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  1. 1, Elf On The Shelf. I hate Elf On The Shelf. EOTS is portrayed as an American Christmas tradition. It is not. The actual little dolls existed in my childhood as generic Christmas decorations. The actual "Elf On The Shelf" tradition, on the other hand, is COPYRIGHTED and TRADEMARKED, and is a thing to SELL you, not anything resembling a tradition. EOTS is the absolute epitome of the commercialization of Christmas. 2. They have Charlie Brown's Christmas tree for sale. I saw it at the store, where they had a bunch of Christmas stuff out for sale. It looks exactly like it did in the ancient and much beloved TV special: an X shaped stand with what appears to be a single branch of sad, bent conifer weighed down and bent nearly double with a few lights and ornaments. I looked at the box. It was in fact fully licensed from the Peanuts estate, and had little buttons on the base which, when pressed, would play songs from the TV special, as well as Linus' extended quote from the New Testament, as heard on the TV special. I found myself thinking of Charles M. Schultz, creator of Peanuts, and how the whole point of the TV special was that Schultz felt that Christmas was overcommercialized, and that people needed a reminder of why there was a Christmas holiday in the first place. And now you can buy an iconic representation of this symbol of overcommercialization! That plays music and Bible quotes from the anticommercial TV special! I almost bought it. I thought about it. It was hilarious, in a "Billy Bass" kind of way. And then I decided against it. Sometimes, one can be TOO ironic, you know? 3. The Abominable Snowman. Yes, I know this is not normally a thing you think about with Christmas... but bear with me. I still remember the first time I saw "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." You know, the ancient and much beloved TV special, animated, from Rankin-Bass productions, featuring the ancient and much beloved Burl Ives as an expository snowman? I would have been around five years old. The first thing I noticed about it was that Santa's Workshop seemed like a colorful, pleasant, fun place... but Santa's house did not. For some reason, everything in Santa's house (except Santa himself and Mrs. Claus) was a sort of dull, grayish mauve color. Background, walls, furniture, ceiling, everything. Bleh. This can be seen in the scene in which Mrs. Claus is encouraging Santa to eat, because he's too skinny. Santa is supposed to be jolly and roly-poly! Eat, Santa, eat! I looked at Santa's food. It lay there glumly on its plate, as grayish mauve as everything else. Yeesh. I wouldn't have wanted to eat it, either. The other thing I noticed was the nightmare horror monsters that live in the frozen North, preying on anything that dares to venture into their Christmassy turf. You'll remember that Rudolph and his friend, the renegade dental elf Herbie, decide to run away from home and wind up face to face with the Abominable Snowman? The Abominable Snowman, aka Bumble, scared the utter crap out of me. Particularly during the commercial break where, right before cutting away, we zoom in on Bumble's fang-laden mouth, filled with teeth like an eternity of broken glass and sharky dreams. Death, horror, terror, madness! Our heroes are gonna DIIIIIE! I was genuinely upset. I was FIVE, okay? I hadn't watched enough television to soak up the tropes, and I was just too young and inexperienced to understand precisely WHY Gilligan screwed up the castaways' rescues, week after week. I don't remember what commercials followed that zoom on the Bumble's hideous horror maw, but I remember sitting before the TV, utterly paralyzed with horror. (Spoiler for a fifty year old cartoon: Yukon Cornelius saves our heroes from the horror monster. Later, Herbie the Dental Elf pulls all the Bumble's teeth, which inexplicably turns the monster into a good guy, who helps them for the remainder of the show. I'm assuming it went insane from the torture of sudden rapid unmedicated total dental extraction, and later committed suicide or something. If nothing else, I'm pretty sure Santa wasn't really equipped to handle the care and feeding of a twenty-foot seriously traumatized arctic carnivore who suddenly couldn't feed himself any more.) So I was pretty seriously traumatized myself. Horror monster from hell, near Santa's workshop! But being a kid, I adjusted. Kids adjust to ANYTHING, and I did, too. I saw Rudolph and Herbie escape death again and again, year after year, and I never feared the Bumble Death the way I did that first time. Didn't mean I trusted the wretched creature. I still think I was the only child in history to send Rankin-Bass letters asking about the Bumble's behavior after the special was over. The leopard does not change his spots, you know? And dwelling deep within my old and grizzled heart still dwells that five year old who's quite certain that miserable Bumble would rip Santa and Rudolph and company limb from limb and feast on the bloody fountains of gore in two shakes if he only dared... And now, I am old. It disturbs me to think that the neighborhood near where I work? The most popular front yard Christmas decoration is a Santa-hatted Bumble. With teeth.
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