It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Truly, it is. The city feels festive with shiny snowflakes hanging from lightposts. Happy shoppers bustle around LOVE Park’s Christmas Village. Block after block of South Philly is aglow in twinkle lights. Yukon Cornelius and the rest of the Rudolph gang have been on TV at least three times since Thanksgiving. Even the crankiest-looking people storming down Center City streets seem to have a little more pep in their step. What’s not to like about Christmas?
Well, quite a bit actually. Somehow, it seems like in the past few years Christmas has been on crack. Trends and traditions that should never have stuck are popping up all over the place. Here, eight things about Christmas I’d like to see disappear.
1. Dickens Village
This is Philadelphia specific, but man oh man. The Dickens Village is bo-ring. But our city isn’t the only place guilty of a Dickensian Christmas obsession. It’s safe to wager that at least 50 percent of mature holiday cards are set in the 1800s. Somehow, our culture associates the birth of Christ, consumerism and men in knickers. Why must we pretend as if A Christmas Carol was the beginning and end of yuletide celebration?
2. Running of the Santas
Much like the nauseating St. Patty’s Day Erin Express, the Running of the Santas is a holiday-themed effort in the worst kind of debauchery: bros and hos and copious amounts of alcohol. The gist: girls in slutty Mrs. Claus costumes and guys in fuzzy red suits run three blocks before doing a bar crawl. This very magazine once dubbed it, “a younger, hotter version of the Mummers parade.” I can’t be 100-percent sure, but I think that means people pee in the street.
3. Crappy Mall Santas
A few weekends ago, I saw the worst kind of mall santa: skinny guy in a fat suit. This country has an obesity epidemic and job rates are pretty damn low. We can’t find enough out-of-work fat guys?
4. Elf on the Shelf
This creepy tradition was birthed in Marietta, Georgia, when a woman self-published a book about how elves hang out in homes before Christmas, watching the children and reporting back to Santa about who is naughty and nice. This is skeevy. Think about it: At the same time we’re teaching kids not to share pertinent information about themselves on Facebook, we’re telling them that Santa sends rogue spies into their homes to invade every moment of familial privacy. In pre-Shelf Elf years, the idea of Santa getting a bad report from mom and dad was enough to scare youngsters into behaving. Now he needs an entire army of freckled, faux-jolly, striped-shirt-wearing tattletales keeping track of a kid’s every move.
5. Lawn Inflatables
Only cute if your front yard happens to also be a car dealership.
6. The “Happy Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas” Debate
This came to a local climax last year when a group of semantically passionate people tried to have the name of Christmas Village changed. I can see how non-Christians would be irritated with all the hoopla surrounding the big red-and-green celebration, but well, it’s not really in our control anymore. (Blame Wal-mart.) With all due respect to the very religious, the connotation of the word “Christmas” has lost all spiritual meaning. It’s a secular word and a way to wish someone a good couple of days with the family. And frankly, I live in Philadelphia. If you aren’t puking on me on the bus or telling me to fuck off on Broad Street, I’m content with however you want to wish me joy. So let’s stop debating it.
7. Salvation Army Bell Ringers
This has absolutely nothing to do with the jingle bells. (I actually kind of like the tinkling sound.) But Salvation Army is a backwards-thinking organization that claims to do good for individuals in need, but has very strict anti-gay positions. In a piece last on G Philly, Bill Browning recalled a time when he and a boyfriend were homeless and Salvation Army insisted the couple break up before receiving assistance. Christmas is a time of goodwill toward all men, even the gays ones. Let’s distance the holiday from any association with this group.
8. New Christmas Songs
“Adeste Fideles.” “Joy to the World.” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” I’ll even give you “Feliz Navidad” and that so-catchy-it-hurts Mariah Carey Christmas song. But—and I’m lookin’ at you on this one, Bieber—has it ever occurred to anyone that maybe we just have enough Christmas carols? This one, for example, we could maybe have done without.
(And lest ye think I am a total Grinch, please note that I am wearing a Christmas sweater and listening to Christmas music as I write this post.)