Christmas Is Getting Older

Christmas comes faster but means less. The holiday's increasing commercialism is a trope time-tested, measurably accurate and increasingly depressing.

In 2018, retailers jump-started holiday ads in early November. For ye olde brick-and-mortars, it feels like a desperate attempt to convince us they're still viable. Amazon's Hurricane Florence-level flooding of the airwaves has a sadistic air of triumph. 

Charlie Brown is looking like an optimist these days. The message of Christmas has been diluted, perverted, squashed and left for dead by the side of the information superhighway.

Or maybe it's me.

Is Your Family Dysfunctional? A Holiday Quiz

Do you dread holidays? Have to gird yourself to face the relatives? Most likely your anxiety relates to sharing a room with a dysfunctional family. To see where yours falls along the spectrum, take this insightful quiz.

PART 1

Which of the following describes members of your family? Note: One person can qualify in multiple categories. Step-relatives count! And don’t forget to include yourself!

1. Racists
2. Ageists
3. Prejudiced against a certain religion or ethnicity (extra point for each)
4. Weapon-loving “loners”
5. Woman haters or abusers
6. Man haters or abusers
7. Dog-haters
8. Extreme Dog- and/or Cat-lovers (caring for more than five animals)
9. Pedophiles
10. Registered sex offenders
11. Drug addicts
12. Alcoholics
13. Gambling addicts
14. Sex addicts
15. Obese overeaters, bulimics, anorexics or others with eating disorders

Ugly Undertones to Rudoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer & Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

Twitter posts call out the nastiness underlying a perennial Christmas animated special; Huffington Post aggregates the observations to create a damning portrait.

And another cherished memory is spoiled. 
Image result for rankin bass rudolph
www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer-disturbing-details_us_5bfe058fe4b0f43bf2661c7f 

This follows the revelation that 1970's Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, also from cheesy animation studio Rankin-Bass, has some negative undertones of its own.

Header
https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/119079/a-very-gay-jewish-christmas 
In Sombertown, the evil ruler Burgermeister Meisterburger orders toys burned and children into forced labor. Ho ho ho! Try to sleep well now, woke kiddies.

The House from Hell

For nine years I lived in a freak house. I'm not talking about my family, necessarily, but about the house itself. I lived in one of the most upscale suburbs and school districts in the country--but our house was a falling-down rental at the end of a long, rutted driveway. It wasn't exactly The Glass Castle, more like Grey Gardens without the money.
My brother in our creepy driveway
Today that driveway is a smoothly paved road through a development of multimillion-dollar houses in Westchester County. But in my memory it lives on as a hellish byway of broken asphalt, ancient patch jobs and loose gravel that scared away parents and children, and ruined Halloween (and many an undercarriage).

Holidays in Hell


This site examines holidays as defined in American English: Thanksgiving, Independence Day, etc. But in British English, the word "holiday" means vacation. So, a hellish holiday can mean a really awful vacation - as described in this somewhat horrifying article.



Seriously? Who would choose any of these places over the South of France?

The Phantom Anniversary

This week was and wasn't my thirtieth wedding anniversary. It was, because I got married in 1988. And it wasn't, because we split up 11 years ago. 

I think of this date as my phantom anniversary. Most years it passes with minimal notice - and it's noticed mostly because it's the week of July 4th, so forever wedded in my mind to that holiday. But I took more substantial notice at the 20 mark (we actually had a mediation appointment that day), at 25 and again, this week, at 30. 

I loved my wedding. Heck, I loved my husband. I loved celebrating anniversaries, except toward the end, which should have given me a hint that it was toward the end. Love is something to celebrate, especially when it results in a child I love more than anything.

But a big phantom anniversary is bound to induce some retrospective thoughts. What used to be, what might have been, what went wrong, but also what went right.&

New York, Mon Amour Perdu

My New York was studded with cramped record and bookstores, unique boutiques, grungy abandoned buildings, out-of-the-way clubs. Today, abandoned and out-of-the-way have been taken over and jam packed by chain purveyors of brows, Brazilians and boba. Cupping, computers and craft beers. Smoothies, cycles and cell phones.

None of these retail categories existed when I left New York 30 years ago. Over the decades, my dozens of return visits have presented an ever-growing litany of change. I wasn't surprised when Anthony Dapolito died and his family's Vesuvio Bakery closed, or that CBGBs finally bit the dust. Those and others held out longer than most could have expected.

Less predictable were the hideous sliver buildings that cast creepy shadows and prick the skyline like a ravenous addict's syringes. The Twin Towers - much-derided almost-slivers themselves, have been elevated to a metaphor for a dangerous world where America no longer holds moral or actual authority. Time-Warner Center's replacement of Columbus Circle's admittedly funky convention center. The Trump desecration of the Upper West Side.