As we know, there was a big, long arc back in, oh, nineteen eighty-eight that had Elly and the family pack up and spend Christmas at Exile Farm. As I’d mentioned in my last essay about said story line, there were three purposes that Lynn and Elly had in mind. The stated purpose for that little excursion into appealing to worse problems was that they all decided to have Christmas at The Farm with The Family just like on TV. The second purpose was, of course, to adjust Michael and Lizzie’s awful attitudes and teach them to be grateful to their wonderful parents and not take things for granted and, well, you get the point. The third purpose, of course, was to isolate Michael from that scary young girl and her scary body language and the scary fact that her scary existence meant that Elly might have to face the scary fact that her dance card was empty because she was a scowling, short-tempered idiot who pissed away her chances taking herself too damned seriously. Since Lynn approves of silencing complaints that mean that she might have to adapt to other people by ranting about refugees in war zones, the Pattersons were depicted as good-hearted people whose good intentions got wrecked by an ungrateful brat kid who doesn’t know what life is all about.
Contrast this with the upcoming Christmas on Long Island arc in Sally Forth. What is happening here is that Ces clearly indicates that Sally is embarking on a ruinous folly because she’s transfixed by a crippling delusion that makes her life and the lives of everyone in her family worse. While we see that were she and Ted to simply cut their horrible relatives out of their lives and focus their remaining years on being happy with themselves and making their daughter’s life better, they would finally get the peace of mind that they deserve, Sally simply cannot see it that way. She won’t admit that she should simply give up on her selfish mother and lazy sister any more than she and Ted can admit that he should stop beating himself up about not being a traditionally ‘manly’ man. Thus, they intend to not only waste a Thanksgiving being made to feel bad about themselves by a drunk and a parasite, they also intend to wreck a Christmas being made to feel like crap by Ted’s jerk father, clingy mother and brutish siblings. Worse, they intend screwing up Hilary’s budding romance with Jon in order to sacrifice her happiness on the altar of futility.
We thus have two crappy Christmases that could have been salvaged had the ‘adults’ not been deluded nitwits. The difference is that Ces knows his characters to be lunatics immolating themselves on a pyre of idiocy; Lynn does not. Why, he even handles the whole "You could be a war-zone living in a refugee" bullcrap from friends better; I mean, we know that Ted doesn't really want to go to Long Island so he can feel like shit all over again and is only doing it to indulge his wife's need to hope for an impossibility but Faye does not. This is much better than Eva having all the facts at hand and still blathering about how since April isn't a starving quadruple amputee orphan who has to travel fifty miles every morning to the hatpin factory to feed her nine starving quadruple amputee siblings, she can't complain about anything. Also, instead of having a rich kid complain to a poorer kid about problems she's too exalted to have, we have a poor kid who sort of wishes that she'd know what it felt like to have Hilary's problems. Leave it to Ces to discover the best way to appeal to worse problems: by giving the person talking sense into the other person worse problems.