I. Laying Plans
1. Sun Tzu says: The art of the war on Christmas is of vital importance to the snowflake.
2. When the blinking multi-colored lights are brought out first and are positioned on the ceiling, it is a sign that the enemy is forming for battle.
3. Hence, when able to attack, we must know when he is sleeping; when using our forces, we must know when he’s awake; when we are near, we must also know if he’s been bad or good; when far away, we must make him believe we’ll be good for goodness’ sake.
4. Keep your eye on Ingrid from accounting. All war is based on deception.
II. Waging War
5. Begin by embracing the Christmas holiday which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will. You may begin to constrict his movements and dampen his defenses so that he does not sense until too late that he is becoming woke.
6. Though the enemy be stronger in numbers, we may prevent him from fighting. Make an anonymous complaint to HR about Harold’s desktop nativity scene. The loss of his jingoist baby Jesus will weaken his spirit and keep him unfit for battle.
III. Attack by Stratagem
7. Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Mix together the silver and gold tinsel on the tree after everyone has departed. Replace the office Christmas stockings with blue, velvet bags embossed only with snowmen.
8. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. During “Jingle Bells” look at Larry from accounting and mouth the words Batman smells. Your opponent will begin to think himself of unsound mind. A feebleminded opponent is easy to beat.
IV. Tactical Dispositions
9. When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard. Let them have one place to plug in their tree, but nowhere for Henry’s singing Santa. Balance is key to victory.
10. Speed is the essence of war. Take advantage of the enemy’s unpreparedness; hang paper menorahs and kinaras next to the Christmas tree that Janet put on the office bulletin board, create new routes to the bathroom so that she cannot bear witness to your propaganda.
11. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Set out the latkes in the break-room. Arrange the treats so that Esther’s great-aunt’s fruitcake rests next to the fresh, frosted halal macaroons and buttery challah. Feign disorder, and crush them.
12. If we wish to fight, the enemy can be forced to an engagement even though he be sheltered behind cubicle walls and a sonic fortress of Christmas Carols. All we need do is attack some other place that he will be obliged to relieve. Fill the bathroom with MERRY CHRISTMAS toilet paper and HAPPY HOLIDAYS soap dispensers. In this way, Bob will wipe his ass with Noel but wash his hands with multiculturalism.
V. Weak Points and Strong
13. If we do not wish to fight, we can prevent the enemy from engaging us even though the lines of our encampment be merely sketched out by the half-walls of our cubicles. All we need do is to throw something odd and unexpected in his way. A line of dreidels in front of the water cooler can serve to parch an enemy when he is thirsty.
14. Thus we may know that there are three possibilities for victory of the office White Elephant Gift Exchange: 1) She will win who draws the last pick; 2) she will win who does not care about the spoils; or 3) she will win whose secret gift is a mug that says SEASON’S GREETINGS with a Starbucks gift card inside.
15. Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, crash like a thunderbolt. Use the shitty tape everyone ignores but Derek keeps insisting on ordering even though you’ve asked him about a thousand times not to for the red and green Christmas paper chain. It will fall when your enemies least expect, and their spirits will break as well.
16. Amid the turmoil and tumult of battle, there may be seeming disorder and yet no real disorder at all; amid the Fox News playing in the break room, there may be a Santa of color passing out treats next to a Hanukkah bush, your array may be without head or tail, yet it will be proof against defeat.
VI. The Use of Spies
17. In making tactical dispositions, the best advantage you can attain is to conceal your intentions; hide your dispositions behind a Rudolph the Reindeer sweater and novelty light up nose, and you will be safe from the prying of the subtlest spies, from the machinations of the wisest brains, and from any chance of Sharon taking you up on that drink offer.
18. Disciplined and calm, to await the appearance of disorder and hubbub amongst the enemy — this is the art of retaining self-possession. Replace the names in the Secret Santa bag to only Frank’s. While they sort through their confusion and disappointment, you can hide that fucking elf on a shelf forever.