'The Best Holiday' Reader Mail

I received this letter from my friend Holly in response to The Best Holiday. This is some great ball busting. And no, she is not serious. I am guessing.

Dear joedonatelli.com,

I take exception to this week’s column, which offered “picks” for our nation’s finest holidays. Frankly, your choices largely suck, your reasoning is flawed and some of your facts are overstated or under-researched. You also failed to include an important assessment category, holiday-related store sales.

That said, here are my responses:

There are indeed parades on Halloween, often involving urban neighborhoods where rainbow-colored flags snap proudly in the chilly fall breeze (“haaaaaaay!!!”). Halloween is Gay Christmas. I also distinctly remember one Halloween parade that circled (seemingly endlessly and without mercy) the entire fucking neighborhood around my elementary school. I was wearing one of my ballet recital costumes with a light sweater over it–presumably to discourage area pedophiles–and all I could think about were the orange-frosted and sprinkled doughnuts that were awaiting us back in the classroom. I nearly passed out from the anticipated sugar high. Nowadays, the kids return to the classroom and are rewarded with apples (although most are too cool to dress up anymore for Halloween), since it’s the only thing left that won’t spark any weight- or peanut-related lawsuits against the school district. Halloween sucks.

Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is not a holiday. It falls on a Sunday, and there is no three-day weekend grace period to recover from the hangovers, losses and disbelief over the things that qualify as being worth a $2 million ad spot. The only sales are at the grocery store, and usually involve Coors, an allegedly consumable product that could fuel a jetliner. Terrible, Joe. Just a terrible choice.

New Year’s Eve
Now this is just about the only one you did the right thing with. Complete solid agreement; in fact, it almost makes up for your poorly assessed #10. Almost. But not quite. Nah. Nevermind. I’ve always tried to make the most of New Year’s Eve, but it is always just a let’s-cling-to-Christmas-as-long-as-possible-to-avoid-the desperation-and-despair-January-inevitably-visits-upon-us fake holiday. We should follow the lead of the Jews, who allow their New Year’s Eve to pass without anybody even really knowing about it. A lot of them don’t even know about it, if they’re Reform.

You know, I just knew–KNEW–you were going to pick this one. Do you know why nobody goes home anymore for Thanksgiving? Because it is the WORST holiday ever conceived, especially if you have to go within a 78-mile radius of an airport, freeway or 7-11. The lines. The people. The strollers. The whining. The fat people. The expired whip cream in a can. The gastrointestinal events that begin to surface about 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, right around the time Uncle John is loosening his belt and settling onto the couch for “Jingle All the Way” or some other terrifying Christmas movie ABC has lined up after the football game. All my life, I dreaded Thanksgiving. It was this stupid thing I had to sit through (on the piano bench, mind you–I didn’t qualify for a real chair at the dining room table, nor did I even qualify for a chair of my own, as I always had to share it with my sister) and use a napkin for in order to get to the really good part–Santa. Presents. Both parents in a good
mood the entire day, at the same time.

I think one piece of your assessment where this retarded holiday–Thanksgiving–is concerned that is missing is this: You are a man. You have likely awakened around 10 or so on Thanksgiving day to find your grandma already over, stirring something in a saucepan on the stove while your mom struggles up the basement steps with a pot that outweighs her by 60 pounds. Also by the time you stumble into the kitchen, not even out of the T-shirt you slept in–in fact, HOURS after you get up–she has already pulled out the neck, organs and other slimy crap they leave inside the stomach of this non-walking bird you’re later supposed to eat. If your mother is a registered nurse, she has also made you stand weakly next to her at the kitchen sink while she points out where the aorta was and explains how the chambers of the turkey heart once mightily pumped blood through the pale, thawed bird carcass that now sits in bloody water in the sink. Perhaps after you get out of the shower around noon, you think the blur that just raced past you might have been your mother in her bathrobe, the vacuum cleaner roaring in front of her, on her way to her room to put some presentable clothing on before 27 people claiming to be relatives show up on the doorstep demanding food.

Later in the day–shortly after the 12 minutes it takes for people to consume the food she spent 4 days preparing–she flashes that look at her sullen daughters, who have tried desperately to engage their younger cousins in coversations to avoid eye contact, but who then give up and dutifully rise to clear the table of the fine china, crystal and silver (basically all the stuff that cannot go in the dishwasher). They pull back their hair, snap on the rubber gloves (which always have a hole pricked in the finger and feel hot and sticky inside) and pick their way through the devastated area once known as the kitchen, which has descended into a No Man’s Land of encrusted pots, pans, beer cans, coffee cups and every other dish the family has accumulated since 1971. Six and a half hours later, they enter the living room, where the company is getting up to say goodbye, get their pat on the head, and wave goodbye to their relations, who will probably not remember them in the way children like to be remembered at Christmas.

Thanksgiving is nothing more than a regular weeknight dinner on crack. It’s a day that reminds women everywhere to say to themselves, Buck up; Christmas is at Aunt Carol’s house this year.

Humbug, I tell you. Humbug.

Your faithful reader,


Joe Donatelli
Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles

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