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A Festivus for the Rest of Us

Tiffany McKnight poses with the Festivus pole in front of Kyle Van Osdol, who is playing drums for his impromptu jazz band Vanilla

On Dec. 23 eve, roommates Kyle Edward Van Osdol and Steve Schaben hosted their ninth annual Festivus, in their Paseo home.

Termed Festivus, for the rest of us, it’s an alternative and new-school holiday that is to be celebrated either instead of, or alongside Christmas. It’s a holiday about nothing.

It’s a cheap holiday created by Seinfeld writer Dan O’Keefe and introduced to the public by George Costanza’s father on an episode of Seinfeld. It is a response to the crass commercialization and stress surrounding Christmas.

Now people celebrate Festivus worldwide, and it has become  a yearly pop culture winter ritual.

“I’m fine with Christmas, but I think Festivus is superior,” said Schaben. “Most of us that put this together are either atheist or agnostic, it’s a non religious religious holiday, but it’s not an atheist holiday, it’s a get out of buying presents holiday,” Schaben said.

“But it’s also an excuse for us to get our buddies together and play improvised music at the holidays. Tonight we have over 20 musicians that will be joining in,” he said.

Diogenes were among the bands that played, a post-punk instrumental band named after the Greek philosopher who led the ancient Cynics.

Vanilla Dynamite also played. They’re an electric jazz quintet, that sounded like “Head Hunters” era Herbie Hancock, some seriously funky white boys, a Festivus miracle.

Festivus is a fully formed holiday, complete with its own unusual customs.

For starters, an unadorned aluminum pole is the gathering’s centerpiece, in lieu of a elaborately-decorated and sometimes messy, Christmas pine tree.

And instead of a gift exchange, there’s the Airing of the Grievances, where people take turns elaborating how they’ve been disappointed by one another in the past year.

Lincoln Greenhaw had a serious grievance against investment bankers this year.

“I’m disappointed that people are duping their clients into buying over-priced bonds and then getting bailed out by the government. It’s like they are charging rent to the entire country,” Greenhaw said.

Tiffany McKnight complained about a University of Oklahoma graduate student art professor.

“My painting teacher gave me a “C” in his class this year. I want to cut off his six foot long hair braid and he has beautiful hair.” said McKnight

Lastly, each Festivus traditionally finishes with the Feats of Strength, a wrestling match that ends when the household is pinned to the floor.

“Having a lot of alcohol will increase the chance of us doing a Feats of Strength this year, but a couple of years ago we had a bad incident with that,” said Kyle Van Osdol.

“I had a friend who had this cast on his hand and he thought it was okay to wear boxing gloves over his cast. Anyway, he ended up re-breaking his hand over my head in a boxing match,” said Van Osdol.

Kristopher Masterman, 29, brought a bottle of his home brewed Kailua, made from locally grown coffee beans. It’s taste was another Festivus miracle and one partygoer dubbed it “The best Kailua they’ve ever tasted.”

Roughly 75 people attended, mostly intellectual hipster types in their late 20’s, a typical Paseo crowd of people mourning the closure of Galileo’s Bar and Restaurant, where the annual celebration used to be held.

Happy Festivus.

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