Holidays today are not like holidays of the past

Holidays today are not like holidays of the past
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Holidays today are not like holidays of the past

It was so much better in the “old days.” Movie theaters were more enjoyable and traveling on airlines and even cruises were simpler. We knew what we were getting upfront for the single cost we paid. Today, traveling is a gamble, and going to the movie is disrupted by rudeness and late people

By Ray Hanania

The Christmas Holidays are a wonderful time to gather with family to reminisce about our childhood and the past. Life was so different, more fun and safe in the 1950s and 1960s.

Entertainment and travel were so much easier and cheaper to enjoy, too.

Traveling was easier before. We didn’t have computers and technology to distract us from families.

Having said that, traveling today is a real hassle, and no matter how they improve the movie theater, people will still be people.



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Deck of the Norwegian Cruise Ship Epic. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

Deck of the Norwegian Cruise Ship Epic. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

The costs of vacations are in direct relationship to the time when children are out of school. In other words, most families can’t travel most of the year because they have kids in school. They can only travel when schools are closed. The day schools close, travel costs triple. The day they open, travel costs drop.

You call it supply and demand, but I call it punishing parents who care about their children. Bad parents make kids miss school to save money.

The airlines have also turned the vacation experience into a shell game. Cheap vacations are not really cheap at all.

Frontier Airlines, for example, advertises cheap flights. But when you get to the airport, the costs start pouring down. It will cost you as much as $180-a-person so you can check a bag, carry one on board, and get a seat where your knees don’t rub raw on the seat in front.

I miss the days when they charged us one flat fee for everything. I knew what it was going to get and I knew what it would cost. Now, it’s like throwing away money at the casino.

Cruises are worse. The unlimited buffet has its limits. The buffet experience is like cows feeding at a trough. If you want to eat like a civilized person, you pay as much as $100-per-person to eat at a “specialty” restaurant, where the food is only so-so.

They force you to buy your pop, too. You get water and ice tea at the buffet, but have to pay extra, as much as $200 for a soft drink and juice package. Who designed these cruise plans, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle?

They even separated the deck by cost. The more you pay the better the view.

And they have taken out the gratitude from “gratuity.” You don’t have a choice and most pay as much as $500 for “maid service” to clean your room. Pay it up front, or through the nose during the cruise.

The movie experience isn’t any better. But in this case, I blame the people not the theaters.

I love that you can purchase tickets online and reserve your seats. These seats are not just seats. They are cushioned recliners, arranged so that no seat ever blocks your view of the huge screens with the deafening sound systems.

Marcus and Emagine theaters in Orland Park and Frankfort charge only $9 for the spacious, comfortable seating. Employees bring you the food on a tray that you can order before the movie starts.

The problem is the people. They’re lazy. They buy their tickets online for a 4 pm show, and they show up at the theater at 4 pm, figuring “why rush?”

For the first 15 minutes of every show now, half the people are walking in and looking for their seats. They’re talking, slowly removing their jackets, switching seats, and blocking everyone’s view. That first 15 minutes is the key to movie enjoyment.

The movie theaters should impose a rule that says that if you don’t get to the theater at least 15 minutes before the movie starts, you will be charged extra to enter.

I want to go back to the old days when all we had interrupting our lives was a TV set with six channels and one large black telephone in the kitchen.

You could sleep with the front door wide open, back then. Now, you have crooks stealing UPS boxes from your front porch.

(Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall political reporter. Email him at

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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