Gauging the Holiday Spirit, What Freezers Are For, Etc. takes

The holidays occupy a special place in the ranks of life’s mixed blessings. Depending on one’s mood, they can be great fun, unutterably depressing or anything in between. A poll conducted via Prevention magazine’s Web site captured the full range of emotions as people answered the question: How do the holidays make you feel? A majority of the respondents were upbeat, with 42 percent saying they feel “busy but happy” and35 percent saying “joyful and connected.” On the gloomy side of the spectrum were 14 percent describing their holiday mood as “scattered and stressed” and 9 percent saying they’re “angry or depressed.” Some people simply keep their eyes on the prize. In a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, a pious 67 percent of respondents said they were hoping most for “peace on earth.” But a candid 4 percent confessed they’d prefer “some really nice gifts.” Another 25 percent were willing to settle for “one night of TV without Bush or Gore interrupting.”

Cynics will say the numbers are inflated by all those failed dot-com entrepreneurs going into exile. Let’s face it, though: There aren’t 21 million such people. That’s the number of consumers who’ve bought travel online this year, according to a study conducted by International Communications Research for PhoCusWright. Price is the paramount factor drawing people to the Web for their travel purchases, with54 percent citing that factor. Other factors were reliability (mentioned by 20 percent of online buyers), ease of use (16 percent) and customer service (9 percent). The report says 7 million consumers “now buy travel exclusively online.”

Kids display all sorts of odd, antisocial behavior. And that’s why there are hockey leagues, suggests an ad for Milwaukee’s Elmbrook Hockey Association (via BVK/McDonald of that city). In addition to the ad showing Junior putting an illegal cross-check on his grandfather, another shows the family dog cowering as a kid practices his slapshot—using the doghouse door as goal.

Honors this week for Best Use of a Decapitated Snowman go to a commercial for Ameren, an electric utility. As the commercial opens, a kid realizes a sudden thaw is melting his excellent snowman. Next thing we know, the boy’s mother is arriving home with groceries. She opens the freezer door and lets out a gasp as she finds it all-but-fully occupied by the snowman’s head. As a closing shot shows the snowman’s headless torso in the yard, an onscreen tagline wishes viewers a happy holiday. Rodgers Townsend of St. Louis created the spot.

Planning to misbehave at your office Christmas party? You won’t be the only one, judging by a CNN.com online poll that asked: How do you behave at office Christmas parties? A plurality (35 percent) said, “Sensibly—a great chance to network.” Twelve percent said, “Smoothly—it’s a great opportunity for romance.” Then there’s the 16 percent who answered, “Badly—if I remember at all.” Taking no chances, another 38 percent said they avoid the party altogether.