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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 6 years ago

'Twas the night before Festivus ...


Let’s get a couple things straight. Nobody roasts chestnuts anymore, and even fewer people than nobody have even the slightest idea what a Yule log is.

Those are facts. Don’t even get me started on Jack frost.

So, I took those facts and did some calculations. Here's what I found:


I know: When I made this discovery — just now, coincidentally, as I was trying to figure out what to write for this week’s column — I was as disappointed as you are. But, math doesn’t lie — and, trust me, mine is water-tight.

Apparently, decades of scoffing in the face of chestnut-roasting and Yule log-burning have taken their toll. Not realizing that these activities were the lynchpins tying the whole holiday together, we’ve become detached from the true meaning of Christmas, replacing it instead with hyper-commercialism and empty traditions, like spending time with family and going to church.

Personally, I blame central air and heating.

But it’s really not all bad. At least we still have Festivus.

For those unfamiliar, Festivus is a secular holiday created by the great Brooklyn philosopher Frank Costanza, in a 1997 episode of “Seinfeld.”

If we’re really being honest, even for a huge “Seinfeld” fan like myself, the Festivus episode really isn’t that great. But people everywhere still latched onto the idea of this brazen new holiday, celebrated every Dec. 23, and its three key tenants.

No. 1)  Christmas trees are the worst symbol of holiday greed and embellishment. Put up an unadorned aluminum pole, instead.

No. 2) Before dinner, it’s time for the Airing of Grievances. Take a second here to gently let your loved ones know the ways they’ve disappointed you this year.

And No. 3) After dinner, the Feats of Strength, a tradition in which the head of the household challenges a guest to a wrestling match.

It may sound hokey, but at least in my family, we’ve been celebrating Festivus for years — you know, minus the wrestling. We gather at some restaurant, my uncle brings a metal pole, we complain about the Mets and then we eat.

And every year, we get even more friends in on the action — Christians, Muslims, Jews, people with glasses, people with buck teeth, people who use the word “guesstimate.” We’ll take just about anybody.

For us, Festivus is just another reason to celebrate, and that’s the whole the point. Even though, if we’re really being honest, I’m sure we can all think of plenty of legitimate grievances to air this year, don’t bring any them up at your family’s Festivus dinner this week.

Instead, complain about, I don’t know, how you’ve been needing to buy new socks for a while, but you’re too lazy to buy new socks, and so you’ve been wearing worn-out old socks forever, and that’s annoying. Complain about how your mouth is sometimes dry in the morning. Just complain. Trust me, it’ll be fun.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that there’s very little in life that can’t be fixed by complaining. And as a bonus, people love listening to complaints, so it’s a win-win.

As for your real grievances, well, throw them in the fire for the night and pretend that they’re imaginary. Really shouldn’t be too hard, seeing as how we’ve been pretending Yule logs are a real thing for the past few hundred years.


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