Tag Archives: holidays

Love, Actually, actually is all around

My wife and I have this annual holiday tradition. Every year, she watches Love, Actually on TV, and each time, about halfway through the movie, I come downstairs and start making snarky comments and bad jokes, to the point where nobody’s having any fun at all by the end of the film. Jeez, when I say it like that, I sound like a huge dick. And, I don’t know, I’m not that big of a dick.


But Love, Actually, come on, in which darkest timeline have I wound up where this movie has taken on such celebrated significance? I saw it in the theaters with my wife while we were still dating, and at the time, yeah, I did nice things like that, went to the movies to see romantic comedies. We saw Two Weeks Notice, a bunch of other mostly Hugh Grant movies. As we exited the nine o’clock showing of Love, Actually that night, all I thought was, well, I guess that’s as bad as it’s going to get.

But no, she started watching it the next year, and the year after that. Each Christmas, the TV stations started playing it more and more. Every time I’d hear a significant buzz, groups of people waiting for the subway, talking about how much they love Love, Actually, stuff like, “Oh my God, I just love that movie. It’s seriously probably my favorite movie of all time. Love, love, love, Love, Actually.”

Last night was the 2013 viewing, and I caught more of the movie than I usually do, to the point where some of the stories didn’t ring any bells in my memory. Obviously I’ll never be able to forget the scene where Hugh Grant, acting as Prime Minister of the UK, gives President Billy-Bob Thornton some ridiculous speech about Britain being a small but proud nation, but other subplots, like the one about the office romance hindered due to that lady’s disabled brother, it was as if they’d been blocked from my memory entirely.

Which was probably for the best. If only I had stayed away this year. But I can’t help myself. I hear that ongoing Mariah Carey chorus and I just have to march in and start poking fun. And asking lots of questions. Like, is Liam Neeson that kid’s dad? I mean, I know the mom died, right, but do they address whether or not he’s the kid’s biological father?

To me, it seems as if he has to be the step-dad, like maybe he married this single-mother, and after a while she died, and he’s left in charge with this little kid who he really doesn’t have that strong of a connection with. Because their relationship is so over the top. “You’re in love? Well go get her! Run after her! Right past Mr. Bean, through airport security, go get ‘em!” If that were a real dad, he’d be like, “Hey, do me a favor, all right? Just stop talking for a second. Please. Just one second. I’m incredibly depressed around the holidays, ever since your mother died, it’s just me and you. Stop talking about your little kid girlfriend for a minute, please.”

And you talk about love, right? Half of the stories have nothing to do with love. What about the one where the guy falls in love with his best friend’s wife? First of all, I’m watching this movie and I’m like, who the hell is this guy? Why does he look so familiar? Then it hits me, he’s the actor who plays Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead. And again, I wish I had never watched it this year, because now when I watch my favorite TV show, I’m not going to be able to shake the image of this guy wearing an oversized sweater holding up signs telling his friend’s wife not to make a sound so he can steal a kiss while he’s not paying attention. I’m going to be too focused on scrutinizing his fake American accent. Seriously, how do people do that? If I tried to talk in a British accent, best case scenario, everybody in earshot would mercilessly make fun of me, worst case scenario, I’d get punched, hard.

Or what about the story where the guy is cheating on his wife? I’m not trying to make a moral argument or anything, you know, because a story about a guy cheating on his wife, in a romance movie, you don’t really need some guy like me pointing out how out of place it is. But from a logistical standpoint, it really bothers me. Like, he buys a necklace for his mistress, OK. Why don’t you go shopping for jewelry like on the way home from work or something? Why insist on taking your whole family to the mall, and then making the worst attempt ever to sneak out of their sight for a second so you can buy a necklace? Isn’t that a little reckless? It’s stupid, is what it is. And then, you’re not into your wife, fine, but maybe buy her something a little nicer than a CD to at least pretend that you give a fuck about her not finding out. Doesn’t she even say something earlier, like, “Is it just sex? Or is it sex and love?”

What’s the message here, that true love is all about perspective? That regardless of how bad a situation appears from the outside, somebody might be caught up in true love? That actually sounds kind of legit. Holy shit, did I just figure it out?

I could go on all day, but I’m clearly in the minority here. Love, Actually actually looks like it’s here to stay, and for the long haul too. I can just picture myself as an old man, this movie’s going to come on and I’m going to force myself to sit there and provide asinine commentary, pitching the same lame Love, Actually jokes. Remember when I said before that I wasn’t that big of a dick? I guess I can be kind of dickish, but only when Love, Actually is on. I don’t know, it just brings out the worst in me. It’s a good thing that all of the follow-up imitation ensemble movies always bomb at the box office, like He’s Just Not That Into You, and I think there’s a Valentine’s Day one also, the sister from Seventh Heaven is in it. OK, I’m done. I’m going to be sick. Wait, no, OK, I held it in. Wait, it’s coming back. Yeah, I’m definitely going to be sick. Yep, I did it, I threw up. Gross.

Rethinking the holidays

I’ve got a bad case of the post holiday blues. Christmas is over. No more presents left to open. I always used to hide like half of my presents away, saving them for February, March, something to get me through the cold, wet winter. If it got so bad that I couldn’t take the dismal stretch of time expanding outward in front of me, I’d open a Christmas present and let myself bask in a fleeting moment of joy. But the people who give you gifts, they want to see you open them up right away, on Christmas, not two months later, and so people just stopped giving me presents. Or they’d stop wrapping them, just handing me a foot massager or a brand new pair of windshield wiper blades.

Everybody has so much fun at Christmas. The best part is taking off the day before, and depending on what day of the week it falls, you might get the day before that off as well, a four, maybe five day weekend. And then sure, you’ll go back to work the next day, but nobody does any work in between Christmas and New Years. It’s all a big joke. Show up at the office but just kind of hang out and talk about presents and go out for drinks during lunch.

But then it’s New Years and then it’s over. What’s next? Three months of winter. Valentine’s Day isn’t a real holiday. I propose that we move Christmas to the end of February. We could still do the old holiday season, but this would now be exclusively for New Years. Think about it. You just get done with Thanksgiving and a month later you get the Christmas/New Years knock out punch. Let’s spread it out. Let’s give ourselves something to look forward to.

Christmas in February makes so much more sense. Just as everybody would start winding down from the New Years celebrations, you’d start hearing Christmas music and seeing Christmas decorations in the mall. Some of your killjoy friends would complain, stuff like, “I don’t see why there has to be Christmas decorations in December! Can’t we at least wait until January?” and then your secular friends would say stuff like, “There’s nothing in the Bible that says anything about Christmas being in February! That’s not even when Jesus was born!” and your traditionalist friends would pipe in with, “We need to move Christmas back to December! This an outrage!”

As a country, we don’t have that many holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Fourth of July. What else? Sure you get your days off for Labor Day, Presidents Day, a bunch of other whatever days. I think we need to rethink the holidays. We need to have it so no two months go by without a holiday. I’m talking like holiday, holiday. Like two days off from work, at least. And we’ll spread them out so there’s always something relatively close to look forward to.

Just think about the winter months. It’s so depressing, nothing ahead. Easter is kind of losing its secular appeal, if it ever even had any. And it’s on a Sunday, so nobody gets off work.

This fits in with my whole theory that we need a lot less work, as a country. We need a three-day, four-day work week, tops. We should only be working five hours a day at the maximum. And we need lots more holidays. Tons more days off.

And we need to start including the service industry in these holidays. I always hate that whenever ninety percent of the country is off having a good time, there’s always one or two people selling tickets at the movies, or pumping gas. Let’s stagger it out so that they can join in the holiday spirit also.

I thought writing about this would cheer me up, but it didn’t. We’re still in January. It’s really, really cold. I wish I had a week off to look forward to. Remember that stuff I said about the three-day work week? Make it a two-day work week. I promise I’ll shut up and stop complaining if I can just get a two-day work week. I’ll work really hard. I promise. Seriously, those will be some of the most productive ten hours you’ll ever see.

Happy Kwanzaa!

I want to start celebrating Kwanzaa. There are a number of obvious challenges here, like, for starters, I don’t know anything about Kwanzaa at all. Actually, that’s not true. Around December, if you ever watch regular TV, in between commercials there are always those really cheap “Happy Holidays” type announcements, “Here from all of your friends at Channel 4!” And there’s always a Christmas Tree, a Menorah, and then that other Menorah looking candleholder that’s associated with Kwanzaa. And the only reason I know that it has something to do with Kwanzaa is because when they programmed those little holiday graphics, which you can tell that they just picked out from the most basic Clipart collection, the Kwanzaa candles say, “Happy Kwanzaa!” right underneath. But now the holidays are over, and I’ve wasted another season not celebrating, not even doing anything to make Kwanzaa a part of my life.

I guess I could just look up the significance on the Internet. But that’s so demoralizing. Whenever I don’t know something, it’s now just like this automatic response to start looking it up online. And I don’t know why, but I go through the same automated song and dance here. I always open up a new tab on my browser and I start typing in, “www.google.com,” which is already mostly unnecessary, because as soon as I type the G of Google, it knows I’m going to go to Google, it shows me it knows. But I finish typing it out of habit. And even going to the Google homepage is a waste because in most browsers, all you have to do is start typing whatever you want right in the search bar, as if it were Google, and it’ll always take you right to the Google results.

Which is also very unnecessary, because I guarantee you that if I typed “Kwanzaa” into Google, the first thing that would pop up is the Wikipedia page. That’s how it is for ninety percent of all of my searches. I type something into Google and the first result is always Wikipedia. And I always wind up going there, out of habit, for lack of imagination. What am I holding out for? Why go through all of that extra work? I guess I’m always just hoping there will be something else, something unique.

Something unique enough for Kwanzaa which, from my perspective, it has to be the most unique out of all of the major holiday season holidays. Well there are only three I guess. Ramadan happens at different times every year, right? I hope that’s right. I’m not doing any research for this at all, and so I’m hoping that I’m not just making stuff up.

And I hope you don’t think I’m being disrespectful of Kwanzaa. I’m not. It’s just that, and I feel like I try to make an effort to know what’s going on, in my life, in the country, but I haven’t been touched by Kwanzaa, not even once, not even indirectly. And you could attribute this to a number of things. Like I went to a Catholic school. Or I grew up in a suburb with mostly white people. Not a lot of Kwanzaa going on.

But it’s more than that. I see it on TV. Or I see people saying “Happy Kwanzaa” on TV. But even after I left home. In college, there was no mention of Kwanzaa. I’ve worked several jobs with all different people and nobody has ever brought up Kwanzaa. No coworkers. Nothing. This could be a reflection of me living an insular life, oblivious to the world right in front of me, refusing to look up stuff on the Internet. I should just look it up. This is probably coming across as very insensitive.

But maybe Kwanzaa needs something to help really kick it up to the mainstream. Maybe I could be part of a Kwanzaa revival. OK I’m worried about coming across as offensive. I swear I’m not trying to be. All right, I’m just going to look it up real quick.

OK, Google, yeah, Wikipedia, yup. OK, African-American culture. Black nationalism. OK, Pan-Africanism, African Diaspora. Yeah, there’s nothing that specifically says I can’t be part of Kwanzaa.

I also just feel bad because the only people I ever hear say “Happy Kwanzaa” are those people I was talking about earlier, the faceless TV announcers. I’d love to be able to wish a Happy Kwanzaa to somebody celebrating Kwanzaa. But I feel like if I went up to somebody and asked them, “Hey, do you celebrate Kwanzaa?” I just can’t see that going over too well. You know what I mean? We’ve got to figure this out.