Thursday, December 22, 2005

Festivus for the rest of us?

Read the whole article here.
Michigan has long been a melting pot of cultures, so celebrating the holidays with a diverse group of friends can get tricky. That's where Festivus, the "holiday for the rest of us," comes in.

Invented in 1966 by a Reader's Digest editor but made popular through a 1997 "Seinfeld" episode, the fictional celebration has been brought to life by fervent supporters across the country -- including Clarkston native Blake Coe.

According to the "Seinfeld" episode, Festivus is celebrated on Dec. 23 and is marked by a tinsel-free aluminum pole, feats of strength -- like wrestling -- and the airing of grievances, during which followers tell loved ones how they have disappointed them during the year.

Can anyone say “Asherah pole?” Telling my family how they’ve disappointed me certainly does seem like the appropriate modern American celebration of therapy and victimhood, however.

Though Coe, 24, also celebrates Christmas, he said Festivus is a welcome break from the holidays.

I like a joke as much as the next guy, but there does seem to be a little cognitive dissonance between the principles of each celebration here – the memorial of infinite self-giving love, and the Feast of the Perpetual Whine.

"With all of the things that now make the Christmas season about political correctness, over-commercialization and greed, it is refreshing that Festivus separates itself from that," said Coe, who has been celebrating the fictional holiday for five years.

[…] "Nobody else is writing about it, but it is out there -- a very deep and widespread subculture," Salkin said. "I think it has to do with a need for tolerance and a holiday where you don't exclude anybody."

Separating from over-commercialization, greed, and political correctness by selling aluminum tubing (Wait! That’s what Saddam wanted those tubes for! It was all peaceful after all! World war fought by mistake!), whining about my mistreatment, and radical inclusivity. Makes sense to me.

Coe and his friends observe the feats of strength by holding annual billiards and video game tournaments. As for the airing of grievances -- "we pretty much go around and talk about each other's less finer moments," said Pat Heber, a Clarkston resident who recently graduated from Michigan State University.

Less finer? So much for Michigan State…

Typically, the feats of strength, or aggression-absorbing activities, are held immediately after the airing of grievances, but there are no hard and fast rules, Salkin said.
That flexibility makes it easy for everyone to celebrate Festivus, he added.

Easy to celebrate? Maybe they should come up with some other seasonal events – how about “Lentivus – penitence for the rest of us?” Personally, I never have been any good at this fasting thing; a season where I’m required to have a Double Meat Whopper with Cheese and Jalapenos every day might be just what the doctor ordered the thing! Or maybe just “Blasphemous ‘cuz it’s crass of us.”