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The Top 10 Ways Christmas is the Ultimate Downfall of Western Civilization (Late Entry Monday Mission)

1. Christmas Insanity

The first nod goes to the American Psychological Association, who I believe are actually the ones behind the whole Christmas Madness Syndrome. I mean really, who stands to gain the most from holiday madness, which, by the way, ensues regardless of amount of spending? That's right: shrinks. In fact, I notice an inverse correlation between holiday sales and level of insanity.

2. Christianity is not for greased pigs

I'd also like to nod towards the Christian Church, all denominations, for losing complete control over the holiday they instituted. Despite legislation from the US Congress (which graciously and magnanimously allows the whole world to value Christianity and Christmas), once again, the holiday has run amuck. I'm impressed that the Church is able to control Congress (talk about herding cats) but distressed that they've lost the handle on the holiday overall.

3. Think of Albert, but let's not cry, I know he'd not want it that way

Another chunk of blame goes, of course, to the Germans, for starting the whole tree thing which spawned the whole garland thing and led to the mistletoe thing...thus the fault largely lies with Albert (Albert who? Queen Victoria's husband) who is basically blamed, err, credited with introducing these traditions to Great Britain and its former colonies, where it spread faster than measles and may be even more devastating culturally.

4. Nobody---and I mean nobody---feels warm and fuzzy about mice in the house

Then there's Clement Moore, who brought us nights and stockings and Santa and reindeer, which launched an entire slew of television shows involving clever animation and claymation, and funky sibling rivals, Mr. Heat Miser and Mr. Snow. Okay so I don't actually hate Rankin/Bass. I'm actually a devoted junkie. And I Tivo it all. Plus, I live in the land of Mr. Heat Miser---aka Mr. Green Christmas, Mr. Sun and Mr. Hundred and One (three known aliases)---who doesn't like it to ever get below sixty. Clearly, he is king here. Our azaleas and hibiscii (?) ( call Webster's) are blooming beautifully just now. It feels so festive. If it were Easter.

By the way, you know a song rocks when Big Bad Voodoo Daddy picks it up:

5. It's all because of Poltergeist. And maybe Chuckie.

When I was a kid my grandmother (the one who loved me, not Evil Granny) liked to spoil me rotten through her only known love currency: tons of Just Because gifts. I speak this language well. All was golden until the year she bought me and my sister stuffed clowns, big ones. Just like in the movie. And we both stopped sleeping through the our ages (umm, teens?). Christmas is like one big Poltergeist terror waiting to happen what with all the creepy stuffed elves and santas laying about...everywhere. I'll not rest easy until after Boxing Day, when the last potentially demonized stuffed Christmas figure is safely packed away until the next poor sap I mean person comes along in a year.

I think my sister jogs to keep in shape for the running that might be required at any given Christmas. Just ask her. And see number 1.

6. Money is the root of the evil tree or something like that.

Do you people have any idea how expensive December can be for a person when her entire family---including her own kids---share birthdays with Jesus? Also...lots of angst due to the whole dreaded Combo Birthday/Christmas gift. Who thinks this is a good idea? What kind of person are you? Allow me to disabuse the notion that it's a good idea. It's not.

Here's a simple formula to keep in mind:

Happy Friend or Relative = Person Birthday / Jesus Birthday

I know. It costs more. But on the up side, there are usually lots of sales this time of year and you can also buy gifts for December in any of the other eleven months.

(Dear Julie: Take note of own preaching. Thanks, Self, representing Your Wallet.)

7. Knock Three Times on the Ceiling if You Want Me

I noticed something recently. A portion of my husband's family is Jewish (which only adds to my friend Anna's suspicion that Jon is actually a Jew from Brooklyn, not an Episcopalian from Houston) and I notice them actually living a stress-free, enjoyable December. What's up with that? How do they manage to seemingly actually enjoy Roshashana, Purim, Pesach, Shabbat, and Hanukkah, and all the rest? Where are the Jewish characters, the sorts of mythical creatures that one can rent a large stinky stuffed costume for and wear to the delight (or more likely, utter terror) of small children? I'm just curious how their faith manages to be quite enough for the holiday, no rabbits or immortal bearded people required. Or have I missed a large portion of Judaism?

8. White Elephants are not from Connecticut

I notice south of the Mason-Dixon line les cadeaux horible swaps are called Yankee, and north of that they are called White Elephant, which begs a serious question: What have Yankees got against elephants? (I think the other question answers itself.)

9. Not my gumdrop buttons!

Why is gingerbread historically a flavor of terror? What happens to those who do not heed the warnings and enter the gingerbread house? That's right! You're fodder for the next meal. And poor gingerbread men, who never can run fast enough. I'm put perpetually in mind of the scene from Shrek the Halls wherein an enormous Santa decapitates (with his bare teeth---and by the way, what's the alternative to bare teeth??) the gingerbread man's precious Susie. I can barely manage to eat meat. Why would faux cannibalism appeal to me? And yet, it does. Oh does it ever. This leads me to question the animal nature of man and man's inhumanity to man, which leads us right back to number 1.

10. Even Jack Handy thought it was a good idea

Those of you who know me know I am a pretty big advocate for parenting via the path of least resistance, which often means lying to my kids. But the truth is I lie about the little things (no no this store doesn't sell's more like a museum here, just for looking, with eyes though, not hands!) and tell the truth about big things (nothing on television is real at all, nothing) (okay okay so I perpetually lie to my kids) (I even confessed today to telling my kids catalogs are free books about kids who love colors, for example).

But really...culturally endorsed lying en masse to our kids?

You know...maybe this whole Christmas thing has a point.

This post brought to you by the American Psychological Association and the Monday Mission, which are completely separate entities with no affiliation whatsoever other than this sentence.

So what do you think ought to go on this list?

P.S. Come visit me at the Houston Chronicle Mama Drama blog today, too. The fabulous ladies there are letting me blogsit.

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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Unknown said…
yes person birthday/ Jesus birthday - just not the same, not at all! but you know about my family....
Girlplustwo said…
you are so incredibly witty, Julie. I never could have pulled this post off. it was awesome. i so want to show it to my parents when they arrive but i don't think they'll get the humor. too bad for them.
painted maypole said…
he he he he he

i love when you play along. thanks!
shay said…
I am laughing so hard AND thinking, there is no way I'm smart enough to add anything to this list. You pretty much covered it - thanks!

(I'm so glad my birthday is safely in November, far enough away from Christmas to get no combo gifts!)
S said…
crack me up, you!

"Why is gingerbread historically a flavor of terror?"

Michele said…
Just for the record, speaking from someone who has only been Jewish for the past 4ish years, if we look like we are skating through Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the rest, it's a big lie. The High Holidays are the most stressful time of year for me and I dread them for months in advance. Heck, I'm already dreading Pesach and it's not until April ... so by the time Hanukkah rolls around, we're so happy to take a break and let all the people who celebrate Christmas deal with the stress. Christmas was one holiday I didn't mind giving up. I hated the materialism and buy frenzy and January debt.
Anonymous said…
I think it is because Hanukkah is a minor holiday. Pesach is pretty stressful.

Emily R
Emily said…
How appropriately timed, this post. I am also contemplating all of the things that are wrong with this holiday, and all of the ways I personally have missed the mark.

Thanks for lightening it up a bit and bringing me out of my funk.

Off to your Houston bloggy thingy.
Julie Pippert said…
Emily, I always say laughter is the best medicine, even if it stems from dry sarcastic humor, LOL. It's all just noise, isn't it? In the end, you have your lovely self and lovely family and I wish you a lovely rest of the holiday season. :)


Emily R and Michele, you two just depressed me. For some reason thinking Judaism offered joyous holidays was comforting. But I still love you both and promise to be your comfort and support in a few months.


SM and Kyla, thanks. :)


Shay, big thanks! Laughing and made my day. Yes, I benefit the excellent timing of my own birthday, which is distant enough from Christmas. But I grew up with plenty not so fortunate. I am luckily, then, well-trained to manage life as well as I can for my own Christmas babies. :)


PM, thanks for the launching point. And hosting. And writing your own great stuff. And reading. :)


Jen, big thanks. And yeah, maybe not the parents. I'd hate for them to think you read bad people. ;) My humor has been known to miss the mark, even this post.


Karen, I should have said not just family but people. Yes I do know you suffer the same dilemma. As I said to Shay, although my birthday *isn't* in December, I am very sensitive about it due to everyone else. I've been well-trained. :)
Suz said…
Very funny! My sister converted to Judaism about seven years ago and is enjoying the best of both worlds. She gets Christmas presents, because we celebrate Christmas, but gives none because she's Jewish. And her kid? Gets BOTH Hanukkah and Christmas presents. Don't get me started.
we_be_toys said…
Such a great post - I'm still laughing! I have to make gingerbread today - should I be afraid?
for number 3 - Prince Albert in a Can! Remember those prank phone calls? I actually lived in the town where he was born for a year.

for number 9 - the alternative to bare teeth I think was bare gums :) Back in the pre-orthondontia days. But it does somewhat sound like stating the obvious doesn't it? I always wondered about that one.
anne said…
"...catalogs are free books about kids who love colors..."

This? Is BEAUTIFUL! I'm dying laughing!
For the record, I call it "Yankee swap" and so do most of the people I know. But we're from the south of the north, if that makes any sense.

And I listen to the Heat Miser/Mr. Snow songs all year long.
Aliki2006 said…
I'm still laughing, too...

This is perfect for me--perfect for I just spent the day driving from store to store in search of the one item I think my parents might like; the one item that I can't find anywhere.
Anonymous said…
ALL of you have bdays in December? Dear God, I can barely handle John's birthday on December 9th.
Anonymous said…
ALL of you have bdays in December? Dear God, I can barely handle John's birthday on December 9th.
Unknown said…
Funny funny girl. Loved this. Whatever will we stress about come January?
Liv said…
i think you nailed it, sister. in fact, i'd really like to see you write JP's guide to surviving the holidays in the face of massive psychological torture.

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