The holidays are a time of love and giving, but not necessarily of honesty. In fact, when home for the holidays, it’s often expected that we refrain from telling the whole truth for the sake of playing into seasonal fairy tales and staying civil with our more disagreeable loved ones. The following are some of the most common white lies most all of us have probably been guilty of telling around this time of year.
SANTA IS REAL
Part of the magic of Christmas for young children is believing that an immortal bearded fat man — not their parents — is the one placing toys under the tree on Christmas Eve night. With all the strange details of flying reindeer and North Pole-dwelling elves, the tall tale about Santa Claus can add a lot to the seasonal wonder for kids from 3 to 4 up to age 8, when their belief in Santa typically drops off.
THE ELF ON THE SHELF MOVES ITSELF
Another part of the Santa Claus myth that’s become more common in recent years is the “Elf on the Shelf,” stemming from a 2005 children’s book of the same name. Essentially, parents place an elf doll in various locations throughout their home, convincing children they move on their own and observe behavior to report back to Santa Claus. One mother told Parents magazine she goes even further by telling her child the elf won’t move unless their room is clean.
WE LOVE HOLIDAY SONGS
There’s a huge variety of holiday songs that play more or less on repeat this time of year, and most everyone has at least a few that drive them crazy that they’ll still have to bite their tongue and suffer through when it comes on at a relative’s house or department store. A survey of radio listeners from 2007 found the most widely reviled Christmas songs included Madonna’s “Santa Baby,” Barbra Streisand’s “Jingle Bells,” and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”
WE LOVE SUBPAR GIFTS
Not every holiday gift is going to blow you away, but it’s common courtesy to play up your appreciation for the sake of not hurting the giver’s feelings — it is the thought that counts, after all. A DirecTV survey on the most common white lies found 80 percent of respondents were guilty of saying they loved a gift when that wasn’t necessarily true, with often only children honest (or impolite?) enough to show their disinterest when they receive socks or something similarly unexciting.
LET’S NOT EXCHANGE GIFTS THIS YEAR
FRUITCAKE IS DELICIOUS
THE MEAL WAS DELICIOUS
WE’RE ON THE WAY/ALMOST READY
LET’S KEEP IN TOUCH
WE CAN’T STAY WITH RELATIVES
Just over half of Americans have made up excuses to avoid an uncomfortable holiday sleeping situation at a relative’s house, according toa 2017 survey by air mattress company INTEX. The high ratio of people who lie to stay home or book a hotel rather than staying with family is probably attributable to the 81 percent of respondents who said they’d had subpar bedding accommodations in the past, including 62 percent who have had to crash on a relative’s couch.
WE’RE GOING TO CUT BACK ON EATING
With so many traditionally decadent dishes, desserts, and drinks to go around, the holidays make it difficult to be on a diet. No matter how many commitments we make to ourselves about eating less beforehand, we can easily succumb to temptation when the food is right in front of us, with our weight reaching its peak on average 10 days after Christmas. The good news is that the average American gainsonly 1 pound during the holiday season, which is usually only a problem if you don’t make up for it during other parts of the year. The bad news is that that extra poundage can take as long as five months to fully work off.
IT’S TOO LATE TO CUT BACK ON EATING
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
On the same note of setting unrealistic expectations, this tendency to ask too much of ourselves helps explain why only 12 percent of New Year’s resolutions are fulfilled, according to a 2007 study tracking 3,000 people’s success in achieving what they set out to for that year. British psychologist Richard Wiseman, who conducted the study, offers 10 tips to stay true to your resolutions in the future, including making only one resolution that’s in line with what you want (not just what’s trendy), breaking it up into smaller parts with intermediate deadlines, and telling others about it to hold yourself accountable.
YOU DON’T NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT
WE DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT POLITICS
If you know there’s a subject on which you and a loved one strongly disagree, you’ll probably do all you can to avoid bringing it up or bite your tongue even when the opportunity arises this holiday season. Whether you have to flat-out lie or simply hold back your unedited opinion, this sort of dishonesty has undoubtedly become more common in recent decades as Americans have become significantly more polarized politically and geographically.