The Threat of Festivus
Welcome to the keynote address of this year's International Conference of Catholic Bishops. His Grace Pope Benedict XVI sends his best wishes, and wants us to know that we are in his prayers. He asks us to welcome his Beloved Papal Emissary, Father John Murphy, prefect of the spare set of keys of St. Peter and holder of the Golden Crown. Father Murphy will speak on a topic close to all of our hearts, The Threat of Festivus.
Without further ado, and please give the man a warm round of applause, Father John Murphy.
Ya, thanks. Lookin' around for my glass here. Dat's the one. You got it filled with what I told youse? OK, good.
A quick introduction to the problem
Alright. Nice to see ya boys! Starin' out here at da Bishops of the Holy Mudda Church I see lots of old friends, and lots of new guys. We've had some laughs over da years. Like, hey, O'Malley, I see ya sittin' back der. Ya still got your balls in a jar back at da palace? Ha! Good times. But lookin' out here at dis crowd I can't help but note the worried looks on all youse faces. If I held a mirror up to my puss I'd seez da same look. We gotta problem here boys, and it ain't goin' away by prayin' about it, I can tellz ya dat.
For a long time we've had dis thing, dis Christmas, all to ourselves. Biggest moneymaker since da guys came up with mortal sin. Sure, sure, we had to wrestle it away from da pagans, Jews, and dose other witches. Then some of da other boys, youse Lutherans and Pressbeterians and dem, dey started piggybacking on da meal ticket. Cock-a-roaches. But even so, Christmas was still pretty much ours, all de way from St. Peda takin' the reigns to St. Claus providin' backup. But I dares ya to take a nun, a shovel, and a flashlight, and go underneath the Vatican and order her to start diggin'. Know what yu'd find? St. Peta and Claus spinin' in dere graves, right next to Jesus and Holy Mudda Mary in deres doin' backflips. All because of a goddamn TV show!
The origin of Christmas
Some background for ya jamokes who don' pay attention. Jesus' mudda and the neighborhood kids celebrated his birthday every year with a little party in the park, and dat was dat. Some candy, maybe a jester thrown in, a boat ride, a donkey. Dat was da show. It was only later that dis here ghost, dis risen Jesus, pulled in the boys who'd set up da holy mudda church and got 'em latched onto the idea of Christmas. He sat dem down one day and told dem dey had better grab dat whole time of year for themselves or all his hard work didn't mean a goddamn thing.
So da bishops went ahead and started to glue Jesus' birthday onto stuff. Onto Solstice and Yule, so as to end-around ya druid hippies. Onto Honika or whatever youse call it, to placate ya candle lovin' Jews. And onto Egyptian mittology, to overshadow and put dis Horus guy in his place and out to pasture. We even pillow-choked Mithras, da god of youse heathen Persians and Romans, and Marduk, the Sumerian's and Babylonian's God, who were both -- just like Horus dere - actually born on December 25th. Then lastly, to finish da job of cutting dem all off at da knees, we talked Claus into grabbing Odin's stuff, ho-ho-ho all over da Saturnalia festival, and take-over da Scandinavian territory. We had to step hard on all dese shindigs so as ta gain control of da primitives.
Then ya know what? Da Church wrestled the season away from da whole lot of 'em for good when, outta da blue, we gets a key assist from Saint Nikoli. Santa Claus - and what a fuckin' genius he must have been to come up with dat stage name - either him or one of his guys chatted up a few of da druids Jesus hung out with and "thought up" da idea of the tree, da lights, da deers, and dat red outfit. Wouldntyaknowit, dats when modern day Christmas was born all proper like. And we've had dese ghosts of Jesus and Santa workin' da fans like a tag-team ever since.
Alright, yeah, applaud. Dats right. Gives me time to refill my glass.
In summary, if ya can't beat down a good thing, steal it. Dat's been church doctrine right from da get-go. Then when someone comes at ya all accusatory and cryin' crocodile tears, "Oh boo hoo, wouldov, couldov, shouldov, youse a thief", just try to hold in ya laughter and pretend some sympathy and whatnot. Dats what we hadda do for da longest time while we were wrestling away dose high holy days from da heathens and stuffing Christmas down dere throats instead, 'cause ya know, Jesus was really born in early September. Or maybe late August, I forget. What was it again O'Malley? Yeah, right, September. Thought so.
Festivus for the rest of us
This brings us up to today, and now we gotta circle da horses and hold da wagons. I tell ya dis: We should all of us go out and have da word "Festivus" tattoed on our behinds in big red letters, so we can never forget it. Here's da story.
Dis mick writer on da Jerry Seinfeld Show, Dan O' Keefe, stole his daddy's idea for a fake clown holiday and pretended it came from one of da morons on the show, name of Frank Costanza. His idea of a good time is puttin' up an aluminium pole instead of our Lord's Christmas tree on Festivus, December 23rd. Then dey hold a dinner and yap to da other guys at the table about da things dat bothers ya about dem - get ya killed quicker than a mudderfucker if ya in da wrong crowd. Then the dinner host picks a guy and wrestles him until da guy pins the host's shoulder to da ground or kills him, one or da other. Dey also have somethin' name of "Festivus miracle", where youse pretending dat somethin' obvious is more than dat. And dats bout it. Dats Festivus. A tiny car full of clowns having a head-on with a barrel of monkeys, dats all it is. So why da big threat? I'll tells youse.
"It's a Festivus miracle, Jerry!"
'Cause we can't do nuttin about it, dats why. And it's growin' every year. More people are goin' down to da hardware store and buyin' a piece of alumunium, puttin' it up with no tinsel, 'cause Frank Costanza hated tinsel, remember? Quit youse laughin'! And dese guys don't say nuttin about Christmas, dey just work arounds it by sayin' "Festivus for da restofus" or some nonsense. Alls we can do is hope da hippies convert, a one in a million chance dere but ya gotta have faith. Hey, no, settle down. Dere ain't notin' wrong with a little faith now and den. Didn't Kramer have faith dat he was gonna make it big in Hollywood? And didn't Jerry have faith dat he wouldn't get caught stealing da bread from dat old broad?
Quit dat laughin', this is some serious business we got here. Youse gotta concentrate on how we gonna make people forget about dis Festivus before it gets too big and outta control. Before da jamokes start gettin' it as a paid holiday. I dunno know what to do here, I'm at da end of my rope. I'd like to get my hands on Larry David and O'Keefe and wring dere necks until I feel da life leavin' dem and then. . .
Okay, I'm going to step in here. I'm sure Father Murphy would love to answer your questions, but let's take a short break to let His Holiness collect his thoughts.
Yeah, I gotta pee like a racehorse.
Questions and answers
How do you know that Festivus is becoming better known?
Da way ya know anything dese days, smarty pants. Wikipedia. Last December its article got a quarter million pokes on December 23rd alone, more than almost every other page. And da numbers are doublin' or triplin' every year. Da boys over to the City got guys dat know how to track dis stuff.
Oh, come on, Father Murphy, what's really wrong with Festivus' growing popularity?
Ah Jees, are ya kidding me? What are ya, wiseass, Swiss? Dutch! Well no wonder. Okay, Flying Dutchman, if ya catch my drift, every time someone puts their attention on December 23td and Festivus, and gabs about it to dere - what is it da kids say, O'Malley?, peeps?, are ya sure? alright - peeps, then a tiny bit of Christmas past is flushed down da drain. Festivus celebrants ain't thinkin' about takin' in da Midnight Mass, which wooden manger to kneel down to, or how much money they gonna be puttin' into anyone's coffers. They're busy tellin' each other what irritates dem, seeing beautiful miracles in everyday events, or wrestling in front of an aluminium pole. And just like dat low-talker got Jerry to wear her puffy shirt before he knew what hit him, someday dis crowd and their peeps are gonna sneak up and kick holiday greed and Christmas commercialization in their ample behinds. Mark my words.
Doesn't Hanukkah still take a huge bite out of our revenue stream? Why not worry about that instead?
Like I'z told ya, it took awhile to beat all dose other holidays back, especially dis Honika, and we've fought dat one to a draw. Kind of a mutually assured destruction deal we gots goin' on with dem now. Did ya know dat for awhile da Jews owned passover, until with the luck of the Irish, a pagan bunny, and a few greased palms we managed to grab dat out from under dem and name it Easter.
Is the Holy Father as worried as you seem to be about Festivus?
Benedict? You got to be jokin'. The man's lucky he's got a home. Last time he had an original thought dat I didn't hand him he tried ta call in a streetwalker from down dere in da square. We had ta pay her off with one or two of dose paintings we got hangin' around everywhere. You know, a few of da spare Raffs we got in dere for da tourists to gawk at.
What about our dear departed John Paul II, bless his soul, was he a little concerned?
Now ya talkin' about da big fish and singin' to da choir. John Paul da Great we calls him, he didn't miss a trick. Da man actually believed half of what he said, and was busy editin' da other half into the Bible when he gave up da ghost. Slick as a razor too. Now, II and I, we saw the original Puerto Rican episode together, with Kramer stompin' on dat flag and all. He laughed so hard I thought he was gonna bust a gut and die den and dere. His favorite episode? Either da one where Jerry kills da parrot, Elaine tryin' to find more sponges, or George drivin' dat dead girl's parents to da Hamptons. O'Malley, ya remember dat time JohnPaul sneaked up on you in da Sistine and said "Hello Newman", and ya nearly jumped outta ya skin? Dose were da days.
So ya, da Great worried a lot about Festivus, but he moved quick as a rabbit too. Soon as he heard Kramer declare dat first Festivus miracle he sat down on his plump Polish behind and wrote out one of dose secret Vatican memos - be hell to pay if wikileaks ever gets its paws on dose, tells ya dat - and we cornered da aluminium market within da week.
OK, you, da walkin' stick der. Ain't I seen youse somewhere before?
Yes, Father, we've met. As a nun of the Abstinence Order, I'm interested in the broad interpretive metaphoric scope which is covered by Festivus, and what you believe to be the most profound aspect of the growing meme.
Wha? Ya askin' me to put on my thinkin' cap? Why don't ya explain it to us youse knows so much.
Well, okay, Father. Take, for example, the metaphor of the "host" inviting guests to dinner, berating them in front of their peers, and then choosing one of their number to wrestle. This can be compared to societal interventions by richer, seemingly more powerful, nations, against people's and cultures who must accept assistance just to survive; attend forums to listen to criticism of their ways and heritage; and then physically defend themselves against the giver nation if that country decides an attack is timely or warranted. Then they must spend time and treasure to fight their benefactor to a standstill, and only then are they finally allowed to leave the field of battle while the powerful nation simply moves on to the next fight-us-to-a-draw conquest. Another metaphor, the Festivus miracle, addresses the mind's ability to see distinct connections between unrelated events, to carry a sense of joy and wonderment into everyday mundane experience, and - in a perfect condensation of Jesus' overall teaching and message - to begin to appreciate that the ultimate meaning of life is quite likely just to learn how we create the reality around us. This unprecedented example of. . .
Wait a minute, ya crossin' lots a lines here, girly, shut it down. Ya sure youse a nun? A dicky dodger? If we wanted to hear a hippie give us whatfor while spouting rigmarole and gobbledygook we'd have hired one. Get a life.
That's all the time we have for questions tonight. Thank you Father Murphy, for your enlightening talk about the new holiday of Festivus. We'll be sure to give our parishioners your best wishes.
Ya, youse do dat. I read dis bunch all wrong, tells ya dat. Ol' Saint Nick would have to pound on ya noggins pretty hard to get youse to sit up and take notice, 'cause you ain't heard a word I said. Grab my coat O'Malley, let's go see what's on da cable. Whoa, wait up a second. Hey, kid! Ya, you dere, altar boy. Before I'm outta here pour me another glass of dis here. Yeah, thanks. Why don't ya gimmee your number too, sonny. Write it down here, on dis napkin. Hey, hey, hey, get back here! I said gimmee ya number. Write it down here like, on dis napkin. Jus' wanna invite ya up for a nightcap or somethin'. Alright, dere ya go, good boy. And it better be da right one too, not one ya saw on da side of a truck.
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