Today is Dec. 23 and, as Seinfeld fans know, that means it’s time for a “Festivus for the rest of us.”

The holiday that premiered in the Dec. 18, 1997, episode called “The Strike” has come upon us every year, bringing all the trimmings on the day before Christmas Eve. While I’m going to go ahead and skip the Festivus pole and feats of strength, I am here for the airing of the grievances.

Because, oh boy, do I have grievances.

I don’t mean to be a Grinch, but some of these secular Christmas traditions are seriously getting out of hand and others weren’t any good to begin with.

First of all, let’s talk about eggnog. Eggnog is gross, dear readers. I’ve had it exactly twice and that was more than enough. I don’t know who first convinced people it was worth drinking, but all the rum in the world is never going to make it palatable. Eggnog, which I looked up for the sake of this column, is made with milk, cream, sugar and eggs — both the whites and yolks. It’s like drinking cake batter, which is better in conception than execution.

This year, I’ve started seeing it garnished in increasingly strange ways. The cinnamon and nutmeg made sense, but don’t put a candy cane in it to try and convince me it’s worth having. If we’re having a boozy holiday drink, I’ll take some hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps or a Mogen David and 7UP (which somehow became my family’s Christmas tradition).

I would also like to add my voice to those complaining about the most divisive of Santa’s helpers, “Elf on the Shelf.”

I’m sure part of my annoyance is just that this tradition didn’t become mainstream until after I was an adult. However, had it been around when I was a kid, I suspect my mother wouldn’t have bought into it anyway and certainly wouldn’t be moving it every night to create the illusion of him running around our house willy-nilly. Who has time for that?

I’m bothered by the whole concept, really. It’s so unnecessary. Santa is magic. He knows when you’ve been bad or good without sending little creepers to stalk you. And make no mistake, this elf is creepy-looking, no matter how many joke-poses parents put him in.

In fact, the only good use of Elf on a Shelf I’ve ever heard was published on Buzzfeed this week. According to the pop culture news page, a Texas woman named Brittany Mease, who shares my dislike, used the elf to teach her kids the consequences of leaving your toys all over the floor overnight.

She wrapped a cast around his leg, laid him out on a toy couch and wrote a letter that read, “When I got to your house it was dark and I didn’t know your toys would be all over the floor. I tripped over them and broke my leg … Please pick up your toys!!!”

Mease got to remind her kids that picking up toys is about more than keeping your mom from yelling at you and as a bonus, as she told Buzzfeed, “That bought me 14 days of not having to move him.”

After those two weeks were up, she stashed him in the oven, which of course led to her forgetting about him and someone turning the oven on with him inside. Poor melted, unnecessary, broken elf. Stay in the North Pole next time.

Speaking of Santa Claus, I’m also not on board with Gov. Scott Walker’s Friday announcement that the Wisconsin National Guard and Wisconsin Emergency Management are “ready to respond Christmas Eve to ensure Santa is able to deliver presents to the good boys and girls across Wisconsin” and other efforts to monitor Mr. Claus as he takes his annual sleigh ride.

While there is a part of me that’s happy to turn the tables and spy on Santa after all those years of him watching me to make sure I behave, mostly I just think we should let him do his job without obsessively watching his every move. Delivering toys isn’t a spectator sport. Santa has been doing it for hundreds of years; he doesn’t need backseat drivers telling him what to do and he certainly doesn’t need the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 128th Air Control Squadron to keep the skies clear while he’s here.

Leave him some milk and cookies, a couple carrots (and maybe some anti-bullying pamphlets) for the reindeer and get to bed early so he can get your toys under the tree in peace.

OK, OK, maybe I’m being a little too hard on people and their Christmas traditions. Celebrate, or don’t, the next few days however you want, but please, everyone, have a lovely Christmas.


La Crosse city government reporter

Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering local government and city issues for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218.

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