The last several months have left our collective nerves as tangled as the wad of Christmas lights I stripped off the tree last January and flung into the garage.

I always intend to return to the scene of the fling and straighten them out, but it’s so boring.

In this stressed-out year, though, it’s more important than ever to practice correct holiday-speak when we unwrap gifts, whether it’s in person or on a screen with family and friends.

Here’s a little refresher in proper holiday talk to keep everyone merry. Included is the translation of what you wish you could say:

• “Of course, I love bright colors!” you exclaim as you unwrap a shirt adazzle with plump purple, pink and orange blossoms. Translation: I better be careful wearing this shirt outdoors. I could be attacked by pollinators. Just please don’t let it be a murder hornet. This year’s been rough enough.

• “A natural boar bristle hairbrush for thinning hair …” you read aloud the description on the fancy box. “So thoughtful!” Translation: Thanks for the reminder, you thoughtless, hairy brother-in-law, that my skull is beginning to look like a sun-bleached turtle shell.

• “An indoor flameless marshmallow roaster. Just what I need!” Translation: I’ll add it to the remote-control rotisserie you gave me last year and the 5-foot-long illuminated cheeseboard the year before, just as soon as I build that addition for the kitchen.

• “Spice-of-the-Month Club and January’s subscription of a dozen coriander seeds. What a clever idea for an entrepreneur!” Translation: What next — toothpick of the month?

• “These pants will be super comfy for working from home!” you say as you hold up a pair of elastic-waisted ultra-stretchy sweatpants. Translation: So, you also noticed that I’ve been eating cinnamon rolls, cheaper by the dozen, during the pandemic.

• “Handmade upcycled gifts are so much more thoughtful than mass-produced. They’re one-of-a-kind!” you say as you turn the rectangular wooden object with two clothespins every which way but loose in an attempt to identify. Translation: When in the world is he going to use up that picket fence that blew down a decade ago? I’m going to cross my fingers and thank him for this custom clipboard.

Phew! I guessed right. Merry Christmas to me!

Marti Attoun’s “Booth 186: My Secondhand Career in Vintage Corsets, Moose Heads and Other Moth-Eaten Antiques” is available as an e-book on Amazon.

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