Nine days ago, everything changed. Thanksgiving dinner became leftovers, the skies got dark, the wind grew cold, and Bryan Adams music filled the air. That’s right; one day after consuming record amounts of food to prove how thankful we are, Americans were ready to hit the malls.
From the day after Thanksgiving (appropriately named Black Friday), until the day after Christmas, we are subject to an audio onslaught of “Santa Baby”, “All I want for Christmas (is you)”, “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus”, and “Please Come Home for Christmas”.
I’ve literally heard the Bryan Adams “Christmastime” song four times in the past week (which, by the way, is four songs over my annual Bryan Adams quota). I can’t even buy lipstick without hearing Jingle Bells!
It’s really just the most obvious and annoying symptom of a larger problem which is the rank commercialism surrounding Christmas. I had to go to the mall a few days prior to Thanksgiving and there was already an enormous Christmas tree up, and the windows of the stores were papered with posters with screaming headlines: Open at Midnight Friday! I suppose Cyber Monday is just a way to keep the momentum going.
Of course retailers have to make a living, but COME ON. This is just greed. And what is up with people going to the mall at midnight?
Not everyone is of the Christian faith, and it’s understandable that they do not care to discuss the religious symbolism attached to Jesus’ birth. But almost anyone can appreciate it simply as a time when family and friends can spend time together and enjoy one another’s company. But to marketers, it’s just the disappointing anticlimax to the Holiday Madness sales.
People are encouraged and manipulated to spend by everything from the kitschy commercials and Christmas Tree scented candles, down to the red-and-green decorations that have pervaded every establishment with anything to sell, up to and including gas stations. The sinister underlying message is, of course, that if you don’t spend yourself into bankruptcy, you don’t love your children/girlfriend/brother/etc.
I’m convinced that the owners of the big chains would dress up like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and pull shoppers around in a one-horse open sleigh, if they thought it would entice anyone to spend an extra $50.
The irony of it all is that retailers have all but prohibited the use of the word “Christmas”.
The Politically Correct police have deemed it unacceptable to use the word, since it is not inclusive and someone might be offended by it (somehow). Instead they go the generic “Happy Holidays” route. I must say, I find the Happy Holidays expression to be peculiarly irritating. If you are a retailer, you’re betting the farm on being able to exploit Christmas every year. It’s a little over-the-top to simultaneously ban the word from being spoken.
While I’m not necessarily Rocking around the Christmas Tree throughout December, or rushing home every night to roast chestnuts over an open fire, I will admit there are some man-made aspects of the holiday season I love. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Ralphie in A Christmas Story, and I watch It’s a Wonderful Life every year.
The word of the day is flagellate. As in, I would prefer self-flagellation to shopping at midnight on Black Friday.