Maybe Mr. Costanza Had The Right Idea
by Michele Christopher

Today's Editor's Picks are holiday related. Just a couple more days until Christmas and then this will all be over and we can all get the holiday crap out of our heads and out of our posts and move on to things like how much winter sucks and the high expectations of Valentine's Day.

But for today, I am keeping it simple. Simple for FTTW, that is.The other editors are going wtih something about Santa and cars. I'm gonna make a list and check it twice.


1. The lights. Something about driving through your otherwise boring neighborhood at night and seeing all the houses lit up with colors and decorations. I'm a sucker for the old fashioned kind of lights - the big ones that are just red, blue and green. Your white icicle lights look pretty and all, but there's something nicely nostalgic about those big, colored lights. (There is such a thing as overdoing it, though)

2. The traditions. I'm the kind of person who likes routine and familiarality. So it's comforting to know that every Christmas Eve I'll be at my aunt's house, like we've been since the 60's. And every Christmas morning we'll follow the same exact routine at mom's that we used to follow when we all lived there.

3. The food. Isn't that what holidays are all about? No? Well, it's a big part of it. Especially when you're Italian. Everything is about food when you're Italian. When mom's house smells like a weird mix of cookies and lasagna, Christmas must be here.

4. The week after Christmas. At my job, we're forced to take off the week between Christmas and New Year's. Using our own vacation time. Whether we want to or not. I bitch about this every single year, yet every year I'm pretty grateful to have that time off. When the kids were little, I'd try to use that time to do things with them, or just sit around the house with them in our pajamas playing with their new Christmas toys, but now that they are teenagers and have lives of their own, this week is MINE. So I sit around the house in my pajamas playing with new Christmas toys.

5. New Year's Day. This means the holidays are finally over and we can all get back to our normal lives of not spending every day bitching about how much money we are spending and how many relatives we have to kiss and how much food we ate and how cheap our bosses are. Well, we might still do that. But without the benefit of the spiked eggnog that usually precedes those rants.


1. The whole gift thing. I really do like buying gifts for people. But the stress of keeping up with my family who are notorious for overgiving, and the stress of trying to find just the right gift for everyone and the stress of spending all that money for this holiday is enough to keep me up at night. And the whole gift-getting thing too is kind of stressful, as I never know what to tell people when they ask what I want, plus with the way Christmas went for me the past ten years or so, the receiving part of give/receive is a sore point for reasons I won't get into. I do love Christmas Day. I just hate getting there.

2. The music. It's fun for a few minutes to sing a few rounds of We Wish You A Merry Christmas to get you in the mood, but about three songs into the "All Christmas music, all the time!" schtick, it gets old and my nerves. It's like Christmas is being forced into my head no matter where I go and I no longer hear "Oh Holy Night," but just a million subliminal messages saying things like "there's only three days til Christmas and you have four presents left to buy and you are out of money!"

war_on_christmas.jpg3. The TV specials. Yea, I love that first showing of Year Without A Santa Clause, too. But by the time the week before Christmas rolls around, I'm tired of every single channel showing something holiday related. Frosty's New Year and the Rugrats' Hannakuh and the Very Special Episode of CSI North Pole and every single sitcom insisting on doing a ghost of Christmas past thing, I'm ready to put the Christmas tree through the screen.

4. The crowds. You already know I hate shopping. But sometimes you have to do it. So even if I just want to go buy some groceries, I have to deal with the fact that my grocery store is in the same lot as the local WalMart. Which means fifteen cars all vying for the same parking space, lots of honking horns and people cursing at each other, old people taking twelve minutes to pull into a parking spot that could fit a truck, soccer moms in their Hummers barrelling through the lot as if they were the only people on the planet, fat, lazy fuckers who follow you to your car trying to get the closest parking space possible even though there are 50 empty spaces at the end of the lot.....maybe I just hate parking lots. Or people.

5. The "War on Christmas." Ok, this may or may not exist, but I'll tell you something. I'm not religious by any stretch of the imagination and Jesus is not the reason for my season, but I've got a problem with people who go out of their way to strip these holidays of everything they are supposed to be about. How could it possibly offend you when someone says Merry Christmas to you? I don't care what religion you are or aren't, would it fucking kill you to just smile and say, same to you? Why does it bother you so much to see a menorah or nativity scene in front of a building? How the hell is this affecting your life so much that you need to protest about it? What ever happened to live and let live? Why can't we all get along? Bah.

In the spirit of all that, I give you my nine favorite secular, politically correct Christmas carols:

1. I'm Dreaming of Many-Hued Winter Season
2.Rudolph, the Reindeer with the Facial Appendage of a Different Color
3.Oh, Come all ye Faithful, Agnostics and Atheists
4. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (but it was Grandma's fault for being in the space set aside for woodland creatures to run free without interference from human beings)
5. Frosty the Snowperson of An Indistinguishable Gender
6. I Saw My Parent/Step Parent/Guardian/Caretaker Kissing Santa Claus
7. I'm Getting Nothin' for Christmas (because my parents think the holiday is overcommercialized and co-opted from pagans and only capitalist pigs buy presents)
8. You Must Have Had a Terrible Childhood, Mr. Grinch
9. All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth (but because we don't have nationalized health care for everyone, my parents can't afford dental coverage)

Michele wishes you a Happy Festivus.


100% agreement on all counts


I do like christmas tunes, but after growing up on luded-out Jackie Gleason Xmas albums, I prefer less well-known versions of standards and new tunes.


I love Christmas lights, but give me a break on the icicle lights. Seriously. They're just not that interesting--not compared to the garish classics. And Christmas is about being garish. It's about everything being overdone. That's not icicle lights. Oh, and they're such a damn cliche at this point. I mean, come on, people. Put up some color.

(I'm torn on the multicolored icicle lights, with a lean toward liking them.)

The week after Christmas will actually be pretty nice for me this year. Normally, I'd be working my crappy retail job, dealing with tons of people returning all the stuff they didn't want and using their gift cards. Now, I'm not working at all. In fact, I'm taking a trip up to Seattle with friends for three days between Christmas and New Year, so even better.

Oh, and the whole War on Christmas thing? Maybe it's different other places in the country, but from where I sit, it's pretty much made up. Yes, there are a couple uptight people who bitch, but I hear a hell of a lot more about this supposed war from overwrought, over-persecuted, incredibly paranoid people who apparently have decided that the hardest thing in the world is to be a white Christian. Give me a fucking break. That's a pretty sweet deal in America today, even if a Rabbi does occasionally raise a stink in Sea Tac or something.

So yeah. Sure, some people bitch, but I know a hell of a lot of people who aren't religious or aren't Christian and they don't much give a damn about all the Christmas stuff. And that seems to go for pretty much everyone I meet. And yet, somehow all I hear about is this supposed War on Christmas. It's made up bullshit to boost TV ratings and play into the persecution-complex of batshit crazy paranoids throughout the country.


Anyway, Merry Christmas everyone! Sorry for the rant.

Oh, and while I mentioned that Christmas is all about being garish, that house in the picture really took it too damn far. Even during Christmas, there's a limit on how garish you should be.


To clarify, Michele, that rant wasn't directed at you, because I totally agree with what you said. It was directed at idiots like Bill O'Reilly who like to hype up a fake scandal.


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