The War on the Holidays

While running a few errands with Vivian at Zellers, I notice that the store is all decked out for the holidays. There’s seasonal carols on the PA system, garlands everywhere, and the toy section has the gravitational pull of a planet.

I must admit that at this odd time, 11 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, I’m able to better appreciate the holiday season. For once, the stores aren’t packed to the gunnels with shoppers, and the pace is a lot more relaxed. But as I reached the counter, I saw something that got me all hot under the collar, that justified all that I heard about the war against this holiday season that the greedy corporate secularists were engaging in.

On a table as a Walt Disney seasonal countdown calendar. You remember the ones: a thin cardboard box with little numbered panels that open to reveal a small, holiday-themed-shaped chocolate, teasing the little tykes each day as the days to the Big Day slowly counted down. Except that the countdown wasn’t to the big day. No. It was to New Year’s Day.

And I thought, immediately: how DARE they ignore the Winter Solstice.

Ever so slowly, but with increasing pace, our pagan traditions have been subsumed in a wave of commercialism that has stretched out this holiday from a few days around the end of December, to the entire run past Halloween. And, of course, Disney, that shameless corrupter of humanity, leads the charge with their Little Princess countdown calendars.

Gradually, other holidays have been incorporated into this mess, so that this special time has been rendered meaningless. And, finally, the last straw. Rather than our chocolate countdown calendars counting down to a special day in the middle of December, we now look past that to the end of the year.

New Year’s Eve is a completely separate holiday, people! It’s appreciated by a completely different group of people: men and women who need the alcohol and the reckless frivolity to recover from the shopping madness, the hopped-up, rambunctious children and the evil men in red suits that make our Decembers a living hell! And now you have the tykes counting down on our holiday? How dare you! Why don’t you just mould those little chocolates into the shape of champagne bottles? Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children?

Okay, seriously, I did raise my eyebrows at the fact that the Advent calendar appears to have been subsumed into a New Year’s Countdown calendar. The two traditions just did not mesh up in my head.

But I figure it goes like this: real Advent calendars are still out there. If I wanted one that counted down to Christmas Day I could, you know, go out and actually buy one. And why should I have all the fun?

Random Television Thoughts

Apropos of nothing, I’d just like to say that I really enjoyed the nine episode House arc this season. The whole search for a new team was nicely handled, and they also knew when to draw things to a close. And I think they’ve selected a good team. Taub impressed me when he stood up to House, and Kutner is just so gung ho. It seems there is some disagreement in this family about Thirteen (real name Remy Hadley, apparently). My father is quite taken by her, and I think she does have a strong character, even if it is a somewhat more exotic form of Dr. Cameron, but Erin calls her a cypher. She admits that the actress and Hugh Laurie have good chemistry, however, and that counts for something.

And I’d like to add my voice to the growing list of those who are really getting into the irreverent Pushing Daisies. The latest episode about the candy store was quite brilliant. I am shocked, as well as delighted, that this series has been given a full season run. I’m also a little bit sad.

Pushing Daisies is, in many ways, a descendant of the wonderful series Wonderfalls, which starred Caroline Dhavernas as the underachieving Jaye Tyler working in a souvenir store in Niagara Falls and discovering to her horror that the stuffed animals were talking to her. Pushing Daisies has a fair chunk of the production staff (including Bryan Fuller) and it stars Lee Pace, who played Jaye Tyler’s brother in Wonderfalls. It has the same quirky atmosphere turned up times ten, and it has moments of sweet poignancy.

What it doesn’t have is Caroline Dhavernas. It also doesn’t have that grounding in reality that anchored Wonderfalls and gave its flights of fancy context. The stuffed animals talked and talked and manipulated Jaye into taking several critical decisions which ultimately improved her life, including giving her a good adult relationship with Eric. On Pushing Daisies, Ned and Chuck love each other but can’t touch each other, which produces a lot of bittersweet drama, but there is no grounding that enables either character to really grow and develop, yet.

Pushing Daisies has a decent writing staff and a good collection of actors I’ve missed seeing from other shows, including Kristin Chenoweth from West Wing and Chi McBride from House and Boston Public. In a perfect world, both it and Wonderfalls would be sister programs, the former a “style-spinoff” of the latter, netting the production company millions while they continued to churn out new episodes of original television.

I’m glad that Pushing Daisies is being given the chance it deserves. But it reminds me of how much of a crime it was that Wonderfalls never got that chance.

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