How to Win at Whamageddon

I won #Whamageddon this year.

That may not sound like a big deal, but to me, it's a hard-fought Christmas miracle that took years to achieve.

Before I start, the word is pronounced like Wham and armageddon were mashed together like peanut butter and pickles. Also, the # at the beginning of the word is silent; it's not pronounced "pound sign whamageddon."

The game is very simple: From December 1st through midnight on December 24th, you have to avoid hearing Wham's version of "Last Christmas." If you hear and recognize it, even just a few seconds, you're out.

Any other version is OK, whether it's a bad cover, a children's choir, or your neighbor drunkenly singing it at the top of his lungs, crying, "Debbie, I'm sorry I slept with your sister again!"

If you get whammed, you report to your social media friends, "I'm out." And if you're really creative, you can use a gif of Kramer shouting, "I'M OUT!" in that. . . special episode of Seinfeld.

(If you know, you know.)

Also, the rules don't state you cannot send a link to the song to your friends to make them lose, but it's widely considered an a-hole move, and you deserve to be shunned by your friends.

Because if you do it to me, I'm telling Santa to give you coal. And not the good coal, like for a barbecue grill. The terrible coal that made Ralphie's Old Man swear at the furnace.

Every year for the last five years, I have played Whamageddon, doing everything I can to avoid hearing the song. I have only ever won twice.

The first year, I was out in just a few days because we listened to one of the local Christmas music stations. They must have hated Whamageddoners because they played it several times a day.

That's when I realized how hard this would be because "Last Christmas" is everywhere. It's inescapable; it's the Rickrolling of Christmas. It keeps turning up like a bad penny covered in fungus.

As soon as I was out, I started creating a strategy for the next season. On December 1st, I put my new plan into action.

First, I stopped listening to the local Christmas station. Instead, I created a Christmas playlist on my phone that I would play over my car radio. And if I was ever in my wife's car, I asked her not to play that station and said I was "all Christmassed out" for the day. Next, I avoided places that played that same station or streamed ones just like it.

And it worked! I won Whamageddon that year, so I bragged about my amazing accomplishment to my family.

They didn't care.

"That's why you never let us listen to the Christmas station??"

It didn't matter. I had a winning strategy, and I was confident I could win year after year, making it into the Whamageddon Hall of Fame.

Except the next year, I barely lasted two weeks when I got whammed at a Starbucks.

The year after that, it happened at one of my former favorite bookstores. I was four days away from winning when George Michael gave me his heart.

And last year, it happened at another coffee shop that normally doesn't play pop music; I lost about a week into the season. My record — and my confidence — was in tatters.

Cue the training montage because I decided I wasn't going down without a fight.

I refused to listen to any local radio at all. My only Christmas music choices were a classical Christmas streaming station from Seattle or the 1940s Christmas music station on SiriusXM. I stayed out of Starbucks and wore earbuds set at a dangerous volume to block out any accidental audio.

I was nearly knocked out by one of my kids, but it turned out they were only listening to a cover. The crisis was averted, and I didn't have to take their presents back to the store after all.

But you don't always have to do Whamageddon this way: There are different ways to play, especially if you like the song.

One way is for you and your friends to try to hear the song as often as possible. Every time you do, you get a point. Whoever has the most points at the end of the season wins. Of course, don't cheat and listen to it on repeat. Remember, Santa is watching you.

I have my own idea for a variation called Whamageddon Roulette: Once a day, tune into your local Christmas station for ten seconds before switching away again. Or, place a mobile order at your local Starbucks, run inside to pick it up, and run out again without getting whammed.

I realize this makes Christmas competitive, which isn't fun for some people, and that's OK. Christmas is supposed to be a season of fun and enjoyment. Some of us like a quiet time listening to our favorite holiday songs. Others like playing silly games to keep us on our toes and to give us something to look forward to.

But if you think it's dumb, that's fine. Next year, to save me from tears, I'll play it with someone special.

Photo credit:

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available from 4 Horsemen Publications. You can get the ebook and print versions here.