As picked by an Old Millennial raised by the teevee (so I know what I’m talking about).
Well folks, it may feel like this year has lasted the equivalent of ten years, but we have somehow made it to December of 2020. (Breathe. Relax. Wear your damn mask.) In the spirit of the holiday season, I’m here to present you with my top ten favorite holiday television episodes of all time (with the caveat that if you ask me next week, I may bombard you with several more episodes that I wish I had written about).
10. Happy Days, “Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas?” (Season 2 Episode 11, available to stream on CBS All Access)
I am one of those older millennials who watched a whole lot of classic TV shows back when Nick at Nite actually showed programming that aired before the 1990s because I had well-intentioned but very distracted parents (my mother was battling cancer for most of my childhood). Happy Days captured my heart early, set in 1950’s Milwaukee (though filmed from 1974-1984) it featured the stories of the wholesome Cunningham family, and their unlikely friend, greaser rebel Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler, in one of the most iconic television roles in history). This is a very early episode, featuring Mr. Cunningham’s (Tom Bosley) efforts to enact what he believes to be the “perfect” Christmas Eve: family only, decorating the tree, singing Christmas carols together, popping popcorn and roasting marshmallows over the fire, culminating in his dramatic reading of “The Night Before Christmas.” Simultaneously, Man About Town Fonzie, always a bit of a loner enigma, maintains that he is on his way to a humongous Christmas Eve bash at his cousin’s house in Waukesha. After an emergency trip to Fonzie’s garage to fix Mr. Cunningham’s car after it stalls while they are going home to start Mr. Cunningham’s dream Christmas Eve, Richie (Ron Howard, before he became an Academy Award winning director) realizes that Fonzie has been lying to everyone about Waukesha. He sees Fonzie through the window of the garage, settling down to eat a sad dinner of ravioli from a can and a sandwich. Back at home, Mr. Cunningham tries to get his family into the Christmas spirit, but when Richie reveals that he knows Fonzie is alone, they go to Fonzie’s apartment and convince him to join them for their Christmas Eve celebrations. This results in Fonzie expertly fixing a broken Christmas tree light, schooling Mr. Cunningham about the correct way to toast popcorn, and asking if he can be the one to read “The Night Before Christmas,” as he says he is “very good at reading poetry.” Mr. Cunningham begrudgingly gives up on his idea of how the perfect Christmas Eve should go, but in the end, it becomes clear that inviting the unconventional Fonzie into their family makes this Christmas Eve actually perfect in its own way. Happy Days was almost always cornball to the extreme over it’s decade-long run, but Winkler’s performance as Fonzie is so wonderfully sensitive underneath his macho posturing that it is guaranteed to warm your heart. (Also, this sitcom has an absolute banger of a theme song.)
9. The Office, “Diwali” (Season 3 Episode 6, available to stream on Netflix until January 1, 2021)
I was raised by parents who emigrated from India in 1978, but despite them both being raised in culturally Hindu families while attending English-medium Catholic schools in their youth, my mother was a staunch Marxist – with the accompanying atheism – and refused to raise me in any religious tradition (though she did relent when it came to a Christmas tree and presents, as long as we didn’t talk about Jesus). As a result, although I obviously have an Indian name, anything I know about Hinduism I’ve learned from Bollywood movies – and, loathe as I am to admit it, from this episode of The Office. Written by Mindy Kaling, who also played Kelly Kapoor on the show. In this episode, Kelly invites everyone in the office to a Diwali celebration at the temple her family attends, and wacky hijinks obviously ensue. Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak), Kelly’s boyfriend, tries and fails to make a good impression on Kelly’s parents, while Michael Scott (Steve Carell) decides that the Diwali celebration would be the appropriate time to stage a typically Michael Scott-cringeworthy public proposal to his girlfriend Carol (played by Carell’s real-life wife Nancy Carell), which she of course turns down. I love this episode for the numerous Bollywood songs playing at the temple (I knew all of the lyrics, which either impressed or horrified my boyfriend, I’m still not sure), for the genuine joy that Kelly’s colleagues ultimately find at the event, and for the fact that The Office chose to air this episode in lieu of a Halloween-themed one. As a result, it became the first American comedy series to depict the holiday – a major one on the Hindu calendar (or so I’m told… you know… Marxism). And of course, it’s capped off by Michael and Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) performing an adorable song in honor of Diwali in the style of Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song.” Charming all around. If you don’t get to this in time before Netflix drops it, have no fear – Peacock has your streaming needs covered going forward.
8. Cheers, “Thanksgiving Orphans” (Season 5 Episode 9, available to stream on Peacock or Hulu)
Again, I am an older millennial, which means that I was too young to see the first half of NBC’s long-running beloved sitcom, Cheers, and basically, I missed all of the Shelley Long years and have had to catch up on that era of the show through streaming services over two decades later. In this classic episode from 1986, the entire Cheers gang finds themselves at a loose end on Thanksgiving – Sam’s (Ted Danson) plans with his girlfriend Wendy fall through, Frasier (Kelsey Grammar) is lonely after a breakup with nowhere to go, Cliff (John Ratzenberger) doesn’t want to feed the homeless with his mom as he routinely does so during the year, Norm (George Wendt) doesn’t want to go to his mother-in-law’s house where beer and television are verboten, Woody (Woody Harrelson) can’t make it back to Indiana to see his family, and Carla’s (Rhea Pearlman) kids are with her ex-husband Nick. Diane (Long) berates Carla into hosting a Thanksgiving potluck for all of the Thanksgiving Orphans, but says she won’t be coming as she has been invited to a party at one of her professors’ houses, which of course irritates everyone (not that it takes much for Diane to irritate them). On Thanksgiving day at Carla’s house, things go spectacularly wrong – and of course, the wacky hijinks ensue. Diane shows up, very upset, dressed as a pilgrim, having fled the professor’s party after realizing that he had intended her to be there as a waitress for the other guests. Her humiliation is so palpable that the gang relents and allows her to stay. When dinner time arrives, the turkey Norm brought is still undercooked, while the side dishes are going cold. Diane insists that dinner cannot start without the turkey, and so Norm and Carla start bickering about who is more at fault for the turkey’s slow cooking time. In frustration, Norm throws peas at Carla, she throws carrots back at him, and the evening devolves into a massive food fight. In the end, Norm’s wife Vera – oft-mentioned but never seen on the show – arrives at Carla’s house having decided to spend the evening with her husband, but is hit with a pie just as she enters, thus ensuring that her face is still never seen by the audience. Cheers is a sitcom often praised for its smart dialogue, witty repartee, and chemistry amongst the cast; this episode proves that this crew could also execute physical comedy just as masterfully.
7. Master of None, “Thanksgiving” (Season 2 Episode 8, available to stream on Netflix)
As most of us know, Aziz Ansari had a bit of a fall from grace a couple of years ago after a story of his unwelcome aggressive behavior towards a date came to light. This has colored my impression of his work ever since, which is a shame because his two-season sitcom Master of None was a masterstroke of sensitive and insightful writing about friendship, relationships, family, and institutional racism and sexism, while also being extremely funny. In this episode, penned by Ansari and Lena Waithe (who portrays Denise on the show), we follow Dev (Ansari) celebrating Thanksgiving over the course of many years with Denise’s family in a series of vignettes, from their young childhood to present day. It gradually shows Denise coming to terms with her sexuality as a teenager (with Dev being the most supportive best friend one could hope for), and finally coming out as a lesbian to her mother (in a tremendous, nuanced performance by none other than Angela Bassett) in college. Her mother… does not take the news well. Over the next few years, as Denise brings a few girlfriends home for the holiday, her mother slowly grows to accept Denise for who she is, and ultimately, after a nice moment of connection with Denise’s by-all-accounts perfect girlfriend Michelle in the final depicted Thanksgiving story (taking place in 2017, the year this episode aired), she is able to honestly tell Denise that she is genuinely happy for her. This episode legitimately makes me tear up whenever I watch it – from the way Denise’s family so enthusiastically welcomes Dev to come to Thanksgiving every year as a surrogate brother to Denise, to Angela Bassett’s believable – but not villainous – pain at learning about her daughter’s sexuality, to her gradual realization that the most important thing is making sure Denise knows that she is loved no matter what, reaching out silently in the kitchen during the last vignette to hold Denise’s hand. Waithe and Ansari eventually won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for this episode, which made Waithe the first African-American woman to ever win an Emmy in that category – a well deserved accolade for a beautifully written, exquisitely acted story.
6. The Crown “Wolferton Splash” (Season 1 Episode 1, available to stream on Netflix)
You know you weren’t going to get through a list of Reeya Banerjee favorites without a shout-out to Netflix’s brilliant series about the British Royal family. While this episode isn’t explicitly a Christmas story, it does depict the very last Christmas that King George VI, known to his family as “Bertie” (Jared Harris, in a heartbreaking performance) spent with his family. On Christmas Eve, Elizabeth (Claire Foy) and Prince Phillip (Matt Smith) agree to Bertie’s request to perform a five-month Commonweath Tour in his stead due to his shaky health. Afterwards, Bertie spends what by all accounts, looks like a lovely family gathering in their home in Sandringham, receiving a visit from some local neighbors for Christmas carols and a small gift of a paper crown from a young girl, which he puts on with genuine gratitude and more than a little sadness. Though he has not yet been told by his doctors that his lung disease is, in fact, terminal cancer, it is clear that he is subconsciously aware that he doesn’t have much time left. The holiday season often is a time for self-reflection, as we look at another year come and gone, and contemplate where we are, where we want to be, whether we have achieved what we have hoped to in the past twelve months, and how we want to approach the coming year. This episode of The Crown shows how this sort of existential reckoning is a universal experience, whether we are the King of the United Kingdom or a mere commoner. Also, Jared Harris is just wonderful and I love him.
5. The Bob Newhart Show, “Over the River and Through the Woods” (Season 4 Episode 11, available to stream on Hulu)
This is another hilarious show I discovered on Nick at Nite during my formative years when I was basically raised by the teevee. The Bob Newhart Show, comedian Bob Newhart’s first foray into sitcoms, ran from 1972–1978, featuring the daily life of Chicago psychologist, Bob Hartley (Newhart), whose interactions with this wife, friends, patients, and colleagues lead to (as per sitcom tradition) wacky hijinks. What I love about this episode is that it takes the usual comic fodder for a holiday episode (the awkward family moments and stressful kitchen antics, as on display during the aforementioned Master of None and Happy Days episodes) and sends it offscreen to Seattle, where Bob’s wife, Emily (Suzanne Pleshette), goes to visit her family for Thanksgiving. Bob stays in Chicago, because one of his regular and more vulnerable patients, Mr. Carlin (Jack Reilly) doesn’t want to be alone during the holiday (thus providing Bob an easy out from spending time with his in-laws). This ultimately results in a seemingly regrettable gathering of randos at the Hartley apartment with Bob on Thanksgiving day. Mr. Carlin decides he doesn’t need a holiday therapy appointment after all, but crashes his therapist’s home anyway (which seems like an ethically questionable arrangement, but, hey, TV!). Bob’s friend Jerry (Peter Bonerz) invites himself over, wanting to watch college football and root for his alma mater, William & Mary, and Bob’s neighbor Howard (Bill Daily), usually a cheerful dude, wanders across the hall, sad because his son is spending the day with his ex-wife in Hawaii (“Howie’s in Maui”). The combination of these four men together on a day meant for heartwarming togetherness leads to a decidedly grim vibe fairly early on – and so they decide the solution, obviously, is to get very, very drunk on the jug of horrendous cider/vodka mixture that Jerry brings to drink during the football game. This leads to a brilliantly paced and performed series of running gags – layered knock-knock jokes, silly wordplay, lots and lots of slurry giggles, as they get more and more wasted – culminating in the amazing moment when Bob drunkenly attempts to call in an order of Chinese food for them all. Listening to Drunk Bob attempt to say the words “Moo Goo Gai Pan” coherently and insisting that his first name is actually “Doctor” and spelling it “Dur – D-R-period” never fails to give me the hiccups. And of course, the punchline: Emily comes home early from Seattle because she misses Bob, walks in on the drunken disaster, and then has to pay for the $93 Chinese food order when the delivery guy shows up. Comedy gold. You can clearly see the roots of the anarchic Cheers food fight and basically every single Friends Thanksgiving disaster in this episode. (But no, there will not be a single Friends episode on this list because I hate Friends #oldmillennialfail #sorrynotsorry.)
4. Mad Men, “The Doorway Parts 1 & 2” (Season 6 Episodes 1 & 2, available to stream on Amazon Prime)
Mad Men did a number of holiday episodes across its seven season run on AMC, but this one, officially the first two episodes of season six, initially aired as one long episode in April 2013. And fittingly, we get a holiday two-fer here, as we first see Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and his wife Megan Calvet (Jessica Paré) spending Christmas in Hawaii (a work trip for Don, as Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has landed Sheraton Hotels as an account), and then we see them back home in New York hosting a New Years’ Eve party in their apartment. Don is curiously silent for nearly the first 20 minutes of the show, while bubbly Megan babbles away her joy at spending the holiday in paradise, enthusiastically tanning on the beach while Don morosely reads Dante’s Inferno, jumping up at a Christmas Eve celebration to join the hotel’s entertainment staff for a traditional Hawaiian dance, and reveling in the glory of sex while completely high on pot she bought from a seedy surf shop. Don finally speaks when, in the middle of the night at the hotel bar while he can’t sleep, he runs into a young man (Patrick Mapel) on leave from the Army – fighting in Vietnam, of course – who is getting married at the hotel. The young man tries to get Don to speak about his time in Korea (which, as viewers know well by now, he – born Dick Whitman in abject poverty and raised in an abusive home – escaped by switching dog tags with the real Don Draper in Korea after an unexpected explosion and got to go home on real Don’s timeline, forcing him to live the rest of his life pretending to be someone else and constantly fearing discovery). Don is his usual reticent self when talking about his Army experience, but something about Pfc. Dinkins strikes a chord with him, and he agrees to give away the bride at the wedding in the morning. His interaction with Dinkins seems to stick with him when he returns to New York, leading him to be distant and distracted with the staff at work, and with Megan at home, who is dealing with the struggles of being a working actress and her newfound fame as a recurring character on a soap opera. Don gives a baffling presentation of his proposed ad campaign for Sheraton that is steeped in suicidal ideation, ruins Roger Sterling’s (John Slattery) mother’s funeral by turning up drunk and vomiting, and afterwards, when his colleagues drag him home, Don berates his doorman Jonesy (Ray Abruzzo), who recently suffered a heart attack and technically died for a few minutes before being revived, begging him to confess what he actually saw during the time he was dead. The only person Don seems to genuinely enjoy spending time with is his new neighbor, Dr. Arnold Rosen (Brian Markinson), who saved Jonesy’s life, and is a heart surgeon hoping to be the first American doctor to perform a heart transplant. At a New Year’s gathering in the Draper apartment, we meet Arnold’s wife, Sylvia (Linda Cardellini), and we also get a little callback to the famous Thanksgiving Mad Men episode, “The Wheel” from Season 1 (which I almost included here instead, but then decided that might be too on the nose) when Megan insists Don show the guests photos from their Hawaiian vacation on their Kodak Carousel slide machine. After midnight, in the middle of a snowstorm, Arnold gets called to the ER for an emergency procedure, and Don accompanies him downstairs and asks him what it feels like to hold someone’s life in his hands. After Arnold leaves, Don goes back upstairs and – in a huge shocker after showrunner Matthew Weiner desperately tried to shove the idea of Megan as the World’s Most Perfect Second Wife down viewer’s throats for the entirety of Season 5 (oh yes, I have some thoughts on this but that’s another article for another time) – it is revealed that Don has actually gone up to the Rosen’s apartment, because he has been having an affair with Sylvia for several months; this affair being presumably the first time he has cheated since marrying Megan, and also likely, a contributing factor to his being distracted at both work and home, not to mention his weird fixation on being Arnold’s best buddy. Similar to The Crown’s, “Wolferton Splash,” this is another holiday episode that explores the theme of how a year’s end can throw people into existential crisis, and indeed, it turns out that “The Doorway” is the beginning of a long downhill slide for Don across Season 6 as we see the extreme trauma of his childhood finally backing up on him, resulting in alcoholism, lashing out at his loved ones, ruining his relationships with his protegee/surrogate little sister Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and his daughter Sally (Kiernan Shipka), and completely tanking a very important client meeting with Hershey Chocolate, leading his SCDP partners to put him on an indefinite leave of absence at work. Cheerful stuff!
3. The West Wing, “Noël” (Season 2 Episode 10, available to stream on Netflix until December 24, 2020)
And speaking of trauma… in this lovely, moving episode of The West Wing from 20 years ago (I watched this when it first aired on NBC, which makes me feel so incredibly old), we see the aftereffects of the assassination attempt upon President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) on Deputy White House Chief of Staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford), who sustained a major injury during the shooting, requiring surgery and an extensive hospital stay. Now recovered and back at work, his colleagues grow concerned over his increasingly erratic behavior, including getting overly obsessed with the psychological history of an Air Force pilot who shared his birthday and committed suicide by crashing his plane into a mountain in New Mexico, shouting angrily at the President in the Oval Office during a meeting (a big no-no, as you might imagine), and arriving at work with his hand crudely self-bandaged and an obviously bullshit excuse that he cut it by putting down a glass too hard on a side table in his apartment. Chief of Staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer) calls in Stanley Keyworth (Adam Arkin) from the American Trauma Victims Association to spend the day with Josh to try to assess what is going on. Josh is initially very resistant to working with Stanley, and he spends half of the day snarking at him. Finally, after dragging out the sequence of events over the past three weeks that caused Josh’s colleagues to worry, Stanley gets him to admit that after his poor behavior towards President Bartlet in the meeting, he began to relive his experience of the shooting during the Congressional Christmas party, leading to a panic attack during a performance by Yo-Yo Ma (playing himself!) and then, feeling completely out of control once he got home, slamming his hand into a window and cutting himself badly on the broken glass. Stanley explains to Josh that he is experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – very common for victims of gun violence – and will refer him to a therapist who specializes in trauma. Josh doesn’t understand why the Christmas party set him off, and Stanley explains that he had been triggered three weeks prior – when Communications Director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) brought in a brass quintet to play Christmas songs in the White House lobby for the holiday season. The sounds of the brass instruments subconsciously reminded Josh of police and ambulance sirens, and then as a result, all music began to subconsciously make him relive the attack. Josh wants to know if music will be a trigger for him for the rest of his life, and Stanley quickly waves that off. “Why?” Josh asks. “Because we get better,” Stanley tells him. I have loved this episode since I was a wee 15-year-old pinko commie West Wing-loving nerd at my hippie-ass high school in San Francisco, wishing that Jed Barlet was really our President instead of GWB, but this moment deeply resonated with my damaged 35-year-old self when I revisited it for this piece a few days ago. I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD last year due to childhood trauma, (hey Don Draper, give me a call, let’s commiserate!) and have been undergoing treatment for it ever since. It is hard to remember sometimes, when I’m in the thick of the ugly feelings, that things will get easier as long as I honor my responsibility to myself to do the hard work of healing, and hearing it said so plainly in this episode – “Because we get better” – made me choke up a little. The episode ends on a haunting note, as Josh’s assistant Donna (Janel Maloney) insists on taking him to the ER to properly treat the cut on his hand and they walk by some carol singers on the corner near the White House, Josh eyeing the group warily and swallowing hard, feeling the bitterness in his throat, the adrenaline of another panic attack on the way. Absolutely gutting. Whitford won a very well-deserved Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Primetime Drama in 2001 for his performance in this episode. It’s so good, you guys. Watch it before Netflix takes it away! (Don’t worry, it’ll be back for streaming on HBO Max quickly enough.)
2. Six Feet Under, “Pilot” (Season 1 Episode 1, available to stream on HBO Max)
People, Six Feet Under is my favorite television show of all time, and this is another episode that I watched when it first aired in June of 2001. It is also, like The Crown’s “Wolferton Splash,” an episode that takes place on Christmas, that is not explicitly a Christmas story. Nathaniel Fisher, Sr. (the sublime Richard Jenkins), owner of Fisher & Sons Funeral Home in Los Angeles, is killed when a bus hits him while driving his new hearse on Christmas Eve, while his wife Ruth, (the also sublime Frances Conroy) prepares dinner at home, in honor of their oldest son Nate, (Peter Krause, in the role he was born to play) who is coming to visit from Seattle for the holidays. Ruth gets the call about the accident as she is removing the pot roast from her oven, causing her to fling it to the ground, and to also smash a number of other things in the kitchen in her shock and disbelief. “The hearse is totalled, your father is dead, and my pot roast is ruined,” she says numbly when middle son David (pre-Dexter Michael C. Hall, in what I think is the best performance of his career because Dexter fucking sucked #sorrynotsorry) comes to check on the ruckus. Nate finds out about his father’s death after a random sexual encounter with Brenda Chenowith (Rachel Griffiths), a woman he meets on the plane from Seattle. Brenda drives him to the morgue to meet his mother and younger sister Claire (Lauren Ambrose, with whom college-age-Reeya identified SO MUCH in this role), who had been talked into taking a hit of crystal meth (ok I didn’t identify with that part) at a party by her bad-news-boyfriend, minutes before David called to tell her about their father’s death. Chaos abounds over the next few days as Claire comes down from the crystal, Ruth confesses to her sons that she has been having an affair with her hairdresser, and is terrified that Nathaniel now knows all in the afterlife, David tries to conceal his relationship with police officer Keith Charles, (Mathew St. Patrick) who desperately wants to be there for his closeted boyfriend in his grief, and Nate, the prodigal son who fled Los Angeles and the family business due to his crippling fear of death, proceeds to criticize and muck up the propriety of Nathaniel’s funeral by rolling his eyes at the formality of the whole occasion, insisting that they not conceal their wretched grief over Nathaniel's death. This causes considerable resentment from David, who was essentially obligated to join his (now-late) father in running the funeral home at the expense of his law school dreams because of Nate’s abrupt departure 15 years ago, leading the two brothers to have a huge argument in the cemetery about brotherly duty, funeral protocol, facing the reality of death and mortality, and who really has earned the right to be the family anchor now that Nathaniel has passed away. The episode ends with a moment that proves to be pivotal for the Fishers, when Ruth asks Nate if he could delay his return to Seattle for a while to stay and be a source of support for her in her grief. He reluctantly acquiesces, and then what was supposed to be a short delay at home, turns into five years, during which time Nate’s incessant fear of his own mortality, irresponsible behavior at work (he eventually becomes a funeral director to help David) and in his personal life, and his constant drama-mongering almost destroys the whole family… and Brenda (who he eventually marries), too. This show as a whole is absolutely fucking spectacular, as a prolonged mediation on the nature of grief, an exploration of the ways to live a meaningful life, a realistic depiction of a long-term gay couple (years ahead of its time), sensitive and accurate portrayals of mental health issues as seen through the stories of Brenda’s brother Billy (Jeremy Sisto, in a career-best performance) who has bipolar disorder, and Ruth’s second husband George Sibley (the always wonderful James Cromwell) who suffers from psychotic depression, and just plain heart-wrenching, witty, and gorgeous writing. The pilot absolutely brims with the exceptional potential that this show had and it successfully delivered over five seasons, and I dare you not to cry when Nate goes running downtown after agreeing to stay in LA and sees a vision of his father boarding a bus similar to the one that killed him, waving goodbye with a sad smile through the window. If you have never watched Six Feet Under, consider this pilot, and this exceptional drama series, to be my holiday present to you.
1. Seinfeld, “The Strike” (Season 9 Episode 10, available to stream on Hulu)
Yes, this episode is technically called “The Strike,” but most of you know it as… the Festivus episode. Yet another one that I watched as it originally aired in December of 1997 (12-year-old Reeya was a bonafide obsessive Seinfeld nut), this is an absolute classic from a timeless sitcom, a brilliantly structured plot, and as far as I am concerned, the gold standard of holiday television. Talk about wacky hijinks! There are so many fun things that happen in his episode – an appearance from Tim Whatley, DDS (an impossibly young, pre-Walter White Bryan Cranston), George’s (Jason Alexander) fake charity The Human Fund: Money For People, Kramer (Michael Richards) going back to work at H&H Bagels after being on strike for 12 years, Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) going to extreme lengths to retrieve a punch card for Atomic Sub that she wrote a fake number on to give to a guy she didn’t want to date, all so that she can win her free (admittedly gross) sub, and Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) yet again, dumping a perfectly lovely girlfriend for a dumb reason (this time: she looks very unattractive in badly-lit rooms). But really what it all comes down to is Festivus: the holiday that takes place every December 23rd, invented by George’s father Frank, (Jerry Stiller) due to his disgust for the commercialism of Christmas. And there’s no better way to sum up the Festivus origin story than through Frank’s own words:
Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way… out of that, a new holiday was born. A Festivus, for the rest of us!
Instead of a tree, there is a Festivus Pole (aluminum, no decorations because Frank finds tinsel distracting). Instead of warm-hearted cheer around a dinner table, there is the Airing of Grievances (“I’ve got a lot of problems with you people and now you’re gonna hear about it!”). Instead of presents, there are the Feats of Strength, and you can imagine what that might look like. And if you have not seen this episode yet, what the hell are you waiting for? Go watch it now. Otherwise, come December 23, I will air my grievances, and you ignoring my suggestion to revel in the glory of this most excellent holiday episode ever created will be included.
Happy holidays, y’all. Let’s all hope 2021 is a little easier on us.
Reeya is a Hudson Valley-based musician and writer. In her other life, she works as a hospitality finance associate, enjoys watching Law & Order SVU reruns while eating gummy bears, and has a film degree from Vassar College that she does not use. She can frequently be found in various coffee shops and bars drinking IPAs while reading pop culture news on her phone.