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No, Virginia


Happiness requires a certain logical leap, and this year we just don't seem to be able to get our feet off the frosty ground. This inability to achieve happiness adds to our misery, so we're not very happy about the entire situation.

These moods come in cycles, according to a friend who considers suicide something he would probably regret the day afterward if the opportunity presented itself. And our friend is probably at least partially right about the transience of emotions, because we can recall the years when reindeer had velvet noses and every Santa Claus had a soft and downy beard. There were the times gone by when candy canes weren't sticky and decorations never fell from the Christmas tree. But that was a long time ago. For now the Salvation Army seems a depressing crew and the snow flakes seem to make the world a muddy mess rather than a winter wonderland. And it seems all too apparent, nowadays, that reindeer have foul breath and that nine out of ten Santas are phony while the other guy isn't a member of the union.

Supposedly, people improve a great deal with the coming of the Christmas spirit. All this proves is that people are pretty poor news the rest of the time. And a walk down the block to the shopping area where people thresh about buying tokens of good cheer shows that they're not very wonderful during this time of year either.

The only ones who are genuinely happy during the Christmas weeks are the department store owners, who, we firmly believe, have been the motivating force behind the entire affair. A few days ago we were almost happy ourselves as we watched Mr. Macy and Mr. Gimbel frown their way through the New York City subway strike (there weren't enough kiddies around to keep their scores of Santa Clauses busy). But with the passing of the Motormen's Benevolent Association, Macy's reports that it never had it so good, so there you are.

In a few days we will watch the little ones burning all the Christmas trees in the gutters. Perhaps it will snow, and the flakes will cover the stumps of the 40,000,000 trees sacrificed to the Yule spirit. But even before the affair is over, we're tired of the ding-donging bells and the Christmas seals, of the Ice Show and the happy, bustling people. Santa can't even get slugged without someone getting arrested. We'll probably go back to our room on Christmas Eve, put an Elvis Presley Christmas Carol on the hi-fi set, and play it loud. Very loud.

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