Sometimes I type URLs into the little search bar on my browser just to see what will appear. This is how I learned that Bong.com is not what you think it would be, and Wanker.com is available for purchase. It’s also how I learned that my dream of making a chicken-wing-themed Ringer spin-off blog called The Winger faces a daunting hurdle, as TheWinger.com is a “collaborative space where professionals, students, and pioneers in the dance world share their experiences and insights through photography, video and text.” Dang. Anyway, this habit is also how I found Christmas.com, a strange website that has enthralled me with its badness.
If you go to www.christmas.com, you will be greeted by a website that, at first glance, appears to be the exact logical thing www.christmas.com should be: a Christmas-themed page. But look closer: It’s not just a Christmas-themed page. It’s an ostentatiously lazy Christmas-themed page, so barren of interesting Christmas-themed content that it seems a spiteful prank by militant atheists. It is clear that it was slapped together with minimal concern to quality, which is what makes its “Why Christmas?” section especially insane:
I hope that whoever wrote this section (a bot programmed to sound like an Aaron Sorkin monologue?) has never seen the actual website, which hosts poorly written SEO squatter blog posts with headlines like “How to Start Your Own Holiday Lighting Business!” and “What Women Really Want… for Christmas!” There are gift guides breaking people down into archetypes like “geek” and “wife.” The design aesthetic is “violently ugly.” If you click on the “Christmas Trees” section, you are greeted with affiliate links to products like “Cheap Chrome Hearts Leather Bags Handbags Big Cross Shop Online [Chrome Hearts Bags] — $250.00.” It claims that all rights are “reserved and protected by Christmas Spirit,” which really makes me wonder if there’s anyone on staff aware of how copyright law works.
The strangest thing about Christmas.com is a distinction it gives itself. The site says it is the “Official Site of Christmas.”
But after too much time spent looking at this bad, weird site, I decided that, since it’s not totally impossible to verify this whole “Official Site of Christmas” thing, I took it upon myself to do just that. And I did: I verified it as not true, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which establishes federal holidays, including Christmas.
“Yeah, no. There [are] no official holiday websites. We don’t host an official website for Christmas,” an OPM employee named Sandy Day told me, after he assured me it was not a dumb question (which I appreciated, thank you, Sandy).
Who would make up such a weird lie? I wanted Christmas.com to explain itself. Or, more precisely, I wanted Left™, formerly Left of the Dot Media, which is the “Canadian-based multinational media and technology company with holdings in mobile and Internet-based businesses” that owns and operates Christmas.com, to explain itself. (It also owns an app called Yo!, but not the app called Yo, which experienced a faddish surge of popularity in 2014. A different Yo. Don’t dwell on this information too much or it will bum you out.) The company, which is located in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, invites visitors to its corporate website to “stop by for a beer” but because I was in Brooklyn, New York, I had to call instead. The woman who answered promised to transfer me to someone who could answer my questions.
This is a transcript of that phone call:
The Ringer: Hello.
José: Hi, hello.
The Ringer: Who am I speaking with?
José: What’s that?
The Ringer: Who am I speaking with?
José: This is José, I’m from Left. You have some questions about Christmas?
The Ringer: Yeah. I’m curious about the website. I’m wondering who writes the blog posts?
José: Just like, different people. We haven’t released anything for a long time, so all those articles we got from freelancers, bloggers, from different websites [inaudible], so I cannot really give you the names. It’s just various people.
The Ringer: And I’m wondering, it says it’s the official website of Christmas. I’m wondering how it was officially designated that.
José: [Laughing.] It was never officially designated that, it’s just like a marketing — [phone call disconnects].
The Ringer: Hello?
Pray for José; I don’t know if he hung up on purpose or if someone else hung up the call for him (I’d identified myself as a journalist to the first person I talked to), or if Maple Ridge simply gets horrible phone service and the call fritzed out at the exact moment José was revealing Christmas.com’s weird lie.
I tried calling back, but got no answer, so I suppose I’ll never know what befell poor José up in Canada. Whatever the reason, Sandy Day told me to visit NORAD’s Santa website, and I encourage you to do so if you are looking for a fun, Christmas-themed web experience.