Fifteenth Day of Christmas: Holipocalypse

In 2011 New Times’ editorial department honored the supposed end of the world by turning the apocalypse into our Holiday Guide theme. It might not sound festive, but “Holipocalypse” was born, resulting in one of my favorite Holiday Guide cover images of all time. The paper began working with Jeff Chang while he was a student at Cal Poly. I could gush about his talent, but a picture is worth a thousand words, and a picture of a holiday-themed apocalypse is worth at lest a thousand and one.

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Sometimes it’s difficult for people to understand my role at the paper. They assume that because the paper is not littered with my byline, that my influence and workload is less than it really is. So I tend to get kind of excited when my name is actually attached to a piece of my work—even if it’s just the mundane letter of introduction that nobody bothers to read. Holipocalypse was one of my favorite introductions because I used it as a call to arms of sorts and an opportunity to explain my approach to the holiday every year, whether an apocalypse is coming, or not. This is what I said:

Whether it comes with fire, or ice (as the Mayans allegedly-but-not-really predicted), or in accordance with the crackpot theories of zealots, there’s one important question we all must ask ourselves: If these are, in fact, our final holidays, how do we intend to celebrate them? In meek and inoffensive silence? Or with a ringing clatter that would make a reindeer-propelled sleigh appear tame?

Whatever and however you celebrate, we recommend that you regard Earth’s impending doom as an excuse to go bigger this holiday season. Typically deck out an 8-foot tree? This year, make it an 11-footer. Planning a quiet New Year’s at home because it’s too much effort finding something exciting to do? Take a cue from Shredder and barrel your way into 2012 like a lap-seeking cat that refuses to take no for an answer.

Whether your family engages in an all-you- can-eat Thanksgiving feast that would make the Romans look restrained or enjoys a peaceful and not-at-all-gluttonous day hike followed by a round-up of the neighborhood turkeys to place them all in protective custody, the holidays are the perfect opportunity to be an enhanced version of yourself. If you must insist on calling out “bah humbug,” then by Rudolph’s candy apple-red nose, be the Scroogiest Scrooge the world’s ever seen.

And don’t do it to save the economy. Don’t do it to compete with the family down the street. You’ll never manage to string 12,000 feet of twinkle lights around your roof if envy is your motive. And certainly don’t do it out of a sense of social obligation. You can celebrate Holipocalypse without spending a dime, if that’s your preference, and certainly without engaging the neighbors in a turf war that escalates into a thousand- pound inflatable Santa falling off your roof and crushing your Chihuahua.

Celebrate because it feels good to cut loose and give into the childish wonder and excitement of the holidays. Celebrate because your friends and family, as nutty as they may be, are closer at hand. Celebrate because you love gifting the people you care about with something you know they’ll appreciate. Celebrate because a house that smells like gingerbread is a happy place to be. And if all of that is insufficient, celebrate because there are no guarantees—not even another year of wreaths and turkey and family squabbles around a tree.

Just don’t half-ass it.

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That was also the year that we began another New Times tradition: soliciting hand turkeys from local artists. It had occurred to me, at some point over the course of the year, that you can do a lot with a sketch of a hand. And why should grade schoolers get all the fun anyway? The response we received from the community was tremendous, something like 50 turkeys, some of them from children but most of them from professional artists. I wish I could post them all, but I’m fairly confident that WordPress has some kind of obscenity clause that covers the number of hand turkeys a single website is allowed to upload. So here are a few of the more readily accessible ones from heavy hitting creative types including Peg Grady, Gary Ellsworth, Lena Rushing, Sara LeGrady, Sharaya Olmeda, and Jeff Claassen. Maybe the skill and creativity will inspire a new family tradition.

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