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Festive feasts to turn jeers into cheers
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As the bells start jingling and the drums start pa-rum-pum-pumming, most importantly, everyone gets a-egg-nog-nogging (and inventing strange words to get in the festive mood).

Christmas is a still relatively new concept to this city and the true essence of the holiday is somewhat lost in translation. The smells of Christmas goodies are still missing, replaced instead by the stench of rampant marketing and commercialization; the sound of caroling and joyous praise drowned out by cash registers ringing.

Such cynicism is hardly limited to Shanghai - all round the world the original meaning of Christmas is being sold down the swanny in favor of money-making gift hampers and ostentatious gifts (nothing says the joy of giving quite like expensive jewelry).

It is hard not to be bitter. Reports show that the holiday season leads to great stress and increased depression for individuals having to cope with such debilitating conditions as Seasonal Affective Disorder and the Oh-God-I'm-Alone-Yet-Again syndrome. For those who do have a good time depression sets in when the first pile of bills come in.

Holiday survival tips entail that no one gets left alone. December 25 survivors should gather in groups to talk about fluffy, happy things, instead of whining about not seeing family or basking in the sun somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere. Copious amounts of alcohol can help to a degree, but if the company X'mas party has taught us anything it is that random coupling is a clear and present danger.

A big hearty meal is never amiss come mistletoe time. Christmas gluttony is a sin that can be absolved once the New Year celebrations are done and dusted, so feel free to tuck in to the myriad goodies that have somehow come to be associated with the season (and why not too? Turkey is infinitely preferable to bales of hay).

(Shanghai Daily December 21, 2007)

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