Tag Archives: holidays

Easter Candy

After much nagging from me, J sends me an email yesterday with this:

Easter is behind us now, and as a wise man once said sometimes you have to put your behind in your past.

Unfortunately, as another wise man once said—a different one, I swear—my fellow Americans, we are some kind of fat. Putting our behinds anywhere is going to be a challenge.

Easter is probably one of the most confused holidays of the year as people who are not religious suddenly feel compelled to take the seats and parking spaces of regular attendees at churches, families come together for a Sunday dinner that is not eclectic so much as confused and kids try once again to pretend for the sake of their parents that they are idiotic enough to believe that somewhere in the world there is a giant rabbit who defecates chocolate eggs.

In the run up to Easter this year, I read a fascinating story from the Associated Press about why Easter has not become as commercialized as Christmas. The major premise being that both Christmas and Easter are religious holidays, but whereas Santa Clause has firmly pushed baby Jesus out of the manger, the Easter Bunny can’t seem to move the adult version off the cross.

The author ultimately concluded that Americans must feel a certain reverence and respect for the Easter season, since it is the bulk of foundational Christian theology, that they maybe do not have for Christmas  because…well, the article started to fall apart.

As an analysis of the culture wars, I found it interesting. I suppose the next time a Jerry Falwell type gets worked up into a lather over abortion, gay marriage, Hollywood smut or pornography, we can fire back with, “Hey look pal, at least you’ve been able to keep the Easter Bunny from being culturally relevant, so smoke on your pipe and put that in or whatever.

I actually think the reason the Easter Bunny is not as culturally relevant as Santa Clause is because, if you’ll pardon my diversion into crass literality, the Easter Bunny just plain doesn’t make any sense.

As a story, Santa Clause holds together nicely. He lives up in the North Pole with a group of elves who make toys for good little girls and boys. Once a year, on Christmas Eve, which is conveniently ALWAYS DECEMBER 24, he loads everything into a sleigh and leaves it under a Christmas tree and children all over America wake up on December 25 to a bunch of cheap plastic crap from China that will be mostly broken or forgotten about by December 26.

Like any mythology, there are holes in the story, but these have been nicely filled in over the years by an increasing body of Santa Clause literature in either books or television specials with stop-motion puppets voiced by Fred Astaire.

The Easter Bunny doesn’t have this kind of operation and it shows. Somewhere, someone needs to take the whole concept back to the drawing board and address the following areas of believability.

The Bunny.

Santa Clause is always male, always about six feet tall, always old, always morbidly obese, and always speaks in a tone of voice that suggests he’s had a little too much egg nog as he asks you what you want for Christmas. It’s comforting that whether you are watching a movie on AMC or in a shopping mall in Ashland, Ohio, Santa Clause will always be a certain way.

No such standards exist for the Easter Bunny.

Sometimes the Easter bunny looks like a bear.

In real life, bunnies never get too big to hold in your arms if you are into that sort of thing. In some of the movies, they maintain this size, while in other movies the bunny is larger than the children but smaller than the adults or larger than everyone.

Growing up, my mother always taught me that the Easter Bunny was huge and he might break the steps on the front porch on his way up. Given the state of our front porch, I believed her, but in my defense I was five.

In shopping malls and other venues, the bunny is always big but the gender of the rabbit is open to question as I have seen some shopping mall bunnies with curves that suggest they moonlight in that other career opportunity for our fleet footed brethren.

Sometimes bunnies talk and sometimes they don’t. This causes a lot of confusion since, unlike Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny does not have a back story or an approved script. What’s the Easter Bunny version of “ho ho ho!” It’s not there.

Other places go for realism and show kids an actual bunny that they claim is the Easter Bunny, but if I’m a child in America watching this animal with a clear case of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, I am likely going to feel cheated.

Easter gifts

At Christmas, it’s simple. Gifts are always toys (unless you count Uncle John’s box of socks and underwear he sends every year) and they always come wrapped and either under or around the tree.

Easter is confused. Sometimes there is a basket, sometimes there isn’t. Some people give candy, some people give toys. And the baskets go…well I guess it depends on your house or apartment.

But if you got your kid as far as believing there was an Easter Bunny in the first place, the gifts are where the whole thing falls apart, because whereas the idea of an old man producing toys in a factory in the North Pole populated by elves that you can’t see is somewhat believable, only the most gullible of children are going to believe the connection between bunnies and eggs.

I do not know why we are surprised that kids in America fail at science when we spend the early years of their childhood convincing them that somehow a rabbit produces not only eggs, but chocolate eggs at that.

And yet every spring we fill baskets with chocolate eggs and that god awful green plastic grass that gets caught in the wrappers and in our rugs in such a way that no vacuum cleaner can extract it, and we bemoan the rising levels of obesity and diabetes in this country while scratching our heads as to the cause.

At the end of the day, perhaps that’s what will make Easter as culturally relevant as Christmas, because whatever the differences, whatever the faults, whatever the holes in the mythology, the two holidays have a common purpose in filling and expanding our physical presence and make us, in the words of the aforementioned wise man, some kind of fat.

Now who wants pie?

Possible Felony: Eating an Old Lady’s Cookie Mail

I write to my entire department on Jan. 26, 2011 at 12:21 p.m.

So I’m a terrible person.

I received a package in the mail at my apartment and it was addressed to the person who used to live there.

I had good intentions. I brought the package to work to give to the USPS people so they could forward it on to where it needed to go. But then a bunch of time went by and I decided to forget it.

The package has been on my desk for about two weeks and in my purging spree, I decided I would open it and see if it was important. If it was, I would make sure that Rosalie Delgado received her package.

So I opened it and it’s a bunch of stale holiday cookies. But there’s some biscotti in there and some truffles that are pretty good.

It’s all in the food cube if you’re so inclined.
_____________________________________________
R replies all:

Thanks for sharing… I think.  Though stale cookies are still better than no cookies (right, J?)
________________________________________________
The other N.P. plugs her Girl Scout Cookies:

Well, if you want FRESH cookies . . .
________________________________________________
I tease:

Well isn’t someone just a Nancy Pants…
__________________________________________________
Then, J unleashes this:

This whole thing sounds crumby to me. I mean the cascade of illegality committed by one Ms. P. rises to the level of a federal crime—why don’t you just put a penny on the rail road tracks or burn a dollar bill while you’re at it you hoodlum?

As for poor Ms. Rosalie, I mean, who knows what this woman’s story is. Alone on Christmas, waiting for a pathetic box of cookies to arrive from her children, who send her sweets every three months to stay in the old lady’s will. But the cookies didn’t come this Christmas, so Rosalie probably went to her lawyer the next day and wrote them all out. The kids, who had been living the life of the prodigal son in anticipation of a trust fund transfer on the day the estate tax expires now must go out and get jobs in this economy and they can only HOPE to be as successful as the fine young man who passed out free chicken at the Gallery mall, but what is more likely is they will decide that the answer is a life of crime and debauchery.

Yeah, the whole thing sounds crumby. It’s not going to keep me from going over and getting a cookie though. I’m not that concerned.

There weren't NEARLY as fresh as these babies.

__________________________________________________
I reply:

Wow. Just Wow.
_____________________________________________________
J retorts:

You, my dear, are a family wrecking federal felon.
_____________________________________________________

Maybe. But at least someone got to eat them before the last cookie crumbled.

Yankee Candles: the bane of the holiday season.

As injustices go, it doesn’t quite rank up there with starvation in Ethiopia, child prostitution in Thailand, Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment for resisting apartheid in South Africa, or the Holocaust, but I for one am sick of going to my office refrigerator and finding ice cube trays with one lonely ice cube. Come on people, what am I supposed to do with this? Couldn’t you have put that ice cube in your cup and refilled the tray? Who does that?

Spare me the lecture about how this just shows that Americans in general, and me in particular, have truly run out of things to worry about. Yes, we probably have. But that hasn’t stopped us from worrying and complaining.

Perhaps it’s the holidays. I think they make everyone depressed.

Those of us lucky enough to have families dread the thought of having to spend time with them, while lonely people wish anyone would be there to open presents with on Christmas Eve. True story–I once read a post on craigslist.com from a woman called, “Spend Christmas Eve with me.” She was alone, she didn’t want to be and she would welcome anyone to her house who wanted to spend Christmas Eve decorating her tree and listening to Christmas Carols. She ended the post by saying that men who were looking for something sexual should look elsewhere. My guess is she either spent the night with a lot of lonely women and their cats or is dead in a ditch somewhere; there really isn’t much in between on this one.

Those of us lucky enough to have money wind up spending it on a lot of meaningless garbage and running up debt, while those who do not have money have to answer some poor little kids question about why Santa couldn’t make it to his house. Nothing depresses me more than the thought of a kid with nothing to open Christmas morning, and I blame Yankee Candle for the whole mess. Seriously, Yankee Candle has become the new paperweight. Ever thought about how meaningless a paperweight is as a gift? Do you know of many offices that have a lot of windstorms that require us to have a special item to keep our papers from blowing away? My office doesn’t even have a window, and even if it did I’m not opening it in January. I might open it in April, but by then I would have forgotten about your damn paperweight.

Yankee Candles though are a travesty on the American economy. In my house we buy them in bulk and give them to people we feel obligated to give gifts to but don’t care enough about to actually think about what they would truly want. My guess is I’m not the only one who does this, and because we give them out before Christmas I also suspect that many of them get re-gifted at office parties and large family gatherings where people do not notice.

Oi vey.

Office Christmas parties are now in full swing depriving the American economy of much needed productivity. Seriously, if you are out of work and looking for a job you may as well stop until after new year’s because the decision makers are all on vacation and HR is busy planning the office party. Beyond the office party there are a lot of departmental parties and a lot of unnecessary gift swapping.

Whoever thought office gift swapping was a good idea ought to be taken out in the street and pelted with Yankee Candles. Most of these are “Yankee Swap” (Damn Yankees ruined everything, let’s hope the South rises again—Lee surrendered I didn’t!—Where was I? Oh yeah, office gift giving) where people have between $10 and $15 to come up with a gift that everyone might like. All these gifts go in a pile and people pick from the pile. Then the next person has the option of stealing your gift or picking from the pile.

I did this for three years at one of my old jobs. Every year I did the same thing. I would go to the local convenience store, buy a gift card for the exact amount of the Yankee Swap and put it in the pile. When my turn came, I would pick it and act surprised. Curiously, no one ever wanted my convenience store gift card and I would just fill up my gas tank and buy a Slim Jim on the way home. All things considered, a very Merry Christmas.

Gift Cards are great though because while they used to require thought they really don’t anymore. Used to be you had to at least be aware of where the person likes to shop, but now you can buy gift cards at your bank. And this is different than cash, how? Maybe it’s better if I don’t ask.

It will all be over soon, and then we’ll be in to gift returning season because, honestly, even if you are a conscientious person trying to do right by everyone on your gift list you are going to screw it up somewhere and that Yankee Candle is going right back to the store.

The tradition of returns is as old as Christmas itself. When Jesus was born away in a manger some well meaning kings, or wise men depending on your translation, brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to a screaming child (I don’t buy the “little lord Jesus no crying he make” line for a minute—I’ve raised two babies). After Mary graciously accepted these gifts, she likely ran out to the first century equivalent of Wal Mart and promptly exchanged them for some Yankee Candles.

Now who wants pie?

Tis the season for…

J writes via email:

It occurs to me that with Thanksgiving next week, we have now officially entered the holiday season. Retailers, desperate to squeeze the last dollar out of a beleaguered consumer, started their sales a lot earlier this year which makes me wonder, are there any chumps who pay full price for anything anymore? Probably we all are because retailers aren’t chumps either and they likely mark everything up so they can mark everything down in time for us to fill each other’s lives with a lot of cheap imports so we can alleviate the guilt that comes from ignoring each other all year.

Christmas is a uniquely obtrusive holiday because it leaves everyone depressed. First there are the truly less fortunate who can barely make ends meet throughout the year and certainly don’t have the resources to fill the area under the tree with a lot of wrapped up crap, or even much less afford a tree. My heart breaks when I think of kids who don’t get anything for Christmas, especially when I consider that most everyone I know will exacerbate the trade imbalance with China as we fill our kids lives with a lot of cheap plastic crap that will either be broken inside of two hours, forgotten inside of three weeks and out in a garage sale inside of four months as the weather gets warm and we go a wassailing through people’s driveways in search of things that they couldn’t even care enough about to get all the way down the driveway to the trash can.

Seriously, ever notice there is only a one letter difference between garage sale and garbage sale? It’s as if someone one day was trying to take out their trash, threw their back out or something and then said, “well maybe I’ll just start putting price tags on things and see what happens.” Thus the underground economy of the garage sale was born, but that’s a topic for another post.

The thing about the holidays is they require a lot of forced socialization. First there are our families—and did you hear the surgeon general wants us to spend Thanksgiving Dinner talking about our family medical histories so we can better understand our genetic risks? True story. I can just see it now.

“Uncle Ed, no one wants to hear what color your shit was yesterday! We’re trying to eat.”

“Hey, I’m just following the surgeon general’s recommendation.”

“Have another glass of gravy and blow it out your ass.”

“Speaking of…”

As if families were not bad enough, there is a lot of forced socialization with our co-workers as we go to departmental Christmas parties, office-wide Christmas parties, industry-convention sponsored Christmas parties, important client Christmas events, and the one at the boss’s house that only a few people are invited to. These are the worst social chores. If you are lucky enough to have gainful employment in this era, you likely spend most of your waking hours there and the last thing you need is to spend even more of it at a holiday party I don’t care how much you like everybody.

Can we all give each other the best Christmas present ever and acknowledge that just because we work together it does not mean that we have to be friends? This does not mean that we don’t like each other, but if you are lonely it’s not my fault and you should not make me feel like it’s my obligation to give you a social life just because we share a cube wall. If you want to be part of a community go join a church. It’s not hard to find one that doesn’t expect all that much from you, especially this time of year. Yes, I’m talking to you Christmas and Easter folks.

But the Christmas Party is the worst social chore.

Employers want to celebrate the end of a good year.

Except…

Unless you work in bankruptcy foreclosures this year pretty much sucked for you. You didn’t get a raise, your sales barely held on and you likely lost your job. If you didn’t lose your job you lived in constant fear of losing it, and you were asked to do more with less as everyone tried to save money. So it seems like the easiest way to save even more money is to not have a catered affair with a lot of alcohol, the bill for which could easily have paid the salary of the staff assistant that was let go to save money.

That level of holiday cheer never happens...in offices.

The holidays are a reason to celebrate.

Except…

No one can agree on if it’s ok to say Merry Christmas because we’re all walking on eggshells trying to be polite to everyone. So I’m just going to say it. Starting on November 26, when I say goodbye to you, I’m going to say Merry Christmas. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, fine, but don’t get all huffy and remind me of your right to ignore a holiday that 99.9 percent of the country celebrates without incident. When you decided to celebrate one of the other holidays you knew you were going to be in a minority, so own it.

That said, I don’t think anyone should be forced to celebrate at a holiday party. Last year at my office there were Christmas carols, and there was talk of a Christmas play. It’s pretty diverse here in terms of faith and I could not think of any way this would not be offensive to someone and fortunately eventually the powers that be saw clear to eliminate the play. The songs stayed, but I compensated by singing “walking round in women’s underwear” as loud as I could.

The Christmas party gives people a reason to socialize with co-workers we wouldn’t normally see…

Except…

I have heard of no stories where this turns out well. Yes, I suppose you could finally meet that cute girl from accounting, but here’s the thing, if you haven’t hooked up by now, she’s probably married or attached, and if she’s not she’s really lonely and you do not want to have to deal with the dysfunction of a lonely person around the holidays.

Plus, if you work in a big office, you won’t see each other again and you’ll likely engage in a drunk hook up that everyone in the office will remember even if they don’t talk about and you’ll become the subject of a whisper campaign that will last until at least the following Christmas party where you’ll get the chance to do it all again.

For some reason, the Christmas parties will go on though and I’ll go to them because I’m obligated to. Because no one wants to be the Grinch.

But I won’t have fun, and neither will you. Maybe we should all just say so.

Now who wants pie?