December 20, 2009 in Features

The 12 myths of Christmas

By The Spokesman-Review

This is the time of year when grown-ups fret about sharing certain holiday truths with children. You know, revealing that stocking stuffers sometimes get regifted or admitting that there’s no such thing as Andy Williams.

But kids aren’t the only ones who arguably might benefit from a yuletide reality check. So, with that in mind, let’s drop a bag of holly jolly fact-checking down the chimney.

Welcome to “The 12 Myths of Christmas.”

There’s a lot of kissing beneath the mistletoe

Maybe that’s happening somewhere. Perhaps you regularly attend convivial social gatherings where spirited strangers routinely lock lips under sprigs of a poisonous plant.

But to believe that this is a universal experience would require quaffing a flagon of wassail or a mug of spiked eggnog.

“I’ve never been kissed under the mistletoe and I’ve never known anyone who has,” said Kim Puryear, a 40-year-old Liberty Lake resident who works for a grocery distributor.

Fruitcake is an abomination.

Actually, it isn’t always.

My mother always orders a few from the celebrated Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas. They are consistently good.

But they’re also about a million calories per bite. So if that’s a concern, you might be better off with molar-cracking Christmas candy or red and green cookies that are only a thousand calories per bite.

It’s too bad that door-to-door caroling has pretty much faded away

No, it’s not.

The words “Some assembly required” should strike terror into the hearts of adults

Sure, things can go wrong. Parts can be missing. Pieces don’t always fit together as intended. And sometimes the instructions were written by someone who clearly doesn’t understand English.

But, chances are, you tackle tougher challenges every day.

Man up.

Men are disorganized and incompetent gift shoppers

Not so. Well, at least not in every case.

Spokane lawyer J. Scott Miller starts in January. He carries around a 3-by-5 note card and when his wife mentions that something “would be nice to have,” he jots it down.

“By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I have a pretty good list going,” he said. “Usually there are enough items that I can pick two or three of the best ones and just sit back and enjoy the season.”

Gifts that are hidden stay hidden

Adults want to believe this. They think saying things like “Stay out of our bedroom” serves as a credible deterrent.

What many parents forget is that when they themselves were children, some of them conducted unauthorized expeditions into crammed closets and little-used trunks in the basement.

If you are tracking an escaped convict in a wooded area, a bloodhound is what you need. But if you are trying to get a sneak peak at yet-to-be-wrapped Christmas presents, what you want is a sneaky little kid whose babysitter is momentarily distracted by texting revealing pictures of herself to her boyfriend.

Everybody loves “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Maybe it’s the fact that some fans of this feel-good movie insist that you are supposed to love it. Or perhaps some of us of a certain age never really got over the multi-channel bombardment back when practically any TV station could air this holiday staple as often as it wanted.

But some say that every time a bell rings, it’s time to reach for the remote.

“Something about Jimmy Stewart sets me off,” said Bob Glatzer, KPBX-FM film critic.

The truth is, though, he sort of likes “It’s a Wonderful Life.”


Everybody is into outdoor lights and decorations

Since when? Look around. There are lots and lots of homes with zero festive flourishes. More than a few Spokane area neighborhoods don’t exactly remind us of Whoville.

And the tradition of finishing off the roast beast and then packing the whole clan into the family truckster so you can drive around to look at lights is far from all-embracing.

Once “Jingle Bell Rock” gets stuck in your head, permanent insanity is not far behind

It seems like this would be true. But what ends up happening is that the song eventually gets supplanted by “Good King Wenceslas.”

Then you stagger around, mumbling “Mmmmm mmmm feast of Stephen.”

Still, that’s only temporary insanity.

Beneath the gruff exterior of every Grinch and Scrooge beats the yearning heart of someone just waiting to be transformed by the joy and peace of the season

Ahahahahahahahaha. Right.

I guess you could buy that if you don’t spend much time in public, follow the news or remember how people act most of the year.

Hand-wringing about the commercialization of the holiday first gained a national spotlight with “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in 1965

Actually, seven years before that there was Stan Freberg’s great “Green Christmas.” (You can hear it on

Co-workers don’t really notice who gets Christmas week off every single year

Oh, but they do. They make a list. And check it twice.

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