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Columbia Missourian

Some phrases you won't see this season — or else

By Tom Warhover
November 26, 2010 | 3:55 p.m. CST

Dear Reader,

I hereby make this holiday commitment:


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You won’t see a single “Christmas came early” on the pages (virtual or otherwise) of the Columbia Missourian, its affiliated blogs and e-mail newsletters or Vox magazine.

I commit this news organization to an absolute ban on “’tis the season.” Or “’twas the night,” for that matter.

The onset of the holiday season is good reason to make a covenant with you against lazy seasonal cliches.

You shouldn’t have to read them. They are offensive and intolerable.

Should you be subjected to one of the above abominations, announce its scarlet letters through Show Me the Errors on or via e-mail to

Editorial copy only; I can't do anything about ads.

You’ll receive 15 points in the monthly contest – normally 1 point is awarded for each error — and the gratitude of the executive editor.

If you think I’m intolerant, consider the Baltimore Sun’s John McIntyre.

McIntyre is the resident curmudgeon of the Sun copy desk.

“Old Man Winter, Jack Frost and other moldy personifications can safely be omitted” in McIntyre’s world.

He would leave every humbug and Scrooge to Charles Dickens, where they belong.

McIntyre harangues annually against these sins of the season.

Tough? He refers to Halloween as “urchins being trained to beg in public, surly adolescents trolling for candy, raw egg dripping down the picture window.”

I’m normally more intolerant of intolerance. However, I know we’ll all suffer from these unfortunate phrases many times in commercials, billboards, church bulletins, e-mail announcements and conversations before the blessed silence of January.

Where else? In the news. Consider these headlines from the past couple of weeks:

•    “’Tis the Seasons for Infomercials” –

•    “’Tis the Season for Peppermint Coffee – Bloomberg’s

•    “’Tis the Season” – the New York Times’ “Freakonomics” blog

From headlines, you can find that 'tis the season for holiday movies, placement targeting and atheist ads; for spending and being grateful, though not necessarily at the same time; for winter parking bans and holiday celebrations; for selling your house (well, maybe) and getting a Christmas tree (as opposed to, say, mid-summer?).

Want more? "’Tis the season to win an iPad," an ad in South Florida’s announces. And “to be truly thankful,” a letter to the editor in Keyser, W.Va.’s declares.

While we’re telling you what to feel: Be jolly, embarrassed, thankful, rude, helpful and “warm ’n’ fuzzy.”

Personally, it leaves me cold.

You shouldn’t be subjected to these utterances in the Missourian.

Consider it my present to you.