Monday, December 21, 2009

let 'em stay home, too

Shelfers- who says we don't try to bring the best and brightest? Well, we've got something to put in yer stockin' this year. We've gone and given our Foreign Correspondent, Matt, a permanent byline as part of the regular Shelf crew. We'll receive missives from hither and yon now and then from our roving reporter and today we introduce him and his inaugural post. Welcome him with all the usual razzle dazzle.- Uncle JC Loophole

Remember the scene from A Christmas Story where Ralphie and his family have Christmas dinner at the Chinese restaurant? They have a very non-traditional Peking duck, and are treated to a rendition of “Deck the Harrs” by the owners. Do you remember why they ate at the Chinese restaurant? I know, the neighbors’ dogs broke in and destroyed the turkey and fixings. But that is just the reason why they ate out. Do you remember why they ate out at the Chinese place? Answer: it was the only place in town open.

Here is what got me thinking about that (and no, I have not yet sat down for an all day marathon). I was watching a preview for the new Sherlock Holmes movie, and while it looks pretty interesting, I was troubled by the fact that it is opening Christmas day. In A Christmas Story, one of the early classics that delights in groaning at the over-commercialization of the holiday, the family’s only option for Christmas dinner was the one restaurant in town whose owners didn’t celebrate the holidays. Nowadays, the entertainment industry capitalizes on the day. Movies open and restaurants are booked. And while it’s not my intent to rain on anyone’s heart-warming traditions, I can’t help feeling bad for all the poor folks spending the holidays away from their families.

Look, not everyone can stop working on Christmas. Police, dispatchers, deputies and COs are still needed to deal with the results of dysfunctional families who have spent a little too much time together. Ambulances and hospitals are needed to deal with the results of eggnog overindulgence. And firefighters still have to put out all the deep fried turkey fires. But why do the hostesses, bus-boys (or perhaps I should say bus-persons), waiters and waitresses, ticket takers and popcorn-sweeper-uppers, not to mention all the grocery store cashiers, baggers, and stockers have to work on Christmas? Answer: Because we keep going to the restaurants, the theaters, and the stores on the holidays.

When I was a kid in Southern California (down in the OC, as a matter of fact, though my life was fairly un-glamorous), we found that Christmas was a good day to go to Disneyland. Lines were relatively short and the weather was usually good enough to still handle a soaking off of Splash Mountain. But as I look back, I think of those folks who had to spend the day away from their families because of me and mine. So I’ve decided something. As long as I want Christmas off, I want to help others get it off, too. That means that I have to remove the incentives for business owners to open shop on Christmas day. If folks stop eating out, stop going to movie premiers, and prepare ahead of time so they don’t have to rush to the store, all of those places will stop being open on holidays. And then all of those folks can spend the day with those they love, too. Who’s with me?

I don't know. Maybe I've got it all wrong. Maybe all these folks love working on Christmas. Maybe the tips are bigger. Maybe that's all that keeps the companies in the black. But who really wants to have their holidays so over-commercialized that they make the campiness in A Christmas Story look like a quaint Norman Rockwell cover?

This isn't just a story you're covering - it's a revolution. This is the greatest yarn in journalism since Livingstone discovered Stanley.

Over the years I got to be quite a connoisseur of soap. My personal preference was for Lux, but I found Palmolive had a nice, piquant after-dinner flavor - heady, but with just a touch of mellow smoothness.


Anonymous said...

My sentiments exactly- we usually do the movie thing Christmas Day, but will probably move it to the day after in the true spirit of things. Besides- that leaves more time for Egg Nog.

Retro Hound said...

I'm with you. I not only take off holidays, but Sundays as well. We don't eat out or go to the store on Sundays, if we are out of milk, it will have to wait. (though we do make an exception if we are on the road).

Scribbler said...

just watched that movie tonight. for my son it was the first time and the part where the little brother eats like a pig almost killed him with glee.

Laura said...

Welcome! I agree completely. I worked at Disneyland during my college years and was miserable when I had to work on Christmas my first year. I had parade route duties that day instead of working in the restaurant where I normally worked, so at least it was a bit festive, but I didn't want to be there and was wondering about all the people who did (which is rather ironic, given your post!).

Thankfully I was able to escape Christmas Day duty due to seniority during the next three Christmas seasons I worked. It gave me a real empathy for everyone from radio newscasters to
nurses to emergency personnel who have no choice about working that day. We stay home on Christmas and hope as many others as possible can do the same!

I love that In-N-Out Burger closes on Christmas so its employees can be with their families.

Best wishes,


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