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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

The NC Double Scrooge: An Introduction

Submitted by on December 9, 2010 – 9:47 AM43 Comments

We should say right up front here that we don't actually hate the holidays. Well, maybe Keckler does, but I don't think so; I think she's like me, in that she finds many things about the holidays irritating, but still likes the season overall and counts many of her fondest memories as holiday memories.

The problem, of course, is that "the season" is now nearly as long as an actual meteorological season. Had our culture managed to confine Christmas to a week or two, many of these mildly negative aspects of the holidays would barely register, but instead, they gather loathsomeness with each repetition. (Sometimes. Other times, they're just wrong: I doubt my opinion of the candied fruit in fruitcake would improve even if it got itself on a Halley's-comet schedule.) Add to that the pressure to feel happy and generous; to have a perfect family, living nearby, with whom you never argue; and to go into debt proving your love, and it's no wonder that a few innocuous bars of Bing Crosby can set an already-short fuse blazing.

Thus: the NC Double Scrooge.

Please understand that we don't wish to talk anyone out of loving the winter holidays, or make the more Zen among you feel bad for not hating any and all of the entrants. Nothing in our polls makes you a bad or gullible person for liking it. Think of it more as an opportunity to register your displeasure with parts of the Christmas experience (or all of it; we don't judge you) in a safe, soothing environment, far away from mall elves and mothers-in-law. As always, we urge you to have fun with it, and not to take it personally in any way — we're just making jokes here.

Here's how it will work. Keckler has niftily broken down the holiday aggro into four rough categories: Entertainment (food; music; "church media"); Decorating; Family/Social Obligations (Christmas letters; pageants; pet antlers); and Shopping, which is our first poll. We'll also have separate polls for holiday songs and holiday movies/TV specials.

The top three (3) vote-getters from each poll will go into a final against one another…and then all the winners of that poll will fight for the title of most hated part of the holidays. Sounds a little complicated, but it really isn't; you'll get the hang of it.

Your job is to vote for the three (3) things in each poll that YOU hate the most. Not the ones you like best — it's like Survivor. You're registering displeasure, not support.

Questions? Ask away! Spirited defenses of glurg? Not interested, sorry! (Just kidding. …Not really, that shit is nast. Unless your granddad's version doesn't contain raisins, in which case, tell me more.) The first poll addresses the retail cone of horror and will appear later today (Thursday 9 December).

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43 Comments »

  • TashiAnn says:

    The recipe my husband has for glurg does not have raisins in it. I've never had it but based on looking at the recipe alone it looks okay. And that's as spirited a defense as I can make.

    I hope it's okay for those of us that only have a tangential relationship with Christmas to vote too. I've certainly been impacted by the holiday even if I didn't grow up with it and don't celebrate it.

  • attica says:

    Ohhhhh, I'm poising my voting fingers already. Die, you giant inflatable lawn-snow-globe!

  • Trip says:

    I'm going to go ahead and call it for fruitcake, before even seing the bracket.

    That said: I really hope "the now-inevitable annual complaints about a War on Christmas by non-Christians" is in the bracket, because NOTHING about the holidays irritates me more than that.

  • elsewise says:

    Without consulting any brackets, can I predict "Forced Visits with Inebriated Family Members" for the win?

  • Maria says:

    I'm having so many feelings about this! All of them supportive! I'm not alone! Exclamation points!

    Yay!

  • Jenn says:

    I love this. I love Christmas from a religious perspective, and I love the gift-giving and the family-gathering, but there are so many things I hate from the day after Thanksgiving through about January 4th. (The music…won't…stop. If I hear "Wonderful Christmas Time" one more time, Paul McCartney's getting coal in his stocking.)

  • adam807 says:

    So. Freaking. Excited. Huh…my greatest holiday joy appears to be bashing holiday joy.

  • jennie says:

    Jenn – coal in his stocking? I was thinking more like a fork in his eye. I, obviously, am the heart and soul of Christmas spirit. Bring on the twinkly lights, and a blizzard so big I can't make it to my mom's on the 24th!

  • Dsayko says:

    As someone who doesn't celebrate Christmas, and who was complaining just yesterday about the number of emails I receive each day with great holiday deals AFTER my holiday is already over, I whole-heartedly support this endeavor.

  • Suzanne says:

    Ha ha haaa … agree on the <3 from a religious perspective – BUT, I love blowing people's minds, if it's not yet 12/25.

    Them (w/ glower): "Do you say Merry Christmas?!"
    Me: "Nope."
    Them: "WHY DO YOU HATE AMERICA?!"
    Me: "Well, I do say, 'Have a meaningful and penitential Advent."
    Them: "…"
    Me (gently): "Technically, Christmas starts on Christmas Day."
    Them: *sputter*

    Sure, it makes be look like a smarmy know-it-all, but it's so much fun!!

  • Karen says:

    Jenn — One of the things I hate is that it starts much before "the day after Thanksgiving". I hope that's on the list: "Christmas season now begins the day after Halloween."

  • JennyB says:

    Please tell me neighbours leaving their decorations up until March -and lighting them up! – will be included. That gets my vote.

  • Elsajeni says:

    Will the song "Christmas Shoes" have its own poll option? Because if so, I predict it will "win" in a landslide.

  • Jennifer says:

    I am already casting my vote for "Little Drummer Boy" as most annoying song. WHY CAN'T YOU ACTUALLY HAVE DRUMS IN THE SONG, FFS?

    (Though to be fair, I went in a hippie store last year and hear a version of the song with drums, and it was much improved and not irritating at all.)

  • Wehaf says:

    @Trip – I am with you on almost all fruitcake, and I'mma let you finish, but my mom makes the BEST FRUITCAKE OF ALL TIME! No, seriously, she does. She starts with really good homemade fruitcake and then she soaks it in alcohol for a few weeks. SO GOOD.

  • ferretrick says:

    Elsajeni beat me to it. "Christmas Shoes" is easily the worst Christmas song, and could be on the Top Ten list of Worst Songs Ever Written, Period. The world can be divided into two kinds of people-people who think that song is gorgeous and touching and cry when they hear it, and people who recognize it for the loathsome, manipulative, overwrought, horribly sung, badly composed piece of excrement that it is.

    In my Chorus' holiday concert this season we're doing a parody version called "Haunukah Gloves" Hilarious.

  • Rachel says:

    @Karen – at my local Target, Xmas started three days BEFORE Halloween, which is when I went in to buy H'ween candy and they'd already shoved it into one aisle and were putting out the Xmas crap already.

    The NC Double Scrooge might just be my favorite thing ever.

  • Elsajeni says:

    Ferretrick, I do find it a little less hateful if I assume the child is running a short con. His mom is fine; his parents think he's at Steve's house; after the shift change at the department store, he'll be back to return those shoes for cash, do it a few more times, then go to the toy store and spend all the money on Transformers.

  • Krista says:

    Is "Dora's Christmas Carol" in contention? Thanks to my niece I've watched it at least once a day since they started playing it Sunday. Why can't Swiper just stop swiping permanently? Why just focus on not at Christmas? Plus he never takes anything, he just throws it somewhere, which would be annoying but isn't technically swiping.

    I've never really gotten the hate for fruitcake. My family never gave it or got it. Dad would have to buy it for himself. Is fruitcake not as commonplace as it used to be or has it always been a created-by-Christmas-tv-shows problem?

  • kategm says:

    Suzanne, you're my new favorite person. Can I steal your response the next time someone does that to me?

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    @Wehaf: Well, to be fair, "soaked in alcohol for a few weeks" will improve ANYTHING. Even Christmas Shoes.

    I actually have never heard that song (and will head right to YouTube to rectify matters as soon as I'm done here) but I will say that I am SICK and TIRED of not hearing any of the georgous, well written/sung Christmas carols anywhere any more. One of the things I love best about this time of year is the lovely carols, sung in parts by people who know what they're doing: not a spotlight for Mariah or Celine or Christina to yowl their way up and down various scales, but beautifully blended harmonies and nuance that create mood.

    Now, you can still hear these songs, of course, but only if you attend a concert or buy a bunch of CDs. Out shopping or in the workplace it's nothing but a constant, ear-shredding loop of Rudolph, Jingle Bells, Silver Bells, Frosty, All I Want For Christmas and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. BARF. The stores don't want to "offend" anybody so they refuse to play anything but novelty crap on an endless loop that makes employees weep and rend their garments. It's the aural equivalent of a hideous, puff paint Xmas sweatshirt, covered with sequins and bells and real-lite-up! lights. GAH!

  • RJ says:

    I can sum up the pinnacle of my hate in two words: "Santa, Baby."

  • Elizabeth says:

    Ah, I had been having such a Crappy Christmas Season…. until I clicked over here, and –as always– the 'Nation saves me!!
    @Rachel and @Karen — my Target had Halloween on the right side of the aisle, and Christmas on the left since mid-October. As I was loading up on candy to hand out to the little neighborhood (beggars) children, I simply turned around and picked up my Christmas cards. One thing, checked off the list! Before Halloween!
    @Jen S 1.0: Oh, do I hear you on the music thing! I live just outside Los Angeles, and we have a local radio station that plays Christmas music 24/7 during the "season"… that started on Nov 17th this year. I hadn't even made my list for Thanksgiving dinner yet! What kills me about that: they start 6 weeks (!) before Christmas. When do they stop? 6PM on Christmas Day… because, doesn't everyone's Christmas end as you sit down to Christmas dinner?

  • Profreader says:

    Jen S 1.0: I'm with you in the hatred of the saccharine holiday novelty songs. I had to go to CVS for something and almost had to leave because of the music. I swear I heard some "heartfelt" song about a guy and his snow shovel or something. I think I was hallucinating.

    If you want to hear an old-style carol, you must must must watch the music video for Annie Lennox's version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlsJD8RlhbI

    The arrangement itself feels old-school (Celtic inspired), but what's truly astounding is the video. It's done in a flickery zoetrope style – very dreamlike. The design draws on Victorian Christmas art; there are also some more pagan-esque elements. I am truly obsessed with it (can you tell)? It's about as far from the icky modern holiday muzak as you can get.

  • Bridget says:

    Ooooh, as someone who has worked a production of Nutcracker almost every year for the past decade, you all are warming the cockles of my Grinch-sized heart! Nothing is worse than hearing the Waltz of the Sugar-Plum Fairy 6 times a weekend at work and then every place you go for lunch/dinner/shopping between shows.

  • Keckler says:

    Yes, I do actually love Christmas. I just love it in my own way.

    I see our NC Double Scrooge working for me the way mini-earthquakes work: it's a way for me to let off crabby steam in spurts and reduce the pressure of a potential Big One. And not everything Bunting submitted is something I hate and vice versa.

  • Laura says:

    I will see your "Target Christmas in October" and raise you one: Hobby Lobby (TX craft store) hauls out the Christmas decorations around my birthday. Which is July 31st.

  • JB says:

    This is my seventh Christmas working retail, as a cashier supervisor for Target. Like Wehaf's mother's fruitcake, the moods of retail employees are better once soaked in alcohol.

  • RC says:

    o.m.g. yes!

    It has to be most annoying how every year it seems to leapfrog another holiday. Any other stupid tradition or obligation can be sidestepped by claiming "I'm still in grad school, so I'm not *really* an adult yet, so that's why I haven't sent you Christmas cards…" (though really I have no intention of EVER sending out cards haHA) but when you run out of shampoo in October and have to walk through the xmas section to get to toiletries… I mean, first it was right after Thanksgiving, which was bad enough… then we skipped Thanksgiving and went right after Halloween… the newest thing is going straight from back to school to xmas decorations. Agh!

    Yeah, I'm way too excited about this, I think.

  • Rachel says:

    @Laura, isn't Hobby Lobby run by a bunch of Super-Yay-Jesus folks which is why they're not open on Sundays? The holiday decorations in July at that store do not surprise me in the least. :)

  • M says:

    I love Christmas, but I love the relatively simple family version I grew up with.

    My vote is for badly sung songs. I like jazz so some personalization and improvisation doesn't bother me-If it's done well. That would be the trick.

    Ferretrick, would you please share the lyrics to "Haunukah Gloves"? It sounds wonderful.

    I also love Elsajeni's interpretation. It does improve the song!

  • Sandy says:

    PLEASE include Secret Santa at the workplace, it's the absolute worst. If you don't participate, you're a Scrooge, if you do participate, you'll spend $20 on something your "lucky" coworker doesn't need or want. Lose-lose.

  • Keckler says:

    Secret Santa was fun until 6th grade. After that, it should be prohibited.

  • Sharon says:

    Secret Santa is bad but is at least a step up from buying everyone a $5 dust collector / candy

  • Anne says:

    @Elsajeni:

    Oh good lord yes. 'Christmas Shoes' causes gesture-filled shouting at the radio, along the lines of "Who the F**K wrote this and WHYYYYYYYyyyyyyyy is it playing on my radio?!?! NO ONE NEEDS TO HERE THIS! EVERrrrrrrr" (die down to high-pitched whimper)

  • Heather Rose says:

    Just in defense of the craft stores, they have to put all their shit out in July because it takes time to do the crafts. All other types of stores have no excuse!

  • Erin in SLC says:

    @Jenn, re: McCartney: Husband and I were out shopping last December and we heard the opening strains on the music. He froze and swore out loud right in the middle of TJ Maxx. It was hilarious.

    @Suzanne: Totally joining you on Advent greetings. (Will be extra fun in Utah, where most people have not HEARD of Advent.)

    @Jennifer: I like to think the little drummer boy just has a speech impediment that makes him end EVERY sentence with "pa rum pum pum pum."

  • ferretrick says:

    Per M's Request:

    The lyrics of "Hanukkah Gloves," my Choruses "Christmas Shoes" parody-To truly get the effect, picture this being sung with an opera trained soloist in the most dramatic manner possible.

    I wanna buy my mommy
    A pair of Hanukkah gloves
    That pair over there
    They're the kind she would wear
    They're the kind my mommy loves.

    They look so warm and fuzzy
    Mommy's hands are freezin' and small
    But I know these gloves will fit her
    Cause it says "one size fits all!"

    Hanukkah gloves, Hanukkah gloves…
    Gotta get me the pair my Mama loves
    Get her some Hanukkah gloves…ooh ooh…

    I'm standin' here at the counter
    The line is pretty gosh darn long
    The store has been playin' holiday carols
    But I haven't heard one Hewbrew song!

    Change is rattling in my jeans
    It's soundin' like Christmas chimes…
    I got enough for Mommy's present
    if the clerk will take Canadian dimes!!!!

    Hanukkah gloves, Hanukkah gloves
    Gotta get me the pair my mama loves
    Get her some Hanukkah gloves…

    My hope still lingers but she's lookin' pale and thin
    I've gotta warm her fingers…
    So she can give that dreidel one last spin…

    Daddy says Mama's fading,
    She may not make it through the nihgt
    The power's been off since…Rosh Hashana
    And we're eatin' by Menorah light

    She worked so hard for us, seven kids
    Now she's goin' on that heavenly cruise
    Mama, I'll rush home with your Hanukkah gloves
    Soon as that kid up front gets his Christmas shoes!!!

    [The last Chorus is sung by Tenor 1s in a high, offkey child's voice:]

    Hanukkah gloves…Hanukkah gloves
    Gotta get me the pair my mama loves…
    Get her some Hanukkah GLOVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Krista says:

    I don't think our local Hobby Lobby ever puts Christmas fully away. There is always an aisle with the craftier aspects of Christmas decoration.

    It's not just Christmas that is put out early. At JoAnn's today, Valentine's stuff is already up in places where they've compressed Christmas.

  • Betsey says:

    @Profreader:

    Thanks for the link to the Annie Lennox carol. She is also a shining example of two (related) things I want out of vocal music, and so seldom hear from Holiday "Music": Enough articulation that the listener can tell what's being sung, and enough expression that you can believe that she actually understands what she's singing (and singing about).

    NB to aspiring Holiday "Musicians": "Expression" != "endless additional arpeggios, scoops, swoops, and showing off your very highest note *ever* [which is, unfortunately, a quarter-tone flat from where they key of the song would have had it]". Mariah, Celine, flavor-of-the-month-divette, I'm looking at you.

    (I'll just be over here in my choirster heaven. You could hear the break between the 'd' and the 'j' in "Comfort and Joy"! Fierce and precise consonants and intelligible lyrics! I'm in *love* <swoons>)

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Betsey: You (and others) might care to enjoy an upcoming radio show on…KALW, I think? Featuring my old friend Brian M. Rosen, in which he's going to discuss the history of melisma. I don't have all the deets at the moment, but you will no doubt see mention of it on his blog, Music vs. Theater, or by following him on Twitter at @musicvstheater.

  • JeniMull says:

    If anyone hasn't heard the novelty song "The Twelve Pains of Christmas" – go find it. It's hi-larious.

    This year, the combo of "Baby, It's Cold Outside", "Hey Santa" and Madonna singing "Santa Baby" may very well put me into a homicidal rage. Northern CA – you have been warned.

  • phineyj says:

    @Jen S 1.0 (and others).

    Try Classic FM, online. No novelty songs there, but lots of four part classical carol arrangements (classicfm.com). Lovely.

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