Emotionally Distant Family Spends Holidays Watching Touching Family Dramas Together

In This Section

Vol 37 Issue 46

Boyfriend Ceremoniously Dumped

ELLENSBURG, WA—In a gala breakup featuring the town mayor and the Ellensburg High School marching band, Chris Schiffman was ceremoniously dumped Sunday by Vicki Arness, his girlfriend of three years. "Ladies and gentlemen of Ellensburg, let the word go forth from this day that Vicki and Chris are no longer an item!" Mayor Robert Todd announced before 3,000 cheering attendees. "Vicki has let it be known that she wishes to see other people, and see other people she shall!" The scissors-wielding mayor then officially declared the couple broken up by cutting an oversized photo of them in half.

Report: U.S. Must Reduce Dependence On Foreign Turmoil

WASHINGTON, DC—According to a Cato Institute report released Monday, the U.S. has become overly dependent on foreign turmoil for its conversations and media coverage. "The American people consume as many as 60 million barrels of crude speculation every day, using it for everything from driving discussions to heating up political debates," the report stated. "Unless we can dredge up domestic sources of turmoil, we may end up utterly dependent on the Middle East for conversational fuel."

National Board Of Steve Jaskoviak Requests $10 Billion Bailout

ROCHESTER, MN—Steve Jaskoviak, president of the National Board of Steve Jaskoviak, lobbied Congress for an unprecedented $10 billion bailout package Monday. "In order to continue providing Americans with a full range of Steve Jaskoviak-related services, it is crucial that I receive this aid," Jaskoviak told Congress. "This relief package will not only will cover my $5,612 Visa debt, but numerous administrative costs, as well."

San Francisco Is My Favorite Market

As a marketing executive who does a fair amount of business traveling, I've had the chance to visit a lot of markets. New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles—they're all great markets, each with their own unique attractions and attributes. But for my money, there's no market quite like San Francisco.

Wow, Check Out That Motorcycle Revving!

Last night, sometime around 2 a.m., I was ripped from a peaceful slumber by a shockingly loud noise from the street outside. Alternating between a shrill, piercing whine and a thunderous roar, the sound echoed down the block, rattling my bedroom windows with oceanic waves of internal-combustion fury. As I lay there, unable to fall back asleep, my head and pulse pounding, I could think only one thing: Wow, check out that motorcycle revving!

Art Major To Stop Capitalizing Name

COLUMBUS, OH—Michael Wechsler, 19, an Ohio State University art major, announced Monday that he is changing his name to "michael wechsler." "Isn't that so much cooler?" Wechsler said to fellow art major Ethan Reed. "The whole capital-letter thing has always bothered me. It's just a stupid rule that everyone else seems to think they have to follow." Wechsler is also considering changing the spelling of his first name to "mychal."

Bush And The ABM Treaty

Worried about nuclear attacks by terrorists and rogue states, President Bush pulled out of the ABM treaty in the hopes of building a missile shield. What do you think?

Partygoers Mocked By Catering Staff

MARIETTA, GA—Unbeknownst to attendees of Susan and Mel Gullicksen's holiday party Saturday, the Feather & Fennel Catering staff spent most of the evening mocking partygoers behind their backs.
End Of Section
  • More News
TV Listings
Just Like Everything Else!: Fox 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. ABC Pete's wife is still on him about building that darn shed, these kids are going to be the death of Sheila and Dave, and the hot next-door neighbor is up in EVERYBODY'S business! Sunday nights on ABC couldn't be any more familiar!

Special Coverage

Race Relations

Innovation

Emotionally Distant Family Spends Holidays Watching Touching Family Dramas Together

RUTLAND, VT—In what has become an annual holiday tradition, the dysfunctional Dawes family came together Sunday to sit in front of the TV and watch touching, feel-good family dramas in stony silence.

The Dawes grimly watch <i>It's A Wonderful Life.</i>

"We see each other so rarely," said Nicole Dawes, 44, whose three children were all home from college. "It's so nice to all sit down together and have a peaceful time. And [son] Kevin didn't bring up that awful new girlfriend of his once the entire time."

Following a special holiday dinner of turkey, artichokes, and spiced yams, Nicole and sullen daughter Gabrielle, an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Vermont, were put in charge of selecting the movies to watch. The two shared a wordless 10-minute car trip to their local Blockbuster video store, where Gabrielle ruled out most of her mother's choices as "stupid" or "lame." Tired of saying no and eager to leave the store, Gabrielle finally assented to the holiday classic It's A Wonderful Life and the 1994 remake of Miracle On 34th Street.

"I can't believe we got Miracle On 34th Street again," Gabrielle said. "Still, it's better than some of the other stuff my mom was pulling off the shelves. I mean, The Santa Clause? How gay is that? I hate Tim Allen."

Added Gabrielle: "I wish we hadn't gotten It's A Wonderful Life. It's so long. Besides, why would anybody pay actual money to rent that thing when it's on TV, like, a bazillion times every December?"

Upon Nicole and Gabrielle's return, It's A Wonderful Life was promptly inserted into the living-room VCR. Familiar with the annual routine, the family members huddled around the TV without exchanging a word, just as they have since the holiday tradition began in 1991.

As the movie played, Kevin, 22, a senior at Southern Vermont College, paid little attention, wrapped up in thoughts of his impending graduation. The few times he did focus on the film, it was to negatively compare his own family to the Baileys.

"That movie always makes me think about how if dad's hardware store lost $8,000 like George Bailey's bank did, it'd totally tear us apart," Kevin said. "He'd probably blame us and drag us all down with him. Good thing he isn't trusted with much money at his job."

Following the conclusion of It's A Wonderful Life, an awkward 80-second silence occurred as the videotape rewound. The silence was briefly broken by daughter Gina, 20, who remarked that the evening's dinner had been "really good." Peter, her father, grunted in agreement.

As Miracle On 34th Street played, Peter sat in rapt attention, pushing aside anxieties about work, aging, and his chilly relationship with his children.

"The original was one of my all-time favorites," Peter said. "I was trying to spot the differences between the two. I was just glad to have something to focus on besides trying to make conversation with the kids. I have no idea what they're up to these days. Jesus, they're all grown up, able to vote and all. I wonder if they hate me."

Some 40 minutes into the movie, having consumed three snifters of brandy, Peter fell asleep.

When the second movie finished, the three children claimed exhaustion and trundled off to their childhood bedrooms, feigning excitement for the following day's Christmas-tree-shopping excursion.

"It's good to see all the kids together under one roof. It reminds me of when they would all watch cartoons together growing up," said Nicole, wiping a tear from her eye. "I love the holidays."

Next Story

Onion Video

Watch More