A lot of the stress we feel around the holidays comes from the pressure to conform to prevailing practices. So don't conform.

A lot of the stress we feel around the holidays comes from the pressure to conform to prevailing practices. So don't conform.

Must you hate fruitcake? Must you long for a white Christmas? Must you turn in your hipster credentials for wearing a Christmas sweater? I say no. Forge boldly ahead with contrarian Christmas attitudes. You'll feel better.

Let's begin with fruitcake, which you are supposed to hate because everyone else does. But a good fruitcake - and by that I mean one marinated in bourbon and free of unnaturally colored objects - is a glorious thing. Seriously, cake and alcohol in the same package? What's not to like? It's a mixed drink you can eat.

You should also excuse yourself from all obligation to sneer at Christmas sweaters if you happen to like them. We live in a city where 50-year-old men parade around in the scarlet-and-gray jerseys of teen-age football players. And you just know the grandpa wearing Boom Herron's number secretly harbors fantasies about gashing Michigan with a 75-yard touchdown run. At least the woman in the Rudolph sweater is under no illusion that she can fly.

You also are not obligated to dream of a white Christmas. All it takes is one badly timed storm to paralyze the nation's air traffic. The dreamers always picture themselves in front of a cozy fire while softly falling snow turns the yard into a fairyland. Maybe they should picture themselves spending Christmas Day sleeping on the filthy carpet at Newark International Airport.

It would be far smarter to dream of a blizzard on a weekday in January.

Hesitant to openly love your artificial Christmas tree? Look, dragging trees into the living room is a little wacky regardless of where the trees came from. Just don't let people make you feel like an environmental felon because yours was made in China. Not when you know that theirs spent the better part of a decade being doused by petroleum-based fertilizers on a farm before it was transported by some fume-belching truck to Columbus, where it was picked it up in an oversized SUV, then discarded two weeks later.

But resist mistletoe if you are so inclined. If it works for you, fine. Personally, I never saw hanging a sprig of dead vegetation from the ceiling in the hopes of being kissed as all that seductive. Wouldn't it be as likely to repel people as attract them?

Finally, you don't have to watch football on Christmas. I don't recommend it.

Football watching, at its best, is a couch-potato exercise with maybe a couple of like-minded companions. At Christmas, you're going to have people coming and going, kids running around with their new toys, tipsy relatives spilling plates of turkey. It's like hosting the Whos from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Trying to watch football in that atmosphere can be an exercise in frustration. You might be better off just kicking back with a drink. Or a piece of fruitcake.

-Joe Blundo's column So to Speak appears in the Life section of The Columbus Dispatch. Visit his blog at Dispatch.com