Sweet dancing monkeys on a stick, it’s nearly Christmas.
This is one of the things that has sort of snuck up on me this year, more than most years, and as I emerge out of my semester-long immersion into ancient world history (want to know about Mansa Musa? Go ahead – ask me anything…) the fact that the Yuletide season is here is sort of hitting me all at once. There’s been no lead-in time this year. One minute it was mid-November and I was vaguely thinking about Thanksgiving and wondering what had happened to the Halloween candy, and the next: Fa-la-la-la-la up to my ai-ai-ai-ai-eyeballs.
Now, Christmas has long been one of my favorite holidays. But the old story about the boiled frog is definitely in play this year – I’ve had not time to get used to the season gradually, so a lot of things that normally just float by me unnoticed are a bit more front and center.
And some of them, frankly, have got to go.
So here are a few things that I think the Christmas season would be better off without. Don’t say I never gave you anything.
1. Commercials where grown men try to sound like elves.
I don’t know why this happens every year, but for some reason advertisers – especially local advertisers – seem to feel that if you put things in elfin terms people will be more likely to buy them. Of course the big local example this year is a car dealership trying to get you to purchase the latest M-1 Abrams SUV (“Complete with its own zip code!”), which sort of makes me question the wisdom of the whole “elf” motif, but there you go. Remember, folks – grown men trying to sound like elves is not cute. It’s creepy. Go easy on the helium, lay off the psychedelics, and hire better writers.
2. Similarly, any commercial that pads its soundtrack with incessant jingling.
Seriously. It’s not festive. It just sounds like you’re playing with your keys too much, and I’m not about to shake hands on a deal with someone who spends that much time with their hands in their pockets.
3. Country/western Christmas carols about how new shoes are a sign of God’s love.
I’m fairly sure this isn’t in the Bible anywhere. I’m also fairly sure that gift-giving – while intensely fun and certainly nothing I will ever complain about (too much) – is not the center of the season. Dressing it up in 4/4 time and a smothering string arrangement is schmaltz, not sentiment, and the irony of that is just way too much for me right now.
4. NBA basketball
Am I the only person in America who was sort of disappointed that the NBA decided not to cancel their season? I’ve never really understood the appeal of a game where you’re not allowed to play defense and teams routinely score over a hundred points in increments of two so I’m probably not their target market anyway, but somehow the knowledge that oddly elongated men are out there bouncing a ball around on Christmas Day does not make me feel merrier. Oddly enough, though, football games do. I’m not sure why.
5. White men in blue suits pretending they’re fighting a beleaguered defense of what is, after all, the most popular holiday in America, in some personal fantasy world they call “The War On Christmas.”
First of all, these guys need to get a life. Wars involve bloodshed, chaos and no small amount of personal courage, and mouthing snarky, demonstrably false talking points from comfortably appointed newsdesks hardly qualifies. You want to fight a war in defense of Christmas? Go to North Korea and see what you can do. You won’t even have to start a new war, since the Korean War is still technically ongoing.
Second, the only people in what is now the United States who have ever seriously argued for making Christmas illegal – and who actually succeeded in doing so – were Puritans, who felt that the celebration was an ungodly travesty of true faith. Given that the 17th-century Puritans lived their Christianity in a way that modern Americans can’t even conceive, let alone match, I see no reason why I should have to put up with blowhards trying to score political points with idiots by pretending to defend my holiday. Christmas doesn’t need you, gents. Now crawl back under your rocks and leave the rest of us alone.