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Enough Already With Christmas Specials!

December 21, 2006 By:
Steve Hofstetter, JE Feature
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Steve Hofstetter

 I imagine it's much more difficult to be a Jew on Christmas than it is to be a Christian on Chanukah. You don't find many Chanukah specials about families getting stranded in an airport learning the true meaning of the menorah.

But if there were a lot of Chanukah specials, I'd be just as annoyed at those as I am at the existing one about Christmas. I've finally realized that I don't dislike most Christmas specials because they're about a holiday I don't celebrate; I dislike them because they're really, really cheesy.

Now, don't get me completely wrong. I love the original Grinch cartoon. The Peanuts specials are cute, and Seinfeld's "Festivus" episode is a classic. A number of sitcoms have simply had funny events happen at Christmas parties, which is fine considering that the holiday is a part of our country's pop culture.

But the shows that have people changing their lives based on the true meaning of Christmas really exasperate me.

I'm a very spiritual person, and I have never changed my life based on the true meaning of a holiday. And let's just say that if learning the true meaning of a holiday was actually possible, would we want that lesson to come from ABC Family?

Any holiday is okay in small doses, but TV networks go absolutely nuts on Christmas. I'm pretty patriotic, and generally a fan of the whole America thing. But I wouldn't be able to accept a bunch of sitcoms telling me the true meaning of July 4.

Imagine the last two weeks of every June filled with television characters ending shows with an arm-in-arm chorus of "My Country 'Tis of Thee" (which they couldn't do because no one knows the second verse).

There were several ABC sitcoms that have two Christmas episodes. Sure, ABC sitcoms are always ridiculous, but how long are they trying to celebrate this holiday? I know about the supposed "Twelve Days of Christmas" thing, but I don't know anyone who actually celebrates the holiday for more than a day-and-a-half.

Safety in Numbers
I bet someone in a marketing department noticed that Chanukah has eight days, and decided that something had to be done to compete. "They have eight days? Well, we can have 12!"

But if you're going to go 150 percent on the Jews, then you have to keep it up across the board. Every Yom Kippur, Jews don't eat for 24 hours. If you can go 36, I'll give you 12 days of Christmas. In the meantime, forget about your golden rings and admit that Christmas is a one-day thing.

I wonder if any Christian kid actually enjoys all those Christmas sitcoms. I doubt that any 19-year-olds watching TV during winter break suddenly say earnestly, "You know, I completely missed the point of this holiday. Come on, everybody -- let's go caroling!"

TV execs should realize that the way Christmas is portrayed on the majority of their shows is not how it's celebrated in a majority of the country.

First of all, more than half the marriages in America end in divorce, which destroys the notion of the large family meal with everyone accounted for. Right there, you've already entered minority territory.

Then there's the realization that not everyone is Christian (gasp!), and some of the people who are Christian don't have a dozen relatives who want to come over for dinner. And most importantly, a lot of people out there don't get along well enough with their extended family to do anything but hurl insults, along with the mashed potatoes.

Earlier and Earlier
In a rush to beat each other to the holiday punch (ba-dum!), networks have been airing holiday episodes earlier and earlier.

It used to be the week before Christmas. Then they all started two weeks before. Now, they air right after Thanksgiving. Pretty soon, Christmas specials will start so early that they'll air during the Christmas prior. And the year in between will just be one continuous commercial.

Uncle Jesse can tell D.J. all he wants about how Christmas is about love and selflessness and family -- but not until after department stores tell you about their one-day sale. There is a certain irony to running all those sale ads during the heartwarming story of a family learning about the wise men. The only wise men here are the ones in the advertising department.

Christmas shows teach that you should give. To help, they also direct you to the nearest store. Driving up profits in the retail sector is the true meaning of the season, and that's something I discovered without the help of a snowed-in airport.

Learning this true meaning has made me all warm and fuzzy inside. Come on everyone -- let's carol.

How does that Macy's jingle go?

Steve Hofstetter is a touring comedian, one of the stars of the King Davids of Comedy and a weekly columnist for Sports Illustrated.


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