The arc I have in mind is all about Elly, her squealing about how it should be the State's job to save her from having any discussion about sex at all by making it illegal for kids to express any sort of curiosity about anything like that and the cowardly means by which she avoided doing so with April. While we are clearly meant to cheer her on for remaining woefully ignorant about her body and about human reproduction, the facts of the matter tend to cast her in something of a negative light. It's as if she's living proof that abstinence campaigns backfire because all three kids and Meredith were unplanned and came at super-inconvenient times. This wouldn't have happened if the dumb people allowed themselves to understand sex.
First off, we have to deal with Elly's angry astonishment when confronted with something she actually should have seen coming. While she'll deny it with her dying breath, she shouldn't have actually expected John to be honest about the Yellow Penis-Mobile Of Overcompensation's ability to handle a Canadian winter any more than she should have expected him not to want to glom on to her ride. She should have remembered that he and the kids see the non-job she has too much of her identity invested in as a sort of paid hobby and also remembered that he saw taking a cab to work as being almost as big a humiliation as riding the bus.
Second, John should have remembered that Elly wasn't going to just let him borrow her wheels no how. He should have remembered that she hates the idea of being stuck at home because she hates the idea of being thought of as the organic adjunct of a gas range just because he doesn't seem to want her to get the degree of being treated like his equal.
Finally, we have Mike who seems to have expected the city plow crews to leave the town immobilized just so he could sit home the following day instead of going to the evil building of being told that he's a lazy ignoramus with an inflated self-concept. About the only person who didn't flunk that question was Lizzie and that's only because she didn't notice that her teachers are chicken too.
Elly's panicky bleating about how she wanted to TIE MICHAEL DOWN TO MILBOROUGH RIGHT OUT OF UNI when he was supposed to be allowed his nomadic phase before seeing how terrible the outside world actually was sort of proves some Republican dude's glib pronouncement that hippie is short for hypocrite right. She didn't mind Mike being tied down to a boring suburb so she wouldn't have to resent her own dumb choices....she just wanted it to be all on her own terms.
Yep. That's right. No sooner does he give up on the team sports of encouraging violence to mothers does he start getting interested in cheap little floozies who clearly want to trap him in their web and destroy his loving mother's hopes for his glorious future. Or, to put in English instead of Crazed Egomaniac, Elly needs something to fear, hate and worry about in order to feel alive. It just so happens that a slip of a girl whose folks think of that dreg Mike as THAT boy from THAT family takes the place of sports for a while.
This is because the Pattersons are a bunch of really terrible people who need to see themselves as the victims of all victims surpassing all others and it simply wouldn't do for an antagonist to really have a happy ending...especially if that happy ending involved shrugging and not seeing how they have any say in how she lives her life. Why, the whole family might have to slink off into the night blubbering about the eternal humiliation of seeing someone they hate succeed.
This means that Elly's angry screed about how she's not less of a human being just because she doesn't have a degree would be touched off by his unsubtly hinting that how the world can do without her one day more than it can do without him. Also, she'd get to bristle at any suggestion that she should spend more time than she wants to with the kids because they'd be underfoot too and she'd still have to do most of the parenting. Also, we could have John do something stupid to try to "fix" the power that would wreck something and feed Mike a punchline about unsureance.
Said reason starts making sense when you consider that John has himself an ultra-impractical sports car that can't cope with a northern winter at all well. Since he was stupid enough and afraid enough of Elly not to keep his station wagon, he tries bumming her wheels and telling her something she doesn't feel like hearing: her sinecure at the library isn't really as important as his being a medical professional. Once he pushes the words past his lips, he realized that Elly gets really defensive and angry when she's reminded that she isn't the big shot she'd like to be and took a cab to work...only to be told that he might as well not have bothered when he arrived at the office because the authorities had shut down the roads until the storm cleared off. This means that he was half right to suggest that Elly should stay home for a stupid, sexist reason. The interesting thing is that he'd be just as bad a man if he suggested that it would be stupid for anyone to go out in said weather and subjected them to a harrowing tale of a worse blizzard. Reason: Elly is from Vancouver and doesn't understand winter at all and never will. She doesn't like winter sports, she hates cold weather and I don't even think she likes Roll Up The Rim at Timmies so anything that gets her shoveling out her ride is bad. The difference in my scenario is that she'd have to come up with a valid excuse to keep the kids home and she'd pay less on her insurance.
This means that it looks as if we're in the middle of the seventeenth year of the Patterson era but we're actually in the middle of the eighteenth year. This is because the Richardses and Elder Pattersons probably imposed the sort of stupid ultimatum that would later be inflicted on Therese and Anthony because the strip is littered with dim people whose fear of disgrace would probably be dismissed as inhuman and unfair by the Taliban. When he was found in her chair, he simply had to marry her to avoid her total ruination.
While it does seem as if Elly would have to be alone in conidering December a month in which she experiences more marytyrdom and over-work from her under-appeciative family than usual, it seems somewhat obvious that the rest of the family regard the month as a sort of torture. Said torture takes the form of having a kill-joy claim that she alone is responsible (and thus should be awarded credit) for ‘making’ Christmas happen. As I’ve said once or twice, the Christmas Angel special seems to demonstrate to the masses what December is all about at the Pattermanse despite not really being canon as such.
This is because while it looks to the novice that we’re getting a bog-standard moral about family being family and letting the spirit of the season be more important than the minor agita involved when you’re growing up, the true fan realizes that the Spirit of Patterson Christmas involves one thing and one thing alone: being afraid of Elly’s trademark rages. She only thinks she suffers in silence because I presonally believe that she’ll die being totally unaware that her family are afraid of her. Also, this particular special seems to have had as its message “Lizzie shouldn’t feel especially bad that Elly doesn’t appreciate her because she’s got company” because you just know that someone was about to tell her that grace under pressure is a virtue. Instead of Peace On Earth, they all end up getting something in Klingon as their message:
‘oy’ DaSIQjaj: “May you endure the pain.”
This means that while I reflect on what people who have been through that say when they tell me to shut up if I don't know what I'm talking about, the Pattersons get to make windy pronouncements about something they've never experienced while slowly but surely teaching their children that wars were something people used to have and that certain people are ceasing to become real. This act of forgetting is sort of why it's the month of Noremember as we contemplate Meredith wondering why Superman didn't simply punch this Hitler person in the face.