Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas 2010

While looking for something else, I came across a posting that I did about Christmas three years ago. I was so taken by the apparent timelessness of the sentiment of this piece that I decided that it might be worth dragging it out into the open again and revisiting. (The fact that it allowed me to post to this site with little or no original work had nothing to do with the decision, I assure you.) 

While the piece has been edited slightly due to the timing of its appearance and the changes of the last three years, I believe that it remains true to the insight of the original. 

The Christmas season is once again upon us ... and with a vengeance. Retail outlets have shoved aside the last lingering Halloween or Thanksgiving displays in a full-throated effort to separate us from us much of the money that we really don't possess as they possibly can. Many are now hunkered down and beginning to look forward to the arrival of that white-haired fat guy with a beard (but enough about me)

This is a time when families gather together, trees are decorated, and aggressive shopping behavior becomes a truly Olympic sport. It's also the time when I most question the manners and intelligence of my fellow man. 

Think I'm kidding, then answer these questions for me: When did people start waiting in line all night in front of a store like it was a "Harry Potter" movie premier? Do we really need to begin shopping at 3 AM in order to save a couple of bucks and buck up the sales of what is still a bloated retail marketplace, or would it make more sense to at least wait until the sun comes up before attempting to do our small parts in the massive consumerism more commonly known as the US economy? 

Has anyone bothered to think of the poor schmuck store employees who have to worry about you freezing to death on their sidewalk while waiting, only to break their sleep rhythm to come in long before the crack of dawn and face the thundering herd waiting on their doorstep? What part of the Christmas spirit is it to fight with your fellow man over the latest over-hyped gift that your kid or spouse simply can't live without? Is this year's game system or $200 laptop any better than last years, or has it simply fallen prey to the obsolescence that was designed into it in the first place. Forget the religious implications of such behavior here folks, if Santa sees this going on, you're definitely getting put on the 'naughty' list and getting a rock in your stocking. 

When did we become so stupid (or the assumption of such ignorance on the part of advertising agencies and retailers become so pervasive) that diamonds, big screen TV's, and expensive cars are the only presents believed to make us happy? I've watched "Charlie Brown Christmas" for years, and I get that Christmas has gone commercial. I missed part however, where the whole thing turned into 'Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous". 

What part of the Christmas spirit is it to run up all of your charge cards buying expensive and over-hyped presents for the family in order to assuage your guilt for always being at work; only to realize that you will now have to continue to spend all of you time away from them in order to pay for the purchases you just made to make it up to them? What happened to the toy commercials (or have I just been watching the wrong channels)? The Christmas hype always used to be about kids, now it's about adult toys. Is this about the spirit of giving or just a contest to see who has the most disposable income? (We know the answer of course, but I had to ask the question.) 

Will they be playing all the versions of "Miracle on 34th Street" over and over again this year, with the colorized version following the black and white and the color one following it? Is this instead some new and diabolic plot by some evil corporation to replace "A Christmas Story" as our favorite Christmas movie, since they've worn out the copy they are showing anyway? (Or could it instead be a plot to follow Miracle on 34th with Christmas Story with repeated showings allowing them to short-staff the studios and turn our brains into Christmas tapioca?) 

Why do we feel the need to overindulge at Christmas parties, as if we had taken a vow of abstinence on the 4th of July that we feel can finally be broken? Is the likely chance of a DUI and spending some time in jail or the commission of some personal or professional faux pas at one of these social gatherings worth the long term repercussions of breaking the pledge? Are the nauseating feelings of guilt and retribution (and hangover) worth a few hours of alcoholic indulgence in public? Take my advice ... If you really feel the need to be over-served, do it to yourself, at home, while watching "Miracle on 34th Street". Don't worry if you happen to nod off from time to time from the effects, you can fill in the blanks during the subsequent replays. 

Listen folks, I may not be the Spirit of Christmas present (though I admit to bearing a remarkable resemblance to someone hanging out in neighborhood shopping malls); but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that somehow we've missed a turn that was indicated on the societal GPS. I know that December 25th has now been recognized by the Catholic church as not being the day on which Jesus Christ was born. In spite of being a date co-opted from a pagan mid-winter festival (Mithras) however, the day does still has serious spiritual traditions and implications. In both the pagan and Christian teachings, this holiday was supposed to be about fellowship and good cheer. 

Let's try not to lose sight of that as we gather to celebrate this special time of year. So lighten up everyone; and in the words of Tiny Tim (no relation),

"God bless us, every one".

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