‘Tis the season of gifts, decorations, and family. Wreaths, adorned trees, and twinkling lights announce that homes are celebrating a mashup of traditions that seems to consume December. Outsiders in our increasingly diverse society look on with a mixture of amusement and envy.
But rip away the thin veneer of the Christmas traditions and seasonal anxieties abound. Barbara Smaller summarized the full cycle seasonal madness in this conversational snippet between college roommates.
A dreaded trip to the grandparents is deftly skewered by an arch teen. “The Land of Forced Smiles” not only delivers in the caption but reminds readers of their own uncomfortable holiday experiences with relatives. It’s worth a moment to examine William Haefeli’s detailed scene, from the posture of the children to the snowy steps leading to the car.
Bill Woodman’s cartoon imagines how a Christmas family gathering might end when one has had one’s fill of peace of Earth and goodwill toward all.
A former New Yorker Cartoon Editor and contributor, Bob Mankoff, spent enough time around New York businessmen to offer this wry assessment of the holiday blues.
Another former New Yorker Cartoon Editor and contributor, Leo Lorenz, finds deep cynicism in a well-appointed living room. This newspaper reader can’t be bothered with his wife’s suggestions about Christmas cards and other seasonal nonsense.
The bonanza of gifts under the Christmas tree often arouses envy in children from other reli-gious or cultural backgrounds. There’s something about the wild frenzy on Christmas morn that brings a pang of jealousy. Tom Toro gently captures that feeling in his Three Wise Men sendup.
The treasure under the tree doesn’t come without a cost. The economic bonfire in December is stoked with cash, which, depending on market conditions, is not always in abundant supply. The dad in Leo Cullum’s gag may have engaged in unwise speculation too close to the holidays. The martini close at hand may be a palliative for a stock plunge.
Of course, Scrooge always casts a pall over the festivities. The pursed lips and reluctant wallet of this archetype are well known to all. James Stevenson’s reply from the Gift Counsellor is a master class in caption writing.
Santa takes a hit from an angelic toddler who calls him out for investigating “naughty” versus “nice.” She has a point—the fluffy Easter Bunny in Barbara Smaller’s cartoon is universally accepting … and, well, cute.
Santa appears to be aware of this judgmental image. The late Gahan Wilson has a less-than-jolly St. Nick on the couch working through his issues. The psychiatrist offers age-old seasonal advice.
P.C. Vey defines the ultimate anti-Christmas spirit: simply ignore it. Perhaps there’s a hidden message that a holiday sabbatical every so often is revivifying. Could be, but too late this year.