A Merry Middle-Class Christmas

Bob, my mother’s boyfriend, will argue that Happy Days jumped the shark several seasons before Fonzie actually strapped on his water skis. In his view, the show’s lethal injection with schmaltz came the moment the Fonz sat down with the Cunninghams around their Christmas tree and read “The Night Before Christmas.” When the onetime breakout [Read More…]

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Elf on the Shelf: Scrupulosity for Unbelieving Tots

Today in Slate, Torie Bosch describes how non-religious parents are using the children’s book Elf on the Shelf to teach their kids terror of supernatural judges. The story, as the title suggests, features an elf who acts as Tsar Santa’s Third Section. The creature “keeps an eye on a family during the day, then flies [Read More…]

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A Depressed Solipsist’s Guide to Prayer Vigils

Having what a vocations director might describe as an active temperament, I have always, half-consciously, thought of prayer as a minimal, low-risk, nearly symbolic response to necessity or catastrophe. Like the person who hands a nickel to one of the ticket agents at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the person who offers to pray for [Read More…]

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