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Bring back ‘a Festivus for the rest of us’

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Every year during the holiday season, the vast multitudes of ethnic, national and religious groups celebrate their respective holidays.

However, in this midst of this diverse array of winter celebrations, there is one holiday that has a universal appeal. A holiday not bound by confusing and occasionally controversial tradition. A holiday that sidesteps the pointless “war” for or against “x” holiday. A holiday that avoids the consumerist traps of Christmas and Hanukkah. A holiday for the rest of us: Festivus.

Celebrated on December 23rd, Festivus was created by author Daniel O’Keefe and popularized by the show “Seinfeld.” Festivus is a holiday meant to poke fun at the stress of the holiday season. However, among teenagers, the Festivus spirit is fading away. According to a TSP survey of 179 VHHS students, 84 percent of respondents have never heard of Festivus. With such low awareness of this respected holiday, there is only one inescapable solution to resolve this dilemma: Festivus must be revived.

“I would love it if it would be brought back. There’s a lot of humor and real stuff about it. It’s the Festivus for the rest of us, ” Mr. Friedrich, an AP US History teacher, said.

There are several components of Festivus that make it a terribly perfect holiday. Instead of a Christmas tree in the living room, with it’s distracting tinsel and weak strength to height ratio, an aluminum pole is placed in that spot. It’s clean, modern and simple; it’s perfect.

After the guests arrive for a Festivus dinner and get settled, the airing of grievances begins. All who wish can individually talk at length about who or what has disappointed them throughout the year.

A common critique of Christmas or Hanukkah is that they force people who celebrate the holiday into a sense of “fake happiness.” Holiday depression is an unfortunate, but real thing that happens every winter season.

According to the magazine “Psychology Today”, the holiday blues are a real, measurable phenomenon caused by a variety of factors unique to the holiday season. A cursory search of “holiday depression” on google will show up with 201,000,000 search results. Over-hyped expectations of happiness and familial conflict both play an integral part in causing this depressive feeling. Festivus beautifully avoids this dilemma with its “airing of grievances.”

“I think it’s an honest truth to what Christmas should be, instead of families sitting around pretending to be happy when no one really is,” Jenna Hellmich (12) said. “[Festivus] is better because everyone is admitting to how upset they are with their life. It works out better for everyone.”

In addition to its more comical aspects, Festivus does have a legitimate message. It points out the consumerism and unnecessary fuss over buying gifts that has developed over decades of celebrating these holidays. It’s the inspiration of the real-life Festivus and the Festivus as depicted on “Seinfeld.” Frank Costanza, the originator of Festivus on the show “Seinfeld,” even implies such when he talks about the origin of Festivus.

“Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way,” Costanza says in the episode.

During Festivus, gifts are not required. The only thing revelers of Festivus should get for free is a Festivus dinner starring a meatloaf or turkey. However, if gifts are a must for you, I recommend buying ironic gifts. If your relative asks for the new Apple iPhone, consider buying them an actual apple. Frankly, the apple is much more healthy than the Apple iPhone.

While Festivus does not have a mainstream following, there is a substantial niche of people who celebrate this holiday. According to that same TSP poll, roughly four percent of VHHS students celebrate Festivus.

Festivus has also had a small history at VHHS. Prior to last year, Mr. Friedrich, at the suggestion of a former student, put up a Festivus pole every year alongside his Christmas and Hanukkah decorations.

“Everyone all day is like ‘oh, it’s so cool; it’s so pretty,’” Mr. Friedrich said. “Except for him– he goes ‘Hey, man, where’s the Festivus pole?’ and that just cracked me up. So, the next day, I got myself a Festivus pole,” Mr. Friedrich said.

While I understand that Festivus may never go mainstream, I do believe that its ideals should permeate into our societal interpretation of the holidays. The holidays should not be about stressing over which gift to buy or dealing with irritable relatives. They should be about explaining your disappointments with life, eating good food and having fun. Those are the core ideas of Festivus.

Well, except for the “feats of strength.” Let’s not talk about that.

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