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Holiday Guide Intro

Obey Santa

John Ellsberry

Holiday Guide 1999

Obey Santa A few nights back, as visions of Holiday Guide deadlines danced in our heads, we settled in before t...

Present Perfect What to get and where to get it before it's too late

Nogged Mixing the Holiday Cocktail That Drinks Like a Meal | By Brennen Jensen

Think Gobally, Buy Locally The Importance of Shopping Small | By Andrew Reiner

List Servers Browsing the Best Online Holiday Cards | By Natalie Davis

Posted 11/17/1999

A few nights back, as visions of Holiday Guide deadlines danced in our heads, we settled in before the brightly burning teevee log for our nightly fix of The Daily Show, featuring that adorable elf Jon Stewart. And we had a vision: During a segment entitled "God Stuff"—a recurring collection of magical moments from the land of religious broadcasting—we beheld an American of televangelist descent engaged in a seasonal sermon. As St. Nick himself danced a happy jig off to the side of the pulpit, the preacher inveighed on the subject of "Christmas spirit" vs. "Holy Spirit"—the implication being that too many of us are swollen with the former at the expense of the latter. To hammer home his point, this man of the cloth turned to his left, pulled out a pistol, and shot Santa. The jolly old elf fell flat and jerked spasmodically before succumbing.

Mercy. As veteran readers of City Paper's annual Guide de Vacances de Noël will doubtless recall from previous incarnations, we're all kinds of down with the notion that the holidays come too early, stay too late, and require far too much capitalism. But this display struck us as a bit much. Leaving aside the obvious points about peace and love and charity, Santa is, after all, a saint, duly bonded and insured by the appropriate licensing authorities. And it's not like the Christmas spirit (or the Hanukkah spirit, or the Kwanzaa spirit, or the solstice spirit, or what have you) and the Holy Spirit, however one chooses to define it, need be mutually exclusive.

In any event, the front of this year's Guía de Días de Fiesta Navidad ought to make clear which side we're on. We embrace Santa, celebrate Santa, obey Santa, and all that he truly stands for: finding common ground across denominational divides, filling ourselves up with the pure spirit of giving, expressing to our nearest and dearest how near and dear they truly are. Sure, we want you to agree with us, but unlike that preacher, we adhere to the notion that in matters of persuasion, the pen is mightier than the sword. Thus we have enlisted the estimable artist/propagandist Shepard Fairey, whose work graces many a Baltimore street corner, to capture our thinking in graphic form on the cover and bring you helplessly into line. (In a similarly nontraditional vein, we offer John Ellsberry's deconstructivist glass-tile Santa above.)

So greatly do we admire Fairey's work that we not only asked him to draw the cover of this 1999 edition of the Reiseführer Festtagen Weihnachten, we're recommending that you buy his T-shirts, among other marvelous gift items (page 22). As you progress further, the propaganda continues: Andrew Reiner urges you to overthrow the tyranny of big-box retailers (page 31), Brennen Jensen sings a patriotic song of eggnog (page 35), and Natalie Davis gives tips for throwing off the shackles of printed greeting cards (page 38). It's all topped off with our monumental holiday calendar (page 41), a smorgasbord of cheer covering your entertainment needs clear to Y2K and the national emergency and martial law to follow. Exercise your freedom of choice to do what we tell you.

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Holiday Guide Intro archives

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Stuffed (11/18/2009)
The 2009 City Paper Holiday Guide

The Gifts That Count (11/18/2009)
The presents that have stayed in our writers' thoughts

The Wish List (11/18/2009)
Gifts we wish we could afford

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