By Chris Damgen
You know those columns you see every year on Thanksgiving week? The ones who describe all the activities and intricacies of said columnist’s supposedly unique traditions? The ones that you can recycle year after year and never tell the difference? The ones when you finish reading them you wonder why do I read this same darn column year after year?
Yeah, this isn’t one of them.
Allow me to dabble with a different type of column. I’m a big “Seinfeld” fan. One of the pinnacles of the “Show About Nothing” was its lasting cultural influence, and perhaps my favorite lingering tradition is the celebration of Festivus. For those who aren’t familiar with the show, Festivus was a made-up holiday created by Frank Costanza (George’s father) when he tired of all the commercial aspects of the holiday season. Or, as he tells it:
“Many years ago I went to the store to buy a doll for my son. As I reached for the last one on the shelf, so did another man. As I rained blows upon him I realized there had to be a better way! [Out of the destruction], a new holiday was born. A Festivus for the rest of us!”
There are several key tenants of celebrating Festivus, but perhaps most endearing to many is the so-called “airing of grievances.” Now that I have your attention, I gotta lotta problems with you people, and I’m gonna let you have it!
• Beaufort County, SCDOT, et.al.: The construction on Savannah Highway has continued at a snail’s pace since about 1835. Perhaps we can move it along a bit quicker?
• Lady’s Island: Why must you have an apostrophe in your name? As a good friend of mine always said … two women are better than one.
• Happy Wino: The Walmart wine you opined about months ago was terrible! How will I ever get my $4.95 back so I can afford my 3-buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s?
• Town of Port Royal: The speed limit on Ribaut Road is designed for ensnarement and entrapment, and you know it. End this misery and allow us Beaufortonians to drive right through your humble burg.
• Remaining Mermaids from the “Big Swim”: Give it up ladies. Your time has passed. Time to hang up the pole you’re on and hit the river.
• Cable “Providers”: Your service stinks, your Internet is slow, and your unwillingness to bury wires has caused great consternation among our live oak community.
• Horse Carriage Companies: You make Congress look like angels with your inability to get along. By the way, the White House was not modeled after a home in Beaufort built in 1852, so relax with the tall tales.
• Bill’s Liquors: You remain hazardous to my health by stocking every conceivable libation known to man.
• School District: Closing one of your top-performing schools in the interest of financial stability doesn’t make you penny wise. It makes you pound foolish.
• Bluffton: Just because.
Now, before you call me a Grinch, I will be perfectly honest. Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite holiday of the year. I love mooching from others’ hard-earned dinner preparations. I love watching the Lions lose year after year. I love the feeling of immobility that one has shortly after dinner is over. I love the after-Thanksgiving drinks one has with friends at a bar so one can get away from annoying relatives and bratty kids.
But what I really hate is that Thanksgiving is getting swamped over and forgotten by the monolithic nemesis of a commercial “holiday” that occurs the next month. Every year, it seems the Christmas creep gets worse and worse. Last year, stores were beginning to offer Christmas layaway in August. This year, there will be stores opening up on Thanksgiving night. It has gotten so bad that one Target employee started a petition that has attracted thousands of signatures in support, stating how the commercial madness of the season has removed so much of the meaning of the holiday. Christmas is still near and dear, but for goodness sake, can we just celebrate it as it really ought to be? Not with our current greediness.
I suppose it’s easier to be greedy than to be thankful. And perhaps that’s the biggest indictment that we as a society have today, and the last grievance that I leave with you. Happy Festivus to all, and may all your grievances melt away with the snow that we are rarely privy to have in the Lowcountry.
By Chris Damgen