CHRISTMAS makes me cringe.
It's not that I don't enjoy the holidays. Heck, I was born on Christmas Day so I can claim a small piece of the action.
And don't mistake me for TV commentator Bill O'Reilly, who claims there is a war on Christmas, part of the "secular progressive agenda ... because if you can get religion out, then you can pass secular progressive programs, like legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage, because the objection to those things is religious-based, usually."
That's laying it on a bit thick, even for a blowhard like O'Reilly.
Nope, what really shakes my sleigh every Christmas is the onslaught of cliches, tasteless commercials and downright bad music that accompanies the holiday season.
I make a mental note each year to see who will be first to trot out the "Tis the Season" phrase in an attempt to seem clever or timely.
The winner this year is a KABC-TV anchor who uttered this particular cliche as part of a newscast in late November. This should come as no surprise. Most television newscasters use more clichés than makeup.
But "Tis the Season" is easy and trite, therefore particularly irritating.
Don't believe it? Check out these examples culled from advertising and Internet sources.
Tis the season to be gorgeous.
Tis the season to be nervous.
Tis the season to stock up on ammo and hunt deer.
Tis the season to be bankrupt.
Tis the season to get loaded.
Tis the season for second jobs.
Tis the season for car thieves.
Tis the season for mass layoffs.
In the Christmas mood yet?
Let's move on to "Yes, Virginia," the opening lines of a classic editorial in the New York Post written by Francis P. Church in 1897 in response to a little girl who doubted the existence of Santa Claus.
Now we see it used thus:
Yes, Virginia, we have lobbyist disclosures.
Yes, Virginia, you can get a free credit report.
Yes, Virginia, there is great meatloaf.
Yes, Virginia, there is a recession.
Yes, Virginia, you can thaw turkeys on the counter.
And a personal favorite to get you in the holiday spirit:
Yes, Virginia, there is a hell.
The ad folks can't leave "Deck the Halls" alone either.
Deck the Halls with a strong, fit body.
Deck the Halls with bars of chocolate.
Deck the Halls with unique deals.
Deck the Halls with beer.
While were at it, let's ban "Twas the night before," the Grinch who stole (fill in the blank) and "Bah, Humbug." Dickens doesn't need the royalties.
When it comes to commercials, my least favorite is the Lexus production where one spouse surprises the other with a new car adorned with a large red bow.
I know if my wife "surprised" me with a $65,000 vehicle, we'd have a frank and open conversation about family finances at the kitchen table shortly afterwards. But these couples never bat an eye. I guess there's no recession in Commercial Land.
Speaking of large expenditures, you've got to hand it to Kay Jewelers "Every Kiss Begins With Kay" ads (One blogger reported, "If you like that, you'll love the slogan of a local jewelry store in my area: "Helping couples copulate since 1958.")
Most of these ads seem to run during football games, an attempt, we can surmise, to ratchet up the guilt level for a lot of American males. It must work. The Kay advertising budget exceeds the national debt.
Then there is that whole concept of buying commitment ... well, never mind.
When it comes to Christmas music, everyone has a favorite. I have least favorites.
Three that send me racing to the mute button are "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" by Brenda Lee who's voice can shatter ornaments, "Jingle Bells" by the Singing Dogs (followed by anything by Alvin and the Chipmunks) and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" by a number of unfortunate artists.
Honorable mentions: "Little Drummer Boy" by David Bowie and Bing Crosby; "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" by Bruce Springsteen, closely followed by "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by Elmo and Patty.