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Other seasonal threats: a few weeks ago the Baltimore Sun’s “veteran drudge” John E. McIntyre published his annual list of “holiday cautions” for members of the media, with a grouchy note explaining that a staff member at the Sun, “someone who will be lucky to ’scape whipping, referred to tomorrow’s impending snow as ‘white stuff’”—a phrase McIntyre considers verboten. It’s a hilarious list—a few highlights are after the jump.
“Grinch steals”: When someone vandalizes holiday decorations, steals a child's toys from under the tree, or otherwise dampens holiday cheer, this construction may be almost irresistible. Resist it.
Give Dickens a rest. No ghosts of anything past, present or future. Delete bah and humbug from your working vocabulary. Treat Scrooge as you would the Grinch, by ignoring him. Leave little Tiny Tim alone, too. Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?
“Turkey and all the trimmings”: If you can't define trimmings without looking up the word, you shouldn't be using it.
“White stuff” for snow: We should have higher standards of usage — and dignity — than do television weather forecasters. Also avoid the tautologies favored by these types: winter season, weather conditions, winter weather conditions, snow event and snow precipitation. And the tautologies favored in advertising: free gift, extra bonus and extra added bonus.
Parodies of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” are, if possible, even more tedious than the original.
On no account are you to publish that execrable article on the estimated cost of the gifts in "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Whoever gets assigned to write it every year patently did something very, very bad in a previous life. If you have been guilty of publishing that thing in the past, do not compound your sin.
McIntyre concludes: “Some readers (and, sadly, some writers) lap up this swill. It is familiar, and the complete lack of originality comforts them. It is for such people that television exists.”