The Rear End

THE REAR END: Franken-Holiday Super-Traditions

sorry, but early Christmas ain't gonna cut it this year

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Eva Paulus |

I hate to break it to many of you, but whining about how “just wrong” it feels when Menards puts out their fake Christmas trees in the middle of July just isn’t the hot take it used to be.

Don’t like seeing inflatable Santas on your neighbor’s yard come Nov. 1? Read the room. Keep it to yourself. Early holiday décor is here to stay.

Listen, I get it. I, too, used to complain (judiciously) about early holiday decorations. But a little while COUGH four years COUGH ago I stopped caring about tinsel in November when I accepted that we all need ways to feel good during trying times. And if a Christmas tree in August gives you the feel-goods … let it. We should not disparage another person’s holly jolly self-care.

This all seems pretty obvious. If you care about other people. And you can get over yourself. (Two things I’m working on.)

And hey, speaking of trying times, you may have noticed how our current times are, like, mega trying. 

After so many months of pandemic-, election-, and national unrest-related stress, it’s hard to keep going. It’s hard to stay strong and not succumb to the many kinds of fatigue we’re feeling. We need something to recharge our fortitude. 

We could all use the good vibes right now, but even some ultra-hard-core Christmas celebrations for the next two months may not be enough. We need more! We need to innovate! The good vibes must be bigger, faster, stronger!

We could all use the good vibes right now, but even some ultra-hard-core Christmas celebrations for the next two months may not be enough. We need more! We need to innovate! The good vibes must be bigger, faster, and stronger!

So how about we take a bunch of holidays and mash ’em all together like a massive wad of sourdough bread, stick that sucker in the oven, and bake us up some cross-holiday goodness? I propose a series of secularized* Franken-holiday super-traditions spread out over the next two to 20 months. Add them to your real traditions to fill out the calendar.

These are just suggestions. Mix and match your own, folks.

Santa Hog. Basically, dress up a groundhog like Santa Claus and wait for him to climb out of a hole. When he does, it’s time for nog!

Thanksgiving Grill Out. Roasting a giant turkey is fun and all, but come on – does it really trump a good burger? Grab some inspiration from the Fourth of July, fire up the grill and torch just enough burgs-n-dogs for your immediate household (since you shouldn’t be having big gatherings anyhow). Talk about the things for which you’re thankful, like each other, food on the table, and zesty pasta salad.

The Haunted Xmas Tree. Christmas trees are pretty and they smell great, but they’re not very interactive. You just kinda stare at them. So add a poltergeist, look out! The fun never stops as you battle the forces of darkness, searching for the correct Latin incantation to dispel the pale, boney hands appearing from betwixt the branches to snatch your presents.

Corned Beef Advent Calendar. Advent calendars have never been more fun and trendy. But just imagine a little Victorian street scene where you can open little cardboard doors to reveal a steaming, succulent morsel of corned beef and cabbage. Are you imagining it?

Heart-shaped Box of Chocolates on the Shelf. Instead of convincing your kids that an elf-shaped doll with a creepy grin comes to life each if night to quietly scuttle around the house, just put a friggin’ box of candy on the shelf and eat a piece now and then. Kids need guilt-free self-care, too.

Mistle-corn. Hang up some colorful, dried corn all over the house like the weird Pilgrim nobody talks to. If someone catches you under the mistle-corn, they most pop you a buttery bowl of popcorn and cue up your favorite movie for a night of platonic cinematic appreciation free of romantic expectations.

Hot Chocolate Menorah. Celebrate a one-day supply of hot chocolate lasting for eight days (a thing I just made up) with a many-branched candle holder festooned with a fine selection of peppermint hot chocolate.

Wow, most of these are about food. Well, what can I say? It’s been a tough year. Stay safe and find some joy, friends.

* Hey, not everyone’s into baby Jesus. If that’s your thing, go ahead and add three wise men to any of the ideas above.