As I said recently, there's been a disturbing change in how Lynn has approached the Holiday season; we started out with an Elly who was slightly more enthusiastic about the festivities than her children; granted, she didn't like cleaning up the mess or her children's pleas of boredom with their toys but, as I'd said, it was a small price to pay for Yuletide joy. As an example of the need Elly had to preserve the mystique, the recent return to Santa was originally her way of making sure that her son didn't associate Christmas with nubile blondes wrapped in cellophane; her later decision, which she regretted, to tell Mike that Santa was less a person than a personification didn't put a serious dent in her enjoyment. For that to happen, we had to wait until the early 2000s; the Elly of old had mutated into the frothingly frustrated mess that flapped, honked and wanted to own horses; that incarnation of the main character was a petty figure who was done with caring about any needs other than her own and filled with the need to show up her rival, Mira Sobinski. April was allowed to set the tone by whining about how Dee's mother supposedly won all the time and how unfair it was that the Pattersons had to share things with people they despised merely because it was the latter part of December. Another example of Yuletide begrudgery was Liz's final confrontation with Thérèse; I'm fairly sure that in Lynn's mind, Thérèse has earned the nasty reputation she'd been given but, for some reason, that didn't translate to the printed page any more than Liz's severe case of homesickness did. What we instead saw was an ill-used and justifiably angry woman forced to watch as the woman whose family ruined her life seem to take away one of the few good things in it: the love and trust of her child. This immediately proceeded the most hateful thing I've seen in years: the Yuletide Meal of Malice. Not only did we have Anthony do what new-ruin Elly did and use Santa's name as a means to frighten a trusting child into compliance with her dictates, we had April exiled to the kiddie table like an afterthought as well as the gluttonous vermin begrudging Mira the ninety or so seconds it took to say Grace because they wanted to wolf down their food while it was still unbelievably hot.