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Happy holidays! From the Turkey to The Final Countdown, we have so many amazing memories ahead of us to share with our loved ones shop. So why not return home to the culinary labyrinth I taught you to survive, one more time! This is how to Survive the Holidays in a Trader Joe’s.

Have a Plan of Action
Do you think we stormed the beaches of Normandy like a bunch of improv comedians, making it up as we went along and hoping to survive on pure adaptation? No! We wrote our set list down like a bunch of stand up comics and stuck to it. And if you don’t write down a plan of action, you’re going to hate yourself, coincidentally like every single comedian out there. Trader Joe’s is a frenzy of DIY party planning hubub. Everyone there is there to win and if you don’t have a list of desirables, the only thing you will desire is a nearby Whole Foods, that place cowards and 2nd place shop at. Place your mandatory featured items at the top. This is your turkey, your ham, your gravy, your hooch, and your Stove Top Stuffing (or Trader Joe’s Turkey Bread or whatever it’s called). If someone sees you walking around looking for napkin rings first, you’re going to get body checked into the produce and eaten alive, like most produce.

Carry a Receipt in Front of You
Time is money, money you will spend too much of at TJ’s, we call it TJ’s now. Whether it be crossing the parking lot, while using your Force powers on the automatic doors, or catching a cart, you will be asked for change. Bells are ringing and people are singing for donations. Now if you walk fast with a receipt out in front of you, these trolls will assume you’re re-entering the store and have already answered their questions three. These vampires will avoid you like you’re holding a cross. OR – and this is completely optional – OR you could throw some extra singles in your wallet and actual prepare to selflessly donate some money, as opposed to attempting this screen play. You just waved a door open. Now choose Sith or Jedi.

Gird Your Loins
Shopping during the holiday season is a dangerous act no matter where you are. Just because you aren’t in a Best Buy, that doesn’t mean you can’t get the elbow from a disgruntled new mom who happens to believe an OCD planned appetizer will make her house a home. “ITS JUST ABONDANCE CHEESE, CHERYL! THEY HAVE MORE OF IT. THAT’S WHY ITS CALLED THAT!”, you’ll scream. But Cheryl doesn’t give a fuck. If you had tasted her bacon garnished artichoke leaves before walking on to the battlefield, maybe, just maybe you would’ve kept your elbows down and hid your floating ribs. Float like a butterfly, sting like a couponer with something to prove. Leave no space between you and the items you are looking at. This will prevent Cheryl from slipping in between you and your stuffing like a shadow.

Support the Syrian Refugees Immigrating to America
Don’t be an Islamophobic dick.

Wear Headphones
Holiday music is meant to keep you in a trance of Ouroboric nostalgia. It’s why no new songs were written past WWII. Once America realized that nothing stimulates its economy more than a world war, it tried to cement a firm 2nd place – a holiday shopping season. Not for nothing, great American George Bush Jr TRIED to make America money with the false Iraq War, but only ended up making money for his oil and real estate buddies. WE WERE SO CLOSE! Don’t fact check me. These songs are repeated annually so you have an urgent impulse of consumerism. This is so that music turns you into Pavlov’s Dog, a common weapon of TJ’s. We still call it TJ’s now. When “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” plays on aisle 6 among the canned cranberry sauce, you get distracted and head to aisle 4 for starter logs and aisle 12 for legumes. Now you’re screwed! CHERYL JUST STOLE THE LAST STUFFING! I TOLD YOU SHE WAS LIKE A SHADOW! Put in your earbuds and blast anything else.

Go Big and Go Home
Unlike Ben Carson’s ancient Egyptian pyramids, Trader Joe’s is not meant to store anything, especially grain for Bible people. Why do you suppose it’s not called a store? It’s called TJ’s now. You need to shop like every opportunity is Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Topple shelves into your cart. Shove things into your mouth, and the German kid into the spill in aisle 2. Hell, lick the walls if you think it would help. The compound savings taste like compound savings! Do not depend on anything you see ever being there again. It’s the capitalist version of true love. Speak up or you may never have this chance again! Buy everything you need in one go, and even things you don’t. For if you don’t, you’ll bang up against the empty spice racks in remorse. Now you’re running out of thyme and cumin everywhere!

Empathize with the Crew
The people who work at TJ’s, we call it TJ’s now, have to deal with Cheryls all day, every day. That is on top of being yelled at for not playing the Ouroboric nostalgic muzak tracks at exactly 9 a.m. The Holiday Trance EP feat. Jezuz Allegory needs to be rocking or the super savers don’t come a knocking. You just want to get in and get out, like in Bush Jr’s War in Iraq, but these crew members will have their boots on the ground long after you’re gone and long after they intended to stay, like in Bush Jr’s War in Iraq. They are the ones who have to deal with everyone’s incessant screams and never ending droning, like everything Obama is doing. Do you think they are happy? No. They want to walk their own plank. Be nice to them. Pretend they are Syrian refugees and make sure they know that we want them here and they are safe.

Don’t Give Cookbooks as Gifts
“Happy Holidays! Here is a collection of shopping lists!” – The Worst Person

By David Carter

This was originally published on November 24, 2015.