Ye Olde Student Life: Letter to the Public

I don’t know about other people, but as a December-born baby, I can’t help but look forward to every end of a year. I get to finally pack my things and go “hibernate” in the summer-all-year-long Singapore, where I call my second home, and spend the holidays with family. Even as things come to a close – with my post-Thanksgiving blues and finals season lurking near – looking through TSL‘s Christmas-themed archives has nonetheless kept my toes up for a happy closure to 2017. At the same time, a sardonic article written by a staffer from TSL’s December 7, 1971 issue has caught my attention. With certain issues still relevant to us from four decades ago, perhaps it’s time to reflect on what we hope to bring into the new year of 2018.

Letter to the Public

Pomona College

Dear Folks,

I hope you are all feeling well and can survive the last few days before the extended recess. (Remember – the days will pass, even if you don’t.) Unluckily, the usual result, survival, is often not a sufficient condition for accomplishment. Since 1971 has nearly expired, it is appropriate that its events be clarified, before 1972 crowds the scene.

General holidays are stranger times; people, even the unintelligent, unlucky, the flagrantly uninspired, take time out to enjoy themselves. Drudgy people who think they’re obligated to be happy go around looking pleased until they really do feel good. They spend money on friends and relatives, they subscribe to the latest entertainments for their children. Meanwhile, old friends meet, families reunited, and the general glee spreads. Even the old, the poor, and the loners are somewhat included. The widespread picking up of childish things provides relief from usual burdens. Religion is a worthwhile institution if it serves no purpose other than providing a few days or weeks of holidays annually.

However, there is no excuse for the shortness of duration of the Christmas season. Santa Claus comes to town once and is banned until the next year; we prefer to sit around being tired and worried. Granted, there are all sorts of things, especially people, to fear. The UN, the Arabs, and the Communists are out to get U.S. collectively, while the mad rightists, leftists, and disoriented hippie freaks threaten us from every direction. What’s more, the middle of the road seems to be growing wider and more congested all the time. No one over age ten writes letters to Santa Claus; who can blame him for driving in thin air?

He comes in the dead of night through the “exhaust barrier.” His whiskers and his reindeers’ antlers are encrusted with itchy unmelted smow (frozen smog). His gift list has been condensed onto 3.5 feet of holly-scented computer paper, but he doesn’t know how to read it, so things get passed around and mixed up like always. Two front teeth are given to every dentist while the mini-monster set gets knitting kits and chessboards, but everyone lives happily until after vacation. Since morale is currently high, the valuable questions are: 1) Can you honestly tell Santa you’ve been a good kid in 1971? and 2) What will you think when the holiday ends and your enemies start their anti-you campaigns afresh? The answers to the first are highly personal, so I will ignore it. Luckily there are some widely applicable suggestions for the second problem. The following are useful attitudes for combatting anti-you campaigns:

1. They aren’t worth listening to, anyway.
2. If they liked me, I couldn’t stand myself.
3. It’s better to be disliked than unnoticed.
4. People with personality conflicts are more creative and successful than people who are normal and happy.
5. No one is REALLY normal or happy – they’re just pretending.
6. Because I am unhappy, I am demonstrating my superiority by not hiding my true self.
7. Misery isn’t its own reward – I’m sure to get plenty of sympathy.

Again, appropriate greetings, warnings, and cheers to all, from us and me.


Susan M. Jones, Special Sub-Editor
Pomona College Student Life

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