The Rant 

Back in the 1600s, when this paper and this column first started . . . No, really. It was the late 1980s, and that now feels like the 1600s. I have friends who weren't even born when this paper first hit the stands. Women had big, really big, hair. I know some still do, but it was actually the style back then. I can't even remember who was president. George Bush Sr.? Does anyone even remember him, other than being the husband of Barbara Bush, who rescued her reputation from an eternity of people remembering her as "that bitch" by recently sharing her opinion that Sarah Palin should remain in Alaska? Not to mention the fact that she spawned George W. Bush.

But all of this has nothing to do with nothing other than having had too much caffeine. What I meant to write was that way back when this paper and this column started and for years afterward, I used to sometimes be, oh, uh, just a little bit of an icky guy when it came to the December holiday season, vehemently ridiculing great masses of Christmas lemmings, including the nouveau riche, who insist upon desecrating the trees on their lawn with millions of colored lights. I also took shots at the great unwashed, who purchase presents from the Judd Family Gift Collection while eating fudge-covered Moon Pies with red and green sprinkles and watching cable in the middle of the night, wondering if Santa was going to show up with some holiday sweatshirts with blinking lights on them. But that was when I was mean.

Now that I am a portly, middle-aged gentleman who wears sweaters and drives a Nissan, I am much softer and more willing to acquiesce to this cultural phenomenon with which so many people are enraptured because they think they know the exact day that Jesus was born. So enough being mean. Or is it really enough?

For those of you who share my malaise about the holiday season, I turn your attention toward some of the darker, funnier things to embrace. For instance, I used to recoil in horror at the sight of people (especially in oncoming mall-walking traffic) who wear those fake reindeer antlers on their heads. The other day, a friend of mine told me about seeing a woman who wasn't exactly wearing fake antlers, but she did have her own hair braided into the shape of large reindeer antlers. God, bless her every waking moment.

(Side note: He writes, looking over his shoulder to make sure the editors aren't watching, as he has promised so many times not to give her so much ink for fear there might not be enough left in the world for those who want to get tattoos of Dick Cheney. If I were you and some unworldly force, like American society, is making you feel compelled to wear those fake antlers, I wouldn't do it if you happen to be in Alaska. Sarah Palin has a gun, and she is looking for anything with antlers that moves. Yes, it's a total stage setup and she doesn't really know anything about the great outdoors, but the directors and stage hands on her new reality show do manage to fix things so she can bag large living things. I saw it. It was a majestic caribou. Not only did she kill it, but she and her family also hacked it to pieces right on the spot. On television. It was real, as was her apparent lack of embarrassment for having invited Kate Gosselin and those eight hybrids to appear on her show. I wish the producers had filmed both families using wheelbarrows to learn to walk without using all four limbs.)

My favorite flap of the season so far, though, is the recent war of the words between New York Times columnist Alastair Macaulay and the rest of the civilized world, or so it seems. Macaulay, in writing his assessment of the New York City Ballet's current run of The Nutcracker (I so wish they would change that to "cracker nut"), wrote of dancer Jenifer Ringer, "Jenifer Ringer, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, looked as if she'd eaten one sugar plum too many." Uh oh! He didn't! He did. He didn't! Oh, yes, he did, perhaps not remembering that Ringer was once very forthcoming about her eating disorders.

Okay, okay. So I am slumped over chuckling at this. Look, no one worries about weight more than I do and I'm not oblivious to the horrors of eating disorders, but sometimes you just have to let it rip. I mean, Jenifer appeared on some of the morning news shows shortly after the "one sugar plum too many" comment and it was readily obvious that she's not overweight. She was, however, rather serious about it all, missing out on her 15 minutes of fame by not just screaming at Matt Lauer to bring her some donuts and chocolate milk and calling Macaulay an uptight(s) sissy. She could have had some fun with it. Isn't that what the holidays are all about?

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