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Tonight, the missus and I went to see The Nutcracker at the Opera House in downtown Boston. My wife bought the tickets several weeks ago, and was really looking forward to attending.

"Thank the North Pole there's no interepretive dance based on the Rudolph story, or we'd probably be watching three hours of reindeer pirouettes every December, too."

I know, because she reminded me several times not to forget about it. The regular everyday stuff, she might remind me once about. Taking out the trash, walking the dog, putting on pants before leaving the house, that sort of thing. For the really important stuff -- paying the taxes, buying her a birthday present, getting that nasty rash looked at by a doctor -- I might get two reminders, or even three.

For The Nutcracker, I got six. My lady digs the Christmas ballet, yo. Thank the North Pole there's no interepretive dance based on the Rudolph story, or we'd probably be watching three hours of reindeer pirouettes every December, too. It's enough to make me go out and get red-nosed myself.

At any rate, this year our seasonal theater was limited to The Nutcracker, and I had plenty of warning that it was coming. As a public service to you other husbands out there who are probably in the same sleigh, here are a few pitfalls to avoid when your sweetie reminds you of your Christmas obligations:

Her: Hey, we should see the Nutcracker this year. It's playing downtown.
You: Yeah? Well, there's a guy in the subway stop at Boston Common who plays a mean set of spoons. But I'm not dragging you all the way down there to see it.

Her: Okay, I'm buying tickets to the Nutcracker. It's on in early December. You're in, right?
You: Oh, sure. Why, I was just saying the other day how I haven't seen my quota of plum-smuggling tiptoers for the year. Thank heavens for holiday ballet!

Her: Great news, honey! I finally scored tickets to the Nutcracker!
You: Goody! If I go with you to that, you'll go with me to the Foxy Lady to watch the Christmas spectacular, right? They wrestle in frankincense, then they see who can hang the largest tree ornaments from their nipple rings. It's ever so festive!

Her: Don't forget -- we're going to see the Nutcracker next week.
You: 'Nutcracker'? I thought we weren't seeing your mother until Christmas Eve?

Her: All right, the Nutcracker is on Friday. Isn't it exciting?
You: I dunno. I saw the ballet version once, and it wasn't so great.
Her: Um, the Nutcracker is always a ballet.
You: Including this one?
Her: Yep.
You: Poopstain.

Her: We're going to the Nutcracker tomorrow. Don't be late!
You: Late, right. I wouldn't want to miss any of the plot that everyone on the planet already knows. How would I know who the nutcracker is? Or why everybody's dancing around in their underwear? Or that the whole thing is some prissy girl's feverish dream, and the house wasn't struck by a tornado at all?
Her: You have no idea what you're saying, do you?
You: No. Can I stay home, then?
Her: Not a chance. Pick me up at seven. And wear a tie.
You: Double poopstain.

All of these conversations are purely theoretical, of course. Purely. Just as pure as the driven snow. In the reindeer paddock. After they've been eating fruitcake and Christmas turkey all week. And you know about Donner's 'intestinal issues'.

At any rate, recognizing -- and avoiding; I can't stress this enough -- the danger in these exchanges beforehand may prevent you from landing in holiday hot water. This is a time for frosty snowmen and seasonal cheer, not chilly glares and marital strife. Nobody wants to spend the 'twelve days of Christmas' sleeping on the couch.

Trust me.

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