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10 Truths and a Lie: The Holiday Edition

Photograph by Twenty20

Not only are the holidays a time to spread good cheer, they're also infamous for perpetuating myths, most of which are exactly that. Here are some facts about the holidays that might help you ease through them a little more smoothly.

Truth: Sugar does not cause hyperactivity in kids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found no research to support a correlation between fidgety kids and sweets. So bring on the Christmas cookies.

Truth: The tryptophan in turkey will not make you tired. However, your great aunt Evelyn telling you the story about how when she was your age she spent more time with her elders might actually cause you to excuse yourself from the table for a very important nap on the couch.

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Truth: Unless you want to send your third cousin once removed to the hospital with food poisoning, be sure to cook the turkey safely by thawing your turkey in the refrigerator (not the kitchen counter or in the garage), not cooking it slowly at a low temperature (damn bacteria!), and knowing it's done not when the juices are clear, but when the internal temperature hits 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Truth: Poinsettias will not kill your cat. Or your kids (unless they eat over 500 leaves, in which case a) where are you that there are 500 poinsettia leaves, and b) what are you doing that you didn't notice your kid eating 500 of them?) However, poinsettias are mildly toxic for cats, and those with latex allergies could have a reaction that causes a rash. So it's probably not a good idea to serve poinsettias for dinner.

Truth: You'll gain weight over the holidays, but not as much as you think. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found the average person only gains about a pound during the Christmas season.

Truth: It's not any more unsafe to drive Christmas or New Year's Eve than any other time of year—except for summertime. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays generally have the highest number of alcohol-related car accidents.

Drinking booze will not warm you up while out caroling in the freezing cold...

Truth: The Wednesday before and Sunday after Thanksgiving are not the busiest travel days of the year. In fact, that honor was most recently bestowed to Aug. 8, which happens to be National Custard Day. So there's that.

Truth: The kiss from your co-worker under the mistletoe is not only totally creepy, but at one time, mistletoe kisses were actually seen as bad luck or an evil omen (and not just because kissing someone without consent or who isn't your partner is wrong, although that, too.)

Truth: Drinking booze will not warm you up while out caroling in the freezing cold—and it will actually cause your body to lose more heat. But it will make caroling more fun, along with everything else.

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Truth: There is no cure for a hangover. Not aspirin, bananas, herbs, hair of the dog or grease. Although there's a wee bit of evidence that suggests the cysteine found in eggs "might help the body clear out toxic alcohol metabolites," nothing will ever cure what you saw when you walked in on your uncle Sam and his new "friend" Maggie in the guest bedroom.

Lie: "It's the most wonderful time of the year. With the kids jingle belling. And everyone telling you be of good cheer. It's the most wonderful time of the year. It's the hap-happiest season of all. With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings. When friends come to call. It's the hap-happiest season of all."

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