TIME Humor

Obituary: The Death of Hope for a Female Late-Night Host

Nell Scovell is writing the 'Lean In' movie for Sony Pictures, based on the book she co-wrote with Sheryl Sandberg.

DEATH NOTICE

Hope for a female late-night talk show host on a major network passed away peacefully on Monday, March 30th, 2015, surrounded by stand-ups, bloggers and assorted sidekicks. Hope was born on October 9, 1986, when The Late Show with Joan Rivers premiered on FOX. Promising but brief engagements to Wanda Sykes and Whitney Cummings ended awkwardly. A loving relationship with Chelsea Handler lasted seven years.

Hope struggled during her short life, gaining a foothold in sketch comedy and sitcoms, but fell to her death while trying to make the leap to late night, comically bouncing off an awning before landing in the street, where she was run over by a Duesenberg driven by a man racing to a denim shirt sale. Hope was an avid observer of everyday life and looked forward to reflecting the experiences of the entire population.

Funeral services will take place in the hearts of aspiring female comedy performers and writers on April Fools’ Day. Internment will last twenty years, or another generation of turnover. Special thanks to the caring staff of UCB and Apatow Productions. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Survivors include several brothers named Jimmy, and two sisters, Hope for a female President and Hope for equal pay.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Religion

Lena Dunham’s Not an Anti-Semite, She’s Just Clueless

Lena Dunham
JB Lacroix—WireImage/Getty Images Lena Dunham at the Dolby Theatre on March 8, 2015 in Hollywood.

Mark Oppenheimer writes the biweekly “Beliefs” column for The New York Times and is editor-at-large for Tablet. He also reports for The Atlantic, The Nation, This American Life, and elsewhere.

Lena Dunham's portrayals of Jews, in her show and in her New Yorker piece, trade in the stalest of stereotypes

Lena Dunham suddenly finds herself an enemy of her people. This week, the creator and star of HBO’s Girls, who is Jewish, wrote a humor piece in The New Yorker called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz.” It begins: “Do the following statements refer to (a) my dog or (b) my Jewish boyfriend?” and offers, to test one’s dog-or-Jew acumen, statements like, “doesn’t tip,” “has hair all over his body, like most males who share his background,” and “comes from a culture in which mothers focus every ounce of their attention on their offspring.”

Cheap? Hairy? Over-mothered? Is it a dog, or is it a Jew?

The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish anti-bigotry watchdog group, said in a statement Friday that the “piece is particularly troubling because it evokes memories of the ‘No Jews or Dogs Allowed’ signs from our own early history in this country, and also because, in a much more sinister way, many in the Muslim world today hatefully refer to Jews as ‘dogs.’”

Now, I am not as sensitive as the Anti-Defamation League, to put it mildly. Not only do I not usually complain about Jews making Jews look bad, I’m often the one being so accused. Just last year, I wrote a magazine piece about Jews who travel all the way from Jerusalem to the Jersey shore just to knock on doors begging for money. A few months earlier, I’d narrated a This American Life story about a rabbi accused of kidnapping husbands who refuse to give their wives divorces. If you have dirty Jewish laundry, I’ll air it.

So I am inclined to stand in solidarity with any fellow MOT (member of the tribe) who comes under fire for being bad for the Jews. But I confess that, in this case, I find myself aligned with the censors, the stuffed shirts, the killjoys. I think that Dunham’s piece fails, for a number of reasons.

To begin, it’s just not very funny. Of course, no harm in that. What makes the unfunniness of “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz” seem extra tasteless is how dated its humor is. It relies on stereotypes — the cheap Jew, the smothering Jewish mother — that were current almost half a century ago, back when Jews faced much more anti-Semitism. Dunham may be a hip auteur in her 20s, but in this humor piece she’s working with material from the era when some country clubs were still restricted.

It was also, of course, the material of the great Jewish writer Philip Roth, who gave us the castrating Jewish mother and eager-to-please son in 1969’s Portnoy’s Complaint, for which many feminists still haven’t forgiven him. But Roth is a genius, and genius buys you a lot of leeway with stereotypes. And Dunham’s less inspired humor recycles not only Roth’s caricature of women but also his equally damning portrayal of Jewish men. Other items on Dunham’s quiz include “he has asthma,” he “expects to be waited on hand and foot by the women in his life,” and he “has a sensitive stomach and has to take two Dramamine before entering any moving vehicle.” In other words, he’s weak and effete, with a poor constitution. That’s part Portnoy and part his constipated father, who was forever sitting on the toilet trying to squeeze something out.

What’s interesting, and a bit sad, is that Dunham seems not to know that these aren’t really live stereotypes anymore. I suppose there are still some people who think of Jews as cheap, but pampered and neurotic? How many in the Girls demographic, Jew or Gentile, really live with those cultural tropes? Jews have largely dropped those particular items of baggage: Who’s shocked to see a Jew shooting hoops on the playgrounds of Brooklyn? The one element of that old Jewish portraiture that still seems relevant is the smothering parenting, but now it’s all parents who do that.

Dunham seems to expect some latitude with this humor piece because she is, after all, a Jewish writer. David Remnick, The New Yorker’s editor, said as much in a statement defending Dunham: “The Jewish-comic tradition is rich with the mockery of, and playing with, stereotypes,” he wrote. “Has Mr. Foxman” — head of the Anti-Defamation League — “never heard Lenny Bruce or Larry David or Sarah Silverman or read Portnoy’s Complaint? Lena Dunham is a comic voice working in that vein.”

Except that Dunham is not working in that vein. Those are all comics who identified as obvious Jews and had built much of their humor around their Judaism. Dunham’s mother is Jewish, which makes her as Jewish as Moses, according to Jewish law. But she has never worked well with Judaism in her humor. The character she plays on Girls is a WASP from the Midwest. In fact, the only regular Jewish character on the show Dunham created is Shoshanna, a shallow, coddled materialist who fits snugly into a Jewish American Princess stereotype that I thought had been blessedly retired. The great actor Zosia Mamet imbues Shoshanna with as much humanity as she can, but it’s hard not to wonder why the only reasonably ethnic character on Girls — in contemporary Brooklyn, no less — is the Jewish girl from a 1970s-era JAP joke.

As it happens, the Girls season finale, last Sunday, featured two other Jewish men: an Orthodox man with a newborn baby, who walks through one of the last shots of the episode — a distant, Orientalized other — and Laird, father to the baby about to be born to Hannah’s ex’s sister. As Laird’s laboring girlfriend, committed to a home birth, looks as if she might need to go to the hospital, Laird panics and melts down. Hannah’s friend Jessa, improvising the role of doula, tells Laird sternly, “I need you, and she needs you, to be a man right now.” Laird starts to cry and wails, “But I’m not a man! I’m a Jewish recovering junkie and I weigh 135 pounds!”

That’s Jewish humor in Lena Dunham’s world.

Contrast that with Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, who in their shows presented a wide range of Jewish types — religious and not, lovable or loathsome. Or with Sarah Silverman, who like Dunham also jokes about hirsuteness, in interviews and in one concert movie, but turns the joke on her own Jewish body, not on an outdated stock character of a boyfriend who also happens to be cheap and asthmatic.

Is Dunham an anti-Semite? Of course not. She is just a young artist with shaky judgment and no real feel for the tradition of Jewish humor in which her editor, presiding over America’s most storied magazine, suggests she is working. And this whole episode has the salutary effect, I like to think, of folding Dunham more closely into the tradition of Jewish writers: sooner or later, if we’re doing our job, we all get called bad for the Jews.

Read next: Jewish Group Objects to Lena Dunham’s ‘Dog or Jewish Boyfriend’ Story

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Parenting

How to Parent Like a Reporter

mother son talking
Getty Images

Ask open-ended questions that get the source (your child) talking

Parenting articles are popping up everywhere. Everyone, it seems, has something to say about parenting.

On March 5, TIME.com published How to Parent Like an FBI Agent, but well before that there were stories describing helicopter parents, tiger moms, free-range parenting and so on.

Folks love to put labels on things–but parenting is a task many of us figure out as we go. One day I may be hovering over my kids, and the next I might be doing the opposite, so I can’t imagine that any parent is any one type all of the time. The nature of the job simply doesn’t lend itself to that level of certainty.

Just last week the child who had been giving my husband and me a hard time for the past few weeks suddenly became the easier one, while the other – who had given us no reason for concern for weeks – switched into high-maintenance mode again.

So in the spirit of these parenting “styles,” I present my own method: “How to parent like a reporter.” Loosely based on principles learned in Journalism 101, this is mostly for fun – but with practice and a little luck, these guidelines could lead you a better understanding of your child.

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Ask open-ended questions that get the source (your child) talking. Instead of questions like “How was school today?” – that can be answered with a simple yes, no, or O.K.– some better prompts might be, “What’s going on at the playground during recess?” or “What sort of things are kids fighting over in class?” Determine in advance what information you want to obtain, and craft a line of questioning that will get you there.

Ask follow-up questions. Who, what, when, where, how and why are particularly helpful to get more details or to get the subject to consider the matter more closely themselves.

Monitor social media accounts for tips and trends related to your source. For instance, search Instagram and Twitter with tags the kids and their friends may be using. I guarantee you will be both enlightened and shocked. If you aren’t sure what tags they use, ask them to tag something as a joke, and you’ll get a grasp of the pattern. They may not use the ones you think they are using, so try different combinations.

Observe interactions between the source and others to gain contextual information for follow-up questions or background. Listen closely when your child expresses concerns over trivial matters as well as large issues. Tune your ears to absorb the information as if you had to write down and explain the conversation to others. This technique will curb your daydreaming and the tendency to begin crafting your response in advance.

Be objective. Don’t throw your emotions into the conversation if it is unwarranted.

Don’t assume any details are correct. Confirm locations and chaperone details with an independent source.

Take lots of photos to document this moment in time. You never know when that one photo will tell the story better than written words.

Respect “off the record” details as confidential. Don’t share your source’s (child’s) private thoughts as fodder in conversations with friends, or you’ll lose that rapport.

Be prepared for the unpredictable. Parenting, just like covering breaking news, is a lot about reacting. Just as a reporter was not expecting a fire to ignite at that factory downtown, you may not be ready for your child to launch into questions about the birds and the bees on a Saturday morning. Take a breath, rely on what you know to be true, and figure out what you still need to know to properly inform and guide them.

Laura Stetser is a full-time reporter and mother of two school-age children. Get more parenting news by connecting with her on Facebook and Twitter @TheMomsBeat or via email at laura.stetser@catamaranmedia.com.

This article originally appeared on Shore News Today.

TIME Humor

Right Before the End of the Roman Empire the Citizens of Rome Had a Lengthy Debate Over the Color of a Toga

Gold White Toga
Getty Images

When a fellow American Photoshops not one but two llamas into a different color it means a conversation has ended. (One llama means things are winding down.)

If you are talking or thinking or anythinging about that dress, stop it now. Because all the scientists who have been busy for the last 36 hours telling us about color theory and the size of the lens and how it gets bigger when you get older and blue lights and how one day someone shined a light on some scientist’s Volkswagen and he could have sworn it was actually the Battleship Potemkin are today busy coming up with a new theory about #thedress. This theory is that arguing about what color a dress is will make your brain atrophy.

It will also cause you to be so overstimulated that you will drink three martinis tonight instead of two and black out, and the last thing you will remember is showing someone a picture of the blue and black and the white and gold llamas, which is, incidentally, the last comment that should have been made about that dress. For future reference, when a fellow American Photoshops not one but two llamas into a different color it means a conversation has ended. (One llama means things are winding down.)

I have been annoyed before by technology naysayers who have bravely stepped forward and declared that Twitter is bad and does not constitute real engagement and that we should all be sitting around drinking Nescafe and talking about Norman Rush. But the dress to me actually seems like something that might give those kinds of people ammunition, or, put more simply, it may be a new frontier in stupid.

Would I be elitist in assuming that at least most of us attended 6th grade? And we do remember discussing things like color blindness and perception and how different people saw different things? Yes, I am aware some of the theories that were offered up yesterday were slightly different, but they were variations on that theme. And while that was one of the more interesting days of 6th grade, I don’t know that I could maintain that fascination for a lifetime. #Dressgate proves that I am alone there.

Millions and millions of people, who I am pretty sure have at some point had some conversation about how different people see different things differently, seemed like they were learning this for the very first time. And since they presumably weren’t, well, it kind of made me sad.

I got sad in three stages.

The first came when I got the sense that people had filled up their brains with so much stupid internet stuff (prior to the dresses, prior even to the llamas) that they’d forgotten all the simple things they learned in elementary school.

And then, the sadness intensified when it dawned on me that some people truly had never actually learned this stuff in elementary school because they were from a generation that doesn’t learn anything in school anymore because when their teachers tell their parents that they don’t pay attention their parents tell the teachers to shut up or they’ll get them fired.

And the sadness really solidified when I realized that the people who probably did understand why the dresses appeared to be different colors were only freaking out about it because they’d been triggered—“have a sense of wonder about this now!”—or because they thought appearing to have no conception of basic science might make them feel younger or more attractive.

I’m not going to sit here and judge you because yesterday ISIS destroyed priceless art and you were sitting around screaming “BLUE BLACK!” or “WHITE GOLD!” In everyone’s defense, perhaps this debate was leapt into with such eagerness because it was less emotionally charged than the one about whether ISIS is killing lots of people because they’re Muslim or just because they love killing people or both, or whether Patricia Arquette is a terrible person because she didn’t have a P.R. firm write her Oscar speech. That said, if you’re composing a tweet or a Facebook update about #dressgate maybe you should pick up a basic science text because next week everyone on Twitter might “discover” that the dinosaurs are extinct and you might want to prepare to be a voice of reason.

If you are, however, composing a meme about #dressgate that you think may actually turn out to be funny, could please mail it to me? I’m staying off social media until the #dressgate smoke clears, but I never like to miss the really quality memes.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Art

Watch a Video of British Artist Banksy in Gaza

Several of Banksy's latest graffiti pieces are highlighted

British graffiti artist Banksy, known for his subversive street art, released a two-minute video from war-torn Gaza on his website Wednesday.

“Make this the year you discover a new destination,” it wryly says, in the style of a tourism video. But instead of sandy beaches, it offers viewers a glimpse of what a Gazan sees “well away from the tourist track”: tunnels, rubble and children gazing at some of the 18,000 homes destroyed last July in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.

The video also spotlights several of Banksy’s latest graffiti pieces, including images of children swinging from a surveillance tower, a parent grieving over a child in a bombed-out setting, and a kitten donning a pink bow.

“A local man came up and said ‘Please — what does this mean?’ I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website — but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens,” Banksy writes.

“The cat found something to play with,” a Palestinian man says during the video. “What about our children?”

TIME Internet

Watch This Man Roast a Marshmallow Over a Volcano

Definitely don’t try this at home

The season for roasting chestnuts on an open fire is over, so how about this for an alternative: roasting marshmallows on an open volcano?

Filed in the “definitely don’t try this at home” category is this new video from Caters TV showing, as they call it, a “daredevil” heating up a marshmallow by using a tent peg to dangle it over a lava lake inside Marcum Crater on the island of Ambrym in Vanuatu—which is either the name of one of the seven gates of hell or a small island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia.

That daredevil is Simon Turner, though the even braver man is probably Bradley Ambrose, the one behind the camera—especially when taking into account that, as Grub Street claims, he had “to watch out for stuff like shooting fireballs that, for instance, claimed the group’s previous camera equipment.” Here’s hoping they had rental insurance.

According to the video’s description, the pair’s descent to the lava lake was nearly a quarter of a mile, with temperatures reaching up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. In a situation like that, I bet the cold beer was far more enjoyable than the hot marshmallow, no matter how much more work it was for the latter.

This article originally appeared on FWx.

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TIME Humor

Megan Mullally’s 15 Ways to Digitally Detox

Actress Megan Mullally on the Tonight Show on Dec. 12, 2014.
NBC—Getty Images Actress Megan Mullally on the Tonight Show on Dec. 12, 2014.

The actress offers advice on stepping away from it all

1. Throw your phone in the toilet. Put the toilet in the trash. Leave the house. Burn the house down.

2. Buy the new Digital D-Tox app off iTunes or Google Play. Oh, wait. Maybe that’s a terrible idea.

3. Stop sexting and start actually having sex. It may seem weird at first, but it should all come back to you.

4. Feed your hands to a wild animal.

5. Tell a close friend to spray mace in your face every time you check your phone. Eventually, you will associate the pain with technology. Or with your friend. So let’s give this one a 50-50 chance of success.

6. Become Amish.

7. Build a time machine. Go back to the Ice Age. Become part of a Neanderthal family. Settle down. Destroy time machine.

8. Buy 1,000 Taco Bell Burrito Supremes. Never stop eating them.

9. Punch a cop in the face. Go to jail. Good luck getting on the Internet now, idiot!

10. Glue your iPad to your butt. Or, better yet, to a stranger’s butt.

11. Make a rule that before you do anything technological, you have to explain how Twitter and Foursquare work to your parents. Yeah. That should do it.

12. Try to remember that before there was an Internet filled with adorable kitten pictures and videos, there was an actual world filled with adorable kittens.

13. Go to sleep. Don’t wake up until after the Rapture.

14. Start a zombie apocalypse.

15. Destroy all technology. Because if Mama can’t check her e-mail, ain’t nobody can check their e-mail.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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Read next: These Are the Newly Confirmed Guest Stars Headed to Parks and Recreation

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TIME psychology

The Science of Why Your Kids Can’t Resist Frozen

Frozen
Disney Frozen

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

A preschooler’s emotional world is reminiscent of 'Frozen' heroine Elsa’s internal struggle

Disney’s Frozen, which earned more than $1.2 billion at the box office, is not only the first “princess” movie to make the list of top 10 grossing animated films, but also the number-one animated film of all time. Its songs and characters are culturally ubiquitous.

Little girls have long been drawn to princesses. But what is it that makes Frozen so much more appealing than previous princess movies—and why does it enrapture young children in particular? As psychologists (who happen to be sisters just like the heroines in the film) and the mothers of princess-loving daughters, we decided to consider this question.

First, a preschooler’s emotional world is reminiscent of Frozen heroine Elsa’s internal struggle: Her emotions are strong, passionate — and seem uncontrollable. Preschoolers too, are driven by their impulses. When Elsa laments that she’s afraid that there’s “no escape from the storm inside of me,” it resonates with young children (and perhaps their patience-tested parents, as well).

Second, preschoolers’ imaginations can make the world a wondrous place filled with the possibility of excitement and adventure. Children respond to stories that employ magical realism, so Elsa—as a superhero with what one of our daughters (Maryam’s) and her friends call “ice powers” (the ability to create a whole castle of snow and ice using only her fingers)—has special appeal. Perhaps because they are so in awe of her magic and power, children are less likely to get caught up in Elsa’s experience of isolation and desperation when she is locked away in her room as a girl and hides herself in a remote castle as a woman.

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But with the allure of magic and the sense that anything is possible comes a high potential for terror. Maryam’s daughter particularly liked that there isn’t a witch in Frozen. Though she adores other Disney princess movies, the witch-like characters (like Mother Gothel in Rapunzel) are all too real. The scary parts in Frozen are minimal and temporary, and the villain is an ordinary guy who sings a catchy love song.

Thirdly, Elsa has a genuine connection with her sister, Anna. Despite Elsa’s repeated rebuffs to Anna’s attempts to develop a friendship throughout most of the movie, their bond underscores dedication to family above all. Preschoolers are deeply entrenched in their families and tend to demonstrate a strong in-group attachment, meaning that they favor members within their social circle. Even when Frozen viewers are rooting for Anna to form a relationship with her love interest Kristoff, the love between the sisters is much more appealing. The heroines of Frozen are authentic and real, and no longer solely focused on finding a prince. They preach sisterly love and girl power.

Finally, the sing-along music seals the deal. Maryam’s 4-year-old daughter and her friends love to sing the anthem “Let it Go,” wagging their fingers at each other: “Be the good girl you always have to be!” They stomp in unison, pretending to be Elsa stomping on the ice to create her castle. Even Maryam’s 1-year-old son gets into the act, mimicking their behavior.

When asked what she thought the song was about, Maryam’s daughter smiled and put it succinctly: “It’s about Elsa being happy and free, and nobody bothering her.”

So there it is, the crux of the matter: a universally appealing desire to be happy and free.

Perhaps understanding the perspective of a preschooler can help us appreciate some of what draws us all to this movie: We all feel internal struggles with our impulses. None of us really wants a (too) scary villain. Most of us are pretty loyal to our families, despite their eccentricities and the emotional challenges that we face at times. And all of us want to be happy and free.

Maryam Kia-Keating, Ph.D. and Yalda T. Uhls, MBA, Ph.D. are sisters, psychologists, and, most importantly, moms. Maryam is an associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Yalda is a senior scientific researcher at the Children’s Digital Media Center@LA at UCLA and the Regional Director of the non-profit Common Sense Media. They wrote this for Zocalo Public Square.

Read next: Frozen Director Now Apologizes to Parents for ‘Let It Go’

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Humor

Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season on a Shoestring Budget

Karen E. Bender is the author of Like Normal People and A Town of Empty Rooms.

Some socially acceptable dos and don'ts for a season of giving

It’s the holiday season. The economy has rebounded! Gas is ridiculously cheap! Everyone in the nation is supposed to be doing better. Well, we’re not. Somehow, this new, hopeful economy has bypassed us. We can’t figure out why.

Actually we’re fine. We’re okay, kind of. Which means that we are on the perilous life raft of the American economy; we are okay if nothing at all goes wrong. And while I love the holiday season, it is, sometimes, an economic minefield. But while the Federal Reserve dallies with interest rates, my economic salve for the money stress of the holiday season is one thing: pumpkin bread. (See “Do #6″ below.) Here are some ways to get through the holidays on a shoestring:

DON’T:

  1. Don’t go into any store that features shopping bags that can stand on their own accord, in the middle of a table. This sort of shopping bag denotes prices that will start chipping into your children’s college education fund. Avoid it. Remind yourself to put money into your children’s education fund. And oh yes, your retirement–next year, when things are better. I hear the economy’s improving.
  2. Don’t bid on anything at the religious institution’s Silent Auction. Walk by coveted items, smile at them, nod thoughtfully, but walk on. Or do bid but only when people are watching, and make it so small you can be outbid in an instant.
  3. Don’t monitor your online savings account in real time. It is tempting, but don’t do it.
  4. Don’t buy holiday cards to send out to people (the costs of stamps, my god!) Instead, post nice photo of family with loving caption on Facebook and see “likes” build.
  5. Don’t assume that a restaurant is good if it uses the words “Seatings are at” in its description. The word “banquet” will also do unmentionable things to your bill. You don’t have to pretend to be Henry the VIII, and you actually may not want to be.
  6. Don’t feel that your (or dear relative’s or friend’s) cat or dog will be insulted if you don’t buy him or her the crazily priced cat toy or sweater. Trust me: the pet will not know. This tip also applies to babies.
  7. Don’t assume that you have to wear a new fancy dress or shirt or anything to a New Year’s Eve party. No one is going to notice. Wear last year’s. Everyone’s going to be focused on the champagne and the mini-quiches. Helpful note: properly wrapped, mini-quiches can fit neatly into a purse. They heat up nicely later. By the way, I hear the economy is improving.
  8. Don’t feel that when relative sends gift card for X amount, you are required to send X amount back. Gift cards should not be an economic hostage situation. Send what you can and/or send pumpkin bread. (See #6 below)
  9. Don’t forget to buy books as gifts, as they will nourish the soul, far beyond the cover price.
  10. Don’t forget to give something (money or time) to causes, because you should.

DO:

  1. Tell your children that their Secret Santa gifts for their friends in class will be a re-gifting extravaganza.
  2. Tell your mother that any clothes she wants to purchase you as a gift has to be suitable for a job interview.
  3. Tell the children that the word “upgrade” has been banned in the household and nearby vicinity for the time being.
  4. Buy present at thrift store and sneakily give it to friend in fancy shopping bag received from other friend who foolishly went into store that used such shopping bags.
  5. Make pumpkin bread as the default gift for everyone. It is cheap, it is beloved, it is carbs. And you can make a batch sufficient for many gift recipients in an hour. Don’t worry about fancy cellophane wrapping, though bows are fine. You can use gluten-free flour if needed, too.
  6. Do remember that the dollar store is only a dollar store if you buy only one thing.
  7. Do remember that if it’s to grandmother’s house we go, that’s a good thing and grandmother can pay.
  8. Try to laugh, because not everyone can. And, by the way, it is free. And above all, know that after January 1, everything goes on sale. And did you hear? The economy is improving.

Karen E. Bender is the author of Like Normal People and A Town of Empty Rooms. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Zoetrope, Ploughshares, and others. Her debut collection of short fiction, Refund: Stories, will be published by Counterpoint Press in January 2015.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Parenting

Watch a ‘Doctors Without Borders’ Parody That’s All About Your Mom

Help is on the way

There’s a new parody of Doctors Without Borders, and they’re almost as helpful as the real ones. They’re not curing Ebola, but they’re doing something that promotes mental health: teaching moms how to talk to their adult daughters without being passive-aggressive. This hilarious spoof of a Doctors Without Borders PSA tells adult women not to worry, because help is on the way. Soon, the world will be free of veiled hostility and judgment of your life choices.

The video contains some NSFW language, but you can watch it here.

Made by the group COMICS4MSF, the YouTube description says it was screened at a Doctors Without Borders fundraiser, even though the comedians are not affiliated with the organization. It features Jena Friedman, who’s also a field producer for The Daily Show.

(Visit the Doctors Without Borders site to learn more about their life-saving work around the world.)

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