The holidays have officially arrived (Happy 6th night of Hanukkah!), and along with the joy of the season comes a giant Santa sack filled with "internet coal," aka common social media blunders. No matter how little time you spend on Facebook right now, the chances are pretty high that you'll come across a stupid meme about some kind of "social justice" holiday-related campaign. Be it a rant about a Starbucks cup, or a comment on the way public schools handle Christmas -- er, holiday -- pageants in 2015, one of the most popular subjects to beat into the ground is always The War On Christmas. The worst aspect of this, of course, is the predictable coopting of Peanuts characters in order to get some ridiculous points across:
It's times like these that I wonder if it would be better to avoid social media altogether, because as much as the holidays are supposed to be a time of forgiveness, generosity of spirit, and family togetherness, it seems like America just keeps swinging farther in the opposite direction. Consider the family holiday card that Michele Fiore released last week with every intention of making headlines and sparking controversy across social media platforms:
When Michele Fiore thinks about the holiday season, she thinks about outfitting her family with red shirts (for Christmas!), blue jeans (for America!), and a personal arsenal of rifles, handguns, and tactical webbing (for the patriarch, of course). She doesn't factor in how this sick display makes families who have lost loved ones to gun violence feel; she doesn't factor in the way this image makes America look to the rest of the world. She certainly doesn't think about the fact that she released this image just a week out from the anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, which destroyed a whole community just before the Christmas break. Nope! She's just thinking about garnering attention and making a political statement by posing her loved ones with deadly weapons...for Christmas. Ho, ho, ho? Talk about a misguided holiday faux pas.
We Americans are all about extremes these days. If we're not handing our grandmas AR-15s for family photo shoots, we're bragging about buying our children entire department stores for Christmas. Hey -- they're worth it! And exactly who are *you* to judge how someone else spends their money, anyway?
This is the photo that went viral when a bunch of people saw it and were like, "Um, if this lady isn't supplying gifts to dozens of families in a Toys 4 Tots program, then what the hell is she doing posting this picture on Instagram?" The mother in question, who was absolutely shocked -- shocked! -- that someone would re-post this Instagram image on Facebook without asking her first, justified her family's mountain o'gifts because, as she explained, these gifts are for her, her husband, her mother, AND her three kids. Now doesn't it all make more sense?! That's six people splitting this SUV-sized presents pile. Also, as dozens of horrible people have pointed out in the comments of this BuzzFeed post, it's entirely possible that this mom, who enjoys "thrifty shopping," actually just bought an enormous amount of very cheap, completely worthless crap and didn't spend a fortune on this future landfill. Doesn't that improve your outlook and change your mind about what a faux pas it was for her to post this picture in the first place?
Hey, at least she didn't start group texting her friends in September about what to buy her kid for Christmas. She took care of the gift-buying all by herself -- unlikes some people, who don't know when technology isn't their friend.
I think it's safe to say some parents might take the holiday season a little TOO seriously. Every year, this obsession manifests itself in a variety of ways on social media, and much like classic Christmas traditions, we're stuck knowing those social media rituals aren't going anywhere, whether we like them or not. People will continue to post pictures of pee stick Christmas tree ornaments with pride, as well as send out links to their kids' Amazon wish lists, even if some of their friends have never even met their kids. That's just how we do the holidays in 2015. Let's check out several social media faux pas that parents are prone to commit this holiday season.
1. Pointless Holiday Comparisons
Excuse me, but since when is it a contest between "a kid and a tree" and "a cat and a tree"? They're both a combination of ridiculously adorable and dangerously lethal around Christmas trees. They both prefer wrapping and string to real toys. And they both nap a lot. Why pit one group against the other? I want to believe that B. is exaggerating for comedic effect here, but posting those four nearly-identical photos make me think otherwise. We get it, B.—your kid is cute next to a tree. But I wouldn't go comparing her to this.
2. Work Holiday Party Foul
Casey deserves applause for just casually saying what would come to most people's minds after reading Gretchen's update. The last work holiday party I attended involved drunken dance-offs, a Viking helmet, and a flavor of vodka that I'll never consume again. So yeah, I would say a baby might not exactly "thrive" in that environment. They don't drink, they don't do bad karaoke, they aren't interested in ill-advised hook-ups with co-workers...so why *wouldn't* they scream the whole time?
3. End-Of-The-World Santa Crises
Hmm, the thing about fiction is that just because a storyline isn't based in fact doesn't mean the details of the story are also totally made-up. It's pretty weird that these women are more interested in leading a child's understanding of storytelling astray just so they can convince her to hold onto some magical perception of a jolly old fat man who delivers presents to every kid on Earth in a single night. Plus, I'm pretty sure I read Superfudge when I was around that age, and I certainly wasn't scarred for life. Then again, I was raised Jewish, and when you're never under the guise that Santa Claus is real, you do kind of grow up wondering how other kids could be such willing participants in this longstanding holiday farce. The older I get, the more I realize that the Santa myth is perpetuated more by parents than their Santa-crazed—but not stupid—children.
Amiee, you're a genius, but you're also a monster. Angie, Polar Express is a perfectly good option (recommended for kids ages 4-7), but you sound a little frenzied. Isn't it a bit, oh, I don't know, cognitively distressing to tell a child that she's wrong and Santa IS real after all? This isn't like telling a kid that broccoli is a dessert and hoping she eats it; this is encouraging a kid to sustain a belief in a character that she's bound to recognize in countless commercials, mall settings, and catalogs in the coming years, having already been made aware of his fictional identity. Is it really so bad to celebrate Christmas and channel the "spirit" of Santa instead of trying in vain to wrongly assure a kid that Santa is real after all? As far as I'm aware, a Santa Crisis falls just above the Easter Bunny Crisis and just below the refugee crisis on the Crisis Spectrum, so there's probably not too much to worry about.
4. Parentsplaining: Holiday Etiquette Edition
The submitter wrote: "In light of the holiday season, she's just two shy of the "12 Mommy Bitchings of Christmas," with a 10-point list of holiday etiquette when it comes to her and her two daughters." I think my favorite part of this list is the way she gets all Mean Mommy on her friends. I'm actually kinda curious what would happen if someone broke one of her rules, like maybe DIDN'T wash their hands before eating a Christmas cookie, and then turned to Amber and said, "Hey, was that you guys just now getting here about 45 minutes late?" It's almost as though she's disciplining all of her friends and family, outlining her Dos and Don'ts and making it crystal clear that a single misstep will result in the removal of all phone privileges, an extended time-out, and a month-long grounding. When it comes to telling her friends how to behave and ordering them around, Amber don't play. She's a woman who's all about results. Do as you're told, and stop asking questions about how long a baby is sleeping through the night. Regardless of the answer, the mother doesn't want or need your advice. Now shut up and face the wall after bathing in a bucket of Purell—and don't forget to have a very Merry Christmas, friends!
5. Christmas Business Scolding
"Ugh" is right, Alicia. There are bigger problems in the world than this. Tell your kid she can't get any PJ Masks shit and be done with it. Hell, I'm still waiting on a few backordered sets of flatware that guests purchased off my wedding registry back in June. JUNE!!!! Am I stomping my feet and whining about it on the Crate & Barrel Facebook page?? No, I'm NOT. I just call them 16 times a day, every day, and weep softly into the phone about how my life will never be okay until I finally get that goddamn flatware and complete my dinner set. Ugh. Why is life so unfair?!
And why are retail store displays so friggin' STUPID?! Answer former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Melissa Rycroft *that,* Target!
The crazy thing is, this got over 13,000 Likes, and I refuse to believe that 12,000 of them aren't bots. Really, people, is ANYTHING more annoying about the holidays on social media than The Elf on the Shelf? If this store display shatters even just one child's illusion that that stupid Elf has magical powers, then Target has earned my (reluctant) appreciation.
6. No One Cares About Your Elf On The Shelf Antics
Whether you're a parent or not, the daily Elf updates we've all been enduring on Facebook for years have definitely taken their toll. No one is suggesting that families stop goofing around with the Elf in their homes or stop referring to him as "the newest member of the family" (barf), but on social media, the Elf madness has got to stop. It's just not entertaining to anyone who isn't also an overeager Elf mom.
Maybe for some people, seeing that first Elf on the Shelf photo in their newsfeed signals a renewed enthusiasm for the holiday season, but for many people, the Opening Night announcement is dreaded, feared, and then ultimately, Hidden from view.
::shudder:: Nothing is scarier than realizing you've got three more weeks of Elf antics contaminating your newsfeed, and nothing's more aggravating than feeling like it's impossible to weed out the Elf from your feed altogether. Not to mention, you might even miss learning key pieces of information if you systematically Hide all your Elf on the Shelf friends from your feed, because apparently it's normal now to make big announcements with everyone's (least) favorite Christmas doll:
God, I hate the smug expression on that motherfucker's face. Even more than that, I hate it when parents humanize the creepy-ass doll, cracking jokes about him partying, having sex, and pooping out pieces of chocolate, as an Elf is wont to do when he's done "devouring" a plate of cookies...
I appreciate Jaime's explanation here, but a person's imagination would have to be on a mosquito's level of creative intelligence to not "figure this one out."
Thankfully, there are some clever parents in this world who are also tired of seeing the Elf's shifty grin every day, and one of them has come up with a pretty solid solution:
Okay, this idea could work... Sort of an "unbaby.me" plugin for pictures of the Elf on the Shelf. I can get down with that, but you know what would be even better? THIS:
BURT IN A YURT. So simple, so sexy. Wendi Aarons, the comedy writer who coined this idea and artfully Photoshopped this masterpiece, has won the entire holiday season with this as far as I'm concerned. I highly recommend dragging this image to your desktop and posting it on every Elf on the Shelf pic you see so that we can start a proper movement, because '70s Burt absolutely deserves it. Don't let me down. This might be our ticket to never seeing another Elf on the Shelf pretending to shit out Hershey's Kisses ever again. Who knows what the future holds if we start plastering this image all over Facebook starting today? A childless Jewish girl can dream.