A Christmas Manifesto

All the things about the holidays that make me want to smack someone …

Every Christmas season, corporate interests and other various hucksters seem to do their damnedest to sprinkle a little dirt in my egg nog. At age 25, I’d like to think my years as a curmudgeon are still far away, but there are plenty of elements of the Christmas season that already leave me feeling less than jolly. In a desperate attempt to get my humbugging out of the way early this year, I present my list of Yuletide grievances:

Black Friday. Hey, did you know that the day after Thanksgiving is supposed to be the biggest shopping day of the year? It’s a great lazy news story for local reporters each year, and it would be even better if it were true. Statistics show that Black Friday is indeed a busy day for retailers everywhere, but it is often barely in the top five. (Because of procrastinators like me, Black Friday is usually eclipsed by the weekend days that are closest to December 25.)

Cyber Monday. In recent years, the buzz about the Monday following Thanksgiving has reached a fever pitch; it’s supposed to be the Internet’s answer to Black Friday. Not surprisingly, Cyber Monday is also a fake — it’s an invention of the online retailers themselves. The phrase has exploded in usage largely thanks to sloppy reporting. Who has time for real news? Gotta snatch up those online deals quickly and get back to work, before the competition gets the scoop on the latest Britney Spears rehab rumors!

The ravaging of holiday film favorites. Christmas commercials in general annoy the hell out of me, but the worst offenders are those that take a cherished movie or TV special and hijack it for their own nefarious purposes. “A Christmas Story”? Buy a cell phone! “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”? Better get some insurance! “It’s a Wonderful Life”? It will be if you lavish jewelry upon the ones you love! If I turn on the TV tomorrow and see Jon’s grandma telling Garfield that her old love letters are just darling, but she could have really used a new Lexus, I’m just going to scream.

The Nanny State. Children are much smarter than most adults are willing to admit. So why in the name of all that is merry and bright do I have to endure annual alarm bells about Santa Claus, everyone’s favorite symbol of childhood innocence? This year’s spin on the story has Santas being encouraged to slim down to set a better example for kids. There’s also a movement to phase out St. Nick’s catchphrase of “Ho, ho, ho” on the grounds that it’s both frightening to children and offensive to women. I grew up with the fat, jolly elf who bellowed “Ho, ho, ho.” I can assure you that I am neither morbidly obese nor waking up in cold sweats while haunted by the specter of a loud, gruesome creature in a red jumpsuit. It’s exactly this type of hyper-reactive protectionism that gives the Bill O’Reillys of the world grist for their “War on Christmas” mill.

Tacky Christmas decorations. I used to consider illuminated plastic nativity scenes as the gold standard of Yuletide blight. But at some point, giant blow-up snowmen and Santas began dwarfing my neighbors’ houses. It takes a special kind of person to say, “How can I make my home look more like a used car lot?” Of course, once they’ve made that leap, there’s nowhere to go but down. The inflatable monstrosities get more ridiculous every year: snow globes, Grinches, Shreks … I suppose an 8-foot blow-up Baby Jesus is waiting in the wings as you read this. (Eds: Well, whaddya know …)

All-Christmas radio formats. Every year, the local easy-listening radio station switches to an all-Christmas music format in anticipation of December 25. And every year, my Dad is their #1 holiday listener. In recent years, they’ve made the change in the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Ugh. Let’s just say that there aren’t enough holiday tunes out there to last for a month-plus. Even though they play a variety of artists, Christmas music is comprised of essentially the same 40 or so songs, none of which sound any damn good when being bleated out by cheeseballs like Hall and Oates or Johnny Mathis.

Johnny Mathis! Let me tell you something about him. He has roamed the Earth since about the second century, irritating the masses with his creepy waxy facial features, his skin’s rich, carrot-like hue, and that voice. You know that version of “Winter Wonderland” that sounds like it’s being sung by someone who is alternately having boiling water and bags of ice dropped on his genitals? That’s Johnny Mathis.

He is an unholy, androgynous wraith who exists solely to ruin Christmas for the good people of the world. And writing all this has made me finally realize it’s up to me to stop him. I’ve got a horsehide rope, five gallons of Sunny Delight, and a copy of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas printed backwards. This Christmas, I’ve got a date with destiny.

Article © 2007 by Kevin Brotzman