Festivus for the rest of us?

December 22, 2006 by barbara

by barbara

It is the season of flu, light deprivation, freezing rain and Festivus. Yes, Festivus. That formerly ficticious holiday got legs on a 1997 Seinfeld episode. Festivus is usually celebrated on December 23, but other dates in December work, too. Its slogan is A Festivus for the rest of us! The visual symbol of Festivus is an unadorned aluminum pole'"a nod to anti-holiday-materialism. The 'Airing of Grievances' is a major feature of Festivus, wherein each person tells everyone else who is present all the ways they've disappointed them over the past year. After the Festivus dinner (usually meatloaf) come the 'Feats of Strength.' Festivus officially ends when the head of the household is wrestled to the floor and pinned. Read on.

Festivus features "Festivus miracles," which at any other time would be called coincidences. There is little reference to music related to Festivus season (adieu, John Rutter) and gift-giving is antithetical to Festivusians.

Some quirky folks have taken a shine to mythological Festivus and live it out in real time. There's an outfit that manufactures and markets extruded alloy aluminum Festivus poles. Their motto is Made in Milwaukee: A city known for its Very High Strength-to-Weight Ratio. Allen Salkin's book about Festivus (yes, really) includes a recipe for ham with Junior Mint and Snapple glaze. You can purchase Festivus T-shirts and greeting cards'"which seems to teeter on the brink of commercialism.

I've been a Christmas gal all my life. But there are days when Festivus looks mighty attractive. Take yesterday, for instance. Flu, a family death and lifelong procrastination combined to find me laboring in Santa's workshop late last night. Wrap, tape, label, smack-on-a-bow. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

You know that lovely concept of thinking warm, loving thoughts about each person as you wrap their Christmas gifts? I didn't remember that until I was nearly done. So I whomped up One Big Collective Thought and hoped it'd do the trick.

The ginger cookie dough has been chilling for six days. I hope the turkey is big enough. Almost time for the traditional march from the oven to the sink with the boiling water bath that surrounds the rice pudding as it bakes. Will I make it safely yet again? The red potatoes are so old, they've grown tentacles. Now what?

Festivus. Christmas. Festivus. Christmas.

Fade to that manger. The one in the Middle East, remember? Simpler times, more primitive wars. News traveled slowly. But travel it did. Through centuries, as it turned out. And a principal message that evolved out of Christmas Eve I was this: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you."

Well, seems we've made a royal mess of those words of hope. But without hope, we're pretty much finished, aren't we?

Words of hope, words of Christmas.

Christmas it is, then, for this aging cynic.

Posted in

Comments

Anonymous (not verified) | December 23, 2006 - 10:44am

Relax. A couple of thousand years of history and tradition versus nine years of wacky college students acting out part of a sitcom.

It's still a "fictitious" holiday no matter how far behind you are on your Christmas preparations.

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regdbcvb (not verified) | June 6, 2007 - 6:39am

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