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Deck the halls with festive folly - how silly presents can relieve the Christmas grind


Whether it’s dressing the dilapidated Christmas tree or sending random gifts to your loved ones, ‘Tis the season to be jolly, writes Rebecca Levingston

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Righto it’s time to put up your Christmas tree.

Assemble with cheesy music, hang broken but sentimental baubles and wrap those fake branches in tinsel.

There are no rules. Your festive decorations can be over the top or minimalist. So long as they make you feel happy. Flick the switch and sing the carols because we need to find any opportunity to light up the world.

What the heck is going to happen this Christmas?

Is COVID going to creep over our borders? Will Omicron come to Christmas lunch? Will we all be asking Santa for a booster shot in our stockings? Should you book that holiday? What happens if you get stuck or sick? By the way, is everyone handshaking, hugging and kissing again?

You might have noticed, I have a few questions about this merry month. And I think I go in search of answers when I sleep. Well, after I read the entire Internet each night just prior to going to sleep.

Which brings me to bruxism. Teeth grinding. Just in case you haven’t been searching dental sites, bruxism is involuntary clenching, grinding and gnashing of the teeth that usually happens during sleep.

Last time I went to the dentist, she asked me if I grind my teeth. Sore jaw, sensitive molars, aching ears, what a delight to find a new dental dilemma. Open wide, she instructed while peering at the enamel on my teeth, making me shrink back into that beast of a chair.

Apparently about half the population grinds their teeth. One of the main causes is stress. Given the epidemic of COVID related anxiety, mouthguard sales should be skyrocketing.

According to Vic Health (and let’s be honest if there was a teeth grinding spike, it’d probably have been in Victoria) around 5% of people are regular, forceful tooth grinders. I bet it’s higher.

One of the more extreme treatments for bruxism is a procedure called a reductive coronoplasty. I can think of another situation where I’d like to use similar words. Fortunately, most people don’t need such serious treatment, just a little less stress.

Think you’re immune?

Stop reading right now – open your mouth – like an involuntary yawn – unclench your teeth and wiggle your jaw – did that help? If you feel any sense of relief, chances are you have some bonus bruxism to go with 2021. Merry Christmas.

Ah yes, back to the tree, the decorations, the weird family traditions.

When I was a kid, I once wrapped up a packet of cheese and onion chips for my dad. Don’t panic, that same year he gave me a hose reel. A couple of years ago I lovingly taped reindeer paper around a coconut for my son who was thrilled that Santa understood his Christmas letter.

I adore odd family gift traditions on any special occasion. Like Andy who gives his Dad a dead fish every year for Father’s Day.

I don’t have rules for the tree decorations but I do set a deliberately slow pace for present openings. Only one present can be ripped open at once.

Everyone must observe both the gift and and the giver. Mindful acknowledgement gives way to beautiful gratitude. Trust me, I gave a hairy tropical fruit to my child and it remains family legend.

Surprisingly, all I want for Christmas is no surprises. No new variants thanks, no shock lockdowns, no drama. This year I just want an afternoon nap.

And maybe a mouthguard.

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