Tags: holidazed pattersons

Snarky Candiru2

Elly versus holiday magic.

As you know by now, I think that most of the problems Elly makes for herself and others are based on her inability to quite understand what an adult actually is. From what I've seen, she has spent every waking second since she left her parents' home transfixed by the assumption that if she's seen to smile and take it easy and not make every damned little thing into a huge crisis blown out of any sort of proportion, she won't be what she thinks an adult is because she's too damned dense to understand who her mom is. Her mother had the thankless task of trying to mould one of the stupidest, whiniest and most short-tempered children on the face of the Earth into a functioning member of society and what Elly took away from it all is that grown-ups can't be seen to smile or laugh because she's not especially bright and tends to play post hoc ergo propter hockey like a boss.

What this all means is that whenever we see Elly stand around howling about how much work she has to do and how little people care and how much temptation is put in her way and how early Christmas is and how greedy and grasping kids have gotten, the dozy prat clearly seems to think that it's what she's supposed to be doing. What worsens this is her lack of self-awareness. She 'knows' that she's supposed to piss and gripe and moan but she doesn't want to because she's kind of schizophrenic. She wants to be happy but she also doesn't want to be happy because she looks down on happy people and her kids model themselves on her so this means that I can say the same damned thing about Lizardbreath for the same stupid reason.
Snarky Candiru2

On the trappings and the trimmings.

Given the time of year, one could well imagine that were Lynn to bother showing us the modern-day Pattersons instead of just possibly inserting a new-run into the mix in order to make the strips line up better, we'd probably be dealing with the Pattersons putting together another holiday of excess and exclusion of the disfavoured. The too big of a tree would be decorated to just this side of garishness, the decorations would be put up with all the care that an indifferent old grouch with a sore back would lavish on them, Elly would do that thing where she stands there all martyred because no one actually wants to help an unappreciative clod who screams and pouts when they don't do things her way and we'd have them all avoiding the same point they duck the rest of the year: what a person feels or intends is bollocks next to what they actually do.

This means that if Deanna doesn't mean to treat April like her fucking nanny, it doesn't matter worth a damn if that was her intention or if she feels bad, she's treating April like her fucking nanny and it ends right there. It means that if Liz makes comment after comment about how it's not her fault that for reasons she'd rather not go into, that child Anthony had with that woman felt so unwelcome, she went with her birth mother instead of the family that meant to love her, things just happened different, she can jolly well have nutmeg with her cup of FOAD because she made the place a hostile work environment and has to feel bad about it. If Mike ignores his children and resents their presence when he has no chance to avoid them, he's a shitty father no matter what he thinks. If John and Elly make a point of not seeing that they've alienated April, they need the gift of being told "Take your feelings and shove'em up yer arse." They won't, though. They're the sort of people who thinks consequences are for others, not them.
Snarky Candiru2

On grade-school plays and their discontents.

John's passive-aggressive beefing about being stuck paying the bills isn't by any means the only irritating theme that blights the Holidays. After all, we have to remember that the theme of all three grade-school Christmas pageant arcs was "Directing school plays would be a lot easier if we weren't dealing with children."

We began this in 1981 when we had to deal with Mike, Mrs Hardacre and the chaos he created by not robotically obeying her. We learned that little boys create chaos by refusing to install a timer on their bladders, commenting on the chaos around them, making mild jokes that irritate humorless old meataxes and not realizing how it is adults express beneficent intentions.

We then fast-forward four years to when they cast Lizzie as the Star of Bethlehem in a kindergarten play. As these strips which only appeared in a treasury show us, most of the problem Miss Lyon had was due to the chaotic nature of small children who need to use the washroom, can't follow shouted English and who lose things in order to vex adults because that's just what children do.

We finish by moving ahead to this strip in which April is an extra bad person because she didn't hide her disappointment at not being cast in the part she wanted. No matter how hard Elly tried to tell her that there are no small roles, only small players, she couldn't let it go that what she wanted ended up in the hands of someone she wasn't jealous of, no, not HER!!

What this all reminds me of is one of the less comic panels in the first pre-Patterson book "David, we're pregnant!" wherein we find a man standing in a school playground telling himself he'd better learn to like the little creatures. Lynn's super-charitable vision of childhood had one really dumb kid with his finger jammed up his nose, a boy and a girl beating the holy living shit out of each other, another little boy holding a snake in one hand as he wiped his melting Popsicle on the guy's slacks and one girl just hauling off and whizzing all over herself with a look on her face that says "It happened again." The same very low opinion of children informs the Holiday strips.
Snarky Candiru2

The gift of bad wordplay.

You'll have noticed over the years that the Pattersons have the unlovely habit of using forced wordplay as a sort of round-about means of expressing themselves. We're coming up to a prime example of that in the early future when John tells Mike and Lizzie that yes, they gotta wait for the olds to stumble out of bed in the morning before they can attack their stuff. Instead of doing being one kind of idiot and browbeating them about the need to include Jim and Marian in the magic, John says something stupid about "age before booty" to sort of jolly them into accepting the inevitable.

That sort of irritating groaner would have been bad enough were it not for the fact that John continued to make stupid comments that revealed a rather cynical outlook about the holiday season. I mean, sure, he's the poor bastard who's gotta worry about paying for all of the holiday goodies but there are better ways of expressing one's frustration than being a wise-ass.
Snarky Candiru2

The Thank-you Letter Perplex

Of course, it's not just being hectored about what a selfish child he is for wanting to waste his life and disappoint people by enjoying things that helped Michael think that there's some great big conspiracy consisting of everyone over the impossibly decrepit age of twenty to ruin the lives of kids everywhere. Another thing that convinced him that mean old people who can't laugh or smile or play and who hate that kids can and want to ruin it because old people are mean is that Elly and John love to coerce him into performing a pointless and silly ritual he doesn't like: sending thank-you letters to grandparents for the gift of underpants. From his perspective, it looks as if he's being guilted into thanking people for stuff they had to do just because they want to have him be slobberingly grateful for the performance of a necessity. Since he's a kid, he doesn't quite see the irony of his belief about their motives and his expectation that he should get a cookie and a pat on the head for doing the bare minimum expected of him.
Snarky Candiru2

The new queen of leftovers.

The interesting thing about the very last Christmas we saw is that Elly displayed visible relief that for once, she wasn't the one hosting things. While it might have pleased her to not have to be the one doing everything for once, I should think that she might have felt a little let-down afterwards. This is because an old tradition had been passed on to a new generation. Said tradition, of course, is 'cooking far too much food for far too few people and thus ending up with tons and tons of leftovers.' As we've seen, Elly likes the idea of somehow transmuting previously-enjoyed menu items into culinary masterpieces despite a rather distressing lack of any sort of actual talent along those lines and an equally distressing habit of losing track of what's actually in the freezer at any given time. I should think that her empty nest syndrome is as nothing next to the far more unsettling empty freezer syndrome. April, you see, might just remember who loves her one day; having to face having to cook for two and only two most of the time is just another thing she claimed to long for that disappoints her.

Another thing that she's probably currently disappointed by is that while Deanna has kept the tradition of making sure that good food never goes to waste alive, Mike, Meredith and Robin have made the hated tradition of whining "Oh, no!!! NOT LEFTOVERS!!!" a going concern. This means that she'll have to be vicariously martyred on someone else's behalf because unless John does have his promised encounter with a fiberglass chicken's head, there's not much of a chance that her own fridge and freezer are as stuffed with stuff as she'd like.
Snarky Candiru2

New Year's Evil........

The other interesting part of the traditional Patterson holiday celebration is how they celebrate New Year's Eve. While most of us picture John and Elly sitting at home on the couch grumbling about how it's just another night, there was a time when the Pattersons were allegedly more social on the evening of the thirty-first day of December. As we're seeing right now, it used to be that the Pattersons would either head out so that John and Elly could feel terribly awkward in a social setting that intimidated the Hell out of them or have people over so that they could feel terribly inadequate. Around about three years from now, John decides to grow up and quit pretending that he likes doing this sort of thing. Not only is it too much to ask for him to stay up past ten at night, he and Elly really don't like to be in largish crowds.

That being said, were we to roll the curtain back up on the Pattersons right now, it seems to me that Michael has made much the same decision for much the same reasons. After all, he's pretty much the same age Elly was when she signed on to the let's just stay in thing and he too associates large gatherings with lots of booze and noise with his carefree youth. He's responsible now and knows better. Not for him the crazy partying that Liz and April are respectively forced to endure and anticipate, no way. That part of his life is done because he's looking through eight eyes now. He's probably joined in being a stick in the mud by a wife who desperately wants to avoid emphasizing that there's a fact about the Holidays that she'd prefer to keep hidden: the fact that she and Mike scammed the Hell out of Mira for a stupid, self-serving reason.
Snarky Candiru2

My Little Phony: Elly versus the latest toy.....

One of the themes that I couldn't help but notice came up when I revised a Christmas strip to make Elly look less horrible is that most of you think that Elly regards giving gifts as a hassle that she's forced to do and since she finds no joy in it, she overdoes it. A very good example of this was when Lynn wanted to make a very stupid point about 'trendy' toys and how 'foolish' adults were for giving in to the hysteria. While it's true that just maybe, we tend to lose sight of what's important in pursuit of the Latest Thing, let's not forget that despite what the strip implies, Lizzie didn't want to get the toy to bust Elly's ass or make an undignified fool of her. What we seem to be dealing with is good, old-fashioned family peer pressure; simply put, if Lizzie didn't get the thing, she wouldn't come up to neighborhood standards and that would be just terrible. Lizzie has no idea of the chaos Elly endured and, since she had yet to become a full-on jerk, would probably regret that she put Mommy in that position.

Sadly, this is lost on Elly because she's more focused on not being one-upped as being The Most Generous Mommy EVER!! Heh. Rather than display real generosity, Elly gave into her need to not be outclassed.
Snarky Candiru2

On theme trees and legitimate paranoia

While it is true that they treated John like garbage, one thing the Pattersons do tend to agree about is that having a great big turkey that's pretty much guaranteed to either be turned into weeks worth of casseroles or shoved into the freezer for years to come is just part of the holiday. Well, at least Elly does. Then again, she does like to hoard old Christmas ornaments, old wrapping paper and a host of other things that John would love to throw out in the firm belief that if she didn't have them, people would start screaming that she'd somehow ruined Christmas by trying to change things.

The odd thing about this is that she just might be right. Since the theme of the strip seems to be that Elly can never really win anything, her complaint that people only notice what she does when she either can't or won't do it has a certain amount of validity. Take, as a for instance, the time she wanted to put up a theme tree back in 1998. The way they acted, you'd have assumed that she wanted to cook Rudolph or something. Given that the one time she actually tried pulling the stick out of her arse, she was told to put it back in so she could match the rest of the family, it's not hard to see that we're dealing with a clan of inflexible idiots who fear change.
Snarky Candiru2

Get it while it's incredibly hot: the traditional Patterson Christmas dinner.

As you might have gathered by now, I am not fond of Lynn's irritating habit of showing that the Pattersons aren't a bunch of big shots or anything by having them eat in the disgusting manner that they do. Watching people talk with their mouths full of too much food is as appealing as horrible meals gobbled down in a messy, smacky, gobbly, nasty way....which is to say not at all.

I'm even less thrilled by the fact that they eat the same unpleasant way on Christmas day. Time and again, we see horrible people wolf down food too damned hot to eat because they're too God-damned low down to know better. This would be bad enough were it not also an exercise in family politics. Not only do we have the traditional "Let's look down on Mira for trying to be better than us" ego trip engendered by their outrage at having to endure an outsider who clearly wants to dictate to everyone when confronted with the otherwise inexplicable phenomenon of being asked to do things differently, we're also going to have a new tradition: Elly wringing her hands in confusion and despair while John fulminates about how extra-bad little princess April is so full of herself and inconsiderate of her pooooor parents who sacrificed soooooooooooo much that she tells an evil lie about how she isn't really welcome at all. You and I see a young woman who gets shat upon on a regular basis by a pinheaded old biddy hen who needs someone to blame for her failure as a human being who isn't her and patronized by an oafish clod on a power trip who thinks that the world owes him a living because people have the confusing and wrong habit of telling him that no, he isn't entitled to the pigs' share of everything just because he waaaaaaaaaaaants it; they don't see themselves as being the horrible people they are so think that she's crazy and wrong and bad.