Eaglie's Aviary

Friday, December 23, 2005

Due to my lack of ambition right now to work on a webpage for this (and since I'm cleaning house anyway on doasis.com, this will be up for your viewing pleasure here.

X-Mas Stratego

Welcome to winter, my friends! Of course by now, I’m sure you’ve all noticed the bundle of joy God left on our earth in the form of an icy blanket of death and negative windchill temperatures, killing defenseless flowers and trees. You might say, “But fall’s not over, God!” but God wouldn’t hear you: He’s too busy getting ready to be born, according to our Christian friends’ faith!

That’s where we’re left: Christmas. The only holiday where we feel more stress than from the regular college-level course final—taken in a room filled with sex-crazed parakeets and at least two cougars. Mostly this anxiety is because I have to give gifts back, and so I have to get ready to give them back, but I also worry that I may be giving a gift to someone that didn’t buy one for me, and I damn well can’t go and return the gift at that point, since the recipient must’ve seen it by now… all in all, it would be a crippling neurosis in any culture but our own. It’s a damn shame psychologists haven’t classified this as insurance coverable yet.

There’s a certain strategy to it all. It becomes war when it hits the holidays, and I hope you can sell enough war bonds to pay off those debts later. A single person is given many choices… you have your Christmas cards and your gifts. You could skip all of that and bring food, possibly a nice cake, to your target’s Christmas party, but if you do that, you’re probably an asshole.

Christmas cards are your skirmishers and light infantry. These brave paper scraps are there for when you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself. The card does work very well those for long-distance friendships and those obscure aunts and uncles who have not seen your child in the past ten years. Whoever you send the card to, they will likely not feel too bad (probably a little guilt, but not untreatable) they didn’t send you a card back. However, cards can lead to a false sense of security. You cannot counter a gift with a card, so if they send you a gift, BAM, you lose. You have to buy that person a New Year’s present.

Gifts are for the frontline. These grunts do most of the work, and they are the most strategically mind-numbing. There are so many different kinds of gifts—ranging from your plastic army men to your jeeps and tanks! Main thing is, you need to match your opponent’s firepower. The ultimate goal of this part of the war is to give a better gift than you receive and to not spend any more than your target. Equal price, cooler gift… got it?

The only exception to this rule is when you are a parent. If you’re seriously asking me whether this applies to your children (ages 21 and under), I will have to say, do you know your children are probably setting fire to the drapes (hopefully without them being wrapped around the dog) right now? Go attend to them, and tell your husband or wife to sign you up for some parenting classes! Oh, and go buy your kids an Xbox. That should keep them occupied and not poking the goldfish with forks.

Use a network of spies (i.e. spouses, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, mailmen, etc.) to get the best and most up-to-date information on This is where I remind you that, though it is cheating and unfair, war isn’t fair. Do your own reconnaissance! Make a surprise visit, perhaps when your opponent is at work, and happen upon that closet or backroom you’ve never seen before (twice, the last two Christmases). Valuable recon, as any general can tell you, will save a lot of mistakes and a lot on costly gifts.

In a prime example, the Soviet Union and the United States stopped speaking to each other when the US forgot to send a card in 1946. And every schoolchild knows one of the greatest strategic maneuvers in history was made by the giving of a great wooden horse to the Trojans. What isn’t mentioned in the story is that Troy brought a fruitcake and a bottle of wine to Agamemnon’s Christmas party. Troy was burnt to the ground.

War is hell, and so is gift-giving. So, back to my real message: Merry Christmas to all those in Iraq!