozy relatives. I don’t want to be a hermit, but how can I stay successfully sober?

— AA Annie

I have talked to one of my friends who is in AA precisely about how AA would propose tackling these very questions. His answers:

Go to AA meetings. Yes, the holidays are busy, but going to meetings keeps you on track. You don’t stop other self-care initiatives during the holidays such as eating healthy or exercising, so why stop this?

Bring your own drink to parties. Set yourself up for success by bringing something nonalcoholic but fun for you to sip on.

Let people know when you are having a hard time. Calling someone in AA, talking to your friends who know you are sober all help. Sitting alone in your house will not. Don’t isolate yourself.

Physically position yourself away from the alcohol. Obvious but worth noting.

Don’t put yourself in an annoying situation. Like if being the DD for your friends sounds like the opposite of a good time, don’t do it. You don’t deserve to punish yourself this time of year just because you aren’t boozing it up.

I applaud you for seeing a challenge ahead and preparing yourself for it. This is probably why you’ll have a great holiday season on all fronts. To your health!

Nicole Ouellette

Nicole Ouellette

When Nicole isn't giving advice she's completely unqualified to give, she runs an Internet marketing company in Bar Harbor, where she lives with her husband Derrick and their short dog Gidget. She loves young adult novels, cooking and talking French to anyone who'll talk back. [email protected]
Nicole Ouellette

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